“Sometimes truths are what we run from,
and sometimes they are what we seek”
- R. D. Ronald
“leaving is not enough; you must
stay gone. train your heart
like a dog. change the locks
even on the house he’s never
visited. you lucky, lucky girl.
you have an apartment
just your size. a bathtub
full of tea. a heart the size
of Arizona, but not nearly
so arid. don’t wish away
your cracked past, your
crooked toes, your problems
are papier-mâché puppets
you made or bought because the vendor
at the market was so compelling you just
had to have them. you had to have him.
and you did. and now you pull down
the bridge between your houses.
you make him call before
he visits. you take a lover
for granted, you take
a lover who looks at you
like maybe you are magic. make
the first bottle you consume
in this place a relic. place it
on whatever altar you fashion
with a knife and five cranberries.
don’t lose too much weight.
stupid girls are always trying
to disappear as revenge. and you
are not stupid. you loved a man
with more hands than a parade
of beggars, and here you stand. heart
like a four-poster bed. heart like a canvas.
heart leaking something so strong
they can smell it in the street.”
—’Frida Kahlo to Marty McConnell’
by Marty McConnell
“Dear Human: You’ve got it all wrong. You didn’t come here to master unconditional love. That is where you came from and where you’ll return. You came here to learn personal love. Universal love. Messy love. Sweaty love. Crazy love. Broken love. Whole love. Infused with divinity. Lived through the grace of stumbling. Demonstrated through the beauty of… messing up. Often.
You didn’t come here to be perfect. You already are. You came here to be gorgeously human. Flawed and fabulous. And then to rise again into remembering. But unconditional love? Stop telling that story. Love, in truth, doesn’t need ANY other adjectives. It doesn’t require modifiers. It doesn’t require the condition of perfection.
It only asks that you show up. And do your best. That you stay present and feel fully. That you shine and fly and laugh and cry and hurt and heal and fall and get back up and play and work and live and die as YOU. It’s enough. It’s Plenty.”
Snag your print copy of Lehigh Valley Style magazine for my latest column with some unique gift ideas and back stories on three of the most creative locals I know:
Wendy Landiak of Shankara Vegan Restaurant, patron saint of LV vegan food since as long as I can remember! Learn about how she got started in cooking (she catered for Deepak Chopra!), the many incarnations of her eateries, and how to get hands-down the best brunch on earth right here in South Bethlehem;
Andy V. of Andy Vasquez Furniture, local skater/nice guy who makes the most jaw-dropping gorgeous handcrafted furniture and home accessories from wood. If you like midcentury modern, rustic chic, or kitchen cutting boards shaped like the state of Pennsylvania, he’s your guy;
Marissa Wetzel of Everlasting Image, miracle worker who uses photoshop to create beautiful portraits of babies who passed away before photos of them without medical tubes and wires were ever taken. I was in awe the first time I saw her work
PLUS! A vegan recipe created just for LV Style readers.
My column “Fresh Perspectives with Jaime K” is a bi-monthly column where I get to personally choose to shine the spotlight on creatives, small business owners, unique shops, community builders, and the best vegan eats in the Lehigh Valley, PA. If you know someone who would make a great fit, I’d love to hear about them.
When Sarah Von Bargen reached out to see if I’d be interested in participating in her series Notes To My Younger Self in which bloggers give themselves advice, I squealed loudly because 1) her blog Yes and Yes is one of the few I read every. single. day. and, 2) I think this concept is beautiful. It’s introspective, it’s insightful, I think it’s just as helpful to write this as it is to read it.
Notes to My Younger Self is part of Sarah’s “Post College Survival Kit” to help ladies fresh out of school learn some of the things we (individually and collectively) wish a best friend could have told us at that very awkward time. It’s a wonderful series which will be put together as an e-book, so keep checking for it on Yes and Yes to get your copy!
I’m incredibly honored to share with you:
The punk rock kids you meet in high school and college will not only turn out to be some of your best friends, they will show you things that become part of your life and part of you. Social awareness and activism are the foundation of your life’s purpose, crayon-colored hair comes back in your 30’s, and cut and paste ‘zines eventually become “blogs” and set you on the path for an unconventional career.
Tattoos will be embraced by beautiful feminine women with degrees from Ivy League schools, feminism is still very real and important and will be the lens through which you recognize and call out injustices, DIY is still a personal ethos - and - it’s own TV network. Setting up a punk show and cooking for touring bands will give you great experience when, years later, you help organize festivals with thousands of attendees and give public cooking demos to college students. Keep paying attention.
