JASMINE CEPHAS JONES with one of the breakout stars of Broad wayâ€™s smash hit
RUSTIC HOLIDAY PARTY THE NEW WELLNESS Issue 4 Winter 2015/2016
Ways to be Happier, Healthier + Stronger in 2016
PG 22 We’re in Manhattan’s Lower East Side with singer, actress and Hamilton star Jasmine Cephas Jones.
THE FORMER X-FACTOR CONTESTANT IS BREAKING OUT ON HER OWN
STRENGTH AND HEALTH IN 2016: HERE’S HOW TO DO IT THE RIGHT WAY
SIMPLE AND RUSTIC TOUCHES MAKE FOR A PRETTY SEASONAL SOIREE
TABLE IN EVERY ISSUE
CONTENTS STYLE & BEAUTY
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
10 HOME & LIFESTYLE
18 THOUGHTS & ESSAYS
Gold texture at end pages by Pauline Moss 5
LETTER At Lydia Magazine, we’re all about telling the stories of powerful young women. And although Hamilton, the year’s hottest Broadway musical, is at heart the tale of US founding father Alexander Hamilton, the women in the show are fiercely strong and capable in their own ways. Our cover girl Jasmine Cephas Jones, who plays two of Hamilton’s leading ladies, is enjoying her own time in the spotlight. Super talented and imbued with an ample dose of Native New Yorker attitude (just one thing we have in common) she has become one of the stand out cast members of a show that is sure to skyrocket all to incredible heights.
We’re also sharing ways for you to be your strongest, brightest and best in 2016 with wellness advice from four experts that endorse health over the number on a scale. It’s a refreshing way to set fitness goals for the new year and I’ll definitely be taking part. I hope you will, too! Have a joyful holiday season and a Happy New Year. KERRI JAREMA Founder & Editor-in-Chief
Photographer + Makeup Artist
Stylist + Producer Hair Stylist On Location 6
PHOTO BY LIZ BESANSON
Send us photos of you reading this issue! Use #lydiamagholiday or tag @lydiamag on Twitter & Instagram so we can follow along & share!
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We hung out with Jasmine in the Lower East Side of Manhattan for an afternoon, and chatted about everything from the show, to our favorite beauty routines, to what needs to change for career women both in and out of the creative sphere. Check out our interview with Jasmine on Page 22; hers is a story you’ll want to know.
Lauren is a Syracuse, NY native and a recent graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in music business. As much as she would love to be in LA eating burgers at In-NOut and working at a record label, she is currently spending some time at home with her dog, Princess Sparkle. When she is not job hunting, she can be found binge-watching TV shows on Netflix, posting funny gifs on Tumblr, and singing Miley Cyrus songs in the car.
Kate is a Chicago journalist and University of Missouri alumna. By day she is an associate editor for four HR industry magazines. By night, she reviews films, outlines fiction novels with tough female leads and dreams of being the first person to win two Oscars in the same night for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Screenplay. When her fingers aren’t getting exercise bouncing across her keyboard, she’s waiting by the mailbox for her Hogwarts letter.
Quanny Carr is a 22-yearold fresh out of college, ready to take on the real world. Not only is she Lydia’s new intern, but she’s also a Legal Researcher in Washington, D.C. When she’s not working or writing, she enjoys exploring the world of Tumblr, watching episodes of Supernatural on repeat and listening to the soundtrack of Hamilton. She hopes to one day make a career out of writing and to eventually own a hoverboard from Back to the
Gaby Salpeter is a freelance author assistant, YA book blogger for Bookish Broads, and master of many tasks at Books of Wonder, her favorite indie bookstore in NYC. She always has a book or TV recommendation handy, a Veronica Mars gif for every situation, and will never not have that second piece of cake .
Liz Besanson is a bornand-raised New Yorker who started out as a professional makeup artist before she picked up her camera over 8 years ago. Her work has been published in countless fashion and beauty magazines, including several international publications. She has also shot various look books and advertising editorials for brands such as Alex London, BonLook and Chromat. She currently resides in Newark, Delaware with her husband and their daughter.
Meg Fee is a writer currently living and working in New York City. She finds her home on the internet at megfee.com where she has been blogging since graduating from The Juilliard School in 2008. She is the author of the recently published collection of essays, Places I Stopped On The Way Home. A lover of lattes, cobble足stone streets, and large bodies of water, Meg dreams of leaving the city behind for a small house in the mountains and really believes words might just be the thing to change the world.
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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT I MUSIC, BOOKS, FILM, TV AND ONES TO WATCH.
JANET DEVLIN: BEYOND THE X FACTOR
Interviewed by Lauren Mahaffy
In 2011, a timid, 16-year-old girl from Northern Ireland walked onto the X-Factor UK stage and entranced everyone with her cover of Elton John’s, “Your Song.” Throughout the competition, her nervous energy dissipated into a quiet confidence, and her endearing personality and interesting voice led her to place fifth overall. Since the end of the show, Devlin has been able to display more of her personality through her songwriting (this year’s LP, Running With Scissors), music videos (the beautifully animated “Creatures of the Night”), and live shows. With the support of new and old fans alike, Devlin is set to have a very busy—and successful— 2016. You grew up in a small rural town in Northern Ireland. What led you to your love of music? How did your childhood surroundings and experiences influence your sound? With the isolation of where I lived I found my self drawn towards music and poetry as way of passing time. But also due to the permanence of beautiful scenery and forestry, I found myself easily inspired to write. My love of music came from my inability to express myself verbally. Listening to music and writing helps me understand how I'm feeling and somewhat explain my emotions. With the massive influence of folk/country music in my upbringing I was drawn to telling stories and using more traditional instruments in my own music. You released your debut album, Running With Scissors, this year and co-wrote every track. Was that always your goal as a musician? Did you have any particular inspirations behind the album or stories you really wanted to tell? Was it difficult for you to be so personal? With my lack of confidence I was drawn to the idea of a co-writing so that I would have another person there to keep me on the right track and to push me to finish a song, as I tend to allow negative thoughts to stop me halfway through my creative process. I wanted to write every track on the album though, as I felt I had a lot of stories to tell. It can at times be hard to be completely honest within a song because in the back of your mind you know people will listen to it and judge. But once you forget about that, you can be a lot more honest in your expression. The album has a great mix of fun, upbeat tracks ("Creatures of the Night", "Wonderful") with more emotional ones ("Things We Lost in the Fire", "Delicate") Was this a conscious decision? Do you have a personal favorite track from the album? It was a conscious decision in some way. I didn't want to bring people down by having an album full of only sad introspective tracks. Still, the upbeat tracks aren't as upbeat as they appear. There are dark undertones within the meanings of the songs. My personal favorite song from the record would have to be "Whisky Lullabies". It was a difficult track to write due to it's honesty but it was also the last track I wrote for the album, which makes it particularly special. You currently have 344k followers on Twitter and 217k on YouTube. Does social media have any negative or positive effect on your creative process? Does it ever feel strange or limiting to have so many strangers following along with your life and your work?
It's very positive most of the time. You feel like you've a little team cheering you along the way. I must admit at times it is strange because in real life I don't know that many people or socialize often, so the ability to turn on my computer and always have people to talk to is refreshing. You recently supported Heffron Drive at a couple of their live shows in the US. (We saw you at the Webster Hall show and you were AMAZING!) Tell us more about that experience. Any funny tour stories? Favorite and least favorite parts of being on the road? Thank you! That was my first experience of touring the states and it was always a dream of mine to play shows in America, so before the tour even started I was already super excited. I don't have any downside about touring. I suffer from very bad insomnia and for some reason on the road I sleep like a human. I love everything about it really, the traveling, the sight seeing and performing/ meeting new people every night. As I'm not in relationships I don't get the downsides that most people get, so it's only pluses for me really. Your time on the X-Factor was memorable from the very beginning, due to the fact that you came in with such a nervous energy, yet still managed to amaze the judges and the audience with your beautiful performance. Do you still deal with nerves before a show? How do you manage to overcome them? I still do, and possibly even more so than I used to. I'm not very good with dealing with them to be honest, I've come to learn that there's not much I can do about it. I have come to understand that they are a good thing though, that it shows that I still care a lot about my performances and have a drive to make them the best as I can. It can sometimes be hard to see the positives when you're laying in a ball on the dressing room floor too scared to move but it's worth it when you can make people have a good night. Tell us a more about your experience on the X-Factor. What did you learn that has helped you as you've launched your solo career? I learned that it was okay to be myself. For years I struggled with the idea that no one liked me for who I was and that I was too weird for people to ever really accept. But from going on the show and being me and people actually liking me for being myself it made me realize that being different is actually a good thing and that I should embrace it. What's coming up for you in 2016? Any plans for a new album? Tell us more! I just finished making a Christmas EP called December Daze that'll be coming out in the holiday season. On one of the tracks "Happy Holidays." I decided that as I wrote the song myself, I'd have a go at playing as much on it as possible. So you can hear me playing drums, ukulele , glockenspiel and sleigh bells. I've also been writing for my second album. Hopefully the record will be coming out some time next year! I won't mention the album name but it's all about soul cleansing and confessing sins so it gives me an opportunity to tell all my deepest secrets within music.
