Color Runs, Book Clubs, Farmer’s Markets and Links I Love

As it turned out, that weird stomach bug I thought was over when I made my last post hid itself away just long enough to trick me into thinking I was better, then woopsies I went out and got sick in a garbage can in a public place. New experiences happen all the time, right? Ew. I spent a few more days hunkered down in bed with peppermint tea and dog cuddles.

I was determined to make it to the Color Me Rad 5K, so I  laced up my sneakers and made it through feeling not just good, but strong and happy and oddly connected to the 7,000 people running along with me. It was beautiful! The Southside was  a stunning mosaic of galloping bodies and candy-colored clouds.

colormerad coop team.jpg

bethlehem food coop 5k.jpg

And take a gander at this video Matt (STK! co-producer) made while running:

Everyone got RAD temporary tattoos, that um, seemed not-so-temporary, at least for the few days immediately following the run. I grew to love mine and briefly considered adding it to my forearm permanently. You are rad. I am rad. Life is pretty rad.

rad tattoo.jpg

These hot, hot days have been perfect for unleashing a barrage of freckles, big ol’ salads every day for lunch, and fantasizing about the mint herbal tea from Horns. In my daydreams I am backstroking through a swimming pool of this stuff, laying across a raft with the World’s Longest Straw. Get yourself over there if you’re in the area. (*Horns had new owners take over within the last year, and they are super vegan-friendly, and friendly in general. And one of the STK! interns works there, so say hello!)

horns herbal tea.jpg

I’m now part of a feminist book club with some local ladies, and our first meeting involved a delicious array of vegan cheese spreads, fig + almond cake, fresh fruit, and some wonderful insight. Our first book was Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth, and it listening to the personal stories of the group about how beauty, self-image, comparisons, weight, and family relationships have affected their lives really left me more aware of how I perceive others and myself.  (It’s awfully easy to make assumptions about folks and what their lives must be like, eh?) I am thankful for the openness and vulnerability of those in attendance who talked so candidly about deeply personal experiences, and the reinforced idea that we never really know what someone is going through, or has been through, especially when we only know them on a superficial level (or not at all).

This is a list of links I love gathered from ’round the internet:

Garden gnomes attend a fancy-schmancy Garden Show (and uppity vendors got mad)

What are the standards you’ve set to measure your worth and success?

Now you can smell like Sylvia Plath or Edgar Allen Poe

The best depiction of Depression I’ve ever read/seen (it’s illustrated!)

Do you feel the need to achieve Boho Perfectionism?

Trade debt for freedom and experience

Why the “Strong is the new Skinny”  trend is damaging to our self-esteem and body perceptions

Sometimes the vegan/health community can cause you to feel self-conscious

The Onion has some insight for those with anxiety (harhar)

emmaus farmers market.jpg

Farmer’s Market season is in full-swing, and I hope you can make it out to a farmer’s market and soak in the greens, the flowers, the straw hats and tote bags. If you’re in Bethlehem, check out the new market on Southside. Not to mention all the rest in the Lehigh Valley area.

… This weekend, me and Ryan take off for a vacation. I’m looking forward to the local walking ghost tours, days spent around a pool, days spent together obligation-free. Bring. It.

Til next time,

xo Jaime K

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“Belated Valentine: A Work in Progress” — a poem by Steve Marsh

The past several weeks have been the longest I’ve gone without blogging since the birth of this site. Now, the month of it’s third Birthday, I find myself in a new home with a new four-legged family member.

(When we first viewed this place, I found myself thinking, “I can write here.” A few weeks later we’re all moved in and I can’t seem to find enough notebooks and pens. Our environments can affect our creativity so deeply, yes?)

The moving process always feels so vulnerable. Your hands touch every. single. thing. you own, and that moment determining it’s value can feel equally oppressive and insignificant.

The best parts have been purging so much to make room for only what I really love and what supports my ideas of beauty and inspiration (I can’t even remember what I’ve gotten rid of), the paint samples and furniture arranging and lazy nights giddy to just stare at the walls and all the other joys of nesting, and uncovering so many beautiful things I forgot meant something to me once.

belated valentine by steve marsh

I can’t remember where I first found this poem, but I’m so happy I scribbled it down years ago, and happier to have found it just in time to share with you today. It’s a long one, but worth the read for those lines that punch you in the gut with their beauty. Happy Valentine’s Day. xo

