Tuesday, January 27, 2015

New Thing: Take a pottery class

Each year I make a list of new things I want to try; it's part of how I live my life on purpose. Some of these new things are exciting, many are terribly mundane.

Guys, this is the post where I shatter our collective dream that throwing pottery is exactly like that scene from Ghost.

Or perhaps more accurately, it's not like that scene from Ghost if you're throwing pottery and drinking wine out of paper cups with three of your girlfriends because you got a Groupon.

Prior to this Groupon adventure, I'd never set hands on a potter's wheel, happy to stick to the roll-and-pinch techniques of third grade art class. Despite my lack of experience, after watching our teacher throw a pot in - no exaggeration - 35 seconds I was fairly convinced that
a. this would be totes easy
b. obviously, I would be a natural at it

Now, if you've ever tried to make something on a potter's wheel you know that it is actually shockingly hard. Like, maybe you shouldn't try to do it while drinking wine and chatting about Emily's job and Laura's classes and Meredith's next trip. Maybe you should, you know, pay really close attention and concentrate, Sarah.

After many, many false starts, I developed a decent throwing method that paired "Shhhh don't talk to me I'm doing this!" + staring + stopping as soon as any given pot looked okay-ish/before I could ruin it.
Really, this is a method I imagine I could apply to many, many things in my life.

After we'd all created a few fireable pieces our intrepid leader showed us how to make and attach handles and let us choose a glaze. I chose matte black in an attempt to make my pieces look more 'Pier 1' and less 'Eighth Grade Art Class.'

All in all, it was a really lovely way way to spend an afternoon and a great value when you consider you're getting two hours of fun, four pottery pieces and lots of little paper cups of wine. If you're in the Twin Cities, check it out!

Have you ever taken a pottery class? How'd it go for you? What advice would you give beginners?

P.S. The time I went to a dog show and the time I took a pole dancing class.

Monday, January 26, 2015

True Story: My Husband Cheated. I Stayed + We Worked Through It

This is one of many True Story Interviews in which we talk to people who have experienced interesting/challenging/amazing things. This is the story of 'Elle,' her husband, his affair, and how they repaired their marriage.

cheating husband

Tell us a bit about yourself. 
I’m 49 years old, mom to three children. I’m an author and journalist. Seven years ago, when I was 42, I became a member of the club none of us wants to join – the betrayed wives club.

How did you meet your husband?
I met my husband through a mutual friend. We’ve been married for 18 years. We met when I was 30 and working as a magazine editor. He was in finance (still is). He’s smart and social. I generally prefer books to people. Our yin/yang thing works.

Prior to this experience with your husband, how did you feel about infidelity? 
Like most women, my friends and I had played the “what would you do if you found out your husband was cheating” game. I insisted I’d kick him to the curb. I’d had boyfriends cheat on me in the past. Part of what I first loved about my husband was that he felt so safe. He adored me. He didn’t play games. It was all so easy. We were really good friends who fell in love.

Do you know what lead your husband to cheat?
My husband started seeking out sex as a way to numb uncomfortable feelings even before he met me. His father, who he worshipped, had died young. Then a girlfriend he was in love with said she had cancer, which turned out be a lie. He couldn’t cope with the loss, the confusion, the sadness. Sex without emotion became an escape.

I knew nothing of his sex addiction until twelve years into our marriage.

How did you find out? And how did you react?
We had married, moved cities, and altered our career paths. There had been some lean years but we were finally doing well financially. We had three gorgeous, healthy children. Life was good.

And then…he switched jobs and took his toxic assistant with him. I was surprised. This woman drove him crazy. Nagged. Criticized. Made unreasonable demands. I figured switching firms was the perfect chance to get rid of her. He claimed that he needed her to help him get settled in his new job. That she was crazy but also good at her job.

Getting “settled” at his new job seemed to involved late nights at the office. Dinners with his assistant as they organized files. I was trying hard to be understanding because I knew he was under a lot of pressure to succeed. His company had a lot invested in him.

I was busy working on a book so I pushed my nagging thoughts aside. Besides, she was truly nasty. He wouldn’t cheat on me. Especially with her.