You’ve completed a whole trilogy–the Something Strange and Deadly series. What are those books about? The first book in my first series, Something Strange and Deadly, came out in 2012. It follows Eleanor Fitt, a 16-yearold living in 1876 Philadelphia. When Eleanor’s brother is taken by a necromancer and his army of dead, she has no choice but to join a ragtag, ghost-busting team to get him back. So it’s kind of like alternate history with zombies and magic and romance. It was a huge undertaking because of the whole historical aspect–especially since I was in Germany and I was researching American history. To be honest, I don’t know what I was thinking! What is Truthwitch about? How is it different from the first series and how is it the same?
Truthwitch is about two best friends named Safiya and Iseult, who live in a world where magic is dying and three empires are battling for power. When an unexpected announcement upends the girls’ lives, they have no choice but to set off across the Witchlands—hunted by mercenaries, royalty, and something much, much darker. I won’t lie: writing this series has been really different from my first because there are four main characters (instead of only one, like in Something Strange and Deadly). And on the one hand I love the broader scope because I can hop heads, but wow!
It’s also a lot more work. It wasn’t too tough drafting book one, Truthwitch, but it’s proving to be a bigger challenge to keep things streamlined in later books. The book is narrated by four characters, two of which are male.. Is it difficult to write a male POV? Well, it’s not the same as writing a girl—that’s for sure. There are definitely times when I’ve asked my husband, “How would you feel in this situation? What does it feel like to get punched here?”
–Interviewed by Gaby Salpeter Susan Dennard didn’t always know she would be an author. “I like to think of myself as a person who wears many hats and I’m currently wearing the author hat,” she says. “In a former life I worked in marine biology—I have a master’s degree in that and I used to work with fisheries. But then I married a French guy, and we moved to Germany where I couldn’t get a job. So I wrote a book.” Dennard may not have always known she would be an author but she has always written for fun—which shines through brilliantly in her latest fantasy book, Truthwitch. We chatted with Dennard just before it’s release about writing, social media, and being inspired by the women authors (and internet fan girls) who have come before her.
Ultimately, though, it’s just a different voice in my head that happens to be male (or female), and I just do the best I can to write that gender. People connect with characters based on who they are, and I don’t think that has much to do with gender at the end of the day. Truthwitch is a four-book fantasy series with tons of magic– what’s your magic system like? The magic in Truthwitch is elemental. There are six main elements: Aether, Earth, Water, Air, Fire, and then this mythical Void element that people don’t really believe exists. Under those elements there are all of these different kids of magic. For example, you have Safi, who’s a Truthwitch, which falls under the element Aether (the magic of the spirit
word. (At this point Susan gets a little weepy.) Because of all those amazing readers who helped spread the world about Truthwitch What sort of research did you have to do for Truthwitch? from the beginning, other people have started to hear about it. If you look at the map and shape of the continent it’s vaguely Now, it’s kind of became the “cool thing” to want to read, and I European, and the book itself has a Renaissance European feel—so seriously can’t thank the early fans enough! I researched a lot of historical Europe, specifically for cultural As a fantasy writer, I’m assuming you have a lot of favorite authors – inspiration. At the same time, I made up a ton since it’s a world that care to share some? has developed with magic (meaning technology is completely Actually, the blurb on the UK cover is from Robin Hobb, who is the different). Queen of Adult Fantasy. I’ve been reading her since I was a kid and, I also spent a lot of time researching ships, life on a ship, and honestly, I’m about to cry thinking about that blurb. Jacqueline nautical terms. I tried to be as accurate as I could, but, at the same Carey’s another favorite of mine who also—miraculously—blurbed time I had to strike this balance between what the reader will the book. know and be able to follow versus what sailors might actually say Basically, there’s this group of women in the adult fantasy world or refer to. I didn’t want to bore a reader with too much who have done more for me than anyone else in this industry. And terminology, you know? I don’t mean that as a negative to other people in publishing Truthwitch has this crossover, YA/Adult appeal. Do you think you’ll (authors are amazingly gracious people!), but these particular write something not-YA in the future? women have been so generous—it’s truly incredible and inspiring. I have one work in progress that I think pushes more into adult. I also have some Middle Grade on my hard drive. I don’t see myself ever writing for just one age group. I also just really love Middle Grade readers. I think they’re a fun, bright-eyed group. And of course, with adults, you can explore a lot of darker things you can’t touch with the younger age groups.
What are your favorite video games? Mass Effect. The Dragon Age franchise. The Longest Journey series. Oh, and I love the Fallout games too. And Assassin’s Creed, of course. Legends of Zelda—duh! I could keep going for a long while. I really like RPGs but I also want story driven games—then it’s almost like playing my favorite book.
In addition to writing, you also give a lot of writing advice – how did How about TV? you fall into that? We don’t have cable so I just watch what’s on Netflix. Lately, I’ve When I first started to write a book for publication, everyone said: been watching iZombie (because I’m such a die hard Veronica You need a blog! So I started a writing advice blog–not realizing Mars fan) and my husband and I are binging Scrubs, which is that there are thousands of those on the Internet. But I think I have surprising hilarious and clever. I also love Brooklyn 99. a knack for breaking stuff down in a way that people get. And as a result people started following what I was saying. The blog grew Do you think talking about TV and video games on social media detracts from the book-related stuff? organically from there.
Now that’s one of the many hats I wear—the hat of “teacher”—and I think I spend as much time on the writing advice as I do on my books. Helping others with their writing—giving back what I’ve been given—is very important to me and it’s a huge part of my identity.
I think the exact opposite happens! Talking about TV and games draws in new potential readers! Felicia Day, who is like my biggest hero of all time, just released her memoir in August. The book’s whole message is that her life got better when she started to be authentic and true to herself.
There’s a lot of excitement on social media about Truthwitch – how She was a big gamer and when she stopped trying to hide that part much of that do you think is fan-made and how much of that is of her life from her acting career and instead combined the two, because you went out there and made it happen? she made The Guild, and became a huge sensation. Now she is The Hard question! It’s almost impossible to tease that stuff apart. I Felicia Day. will say, though, that I think a lot of the buzz began as an extension Her advice is something I feel like I’ve always preached and of my writing advice. I’d built my little corner of the Internet for practiced: be authentic and talk about the stuff you love, even if it aspiring authors, and I honestly used to receive way more fan mail would’ve gotten you stuffed into a locker in junior high. Being true about my writing advice than I ever got for my books. to yourself online is the way to find the people who are not only Over the past 3 years, whenever I gave advice, I put it in the going to enjoy your books, but they’ll also be your friend. context of Truthwitch, because that’s what I was working on at the And if you can’t find your tribe, then build your own! time. As such, a lot of my writing advice fans feel very connected to Wait. Did you ever get stuffed in a locker? the book and very invested in its success. So when it came time to start promoting Truthwitch I had a lot of I didn’t get stuffed into a locker. Thank God. But I won’t lie: junior really generous and kind people come out to help me spread the high was brutal.
