Author Archives: jessaissomewhatdamaged

[sic], nourished.

Food and I have had a tumultuous relationship throughout my life. Sometimes it was my only comfort; other times, my greatest enemy. Now, it is a source of pleasure. It is sustenance.

Recently, my sisters and I visited my mom. She made my favorite meal: macaroni and meatballs. This is my everything meal. This was the food of childhood Sunday suppers after church. It is still the food of family and togetherness. We ate around the table on the fancy plates.

Best. Meal. Ever.

Best. Meal. Ever.

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We also drank watermelon cocktails (clearly not in the fancy glasses).

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I’ve needed connection and fun. I ate at a ramen shop with a friend, where we feasted on pork belly buns and noodles. (Ramen and mazemen not pictured. Too busy slurping and laughing.)

Beautiful buns.

Beautiful buns.

Then, there’s pizza. Always pizza.

Pizza at my mom’s house, accompanied by pink moscato and some much needed quiet writing time.

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Heat and eat pizza with creamy goat cheese and roasted red peppers.

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The perfect pizza for vegging out in front of the television.

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An amazing Sicilian slice with plenty of meatballs. Chewy, crispy, cheesy, crunchy.

I am obsessed with iced coffee. Life fuel.

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Creamy cold brew.

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Nitro cold brew.

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…Definitely NOT cold brew.

Let’s not forget hot coffee. Sometimes, just getting out of the house and grabbing a hot coffee will get the words flowing again. (My new favorite mini notebook doesn’t hurt, either.)

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I had been craving a good lox platter and, finally, after weeks of denying myself, I just said, fuck it. Had a date with myself and enjoyed every single bite. I mean, just look at this beauty.

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LOOK AT IT.

I needed to go for a walk the other day and ended up sampling food truck tacos. Cauliflower and chickpea tacos were delicious, but black bean and quinoa with homemade ranch sauce were transcendent. Sometimes, I can’t contain all the largeness inside. Everything seems so big and uncontrollable, but then I sit and eat and think and write, and the worlds–inner and outer–don’t seem so strange and overwhelming anymore.

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What have you eaten today?

[sic]

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August theme: Nourish

What feeds you? Your body, your soul.

I’ve been slightly obsessed with sandwiches lately, largely due to the fact that I have black garlic mayonnaise in my fridge. Add that to the ease and simplicity of a perfect stack of nutty Swiss cheese, salty ham and crusty french bread with a perfectly soft interior, and it’s pretty much the perfect meal. (And this is why vegetarianism is so hard for me to maintain.)

There are certain foods and drinks that just evoke comfort. An egg with a perfectly oozy yolk. My mom’s meatballs, made with a sense of ritual. A big bowl of noodles slurped with relish. A good slice of pizza. Doesn’t have to be great or spectacular. If the cheese is gooey and the crust chewy with a hint of crispiness, we are in business. A good cup of iced coffee with just a splash of soy milk or cream and a drizzle of simple syrup. A cold, refreshing beer. A steaming cup of peppermint tea. (Yes, in August!)

Then, there is music. A new journal with paper of a certain weight. Television shows that make you both reflect and breathe. A book worn from time and constant reading that you can’t help but go to again and again. Shampoo that smells like rosemary and mint. A long walk where every sound is a song.

These are just a few of the things that nourish me. What feeds you? What satiates your appetite when life leaves you depleted and starved? Go on, Kindred. Share what nourishes your body and soul.

[sic]

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[sic] playlist: sing.

Creating a playlist is an art. When I write, I explore the world through words, and music is a part of that. Maybe I’ve just been conditioned to feel like life should have a soundtrack, but I can’t imagine not having the ability to create stories and evoke emotions through curating a collection of songs.

So, this is my contribution to the current theme. Is it obvious? Sure. But who gives a fuck? Sometimes, your song is a fucking song. Sometimes you just have to cry and sing until you gain clarity, accept life for what it is and feel better about being in the world.

Sing along.

[sic]

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[sic] vulnerability. a playlist.

Sometimes, when you feel raw and vulnerable, you need to accept the feeling and then find ways to work with it.

And sometimes, you need a soundtrack that reflects exactly that.

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The Rebirth of [sic]

What can you say about rebirth? It’s not something that happens only once. It’s a continuous process. I am the phoenix constantly bursting into flames and rising from the ashes. Life is full of little rebirths, isn’t it? Small moments that make us feel alive in the midst of chaos and pain. There are many things that brought me joy, beautiful things, little moments and treasures that helped me rise. I’ve been collecting these images all month, snapping pictures with no real purpose, but somehow, this all feels right. Connected.

Cafe jaunts. A cup of coffee here, a perfectly plush, plump, sweet vegan doughnut there. And words. Always words.

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A good meal makes me feel happy, warm. I feel alive and blessed for each bite of goodness. Spicy Thai coconut soup from a lunch with family, homemade fried egg sandwiches with potato spinach hash on fresh bread from a nearby bakery. Those egg sandwiches fed Lover Man and me well. Rich egg, hearty potato, salty spinach and crusty bread are so perfect together.

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Going outside and running has made me feel whole! I love this beautiful weather. The sun peeking through branches waking from a long winter, casting my shadow on cracked pavement and feeling whole. I still remember the song I was listening to when the sun came out on that day, which had started out dreadfully overcast: “Shake Me Down” by Cage The Elephant: “I’ll keep my eyes fixed on the sun….” The universe, always sending messages in the most unusual places.

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New journals for jotting notes, thoughts, dreams. Tea to warm me and add a little sweetness to each night. Magazines always calm me and make me feel a bit more centered. I’ve pored over them incessantly since childhood. Something about the gloss and the language makes me come alive.