You are a kind and optimistic person. Some people will see this as: weakness, flakiness, naivety. Some will mistake your sense of wonder for being out of touch with reality. Continue to be kind and optimistic because that’s who you are. You will apply for very real, very grown-up jobs, and those jobs will go to men who were louder, snarkier, schmoozier, and sometimes not very nice. Continue to be kind and optimistic because that’s who you are. Adults still bully other adults even when they are 30, 40, 50 years old. You will be the target of this bullying, from your appearance to your lifestyle to personal projects. Continue to be kind and optimistic because that’s who you are.
You want to live in a world of kindness, and joy, and love, and cooperation. Live these values (even when, especially when) it’s a challenge to do so. You are the creator of your experience. And your experiences influences others. Make it good. Make it authentic.
Listen. Listen to me. The world is still set up where women learn that how we look is our most important attribute. This notion is reinforced a million times a day through media, society, people we see in our daily lives. It’s no wonder you will spend countless years agonizing over the way you look and if it is “enough” (not knowing what that means). Ironically, to be concerned with your appearance is considered vain, so you shamefully hide the magnitude of how much this affects your daily life, even from your therapists.
And then you start to see the ways that, even as conscious adults, we perpetuate this messed up notion that outer beauty is equal to worth. You will listen to women standing in line at the grocery store, pointing at tabloid covers and remarking of the actress on the front, “She looks terrible, she gained so much weight and never should have cut her hair.” You notice the way other grown adult women insult your body when they are feeling insecure about themselves. You notice the way at a celebration someone will say, “I really shouldn’t eat that piece of cake, that is so bad, but maybe just one. Oh, I’m terrible.” You notice the way your friends try to console you when your ex has a new girlfriend by saying “Who cares? You are so much prettier”.
You recognize this and you begin to compassionately call people out to stop. To stop insulting others as if belittling them is a salve to heal their own heart. Stop making food and weight “good” or “bad”, as though either is a moral issue. Stop using guilt, and shame, and body-slander as a way to make small talk and connect to other women. Find friends who build women up, not tear them down.
Confidence is sexy, and this is true across all areas of life. It will shine through in your appearance, the way you walk into a room, the way you talk to people. No, you will never be taller than 5’3″ without the help of heels, and “tanning” is a foreign concept. But you will learn that pencil skirts were made for hips like yours, and strangers on the street will ask if they can touch your hair because they can’t believe it’s real. Life is better like this. But remember: None of this marks your value as a person.
Marriage. Kids. Home ownership. A 9-5 job with weekends off. It is implied (if not outright stated) that these are markers of success. Sometimes they happen in sequential order and sometimes people skip one altogether, but by and large, this is what we’re all apparently striving for.
So when you’re 30, and you’ve sold your condo and gone back to renting, and feel no rush to be engaged, and have a career of various talents patch-worked together to create an ever-evolving job (this is dubbed a “Portfolio Career” and it will change the way you think about work for the better) it will feel like a small loss when you don’t have all the milestone celebrations others have had. You will be jealous of your friends’ wedding gift registries because damn, you need a new microwave. You will empathize with this episode of Sex and the City. Find ways to celebrate what milestones you do have: the first time you see your new column in print, or the time you bravely and gracefully introduced yourself in real life to someone who trashed you online (boy, did they look embarrassed), or the time you cooked dinner for Joan Jett. These are important moments because YOU say they are. Celebrate accordingly!
It’s OK not to know if you want kids, or to firmly decide you don’t. The first time you become aware you GET to decide will be revelatory. And sometimes “success” means having a really hard year and just coming out the other side of it.
. . . .
Don’t forget to stay tuned for the free e-book: Post College Survival Kit
Tomorrow is the Fourth Annual Bethlehem Vegfest! and I am so thrilled for this year, it’s hard to put into words. We’ll have Gene Baur of Farm Sanctaury and Matt Frazier of NoMeatAthlete.com, a vegan ice cream truck, the ever-beloved Cinnamon Snail food truck, and about a hundred million other wonderful people, speakers, chefs, vendors, and more.
This is a video from 2013’s Vegfest:
- break, ’cause we need to eat-
So flag us down, be prepared for hugs, tell why you love being vegan or why you love Vegfest, and maybe you’ll make it into our next show!
I’ll also have a booth with Save the Kales! TEES and TOTE BAGS next to the RCN Cable booth. These are brand new and if you get ‘em at Vegfest you don’t have to pay for shipping when they go for sale online. More money for snacks! Cash + credit accepted.
Last info can be found on the Bethlehem Vegfest Facebook Page