One night, he was out of town at a conference. I discovered she’d gone with him.

And suddenly, I just knew. It was like a light went off. I called him and he didn’t answer.

I called again. And again. And again. Thirty-one times I called and it went to voicemail every single time.

The next morning he called me back and I said, calmly: “Tell me everything.”

He, crying, admitted to an affair with her but said it was me he loved. 

My world went dark.

I felt hatred toward her unlike anything I’d ever felt toward another person. She knew me. She had sat at my dinner table. How could anyone knowingly cheat with a married man? A father of three? What did she expect to get from it besides a bigger office? I was baffled. I called my husband horrible, unpublishable names. I told him he'd broken me forever. Why? I kept asking him. Why?

All he could say was that it had nothing to do with me. How was that possible? It took me a year to understand how true that was. Affairs rarely have anything to do with the wife. They’re fantasy. Escape. Which is why so few affairs last once they’re pulled from the shadows.

My husband found a therapist to help him figure out why he risked everything that mattered to him for a woman who didn’t. We fought. I cried. There were days I could barely function. I tried to take care of my kids. I finished my book though, to this day, I don’t know how. I was a mess. I couldn’t leave because I could barely get out of bed.

Six months later, the whole story emerged. He had cheated not just with this nasty assistant but with many women. Our entire relationship. He was, he told me, a sex addict. He was in treatment with a therapist who specialized in sex addiction.

To those who tell me that sex addiction is a convenient excuse that cads use when they’re caught, I say you’ve never seen sex addiction. Anyone with sex addiction, like any other addiction, is emotionally crippled by shame and self-loathing. It’s the farthest thing from sexy or convenient. Admitting it means 12-step meetings, full disclosure of everything you’ve ever done. Every lie you’ve told. It’s finally looking at yourself in the mirror and hating what you see.

What made you decide to stay with your husband and work through the issues?
My husband fully expected me to leave when he confessed but had agreed with his therapist that I deserved to know.

But when I looked at him curled in the fetal position, sobbing, unable to look at me, I saw only the father of my children – my closest friend – at the lowest point of his life.

I told him I could promise nothing but that I would be his friend. I figured that I would leave, eventually. That I would ensure he continued to get help, that once he was “healthy”, I would move on without regret.

In the meantime, however, I also was at the lowest point of my life. His betrayal triggered all sorts of my own issues – abandonment, trust, safety.

But by facing those, and watching my husband address deeply buried issues of his own, we grew together.

How have you two made it through this? 
We had the benefit of a fabulous counselor who helped us work through the fallout of infidelity. Who taught my husband how to just be with me in my pain and accept responsibility without flinching. She showed us how to rebuild a marriage based on honesty and transparency. She made it clear that no marriage is immune to infidelity. And that marriage is more than sexual fidelity. That’s a part of it, of course. But it’s much more.

So here we are, seven years since my world imploded. And though I’ll never say my husband’s affair was good for us, I will say that we’ve grown in ways we couldn’t have imagined. I have found a joy I thought impossible. He is happier and more whole than he's ever been.

In that seven years, I’ve lost my beloved mom. I’ve helped far too many friends deal with their spouse’s affairs. I’ve created a website to offer a safe, non-judgmental place for women experiencing the pain of betrayal to share their stories, seek advice, and receive compassion and support – pretty much the site I wished existed when I felt so lonely.

Surely it must be hard to rebuild trust. If you had to put a number on it, where are you guys at now? 
It’s impossible to put a number on it. We’re not the same people we were. Our relationship is, in many ways, a second marriage to our first spouse.

I don’t believe I would still be in my marriage if my husband hadn’t told me he wanted to become the man I thought he was…and then took the necessary steps to battle his demons. I’m grateful that I gave him the chance. I’m grateful my children have the benefit of a dad who’s also taken steps to become a better father.

Affairs are devastating. And isolating. There’s much blame placed on the wife. Our culture supports a narrative that is blatantly untrue. That the wife must have been frigid. That she probably “let herself go.” That she must be a nag. That anyone who stays with a cheater is a doormat.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all response to betrayal. For some, leaving the marriage is wisest. For others, reconciliation takes them where they want to go. Every day I hear from women whose hearts are broken by the people who promised not to break them. They need compassion and someone to guide them toward healing, whatever that looks like for them. 