Belated Valentine: A Work in Progress by Steve Marsh

I woke this morning with that shadow feeling I’d
been dreaming
significant dreams
strong and powerful,
richly full of meaning.
But I was unable to recall them no matter how
hard I tried.
Chasing them only makes it worse,
like groping for the other tennis shoe
lost under the bed
just beyond reach
closing my hand on something
to discover it is only
so much dust and dog hair.
.
I closed my eyes,
breathed deeply,
and reached for that familiar place.
.
But the Universe asked me a question:
Why do I continue to love you?
.
And I began to answer immediately because
confidence is the feeling we have before we
understand the situation.
.
Why in the face of all we have seen
and failed to see in each other
do we persevere?
.
I begin to understand it is a matter of pride
and pride is, after all, what we have.
Vanity is what others have.
.
So, in pride or vanity I offer:
I love you because I have
always loved you.
.
And the Universe knows this is not the whole truth.
It knows it like it knows we can’t pray a lie.
.
I try again.
I love you because of all we have been through together.
And the Universe does not like this cliche any better.
It asks, with all the Aristotelian logic it can muster:
Do you not manifest “all that you have been through together”?
The Universe knows and will not let me get away with half a truth.
We have been through “all that”
because we have put each other through “all that”.
.
It asks another question:
How can you assert love after all you have seen?
.
The helplessness after surgeries;
The weakness in the face of adversity;
The cowardice in the face of confrontation;
weight gain,
hair loss,
reduced libido,
nakedness at forty,
nakedness at fifty?
The knowledge that the final solution does not involve Bean-o.
.
And I begin, in answer, to list the qualities I admire in you:
Tolerance,
Patience,
Trust,
Faithfulness,
Forgiveness.
But the Universe will not allow this equivocation either.
And because the Universe is a big believer in the Socratic Method,
it asks,
Why do I love my dog?
.
I confess to perceiving a similar list.
.
The Universe sends me the Spring songbirds
early
who sing, and feed,
who show me community in bright red colors
and high energy.
The birds know nothing of our sorrow.
.
And the Universe asks again:
In the face of this sorrow, why do I continue to love you?
.
It is not because Mothers are better than Fathers.
It is not because women are better than men.
It is not because teaching is better than poetry.
It is not because daughters are better than husbands.
.
And slowly, the answer,
or rather the understanding that there is no
answer,
begins to reveal itself to me.
.
There is no aetiology for love.
.
I do not love you because
I do not love you in spite of
I do not love you since
I do not love you in so much as
I do not love you for the reason that
.
There is no reason.
No logic,
no syllogistic proof.
It simply is.
I love you.
It comes about without cause.
And with luck it is returned
without cause.
.
That is why love fits more aptly into poetry than paint.
It is not revealed to the mind through the eye.
It comes to the heart, through the nose and the fingertips.
.
The old poet had it right.
“Do not go gentle…”
Even here in this moment of doubt
I do not give up,
I do not go gentle,
Down by two in the bottom of the ninth,
two out,
two on,
two strikes.
I will take one more goddamned pitch!
And even if I fail
we will play again tomorrow.
.
The story of my life is told between parenthesis
which you open and you close.
And inside those parenthesis is one word.
It is (Hope).
.
vday1
vday2
.
… Whether you’re in romantic love or in love with life or in love with your own heart, recognize how very special that is. Love is hard work (worth it). It’s there every moment, a small vibrational hum, the ambient sound of day-to-day life: we notice it when it’s gone. Don’t take it for granted.
With Love, on Valentine’s Day,
 Jaime K

“Our Truthfulness Can Change Lives” – On Writing, Blogging, Sharing and the Year Ahead

On the evening of the Winter Solstice, I took a pen and scribbled tiny, torn scraps of paper with the words and ideas I wanted to let go in the year ahead. I was at the home of a friend with a handful of other folks, some I knew better than others, and we shared the very sincere and open experience of acknowledging what we no longer want (writing it down) and symbolically releasing it (burning it to ash). Passing paper and pens around and each of us, silently, taking our turns saying

g o o d b y e

to any negative untruths, what has held us back, or prevented growth.

solstice

If it sounds a little eye-rolling and new-agey, it was. In the best possible way. There’s nothing like seeing your weakness literally turn to dust to give you a new frame of mind.

. . . . .

Last night, I got an email from a sweet girl who wants to start a blog. She asked, “How do you handle putting so much of yourself out there?”, impeccable timing because I have been wondering the same thing.

2012 was the year I put less out there. Moments and experiences and opportunities, and even some of the beauty of the minutiae of day-to-day life, were kept to myself or those I shared them with. It can be so exciting to have these magical tools that you tell anyone and everyone about anything and everything… but before long your life doesn’t feel valid if not enough people “like” it, and you’ve created a weird reality-show version of yourself (albiet unintentionally).

There’s another part, too. While hate-mail and comments are inevitable for anyone with a blog (or anyone doing just about anything, thanks to the internet) and I’ve learned so much about how to handle them when they come, there’s one that continues to stick out and I’ve let it prevent me from blogging some of my most important experiences.

Without glorifying The Meanest Email I’ve Ever Received, one small part of it suggested that Save the Kales! had become what so many other “lifestyle” blogs can become: A perfectly curated illusion of a perfect life with a perfect home and perfect food and a perfect relationship along with perfect clothes, friends, social life and material goods.

Wow.

It shook me, mainly because 1) I know those blogs, I have felt that way looking at them, the way you slink around your house after reading them, feeling ho-hum and wondering how you pulled the short straw in life and 2) I didn’t want to be a part of anything that made people feel bad about themselves. Because life is beautiful, but not perfect.

oasis of health food in Maryland

So I never wrote or shared photos of the biggest experiences of the last year. (Some are too precious, even now, and I like the feeling of keeping the best secrets just between me and the stars.) But in omitting experiences, I omitted the best part of blogging: reflection and appreciation, figuring-things-out and seeing life outside your own mind.