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A row of prayer candles, saints on shelves soothing me on a rough, rainy day, reminding me that my prayers are heard.

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A beer with a message, proving that the universe also has a wicked sense of humor. Breathe, sip, repeat.

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Rise Like a Phoenix by Conchita Wurst. The studio version is glorious, but the real magic is the Conchita’s Eurovision performance. To be oneself, to be free, to be so full of joy as Conchita Wurst is during this performance. Chills every time, usually accompanied by tears. The feeling that triumph is possible. That is the goal.

Go. Be reborn.

[sic]

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Creature of Comfort: The Comfort Box and Managing Anxiety by [sic]

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A selection of items from my comfort box.

 

The Comfort Box by [sic]

*NOTE: Sharing aspects of my anxiety is something that I struggle with, but I felt this was so important to write. Thanks to my fellow Kindreds who encouraged me to post this piece.  Love and support: two vital components to managing anxiety. I hope this also inspires my other Kindred spirits to join in. This is such a hard subject to talk about. Anxiety is difficult, but together, we can start a conversation. Enjoy.

Anxiety is hell. Sometimes, even just accomplishing basic tasks can be exhausting. As I began learning how to manage my disorder, I wondered how others coped with their anxiety and went searching on the internet, finding sites such as Kill Your Anxiety, which offers resources, advice and soothing images. I believe it was through them that I stumbled upon a blog post from Mental Illness Mouse about making a comfort box, and it was one of the best things I could have ever found. Reading the list inspired me to think of all the little things I could do to care for myself, even at my most anxious. I went about curating the box with the utmost care. My box is an ottoman that I had bought on a whim at Target when I first moved into my apartment. Sturdy and gray with a padded neon yellow cover, it matched absolutely none of the décor in my home, but it called out to me. I’ve had it in my room ever since, storing odds and ends, but once I started on my project it made sense to have this ottoman be the place to house my comfort items. A journal, a rotating selection of fashion magazines, volumes of poetry, books sent to me by friends, mints, hand lotion, DVDs of calming movies. A Ziploc bag full of magazine clippings, glue sticks and packing tape for making collages. Colored pencils because coloring and doodling is so relaxing to me. Gel pens because they write smoothly and my thoughts can flow onto paper uninterrupted. Tiny treasures that may not seem like much to most but provided calm during trying times.

I’m not saying that surrounding yourself with lovely things will cure you of your anxiety. It doesn’t. Nor does shopping incessantly to fill a void or relying on material items for happiness. The comfort box is my way of making sure I am remembering that I need to care for myself, that I am a human being and can love myself, even if I don’t have money. Self-care is so necessary.

You don’t have to have a lot of money to make a box. Most of my comforts are gifts or items sourced from digging through closets and boxes to repurpose things I already own. The comfort box has inspired me to be resourceful with what I already have and create little comfort centers throughout my home. I whip up my own cheap, natural body scrubs and bath salts for a relaxing soak. A red and white polka dot makeup case in my bathroom holds beauty and skincare samples so I always have a little spa-like experience whenever I need a pick-me-up. I’ve loaded my e-reader with soothing music and reading material, and I bookmarked some of my favorite websites that help me combat anxious feelings so that I can just launch the web and see something calming right away. A portable comfort box, if you will.

After reading an article on Goop titled “Selfish Selflessness: The Art of Self-Healing“, I created a “womb-like” space in my living room by outfitting my beloved ugly secondhand recliner with the softest cable knit blanket, my Ugly Doll and the first Christmas present my husband ever made me, a hand-drawn poem scroll. I like settling into the recliner and wrapping myself in the blanket and a soft pink Isaac Mizrahi Live! scarf, given to me by a dear friend, while writing in my journal or reading a good book and drinking a cup of tea. It’s a good place to sit and center myself when I’m having trouble sleeping or just need a little time to reset. I keep a yoga mat in my living room closet for impromptu stretching and meditation.

I turned a table, another free secondhand find from years ago, into a special desk with little tubes of glitter and a tutorial from Jinx in the Sky. Every time I sit down to work, I feel like I’m in another realm. The old mug with a broken handle that my sister gave to me way back when I lived in Brooklyn is now my pen holder. The mug is decorated with a picture of my entire family, and seeing us as kids with toothy grins, snuggled up with my mom and dad on our old sofa, instantly brings me happiness. Having that sparkle and warmth to greet me every day helps to distract me from anxious feelings so I can focus on writing. I’m learning how to turn old containers into office accessories. Not only does it save me money (which eases stress!), it makes everything in my work environment seem personal and a little more special. The space is decorated with collages and vision boards.

It’s okay to take care of yourself. It’s okay to breathe and sparkle and read and look at beautiful pictures and drink warm tea and feel good. It’s okay to cry and be scared and then soothe yourself after you cry and be proud of yourself for dealing with fear. Creating a comfort box helped me to realize all of this.

[sic]

 

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Art to soothe the fear and chaos: Nidaa Badwan in the New York Times

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My free flowing painting today.

I came across this striking story yesterday in the New York Times about artist Nidaa Badwan and how she has created an artistic haven of sorts as a way of coping with the chaos surrounding her in Gaza. As I read about how she did this in part to cope with anxiety, I wanted to cry. Her work is absolutely gorgeous, brave and powerful in its defiance and honesty. I am in awe of how she has found a way to express the beauty within her even as she struggled with chaos. I hope this story inspires you and helps you find a way to deal with whatever pain and stress is in your life. Create a space that gives you comfort, joy and peace. As for me, it may not be much, but I did put a paintbrush to paper today and just let myself create without thought or fear of the outcome. I’ve decided to use it as a background for a mixed media collage. Bit by bit, layer by layer, we build and grow.

Sending love,

[sic]

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