Now, I’m even able to extend that compassion toward the Other Women. I’m convinced that no-one with any self-respect or decency knowingly participates in the pain of another person. These women are damaged. They settle for the ego strokes of an affair, the titillation of deceit because it makes them feel powerful. I wish they wanted more for themselves…at the very least, there would be a lot less women visiting my site seeking solace if other women (and, yes, men) refused to participate in their deception.

Thanks so much for sharing your story, Elle. Do you guys have any (respectful) questions for Elle? Have any of you stayed in a relationship after you were cheated on?

P.S. Other sides to the story - I joined Ashley Madison + now I'm sleeping with four married guys and I cheated on my husband

photo by Vinoth Chandar // cc

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Web Time Wasters

How was your week guys? Mine was normal/boring but my weekend has been near perfection: going out dancing, brunch + a cat show with buddies, and today a clothing swap and a group viewing of Downton Abbey!

Enough about me. Let's talk about links!

Cute gifts for the kid scientist in your life!

I always love a good round up of well-reviewed drugstore beauty products. (And for the record, thisis STILL the only lipstick I use.)

A sweet quote.

I am alllll over solutions for storage and lightning and tiny kitchens - I love the idea of installing a sliding door to free up more space in a small room. And I bet you could even do this in a rental!

Is Britney Spears a feminist icon?
If you imagine the Britneyplex as concentric circles, you’d find her and her parents and her sister and brother, but also her kids and Kevin and Kevin’s other kids, and then the managers and the agents and publicists. Further out on those circles are the dancers, many of whom have trained all their lives to be her dancers. (Unlike some other stars, she likes to share the stage with them, and isn’t threatened by their presence — something that occasionally works to her detriment with some of the critics, when they compare her with her much younger compatriots.)

The more I learn about American football, how it affects the players' health, and what happens when they retire, the more heart broken I am that we support this sport. This story about a Superbowl-winning player who's now bankrupt and struggling with brain damage is eye-opening.

Mesmerizing cinemagraphs.

If you had a self-chosen 'uniform' what would it be?

The first 10 minutes of anything set the tone for the rest of it.

What were 29-year-old Marilyn Monroe's New Year's resolutions?

Did you know that wildlife crossings are a thing? How sweet!

A reminder we all need from time to time: if someone is romantically interested in you, you will know (and you won't need to decipher their texts.)

What to do if someone calls you out for saying something shitty.

This makes me want to go back to India.

Love at any size.
For most of my dating life, my amplitude was something to be overlooked, overcome. Tolerated. I remember one man, an alcoholic who’d begun taking red wine before his morning coffee, sitting across from me as I held a vegetable roll between my chopsticks, and asking, with an earnest obliviousness, if I might consider “eating healthier food.” My suitors were always taken enough with everything beneath my skin — heart and wit and good old-fashioned moxie — but only taken so far. Even if our breakups were rooted in banality of mismatched ambitions, uneven libidos, or just plain stupid youth, there was always a thin tendril muscling up from that root, one that choked our relationships: the stigma of dating a fat girl.

And a few Yes and Yes posts you might have missed: 7 totally amazing magazines we should all be reading, How to be a movie extra, True Story: My husband and I sailed from California to New Zealand - while I was pregnant.

Hope you guys had a lovely weekend!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Smoothie formula + Sweet potato butter + Jade earrings!

Sure, you could spend your Saturday morning paying bills and swiffering. Oooooor you could click through some awesome links from this month's sponsors!

Favorite stuff:
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Want to see your stuff here? It's cheaper than you think and craaaazy effective. Check out my info and ad rates here or drop me a line at sarah (at) yesandyes (dot) org and we'll get you started!

Friday, January 23, 2015

4 Mistakes Just About Everyone Is Making Online

Doesn't that title seem alarmist?

Here is the giant asterisk that should accompany it:

* And I was totally making these mistakes for years and only figured them out through working with hundreds of clients and I’d be remiss if I didn't tell you about this so you can be smarter than me and not screw this up for years, too.

