Category Archives: victories

Self-Aware Bodies

systems of the body

How well do you know how your body works?

  • better than you know your car?
  • better than you know your career field?
  • better than you know your way through your house in the dark?

Have you ever wondered why this playground that you were born with came to be shrouded in secrecy, only to be revealed to doctors with pedigrees and trusted lovers?

Let’s try some questions:

  1. Can you point to your sacrum?
  2. Do you know a stretch for your hamstring?
  3. How do you avoid a muscle popping around your knee?

If you can answer these, I bet it’s despite your schooling, not because of it. At least that is the case with me. I had a terrible biology class in my Catholic high school, and never took Anatomy/Physiology. Elsewhere, at non-Catholic institutions, I’ve heard tales about Health class also being a joke, a ‘bird course.’ Our equivalent was, I suppose, Family Life.


So, along with many others, I was launched into public society (university) to fend for myself ignorant about:

  • how birth control worked
  • how sex affected the body/i.e. how the genitals actually worked, other than excretory functions
  • how the digestive system could be upset
  • how blood pressure, pulse, breath, and weight relate

Such lack of information led to some awkward/tearful/confused/expensive forays into the health care system. And almost always, there was shame.

Why isn’t my body working normally, like everyone else’s seems to be?

Why don’t I know how to fix this?

IS there something wrong with my body?

From here at age 34, I look back and know this was wrong.

Why were we left in such ignorance, powerlessness, and shame as teenagers?

The first glimmer I had that something was wrong, that it wasn’t just me, was in reading a book called Margaret and I, by Kate Wilhelm. In it, a loveless marriage fails in the face of the protagonist discovering someone who actually accepts her wholly, communing with her through a different dimension… (it’s pretty awesome psychological sci-fi!)

There is a specific scene where, in this loveless marriage, the man comes home to find the wife conked out, but proceeds to satisfy his urges (e.g. date rape her). The wife’s subconscious, the main character/POV in the novel, witnesses this. Margaret’s subconscious already had a resentment of the husband’s ordinary mechanical lovemaking, which then blossoms into a fierce protective shield after this incident. There are other types of betrayals to follow, but this physical one is what made me stop and take notice.

That was NOT OKAY. So what IS OKAY? And how do I share my body with another person in an OKAY way?

The second barrier I crossed in changing my thinking on this issue was a few years later, when I decided to start running for fitness and–haha–fun. I’d NEVER been a runner; in fact I’d nourished nightmares from running since 2nd-grade soccer practice: SO not my forte.

But at that point in my life, I was feeling stuck, unattractive, sedentary. I needed something that would give me confidence, change the routine, and reconnect my ever-churning mind with my body. I eventually ran a couple 5ks and a 10-mile race. After a couple years, the need to run became less than the need to do other things, but while I was in it, I wrote an article titled, The Point of Running My Race.

In writing that essay, I made the discovery that I was running to control one small portion of my life, a segment of my day, because I was not yet feeling up to changing the big things wrong with my life. What was making me feel stuck was a relationship gone awry, a lack of purpose and learning in my job, and a mismatch between my lifestyle and my personality.

In 2011 all I could think about was putting one foot in front of the other, quite literally. I didn’t get crazy, but I ran regularly, with increasing distances, and increasing knowledge of my REAL limits, not the stories I’d always told myself about my limits.

Those stories, including the ones about powerlessness and shame, are still being overwritten today.

This practice of running and its meditative element eventually allowed me to cut ties and move on–away from the toxic relationship that had me ignoring my own body’s responses, to a more flexible part-time work arrangement and writing career, and across the country to a place that aligned better with my own personality.

Fast-forward another few years and I’m here in Portland, juggling a burgeoning writing life and a social day job as a barista. I’m dancing, walking, and yogi-ing my way through some awesome studios and trails, and while there is still no one partner to share life with, I feel much stronger, braver, and truer to myself in my relationships.

So, back to the body:

As I outgrow my teenage and twenty-something ideas about the body, trusting what my body tells me and overwriting those toxic messages, I’ve actually become more fit. My running phase has been succeeded by a yoga phase which shows no signs of losing its appeal.