Looking to start a riveting high fantasy series jam-packed with everything a hardcore fangirl could ever dream of finding in one book? Well, pick up Truthwitch and thank me later. Safiya fon Haastrel is a noble and a Truthwitch, a rare and valuable elemental type capable of calling out any lie. Iseult det Midenzi is a daughter of a hated nomadic tribe who, as a Threadwitch, can see the weight of every emotion and the threads that tie people together. Both seek to abandon the trappings of their origins and forge their own paths. But when a Bloodwitch (a witch who can identify another’s powers after catching scent of their blood) named Aeduan, identifies Safi for what she is during a revenge plot gone wrong, Safi has no choice but to run and Iseult, as Safi’s Threadsister (a ferocious bond of chosen family) flees with her, both prepared to fight for their lives as they rush to find a way to keep themselves safe. Along the way they meet Merik, ship captain, Windwitch, and prince of a small nation fighting to assert itself among the three major kingdoms vying for power. The three spend much of Truthwitch on an epic journey filled with evil emperors, dangerous mercenaries (read: Aeduan), and just enough kissing to fill your romantic needs in an attempt to keep Safi out of the hands of those who would use her powers for their own selfish desires.
In Truthwitch, Susan Dennard uses vivid and compelling world building to support her charismatic and captivating characters in their riveting journey to save both themselves and preserve the safety of the European-shaped continent they call home. Packed with a complex magic system, clever plotting, and lush prose, I find myself hard pressed to think of a single fantasy fan who wouldn’t find at least one thing to love about Dennard’s latest triumph. Full of magic, unbreakable friendships, and purpose, Truthwitch is absolutely everything I look for in a fantasy. Dennard’s stunning prose weaves a lush and wonderful adventure tale that has already hooked this reader and will utterly enchant everyone else.” This rousing series opener will hook fans of all ages and have readers clamoring for more. –GABY SALPETER
MORE FANTASY PICKS TO COZY UP TO…
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It was the surprise pop culture phenomenon of the year: a three introduced me to everyone.” hour Broadway musical about United States founding father Watching the way her father would study his scripts (“analyzing Alexander Hamilton. every word, every beat”) and writing his ideas for his characters on Lin-Manuel Miranda, already renowned for his first stage his dressing room mirrors, has inspired the actor Cephas Jones is production, Tony and Grammy award winning In the Heights, today. returned to Broadway in August 2015 with Hamilton, inspired in “Watching it all made me realize that it’s all about the work,” she large part by a biography of the man written by Ron Chernow. says. “My father always told me that there is no such thing as a Combining the founding father’s intriguing backstory (a Caribbean small role—it’s about how you play it and how much work you put immigrant who built the country’s first National Bank, took part in into it. [In] everything I do, I try to put as much detail as possible. I the country’s first sex scandal and later died in what is perhaps the learned that from my father.” country’s most infamous duel) with a primarily black and Latino That philosophy has already proven to be the key to her success, as cast rapping and singing hip-hop and R&B inspired numbers has Cephas Jones’s dual roles of Peggy Schuyler and Maria been a genius addition to The Great White Way and beyond (the Reynolds are two of the smaller main parts in the show—Peggy’s cast album hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Rap charts in charm, in fact, lies in the fact that she is something of the November.) “Forgotten Sister” of the trio, whereas Maria appears in only one While Miranda is the main man behind Hamilton, the entire cast number. has been lauded for their performances, for their adeptness at But Cephas Jones has embodied both women with a style uniquely embodying these Revolutionary-era men and women in new and her own; Penny is sweet-voiced and vivacious while Maria is sultry, revolutionary ways. bold and necessarily seductive. Both characters have become fan Jasmine Cephas Jones is one of those breakout stars, in her favorites due entirely to the woman who plays them. Broadway debut playing the dual role of Peggy Schuyler “When I play Peggy, it’s so easy,” Cephas Jones says, “because most (Hamilton’s sister-in-law) and Maria Reynolds (Hamilton’s of the moments I share with Renee [Elise Goldsberry] and Phillipa mistress.) As she sits in the hair and makeup chair during the [Soo], (who play Angelica Schuyler and Alexander Hamilton’s wife,
“I knew that the music was special from day one. I couldn’t believe it when I first heard it. I couldn’t believe that I was about to be a part of this journey.” photoshoot for this cover, Cephas Jones suddenly looks up from Elizabeth Schuyler, respectively.) her phone. “They have become my family,” she continues. “They are the sisters “Today is the one year anniversary of when we started previews at I never had. All of our moments are genuine because we just love each other and laugh and have a blast.” The Public. My entire life has changed in a year.” The actress and singer, 26, may not have foreseen how much her It’s that girl power energy, combined with Miranda’s writing each life would change in 2015, but she did always know that she would of the characters with distinctive and powerful voices, that has helped propel the women in Hamilton to memorable, make her way onto a stage someday. show-stopping characters when, in any other show, they could “I started singing when I was little,” she says. “I did all the talent have easily been relegated to the background. shows and I would go to my mother’s gigs and watch her sing as As for Maria? “She’s a little different,” Cephas Jones admits. Not well.” In college, she got into acting, too. only is her performance as Hamilton’s mistress very physically “I always knew that I wanted to act, but I had to train for it,” she involved, the vocals require an obvious amount of intensity. says. “I went to the Neighborhood Playhouse for theater and it changed everything. Studying the Meisner method of acting was “The red dress, the lipstick, the hair down, the walk—these are all of those little details that help me prepare,” she says. intense, but it was the best thing to happen to me.” But Cephas Jones didn’t learn all of her acting instincts from Still, nothing could prepare Cephas Jones for just how huge of a school. Not only was she spending time at her mother’s gigs as a cultural sensation her Broadway debut would become. child, she was picking up a lot of behind the scenes training from “I knew that the music was special from day one,” Cephas Jones her veteran actor father, Ron Cephas Jones. says. “I couldn’t believe it when I first heard it. I couldn’t believe “What I love about how my father raised me,” she says, “is that he that I was about to be a part of this journey. But I had no idea that took me everywhere, from his auditions to the rehearsal room. He it was going to be so huge that we would do a special performance
H&M sweater and ring; SEVENTEEN skirt 28
for the Democratic National Congress and then have the President world” and my Brooklynite self always gets a feeling of joy when I of the United States make a speech afterward.” sing that line.” Of course, Hamilton has made such a splash in large part because it Cephas Jones will be in the show until at least Summer 2016, but of has introduced a typically traditional crowd to the many ways that course, she has already started looking toward the future. the non-traditional can yield incredible things. When discussing what is coming next for her she is immediately “I’m all about stepping out the box. Lin [Manuel Miranda] breaks all adamant about rallying against the typical roles actresses are the rules and he does it in the smartest way possible,” Cephas Jones relegated to as they age. says. “It’s classy, hardcore and you will laugh until your stomach “I’m only 26 and I am already worrying about this,” she says. “It’s hurts and then cry your eyes out.” bull that women are still treated this way in the industry. But I’m It wouldn’t be surprising if a debut Broadway performer found planning to be Judi Dench. I want to be around for a long time.” themselves overwhelmed by the expectations of being part of such And when it comes to what she’ll be doing next, Cephas Jones sees a ground breaking show, but Cephas Jones has always been herself working beyond the Broadway stage. focused on more important things. “There is so much I want to do,” she says. “Being in a show that is “The only time I felt pressure was on the first day of rehearsal, changing the game on all levels and is on Broadway—it’s a dream proving to the rest of the cast that I could do this,” she remembers. come true. But I can’t see myself living the Broadway lifestyle “I was the last one to come on board at The Public.” forever. “But, other than that, I was more excited to show this to the world, “I say this a lot to people, but I don’t want to put myself in a box,. My to show people that things can be done differently, and that it will next project might be something completely different. Whatever is work. People are starving for something fresh, something original. up next, whether it’s a TV show or a film, I would just love to stretch This is it.” my creativity and find a role I can sink my teeth into.” So, what has kept Cephas Jones so cool under pressure? Being a In the meantime, Cephas Jones is enjoying all of the excitement— New York native just might have something to do with it. She and perks—that come with her role. grew up in Brooklyn and attended LaGuardia, the infamous performing arts high school. So the bright lights of the marquee “I met Beyoncé. I have had so many Beyoncé concerts in the mirror with my hairbrush ever since I was a little girl. I was star struck and were never far from her mind. couldn’t talk,” she says. “Broadway has always been one of my goals,” she says. “I love my city. I love that I am in a show that tells an exciting story that takes It’s not hard to imagine the scores of girls who will be singing into place in New York. There’s a line in the song “The Schuyler Sisters” their own hairbrushes to “The Schuyler Sisters” and hoping that that I sing with Renee and Phillipa that goes “History is happening they will one day get to meet their idol backstage. With Cephas in Manhattan and we just happen to be in the greatest city in the Jones ‘s passion and persistence, it seems inevitable.