But that’s a pretty big asterisk, right? If you're curious about the mistakes I made for years (and how you can avoid them) pop over to my small business blog and have a read!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

2015 Anne Shirley

This is a new post series idea I'm trying out - imagining our favorite female literary characters navigating life in 2015.

Anne obviously got into the MFA program at Sarah Lawrence on the first try, her collection of poems about birch trees moved the admissions team to tears.

Of course, it was hard to leave Diana on Prince Edward Island, but they kept in touch with emoji-filled texts and frequent Skype dates. Anne was always trying to include her little rescue dog in the calls and Diana spent 40% of every call lamenting her weight. Anne always responded with "Well, you know I think your curves are delightful," and then she'd send her a link to that Meghan Trainor song.

Anne still got in trouble for talking constantly. Though her 'Rate My Professor' reviews were generally positive, there were still plenty of comments like "couldn't get a word in edgewise when I went in for office hours" and "seems obsessed with water metaphors and speaks in an overly poetic manner about normal shit. Just give me the assignment, you know?"

Anne wasn't sure what life held for her after graduate school. She loved the life that she'd built for herself in New York - the sweet little pots of herbs on her fire escape, chats over tea with her Gender Studies PhD roommate, afternoons spent picking through piles of sweaters in the neighborhood thrift stores. 

Maybe she'd move to Japan and teach there for a few years. Maybe she tag along with Gilbert on a Doctors Without Borders Trip. Maybe she and Diana would start a Youtube channel, reciting pop lyrics in a dramatic fashion.

Whatever happened, she knew she was up to the challenge. Life is worth living as long as there's a laugh in it.

photo of model luca hollestelle

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Nerdy Analogy To Help You Navigate Tough Stuff

difficult times

A few weeks ago, I was pacing the floor/wringing my hands/generally being wound up and annoying in the vicinity of my man-partner

I nattered on about 2015 and all the big, exciting, really difficult things that are coming my way this year. I talked (at length) about all the articles I was reading and the books I'd ordered so I could research everything in exhausting, minute detail. I discussed the counsel I'd sought in experienced friends and professionals.

I couldn't shake the belief that no matter what I do, or how I prepare, I'm going to screw it up, ruin my business, and fall into a carb coma so deep I'll never dig myself out from beneath all those buttered noodles.

After listening to me drone on for hours a few minutes, that calm, kind man said reminded me of a plot point featured in nearly every fantasy/sci-fi/magical book his sons read:
The wizard in the woods

When you're the hero of your own story, you very frequently begin your journey with a cape and a staff and a interaction with a wise, mysterious wizard.

He'll appear beside a gnarled tree and tell you all about the amazing things that await once you reach your goal. Gold! Self actualization! A castle! Your very own dragon!

But - he cautions you - your journey will be fraught with peril. You'll meet temptation and distraction. You'll doubt yourself, your travel companions, you'll question why you ever started on this stupid adventure anyway.

It will be challenging because that's the nature of adventure.
This is what happens when you go after what you want.

You'll be required to show persistence and bravery. Yes, this will be hard, but you knew that. Hell, you expected that. 

I immediately felt better. I have a tendency (like many of us) to only do things I'm good at. Apparently I also believe that research and preparation will protect me and if something's hard, I'm doing it wrong.

But a lot of things in life - big career choices, friendships and relationships, huge athletic goals, moving to a new city - are hard and right. Next time you're engaged in floor-pacing and hand-wringing, I'd encourage you to remember that wizard in the woods. This is your path and your adventure. You can do this.

Do you have a go-to analogy that helps you navigate hard times? I'd love to hear them in the comments!

P.P.S. No, I'm not pregnant nor am I attempting to become so. :)

photo by Ben Clarke // cc

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Mornings In Denmark

This is one of many Mornings In _______ posts in which gorgeous women from all over the world let us peek at their breakfast and beauty routines. Fun, right?

Name: Anne-Kristine 
Hometown: Jyderup 
Age: 25 
Occupation: Student at a Folk High School which is a traditional Danish school based on the concept of learning solely for the joy of learning. 