Meditative and gentle, yet challenging in both mental and physical ways, YOGA has been the third nudge in the direction of listening to and getting to know my body better. I’m even branching out into the amazing barre and strength offerings at Muv Training. Commitment to exercise that fits my goals has helped me figure out those questions from the top: learning to stretch the right way, for me, learning to eat the right way, for me. I’m discovering what works for my body:

NOT because I feel like it’s betraying me (‘why can’t I be more normal?’)

NOT because I want it to conform to others’ ideas of beauty (‘why can’t i look more like that?‘)

but BECAUSE I realize that being grounded in my body is the one and only thing that will keep me alive in this crazy world for as long as I am.

Writing this post has helped me forgive past attitudes, accept present consequences, and commit to radical self-care. It is a hard-won victory, and a long time coming.

I know there are others that have struggled, are struggling. Won’t you share your stories?

Image via Shutterstock and LiveScience

Holiday Updates

While most Taste Life Twice activity lately has been writing-related, and therefore on my writing site (, there are a number of fun announcements to post here today!

new content header

1) New Book!!! 2014 has been a year of intense editing — learning by doing — on my first NaNoWriMo novel. But it is finally OUT the DOOR: hooray! I invite you to take a look over on Amazon (paperback version forthcoming).

2) This site will be seeing a new series of its own soon, which I’m calling Luminairies. It will highlight interviews with people I’ve met and been inspired by, due to the consistent courage of their life choices.

3) I was approached to write a piece for a new blog, based on the introspective self-help-type articles I’ve posted here.

Sherlock flattered gif I wrote about making a bucket list for your Normal Life. Check it out! It’s on a bingo gaming site that is reaching out to cover some life design topics as well.

To kick off the Luminairies series, I will give away a free copy to a random commenter on the 1st post in the series, between 12-18 and 12-31.

(This will parallel the Goodreads giveaway, so if you want to increase your odds, enter both!)

To close, a happy thought:

rain, tea, and a good book


Images via Kabbage, Giffity Gif Gif, and bellajvella

Cooking Challenge the First

Following up on that Portland foodie post, I wanted to show you that I’ve been making efforts in the kitchen myself as well. Not back to cooking lesson territory yet, for various reasons, but still having a walloping good time experimenting.

There are two recent projects that I’m proud of tackling, since they are a stretch for me.

The first concerns a food that I’m not particularly fond of: lamb. I had plenty of it while living in Turkey (now there’s irony), but didn’t particularly like the taste and always thought if I didn’t like it enough, I shouldn’t be patronizing the meat industry, factory farming being what it is today.

But avoiding the whole area nagged at me. Wasn’t there some way I could come to appreciate lamb? It’s one of the most common meats to find at the local, organic farmers’ markets that abound here in Stumptown. I decided to give it a chance, and bought a small piece of osso buco-cut lamb from one of the vendors at the PSU Farmers’ Market.

Weeks later, I finally found a recipe and room to roam in the kitchen, so I defrosted that premium cut from Deck Farms.

lamb cut osso buco

The recipe was from Melissa Clark’s latest cookbook, In the Kitchen with an Appetite: Lamb Tagine with Apricots, Olives, and Buttered Almonds (found on NYT here).

As always, I had to make do with a lot of substitutions:

no saffron, kalamata instead of green olives, pine nuts instead of almonds, and, it almost goes without saying, no garnish. I also scaled down 4:1 as it was just for me.

prep tagine ingredients

My ingredients chopped and ready to go…

lamb tagine

…and the same ingredients after being sweated, simmered, and braised for almost an hour, over basmati rice, another stand-in. It may not come out in the picture, but the succulence was amazing. The meat was buttery rich and everything had a nice savory-creamy-richness to it that lasted for the 3 meals it took to finish. I credit mostly the cut of the meat, since there weren’t any other big players in the lineup. Well done, Deck Farms!

So there you have it, a confrontation with one of my cooking bugaboos, and with a recipe from a book I’ve been dying to try, we are off to a running start with lamb!

For the second challenge, you’ll have to stay tuned for the next post! 😉

What about you guys? I know there are a couple blogs out there who have made a feature of a particularly troublesome ingredient each month and then had a round-robin discussion of how far people got with it, which sounds fun.

But barring that motivation (and space not permitting at the moment), let’s start with the question: what do you avoid touching with a 10-foot-pole in your kitchen? And WHY is THAT?