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Take back control with the world’s first SMART menstrual cup It is a truth universally acknowledged that menstruating is not fun. It’s painful, it’s messy, and it’s sometimes unpredictable. Well, LOONCUP is trying to change that with their SMART menstrual cup, recently funded through their Kickstarter campaign. The LOONCUP is one-upping the typical tampon, pad and even the standard menstrual cup by promising to measure, analyze and track your period through an app on your smartphone. It takes the guesswork out of your cycle by telling you exactly how full your cup is, alerting you to when it’s time to refresh and even predicting the precise time that you will need to change next. It also precisely tracks your fluid color, changes in which could indicate a health problem, along with automatically taking note of your cycle by tracking your pattern and alerting you just before your next period is due to start. LOONCUP is also hypoallergenic, reusable, healthier and more sanitary than the pads and tampons you’re used to. LOONCUP will be available in early January 2016. looncup.com
DIY RUSTIC JEWELRY STAND The ultimate storage solution for tangled jewelry gets a serious upgrade with natural materials and a simplistic style that will fit in perfectly with your winter dĂŠcor.
through the center point of the plaque. Drill all the way through. 3) Attach the screwdriver bit to the power drill. Set the screw into the pre-drilled hole and begin to screw it in with the power drill. Screw in until it begins to peek through the other side. 4) Position the end of the birch branch over the screw, centering it. Hold the branch in place while continuing to power in the screw. Screw it in all the way until the screw head is flush with the bottom of the plaque. 5) Reattach the 1/16” drill bit and pre-drill holes into the birch branch. Do not drill all the way through the branch. The goal is to get the hole started, making it easier to twist in the screw hooks. Twist in the screw hooks by hand. If you pre-drill, this should be an easy task. Twist until they are secure and tight.
– Birch branch (search for one in your natural environment or purchase something similar from Save-On-Crafts)
6) Hang and display favorite pieces on this rustic jewelry stand.
– Basswood country round plaque (purchase online or from Michaels or Joanns) – Power drill with a screwdriver bit and a 1/16” drill bit – Stainless steel screw – Square bend screw hooks (also known as L-hooks) – Pencil Directions: 1) Mark the center point of the basswood plaque. The plaque used here was about 5” in diameter. 2) Attach the 1/16” drill bit to the power drill and drill a hole
Created by Lauren Donaldson
LIFESTYLE GIFT GUIDE Gift this one on Christmas Eveâ€”so she can wear it the next morning!
3 3 Bring home the scents of the season for only $12!
1. DAVIDSTEA 12 Teas of Christmas box, $30.00, davidstea.com; 2. J. CREW Pajama Set in Polka Dot Flannel, $95.00, jcrew.com; 3. PIER 1 IMPORTS Luxe Faux Fur Throw in Gold, $55.96, pier1.com; 4. BATH AND BODY WORKS 3-wick candles in Fresh Balsam, Frosted Cranberry and Vanilla Snowflake, $12.00 each, bathandbodyworks.com; 5. THRESHOLD Beer Stein, $12.99, target.com; 6. RIFLE PAPER CO. Citrus Floral Recipe Box & Cards, $23.80, riflepaperco.com; 7. MUK LUKS Amira Knit Bootie Slippers, $19.99, kohls.com
THE NEW WELLNESS Interviewed by Quanetria Carr
Founder of fitBallet What do you think about when you hear the words ‘women’ and ‘fitness’? Well, what I see now is something that I would like to change. What I hear and see now are people—women, trying to fit their bodies into…trying to approach fitness in a way that’s all about how their bodies look to an outside observer like, “Do I look good in this swimsuit?” “Do I look good in this skirt?” And I’d like to change the conversation of women and fitness to the way [most] men think about fitness. Which is, “What can I do?” “How far can I run?” “How many pull-ups can I do?” “How powerful do I feel?” [It’s about] focusing control back inside of us. So that it’s not about how other people view us, it’s about how we feel. What are your thoughts on social media and fitness? I know some people get the vibe where they’re like “Okay, fitness is going to be a big part of my life so I’m going to go follow all these fitness Instagram accounts.” And that’s great. Some of them are really cool for inspiration and different workouts. But there is also that self-perpetuating cycle of “Oh, that person is so fit and they look so great in just their little sports bra.” Then the thing you turn to for help and inspiration suddenly becomes debilitating to you. So I would say that if you’re on a mission to improve your body or be healthier, maybe frame it in terms of being on a mission to improve your mental health as a whole. Anything that makes you feel happy when you look at it instead of competitive, or anything that gives you that vaguely unsettling feeling—nobody’s got time for that! Working out and having a healthy body is literally just as much for mental health as it is for physical health. Getting outside yourself, shaking off the stresses of the day, and being able to have a healthy perspective on what’s happening in your life, all of those things are part of the physical and mental feedback loop. Do you have any tips on finding a routine or a form for you? My biggest recommendation is to find something that is already planned for you or to find a series of classes so that all you have to do is show up. Life is already complicated enough that you don’t need to be reinventing the wheel every time you work out. The hardest part about it is just getting yourself there in the first place. Sitting down on Sunday afternoon and writing down all the routines that you’re going to follow for that week on notecards that you can jam in your purse and pull out at the gym is also a great idea...planning is seriously 98% of getting anything done. The other thing that I would say on this is that there are two things women tend not to pay attention to, the first of which is weightlifting. We’re not talking Olympic weightlifting or anything, but as part of your strength [routine], if you actually want to change your body and become stronger and healthier, lift weights and lift them quickly. Don’t worry about cardio. Try to work out under the supervision of someone who knows what they’re talking about and tends more towards [strength training.] The other thing is stretching. Almost nobody stretches enough. Having a religious stretching practice is the difference between a person who works out on Monday and has the ability to go back on Tuesday versus the person who’s like “Oh my God, I went so hard,” and Tuesday morning doesn’t even think about going back. They’ve lost all their momentum. Do you have any words for someone who is struggling with body image issues? I mean it’s so hard. Our entire culture is set up in a way to make us feel like if we can’t immediately participate in something, like this [stereotypically healthy] Instagram culture, that we are supposed to hide. And that’s just something I want to get away from so much. The main thing I try to push is that it only takes that first time, leaping over that first hurdle, that allows you to make the huge investment of hope in your health. The first time you walk away from a work out, you’re just so high on endorphins, sweat, and just feeling good about yourself, and that energy is self-perpetuating. It makes the second time so much easier than the first, and then the third time so much easier than the second, and on and on. Remember: it’s just that first time. You don’t have to look at it as this insurmountable thing stretching out in front of you forever. It’s just that first time. fitballet.org
Dietician and Blogger at The Fat Nutritionist Tell me about your tagline “Eating Normal is the New Black” (Laughs) It’s so old. I put that up a long time ago. I guess when I wrote the tagline I felt like diet culture works in a mode of trends. There’s always a trend coming down the pike in diet culture. Right now we’re seeing a lot of Paleo and Gluten-Free. And prior to that it was a low carb trend. And before that it was a low fat, low calorie kind of trend. And before that it was a low carb trend again in the 60’s and 70’s. In fact we’ve been in this churning diet culture, fad cycle since about the 1860 in North America. I think the popular diet book was published around 1859 or 1860 and it basically recommended the low carb diet. Because there’s only 3 macronutrients to play with, there’s really only so many things you can do with diets to make them trendy. You can dress them up in lots of different ways but the bottom line is that you’re either going to be counting calories in some way or reducing energy intake in some way. Whether it’s through counting or measuring. In some instances they’ve used a hunger scale, which is normally used in intuitive eating, but it has been repurposed by a couple of diets to get people to under eat so that they lose weight. So you’re either going to be restricting energy across the board or you’re going to restrict either carbohydrates or protein and fats which often comes packaged together. So basically because I follow these trends coming and going, coming and going in a circular fashion, I feel like how it’s in fashion when they say some color of the season is the new black. Like this year pink is in. It’s the new neutral; it’s the new black. I would prefer that just eating normal should be the trend . What are your thoughts on society’s idea of skinniness informing health? It’s a really interesting topic and it’s actually a really complex topic because I do feel like every body type has a different risk profile. And you can even say each has a different risk/benefits profile. Because every body type has strengths and every body type has weaknesses. So for example the first time I saw my current family doctor that I have now, she offered me weight loss. And she said “I can give you a great referral to a weight loss clinic.” And I said “Nah, I’m not really interested in that.” And she offered again and I said “No, I’m not really interested. I take a health at every size approach and I’m not invested in weight loss and I would prefer to focus directly on my health.” Once I said that I felt like she kind of got the idea and she said to me “Oh yeah, my mom is really, really thin actually and she has osteoporosis,” And I told her that every body type has their own risk profile. And she kind of agreed with me and we made a truce over that.