My alarm is set for:
8 am. Sometimes my roommate set her alarm for 7 am to go running and we both wake up and then go straight back to sleep.

Most mornings I eat:
Oatmeal porridge, it's such a good winter food, sometimes I put apple sauce on top, I summer I mostly eat shredded oats with milk and diced apple. The cook at my school makes all the food I eat. 

My beauty routine consists of:
Most days I only wear mascara, I use Power Volume Mascara from Nilens Jord. I use cold pressed coconut oil from Urtekram as an all round moisturizer. It smells like candy and makes my skin feel nice and soft even in winter, it's also quite tasty!

My hair is completely straight, silky and not that thick, I try to combat all of those qualities by using a salt water spray I get from a store called Matas. They carry products from many brands and also have their own range of things, many of which are perfume-free. Allergy prevention and awareness has become a big thing here in resent years. 

Then, I head to work by:
I'm living at my school at the moment so I just put on my slippers and skip up two flights of stairs. I've been enjoying that tremendously, but at the same time I look forward to going back to Copenhagen and riding my bike everywhere. Biking is very popular in Copenhagen year round, even though it sometimes in winter resemble ice skating a bit much. 

Thanks for sharing, Anne-Kristine! Any other Danish readers out there? What's your breakfast and beauty routine? 

P.S. More beauty-related things: an interview with a super model and What's the point of pretty?

Monday, January 19, 2015

True Story: I Can't Stop Pulling Out My Hair

This is one of many True Story interviews in which we talk to people who have experienced interesting/challenging/amazing things. This is the story of Jaye and her struggles with trichotillomania.

Tell us a bit about yourself!
Hello! My name is Jessica Lindsay, but I go by Jaye. I'm from Baltimore, MD, but I grew up in Greenbrier County, WV. I'm 22 years old (almost 23!). During the day, I'm a medical biller, but I have a small photography business on the side. I love exploring abandoned buildings and taking pictures of that. My other hobbies include cooking, reading, video gaming, and writing. 

For those of us who don't know, what's trichotillomania?
Trichotillomania essentially a hair-pulling disorder. You'll hear it referred to as an impulse control problem, a branch-off of dermotillomania (a skin-picking disorder), and even obsessive-compulsive disorder.

When did you first start pulling out your hair?
I was first diagnosed at age eleven, but I think I've always pulled. The thing with a disease like this is that unless it has noticeable effects, this can go untreated for many years. I grew up hearing "Get your hands out of your hair" like it was a catchphrase, and this was before I was diagnosed. When I first heard the word "trichotillomania", I had pulled out so much that there was a rather large bald spot at the crown of my head. 

What triggers your trichotillomania?
Stress is the number one trigger for most people, and it's why I originally started pulling. When this first began, I was at a new school with no friends for the second time, and my mother and I were arguing almost daily. Later, and especially now, it's more of a concentration technique. I go into trances when I read or am on a computer where I won't even realize that I'm pulling. It's so habitual for me now.

Do the people in your life know about this? 
My mother was the first to know, and she used it like I was attacking her. Since I left her home, it hasn't been brought back up. My father's approach is that if we didn't talk about it, nothing was wrong. That kills me, because out of everyone, I wanted to talk to him the most about it because I'm positive he has dermotillomania, so he should understand what this was like.

Maybe that's why he didn't talk about it, because he didn't like talking to people about his problems and he thought I wanted the same. His second wife, she thought I was shaving my eyebrows and eyelashes. I don't know if she ever acknowledged that this wasn't intentional. Now, she'll notice holes in my facial hair and sigh and go, "Oh, Jessie."

I don't keep this a secret. If someone asks, I'll tell them about it, but it's not something I go around, proclaiming that I have trich. Some of my friends know, but they also take the "This is awkward, let's never mention this again" approach. Only one of my friends has ever brought it up on her own. Three weeks ago, out of nowhere, my friend, Lindsey, posted on my wall this video about trich. I hadn't talked to her in years, and it just really touched me that she not only remembered, but she thought of me enough to send me that. 

Has it affected other areas of your life? 
Well, it has definitely affected my social life. Children aren't necessarily nice about these types of things, and that bullying has carried over heavily into my adult life and I missed out on many of those "must have" high school experiences. Also, my self-esteem is a work in progress. I've only rather recently learned it's okay to have pictures taken with me in them. It's an interesting thing, to always be conscious of your body hair. 

Have you sought treatment? 
I'm lucky that when this manifested itself at its worst, I was not paying for my own health insurance. I worked with several different therapists and I recently started again after an eight year break. Unfortunately, it's never worked. Maybe it's because I was never just going for trich, but I can honestly say that I've done better on my own than with therapists. I'm not saying it's that way for everyone, but it's that way for me.

How are you coping with it these days?
When the bald spot appeared on my head in sixth grade, I knew that could never happen again. I turned to pulling my eyebrows and eyelashes, which has followed me around since then. Some days are better than others. I actually have eyebrows, though they're a little short and have some thin spots, and my eyelashes exist, with holes but still there. I've gotten very good at hiding my missing hair. The trick is to pull where no one will notice but you. Most people wouldn't even know I have it if they met me on the street, which is the plan, of course.

What advice would you give to others who are struggling with it?
There are a few lessons I learned that have helped me tremendously. For one, keep your hands busy. If you recognize a situation where you normally pull, such as reading, get a squeeze ball, get some fidget toy, get a hair band and just play with it.

Another tip is to keep your hands away from your face. Don't play with earrings or necklaces. It's a short leap from there to your hairline or wherever you pull. The other advice is what I mentioned before: if you absolutely must pull, pull in a place where it won't be missed. This rule has helped me above all else

Thanks for sharing your story, Jaye. Have any of you struggled with something similar? Do you have any questions for Jaye? 

P.S. Other health-related interviews - I received a donated kidney + I have synesthesia 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Web Time Wasters

How was your week, guys? I'm trying out a new business model and thus far it's, um, not working. Here's to fine tuning and not working till 8 pm every day!

Links for you!

I am extreeeeemly reticent about joining online groups/communities/online courses but I've been part of Cornerstone for the last two months and have found it to be incredibly helpful. It's the right balance of support, structure, and inspiration without feeling overwhelming. If you're self-employeed (or trying to be) I think you'd love it!

A book that will help you plan your blog for 2015

Remember when I wondered if I'd be hiking in Nepal if I couldn't tell anyone about it? Related: Has travel become another exercise in narcissism?
Just realize: if your travelling is a box-ticking exercise; if you predicate even one iota of self-worth on how many countries you’ve visited; if you think in bucket-lists inspired by clickbait ‘10 best’ listicles appealing to the lowest common denominator, from one deluded c*nt to another, travelling isn’t making you interesting. It’s just confirming your position as one of the crowd.

Things I want to eat/bake/stuff in my mouth: baked egg in an avocado, the green machine sandwich, thyme and Parmesan roasted sweet potatoes.

This blazer. Yay or nay?

A beautifully written post about the optimistic nature of new year's resolutions.

If you've ever moved in with a dude, you know it can be hard to create a home that works with both your aesthetics. I really liked this gender-neutral-feeling home.

And I love seeing tours of rented apartments on big design websites! This place is adorable!

Uncanny street photography.

I know it's winter but isn't this swimsuit adorable?

I need to re-read this about once a month. Stop trying to change your life overnight.
We’re really good at fantasizing about the big picture of what we want, but we’re total shit at setting day-to-day action steps to make it happen.
Being able to identify an action step that is both small enough to be realistic and important enough to be high-impact is a learned behavior, and like any other skill you need to practice it over and over if you want to improve.

A glossary of the internet. SMDH = suck my dang hand

If I ever become a weirdo billionaire, I will absolutely have a tank of jellyfish.

I loooove this Etsy shop of illustrated songs.

Today, say yes to detachment.

Completely random recommendation: if a man in your life has really sensitive skin/hates shaving, this is a miracle.

Lovely wallpaper for your computer or phone.

Just like everyone, ever I love Kurt Vonnegut. His letter to a group of grade school students is so sweet!
Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what's inside you, to make your soul grow.


And a few Yes and Yes posts you might have missed: A mini travel guide to Sweden, 4 fun food-themed parties, When "no" is better than "yes"