The other part of that argument is is that you can’t just choose the body type you’re going to have. You don’t just get to pick a body from a catalog and be like “Oh yeah, that’s the one “ or “I’m going to have really skinny legs.” It doesn’t work that way. And even if you could choose a different body type and even if you did diet and exercise to such a extent that you lost a lot of weight or changed your body type significantly, there’s really no guarantee that you’re going to enjoy the same risk profile as someone who was born with that body type. So there’s lots of complex dynamics around weight and health. Weight and health are definitely related but weight is not optional necessarily. You can influence it somewhat, but you can’t really control it the way people assume you can control it. So to me what seems like a more sensible approach is to kind of work with the body you have. And if you have concerns about health, address those concerns as directly as possible and by taking care of yourself in the best way possible, rather than doing things that feel punitive or burdensome in order to force yourself to eliminate all risk. And I think it’s important for people to start considering, what health really means to them. How does it connect to something you value and care about that makes your life more meaningful? Because I see a lot of people who appear to be pursuing this ideal of health in isolation of everything else. And I wonder if that’s actually a way of attempting to signal social status or to gain social status rather than as a way to build yourself up and have a more fulfilling life. And people who get so wrapped up in the pursuit of health as a an object in itself, they often report living very upset or unfulfilling lives because everything else has to be subdued to this pursuit of perfect health, which I don’t think actually exists. What’s the common misconception about dieting and exercising? I would say the most common misconception is that if a person does everything right which is to eat a certain way and to exercise a certain number of minutes per week, that they will automatically look a certain way. That seems to be the popular assumption about diet and exercise. That if you do these thing, you will get this body as a result which is completely not true. Humans naturally kind of come in all shapes and sizes. And even though moving and eating can certainly influence your size, the population variation is just an inherent part of being human and it’s an inherent part of our species. Even if everybody were to diet and exercise in the same way, there is always going to be some people that are larger and some people that are smaller. And I don’t think there’s really anything inherently wrong with that. Do you have any general tips about health you give people? The basis I could really give people is to not do a specific thing with food or drink because it’s quite individual. But to listen to what their body tells them and understand that their needs might look different from somebody else’s needs. And that actually practicing bodily agency and valuing your body is the foundation for good health practices and good eating. Your body belongs to you, you don’t owe it to anybody else and it doesn’t belong to anybody else. All the things you do to improve your health are supposed to be, and should be, for your benefit, not the benefit of onlookers. fatnutritionist.com
Yoga Instructor and Blogger at Anacostia Yogi
Why did you firs t start practicing and teaching yoga? When I moved out to the east of the Anacostia River, I was hoping to still maintain a life of health and wellness. I soon realized that no one around me offered fitness to the community, especially for black women. I was shocked. I had never lived in a place that had such stark differences from one side of the city to the other. I decided to change that and started offering yoga classes. I soon gained a following and started to take my yoga outreach more seriously. I gear my lessons and classes toward empowering women in my community and letting them take control of their life and wellness, breath by breath. Talk a bit about your specific yoga practice. First we just start off with this quite, silent contemplation. Most people cannot sit in silence. And as presumptuous as that sounds, think about the last time you actually had permission without your cell phone, without your neighbors to sit in complete absolute, uninterrupted silence. That was really restorative and healing for me and them because even I coming from a fitness background was like “Okay, let’s get it going! Let’s turn up the music!” And that wasn’t really what these people needed. Yoga forces you to move very slowly. It forces you to just think of every little hip joint, shoulder socket, and abdominal area. Everything becomes more alive because you have to move with integrity versus you having fun and jumping around. You can be free form in a way that most black women move but you have to be very deliberate. There is more of an intention behind the yoga practice. What do you think about when you hear the words women and fitness? Women’s bodies are these amazing dynamic temples that constantly move and evolve. And I think fitness has been a really powerful way for women to take charge. So think about a women. You come into womanhood, come into your teens and you get your period. You’ve got to get a grasp on that. Once you get a grasp on that, your hormones start kicking in. Once that happens, you have to deal with the outside gaze, with how people are looking at your body: “Do you think you’re pretty?” So it never ends for women. And we’re not even talking about pregnancy and self-esteem and menopause. So I think that with all these changes in a women’s body, there has to be some constant. And I think fitness is a regulatory system that women can use to deal with their bodily changes throughout a lifetime. How do you think society and the media portray women and fitness? I’m starting to see diverse in more physical fitness. It used to be thin, white, stick-figured, women- That was fitness. Now you see the strong, Jillian Michaels, muscular, G.I. Jane type image. And I think the next thing we’re going to see is the curvy, voluptuous, fit women. Some women, no matter what they do, they’re not going to be thin. And that visual ideal on women can kind of be abusive and harmful. And I think if we say “Okay, she does workout every day, she does eat right, and she’s still thick and healthy. So what.” Even with black women, I looked at Gabrielle Union- I’m never going to be like her, no matter how many spin classes I do. So I think it’s going to be great to show different women, different body types, different ethnicities and what fitness looks like. What’s the importance of fitness and self-acceptance? It is absolutely the most important aspect. You have to live with yourself forever. Men come and go, family come and go, children come and go, jobs, everything will come and go. You have to look at yourself in the mirror every day until that moment when you close your eyes. So you have to love what you see. And if fitness is that vehicle to get yourself to love what you see, then by all means- without causing yourself any harm- soak it up. Self-acceptance affects everything. It affects how you negotiate for money, a job, what you tolerate from your partner. Knowing that you deserve the best to where you can really accept yourself and not feel the need to compromise. You come to the table with a lot more authority and a lot more confidence. So I think the number one thing for women right now should be self-acceptance. Because there’s going to be messages no matter how good you feel, that will tell you that you’re not good enough. And you have to stand on your own . What are direct benefits of doing yoga all the time?
Number One: The stress levels. Yoga affects your central nervous system. Your central nervous system controls your cortisol, your blood pressure, how you react to things. Your central nervous system is one of the first things to develop when you’re a baby. So yoga allows your senses to become quiet and clean. And I think that’s one of the biggest areas because it’s not visible. And everyone’s always like “Oh yoga gives you strong muscles, it gives you abs, it can help you relax,” But how? It’s your nervous system. And if you have constant frenetic energy, everything else is going to be out of whack. You can be the healthiest person and still have a heart attack. You can do tons of push-ups but still have high blood pressure if you cannot control your central nervous system. What do you have to say to someone who’s intimidated by yoga and has never tried it before? If you’re free, you can practice yoga. Just start with the breaths because the breaths will get you through. It will get you through anything, any pose. Learn to control your breathing and learn to enjoy breathing. Most yoga classes are just breathing. You just sit there for an hour and breathe. If you go back to the roots of it, what they did in India or Africa, it’s about breathing. anacostiayogi.com
Nutritionist and Blogger at A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss
What inspired you to start your healthy lifestyle? My mother just so happened to nag me about a gym that opened up around the corner from our house when I was living with her for a brief stint. I stopped in, and the rest was history! After a few major errors and screw-ups—like going to the gym, burning 700 calories, and then driving to Taco Bell for a “proper” post-workout meal that was easily 600 calories—I finally got the hang of this healthy living thing. What do you think about when you hear the words women and fitness? I think about how women are sold fitness in the form of “appearance improvement” instead of “quality of life improvement,” and its often to our detriment. The kind of aesthetic that’s pushed for women—super thin, “dainty,” “fragile”—might get pushback if women were actually told the quality of life improvements associated with consistent training and, quite honestly, I think that protection of the “dainty” and “fragile” image, and pushing those as being “feminine,” is a form of oppression. How do you think society and the media portray women and fitness? It’s always something superficial. And it’s never a diverse image—not diverse in race, not diverse in skin color, not diverse in body shape or size. And, because bodies aren’t often talked about in the home in a positive or encouraging or helpful or supportive way, we look to media for things we’d be better off getting from loved ones. That aids in perpetuating a very narrow standard and ideal for what it means to be fit. We don’t see diversity in sizes and shapes, and it impacts the way people understand “fitness,” sometimes even making it unattainable or dangerous to pursue. Do you think culture plays a role in women’s fitness? I think culture impacts the goals women set, and I think media impacts the manner in which women pursue those goals. That’s why I think it’s so important to have healthy images of diverse bodies with responsible advice for pursuit of those kinds of goals. Especially if you’re looking for a more full-figured physique—more muscular, more toned, fuller thighs, a rounder rear end—then an [unrealistic] “Lose 7lbs in 7 days!” kind of plan isn’t going to help you. How is fitness and health different for women of color? Is it represented enough in society? How does the media portray it? I think it’s weird. Women of color are definitely present in the fitness and athletics industry—a walk through just about any sporting goods store or running store will show you giant bountiful signs with women of color hanging from the ceilings, plastered across entire walls in mid-stride or mid-serve, and so on. But our athletes are seen as unattainable levels of fitness…not fitness achieved through years of dedicated training. As ever-present as they may be, I don’t think enough people see them as inspiration. They’re almost—save for Serena Williams—invisible. Tell me about your #ScaleFree Philosophy. It’s a lot more scientific than people give me credit for! Research shows that most people jump into fitness for appearance-based purposes, right? Except, appearance-based goals are often the ones most likely to contribute to people using risky or dangerous measures to achieve those goals, and focusing on appearance isn’t actually enough to compel a person to stick to the habits they developed— there’s got to be more to it than that. Going #ScaleFree for a season combines the focus on health with the added benefit of a change in appearance, instead of focusing on appearance with a side benefit of health. Sure, you have to manage the calorie counts a bit, but it’s about finding an equilibrium shift that makes you happy instead of miserable and, ultimately, defeated. Spend a season focusing on working hard, eating well, and finding ways to do both in a way that you actually enjoy. If you don’t like running? Don’t run. Take a spin class instead. Go to Zumba instead. Kickbox and learn how to fight instead. But find a way to be active that you enjoy. Find recipes that you love, and commit to cooking for yourself regularly. You won’t need the scale to tell you you’re doing well—you’ll look in the mirror and see it. You’ll feel it when you are more active. What’s the importance of fitness and self-acceptance? It starts with self-compassion. Empathy. Being able to say “This is where I am, and it is going to take care and effort to get where I want to be, and I need to be patient with my body and my mind so that we can work together to get there.” Any words for someone struggling with body image issues? Look at the youngest little girl in your life, and ask yourself if you’d say to her the things you say to yourself. And, when you tell yourself “Of course not,” remember that emotional fragility doesn’t go away just because you become an adult. Words still hurt, especially the ones we say to ourselves. blackgirlsguidetoweightloss.com
Styled by Candice Henry | Pho
otographed by Lauren Henry
Get inspired by simplistic Scandinavian décor. Create a cozy atmosphere with flickering candles, lanterns and strings of café lights. Bring the outside in with pine tree saplings and a wooden backdrop trimmed with swags of fresh greenery. Rich gold and deep greens further evoke an enchanted forest theme. Don’t want to splash out for all new party items? Grab matching items from around the house (those votive candles from last year, your favorite plush reading chair) and rearrange into a “new” room for your party. 41
Ignore the traditionally heavy holiday fare and stick with bite sized nibbles.
Pinwheel sandwiches, raspberry brie bites, fruit and cheese samplings, holiday breads and small pastries with feta cheese and caramelized onions are just some of the portable options for a laid back feast. Take into account any of your guestâ€™s dietary restrictions so that you can plan and prep ahead of time. Nothing is worse than feeling the frazzled hostess while all of your guests are gathered together having fun!
A â€œmake your ownâ€? station is a hit at any party, so what better than a Hot Chocolate Bar to sweeten up a wintery bash? Give guests a variety of options like cinnamon sticks, marshmallows and drizzles and let them play barista as they create their personalized spin on the festive favorite. Set out your glitziest, glitteriest and most festive mugs. Utilize items you already have at home like dishes, bowls, trays and cake stands to create various heights and focal points on the table. 45
THOUGHTS & ESSAYS I YOUR LIFE, YOUR WORDS. GET INSPIRED.
NICHOLAS SWANSON / UNSPLASH
ESSAY: DOWNTOWN IN JANUARY
Yours is the story I don’t know how to write. Mostly because it small things: where we lived and where we were from and the cat feels, if not unfinished, incomplete. your father rescued that rarely came out from under the couch. Information was parsed slowly and tentatively. You asked for my I felt you before I ever saw you. That first day I looked up, and there help one morning and late in the afternoon came to my desk just to you were, standing in the lobby, all tan-skinned and tall and unnervchat and say thank you. I was out of my depth, confused by your ing, your lips parted ever so slightly. You had this goofy look on your kindness, unsure of your interest. I remember how you stood there, face—one of mild surprise—like you’d been caught mid-thought. I a coffee mug in one hand, the other pushed deep into the pocket of don’t believe in love at first-sight, I really don’t, but I sure as hell your slacks. believe in whatever I felt that first time I saw you: a tidal wave of oh shit. Occasionally, when the office was empty and we’d both stayed late, I’d pause, I’ll see you tomorrow, I’d say, glancing at you, careful not I began the job at the start of September, but we didn’t speak until to look too long, and you’d nod several times, pursing your lips; we November. No one introduced us and neither of us was courageous didn’t smile easily around one another. But once, I called out to you enough to thrust out our hand and say hello. But once, in those first as you passed, and without breaking your stride, you looked over few weeks, as I was collecting glasses and water pitchers, I looked your shoulder and smiled at me—unguarded and happy—and I up to find your eyes on me. You were standing at your desk, twenty thought, Oh, so that’s what it is to make a man smile. It was like paces away, chatting into the phone, the whole of your body turned standing in the sun, like the first day of spring after a very long wintoward me. I held your gaze for as long as I could, my eyes finding ter, a long cool glass of water on a summer day. I’d never felt anythe floor only after my cheeks flushed red. Our only exchange in thing like it before; I’ve never felt anything like it since. those first two months was, when in a moment of unexpected bravery, I managed to ask where you were going in response to the There was a holiday party at the start of December. I didn’t know overnight bag in your hand. You answered with a grin and a word, a too many people and so paused near the entrance of the bar. I tilted place—California—your body already out the door. West. West- back on my heels, taking in the space, and began chatting with the ward. Onward. You were your own sort of frontier. men pouring drinks. I was nothing if not afraid. It feels important to say that now, all Something strong, I requested. these many months later, by way of explanation. And apology. One of the men smiled, Vodka-based? Gin? Whiskey? By November we’d pause to chat in the kitchen. We talked about
An Old-fashioned? A Manhattan? Nope. Just whiskey. Neat. Please. He paused, taking me in. I held his gaze, coolly. And then I grinned in that way that sees my teeth grip tightly to the side of my lower lip. He smiled, I’m not supposed to do this, he said, but I’m going to
pour from this bottle and keep it here for when you want some more. You approached the bar, standing off to the side by yourself, and ordered a beer. I watched as the gold liquid filled the tall, thin glass. We both stood there, awkwardly, holding our breaths. I started to say something. You glanced at me, open-mouthed, and then someone pulled you away. Almost. I dated a man once who explained that men approach the bar when the woman they want to speak to is standing there. And another who told me that while studying abroad he’d toss his glass of water out the open window just to have a reason to go into the kitchen and flirt with his housemate. But I didn’t know then, was only told after. My eyes went in search of you that evening, found you across the room, wearing a dark blue blazer and looking handsome as few men have any right to, your eyes already on me. I glanced behind me, sure you were looking at someone else. I couldn’t understand how someone as handsome as you—you with your Kennedy-hairswoop and light green eyes and movie-star good looks—might ever find me attractive. But you looked at me and I knew that I was, and I knew it had little to do with what I looked like. Because your gaze wasn’t calculated or aware; it wasn’t a means to an end. It simply was—a man who looked because he could not. not. look. And with your eyes on me and my knees weak, I felt like enough. You paused as you left, your charcoal overcoat—the one you’d wear on special occasions—already on. Hello and goodbye, you said. I grabbed your arm, just above the elbow, my fingers tentative, but firm. Don’t go, have another drink, I said, not knowing what else to say. And there we stood, frozen in position, me with my hand above your elbow, you with your coat on—saying a little, but not enough—afraid of what those around us might see or say, afraid of what we both already knew, but couldn’t yet admit. Al-
mas break and I was newly nervous in front of you—something about too much time passing and not enough courage and how damn tan vacation had made you. You said hello and wished me a happy New Year, your voice buoyant and light. You looked so handsome standing there with your hands in your pockets—so at ease. And I took one look at you and cocked my head to the side as though I couldn’t understand why you were speaking to me. Because to reveal anything would be to reveal everything and I was so scared, so afraid of what you’d given me no reason to be afraid of. It was self-preservation of the highest order and it was at your expense and I’m sorry—God, I’m sorry. If I could go back and undo any one thing from the whole terrible mess that was last year, it would be that very quiet moment, Monday morning, six days in, when I barely met your eyes and mumbled, Yeah, fine, happy New Year, shuffling the papers in front of me, pretending you didn’t matter. People tell you that you can’t ruin love. That such a small thing can’t undo such a big thing. But when that thing is true and good and just beginning, and when both people are looking to the other for their cues, well, I know now. How fragile it is. How delicate and uncertain. And I’m sorry. How much I lost out on because of fear. We could never really come back from that. There were the occasional moments of courage, but we never figured out how to be courageous at the same time. There was never enough to hold onto to assure us of the other’s affection. And as many times as you turned your head to look at me before getting on the elevator, or as many times as I walked into the kitchen hoping you’d follow, there was never evidence enough. It was always going to require a leap. Almost. How heavy that word now feels. When I left that job, months later, you stood ten feet away from me, your eyes barely meeting mine as you said goodbye and seeyou-around and best-of-luck like we weren’t even friends.
I regret little I’ve done in my life. Given the chance to go again, there are of course things I’d do differently, but I don’t regret much. I am not sorry that I never told the first man I loved that I did in fact love him, and I am not sorry for the mess of the others—all of the mistakes and missteps in-between. But occasionally when I think about if I’ve ever really made a man smile—or if I ever could—your name sticks at the back of my throat. And my fear is that I never most. gave you a smile to equal that. And that is my great regret—that I didn’t look at you in a way that said, you are enough—you with your I left not long after. Sat on a crowded subway, closed my eyes and kind eyes and confident stride and inexplicably messy hands are felt the motion of the train, my stomach warm with whiskey. It was exactly, totally, thrillingly right. Which makes this more apology in a tunnel somewhere between Manhattan and Brooklyn that I than anything else and still, frustratingly, not enough. realized that with your charcoal overcoat already on, and my hand just above your elbow, you had said to me, You look really beautiful tonight, and I didn’t even hear you. Almost, almost, almost. The next day at work you did that very charming thing that men do where they look without actually turning their head, as though they think that makes it less noticeable; it doesn’t. God I was nuts about you. You and your goofy grin and perfect teeth and low voice. The way you’d muss with your hair and how your hands always seemed to have a bit of dirt beneath the fingernails. It was in January that I ruined it. You’d just returned from Christ-
This essay was originally published in the ebook ‘Places I Stopped on the Way Home’, available now on megfee.com
GIRL LIKE US
PHOTO BY MARGARET JACOBSEN
Kara Haupt, 23
I grew up in Boise, Idaho and began
photographing, blogging, and creating online art journaling classes while in high school. I had a lot of free time due to being Designer, Owner of Classes Kara Made and homeschooled and needed a creative escape. I went to an art school in Brooklyn, NY for my first year of college to study Creator of Babe Vibes photography. I dreaded my photography homework, but loved my Kara Haupt is a babe and she thinks you’re one, too. That’s the six hour Color/Design course. philosophy behind her web project, Babe Vibes, which is a study on There I also realized I didn't want to photograph for a living. I knew women and empowerment. The site launched in 2014 and has the school wasn't the best fit for me and I didn't want to live in NY since featured multiple women in creative Visual Interviews, while in college for financial reasons, so I took a semester off school opened up a print and zine shop featuring work by Kara and other and then moved to Portland, Oregon with my childhood best friend, creative women, and developed a Pep Talk Generator that has changed my major to Design, and here I am! I graduated in 2015 been featured everywhere from Seventeen Magazine to TIME. and now I work at a design firm and on Babe Vibes, Classes Kara
The designer has also been creating art journals since 2009 and she Made, and other freelance. shares her tips, tricks and know-how on Classes Kara Made, where My biggest design inspirations are you can download prompts for making your own journals on a wide usually fine artists and writers. I'm obsessed with Louise Bourgeois, variety of topics including music, summer and feminism. Jenny Holzer, Kara Walker, and Barbara Kruger. I'm currently In fact, it is Kara’s feminist meets creative outlook that originally interested in woman artists making loud, feminist, text-based work. drew us in. Her Twitter and Instagram pages are full of Since working on my design school thesis (an interactive, nonlinear sharp-witted observations on women’s issues and empowerment, digital publication), I’ve been really inspired by writers in my design work and the frustrations, epiphanies and even hilarity of living a work — I think writing is really overlooked when it comes to the creatively fulfilling life and the passion and sense of humor it takes practice of design. I love writers like Durga Chew-Bose, Sheila Heti, to live as a person who needs to make “stuff” that means Sarah Nicole Prickett, Chelsea Summers, Fariha Roisin — to name a something— whatever medium it may take. few.
work. I used Instagram to conceptualize Babe Vibes in the beginning and it helped me to realize it was a viable and interesting concept, the hashtag became a thing, women and girls were posting selfies and mantras with no push from me — it became its own thing and that was exciting and affirming to see. A zine I'm working on Whenever I'm feeling creatively bleh, I like to revisit the list and also started from something I randomly drew for Instagram too. remember the rad stuff I could start right then. I also make lists for When I was younger, feminism gave me every month so I always have stuff to do. Conceptualization is an important part of my process and I write weird and manic notes, the tools and the voice to understand myself. It's fucking hard to be statements, and questions all over on paper in the beginning of the a woman in this world and feminism taught me I wasn't alone and process. I then try to make sense of my notes — figure out what it that 98% of the things I felt and feel shamed/guilty/bad about/ needs, what it doesn't need, what the point is, what isn't necessary. aren't my fault. I usually turn to using Pinterest next to figure out the aesthetic. I then dive in and go through countless reiterations until it starts to When I realized, as a teenager, that the reason I felt bad about my make sense. body wasn't because I was a silly, superficial, "naturally hysterical" girl, but because I lived in a culture that teaches women most of our That process is pretty consistent throughout all my creative work, value comes from fitting into a narrow conception of what "beauty" some things are more sporadic and I figure out what it needs to be is and I was liberated. I felt less guilt about feeling "ugly" or instantly, but it always feel organic. Though, when I design for other whatever, it wasn't my fault! I was never told that growing up and feminism helped me understand that. people, my process is more regimented and specific. I'm trying to figure out how to marry the two currently. Feminism, as a movement, has so much potential to fix culture, to break down the racist, sexist, classist systems that make this world The first class I ever made was in go 'round. It empowers, plus it has given me the strongest 2009, when I was 16. I cringe looking back at the first iteration of friendships. The sisterhood is my life blood, my biggest inspirations, the class, I had no idea what I was doing ha! But I like to reference a and the best fucking support system. I love women. lot of that work now, it was very raw and genuine and I think age When I first started Babe Vibes I was thinking of has helped me to make it cleaner and more sophisticated. I kept it as a digital publication, now I would describe it less as that and as making classes through high school and college and later rebranded more of a collective or project. My thesis made me realize that as Classes Kara Made. It's exciting because of the control. I can digital publication — even as weird I was being about it — felt really do whatever — rebrand, evolve, change directions. CKM itself limiting. I like that if I want to make something, I can find the right isn't usually daunting to me anymore, but other parts of business, women and the right medium to make it in — whether that’s a print like bookkeeping or IRL networking still freak me out. I'll figure it zine or an interactive thing or a series of photos. I'm a stringent list-maker, so I have list called "good ideas" that I'm constantly adding to. Some of the ideas are dumb or whacky, other ones are things that eventually ignite projects, classes, or business ideas.
out. It really ebbs and flows with what I have going on, the time of year, my work schedule etc. I almost completely stopped watching Netflix/Hulu in late 2013 and it was honestly wonderful for my productivity and life. I realized I wasn't really enjoying binge-watching TV shows, but using it to distract myself (and not in a good way). There is no magic trick unfortunately, successful juggling happens because of prioritization and organization. You have to figure out what makes you happy and healthy and use your time wisely.
As far as theme goes… It’s by women. I’m interested in certain topics right now and that’s really reflected in Babe Vibes — self-care, revenge, empowerment (whatever that means), wanting, reflection etc. I think Babe Vibes will ebb as I change and how I collaborate with others. Maybe that’s vague, but I’ve never been sure how to describe it — I think Babe Vibes might just be an excuse to make stuff I want to make with interesting women. I can’t wrap it a bow, but I have never run out of ideas for things to make next, so I think that’s better. I was standing in line at a coffee shop last year and I needed a pep talk. My 45 Pep Talks project was on my mind (I had written myself a pep talk every day for 45 days) and I was thinking it was would be great to turn it into a digital experience, a place to go for pep talks and inspiration. I'm really proud of it! It was really wild to see it explode the way it did, very surreal.
For me, it's going to bed early, keeping my apt clean, using tons of lists, coffee dates with my best friends, taking appropriate breaks, and removing pointless energy-sucking things and people from my life. Obvious, but difficult to implement, stuff. I’ve also really found that tough love language toward myself does not work at all. I used to be kind of cruel to myself thinking it would make me more productive, all it did was inhibit me. Now I am much more kind and It felt like it was long-time coming in ways, the success of it didn't patient to myself. surprise me whatsoever. I knew what I was doing. Virality like that I think having an easy creative outlet was really overwhelming, exciting, but by the end of that week I felt is super important. I love Instagram, for instance, because I can like a kid who had been at Disneyland way too long. I don't know if spend 15 minutes drawing something, post it, and feel instant it changed my approach, but it did really remind me that the things I gratification. Some people think that's bad (I guess because its "the do have power and I should make sure I'm doing good things with it. Internet" and instant gratification is terrible or something) —I think I'm coming out of a bad season of depression it's really wonderful. I work from home and being a motivated, and hoping to finally finish projects that have been in the works for creative person gets lonely. My work is personal, but a lot of it is for an audience. I want to see it do something. It's the perfect platform awhile. New print zines, a new interview series, a monthly column to try things out, create your community, and keep a record of with a writer I love, and some of my own work. Stay tuned!
SHE WHO WAITS—AND WORKS Written by Kate Everson Metropolitan Theater. The New York Times and Huffington Post have applauded her for turning some of the most popular American songbook entries, U2 hits and Edith Piaf classics into personal moments that take listeners into Linehan’s own thought process. She said she specifically picks pieces to sing that reflect something in her life at the time that she’s singing them, and it shows.
It’s a young woman’s world. We own it until we crosses a certain age and are relegated to the shadows surrounding the spotlights shining on those doing it all and using a number to justify their greatness.
to achieve her aspirations. She has selfpublished eight books since 2012, but her first project at age 12 was a labor of pre-teen love fueled by love stories and Oliver Stone.
Or so we’re told, anyway.
“I rewrote the movie ‘Platoon,’ only I made it into a romance novel,” she said. Her love of literature stems back to a librarian mother whose 1978 burgundy Monte Carlo’s backseat doubled as Story’s living room and library. But before going into the performing arts, Linehan studied law in London. During her Much of Story’s success depends on reader career as a barrister she moved to New York ratings. Although she has a solid fan-base to live the successful corporate life. That that consistently awaits her newest project, changed when her father passed away from not all who pick up a Story book are as ALS six years ago and her mother fell termiopen-minded. Some have trolled her online nally ill shortly after. because of the genre she writes. Others have commented on her peers’ writings that “I was in my late 20s and early 30s, living in they can’t relate to her characters because New York in a corporate condo with lots of of differences in race — occurrences that irk beautiful shoes and handbags, all these her as much as they would if they had things you strive to achieve,” she said. “I happened to her personally. realized they were not fulfilling and not what I wanted to spend the rest of my life “Black people are human,” Story said. “They doing, no matter how many years I had.” walk around, they do the same thing everyone else does. There’s no reason you can’t Linehan never received formal vocal trainrelate to them. It’s just your bias and the ing, and unlike those who went straight from stereotypes you may be holding onto that childhood into performing arts programs have clouded your thinking.” and conservatories, she decided to enter the world after experiencing a life off the stage. Story doesn’t use her books as a teaching tool, however. “I made it with a very clear head and a few more years under my belt,” she said. “When “I don’t write about race; I write about love,” you’re making the decision at that point in she said. “Race plays into it sometimes, but your life, you have more experience.” not to a heavy degree because this is fiction. Why would I want to reenact the bullshit I She quit her job and decided to go back to have to deal with as a black woman? I have the performing arts. It wasn’t an easy road, to live it. I’m not going to bring it into what I but the memory of how much her parents do for my enjoyment. This is dream didn’t get to accomplish pushed her to fulfillment for me.” achieve what she had always loved doing, despite having to wait tables. Singer and actress Maxine Linehan’s adult life started in a courtroom but soon took the “Often times your dreams are not lucrative,” stage. she said. “If you’re in a job that is putting a roof over your head, as long as there’s some The 41-year-old singer has released three part of your life that’s dedicated to what albums, including February’s “Beautiful you’re gifted at...if you have a gift, I think it’s Songs,” and performed at New York’s a real shame to not use it.”
This is why many 20- and 30-somethings find themselves frustrated when they don’t achieve their dreams immediately (this writer included). We idolize Beyonce, who was 16 when Destiny’s Child debuted and 21 when her first solo album dropped; Elizabeth Holmes, who founded a billiondollar blood testing company when she was 19; and Lena Dunham, whose scripts about struggling as a millennial artist have turned her into a star. Meanwhile, older women are criticized for looking too old, fake, weak, shrewish, maternal, witchy, bitchy, etc., as they try to continue the careers that put them on the world stage at the beginning. All the “Girls” scripts in the world can’t reverse the idea that the only time a successful woman is quote-unquote safe from scrutiny is when she’s still on the cusp of beginning life. These are the stories of two women whose creativity, perseverance and patience have guided their success in a society where the ability to achieve a dream seems to depreciate with age. Carrie Bradshaw better look out. New York’s title as “sexiest city” is in jeopardy, and it’s because of one Chicago writer’s steamy novels set in the Windy City. Romance writer Sherrod Story, 40, not only showcases the city where she grew up but also reflects its diversity through characters of all colors — white, black, and even green and blue, as is the case with her newest novel, September’s “How to Love a Green Demon.” Story never expected to self-publish, but found it was her only option if she was going
Published on Dec 3, 2015
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