In her book This I Know, Susannah Conway writes on blogging:

“My blog began as a simple space to share my passions and talk about my days. There was no great plan… But as I became more comfortable sharing my feelings online, the healing path wasn’t far behind.

Blogging gave me back my voice after a year of feeling mute, the daily writing as a way to measure progress, the support from my readers such a boon on the days I crumbled, a collective cheer on the days I soared. I felt seen again, that I had a purpose, that my story was helping others, while they in turn helped me.”

Looking forward, I’ll continue to mind the gap between over-sharing and shamefully hiding. Save the Kales! began as an outlet in a time of crippling anxiety and depression, and to look back on how life has changed in almost three years since it began… that really is something. And it wasn’t because anyone handed me an answer — it happened because I worked my ass off to get better and actually got out and did things. I changed my perspective, I changed my life. Easy? Nope. Essential? Oh, yes yes yes.

While this blog will always be a “vegan blog” by default, I’m thrilled to get back to the roots of why I love to write (which are not unlike why I love to read): because through shared experiences we find purpose and connection.

I hope you’ll be a part of it.

Cheers to writing and dreaming and scheming and full-heart-believing.

Happy New year!

xo Jaime K

.     .      .     .     .

in 2012:

ballerinas

For a few months, I worked for an Arts Organization/Festival and have a whole new respect for these types of nonprofits, especially with a small staff (of two) and the faint hint of a budget. The behind-the-scenes work is more than I could have thought possible if I hadn’t seen it first hand. Keep fighting the good fight.

cafe santosha

I had some truly spectacular food.

h20kitchen

Including the fanciest, prettiest, 14-course dinner of my life, with special vegan dishes made just for me. This was edible art from a dear artist/chef who I’m happy to call a friend.

somuchcoffee

… and so much coffee. So. Much. Coffee.

jaimeandryan4ever

I began the fourth year of the dearest relationship to my heart, and along the way learned so much about expectations, commitment, remaining an individual while being one-half of a partnership, and deep, soul-brightening love.

trees

I found my way back to nature, to running, and learning more about what my body (and mind) are capable of.

masonjarlightsinNYC

I embraced concepts of minimalism, and continue to get rid of what doesn’t support my vision of the most beautiful life, tossing everything from spark-dimming ideas to material possessions. Stripped down, there’s a whole lot of beauty.

veria

I found myself in places I’ve only dreamed of, for reasons I still can’t believe are… real. (Sometimes photographs serve as the pinch on the arm, the you-aren’t-dreaming reminder that life is so weird and crazy and good.)

purplehouse

I found my way to new towns.

eastonpa

And rediscovered my own town.

cavetour

And traveled through underground caves.

nycskyline

And navigated the biggest cities.

beach

And went to the ends of the earth.

BOOK GIVEAWAY + More: Homesweet Homegrown Book and Organic Seeds for YOU

‘Tis better to give, yes?

The lovely Robyn Jasko, author/gardening extraordinaire, is giving away a bunch of goodies to Save the Kales! readers. Remember when she showed us around the Grow Indie Garden?

(Here’s a little video refresher, check out the first four minutes🙂

Because she’s the sweetest pea in the pod, she’s giving away some books and seeds, and here’s YOUR chance to get them.

THE PRIZES

A copy of Homesweet Homegrown signed by author Robyn Jasko and
Illustrator Jennifer Biggs.
She’s also throwing in one of the Kaleidoscope garden collections,
featuring 20 different varieties of easy to grow, organic, heirloom
seeds!

Varieties include:
Rainbow Carrots (mix of Atomic Red, Bambino, Cosmic Purple, Lunar
White and Solar Yellow carrots)
Summer Squash Melody Mix (contains yellow crookneck, Straightneck,
Dark Green Zucchini, and Bennings Green Tint)
Mixed Radishes (red, pink, purple, and French breakfast mix)
Fall Pumpkin Mix (Featuring White Casper pumpkin, bright orange
Cinderella, Dickinson pie pumpkin and Jack O Lanterns for carving).
Melon Mix (Featuring Hearts of Gold cantaloupe, Orange Flesh Honeydew
and Green Flesh Honeydew varieties)

homesweet homegrown book

This is an adorable and endlessly informative book. The cheerful illustrations will encourage even those with the reddest of thumbs (those would be the opposite of green thumbs, right?), and the tips and recipes help you make the most of your personal harvest. Read the glowing reviews!

HOW TO WIN

1. Head over to the STK! Facebook and/or Twitter page

2. Leave a comment/tweet telling us what plant you’d grow if you could grow ANYTHING, real or imagined. An avocado tree in Pennsylvania? A bush that churns out mugs of hot coffee to folks on the street?

3. A winner will be chosen at random by December 28th (and maybe more than one, Robyn is very generous!)

homesweet homegrown book illustrations

image-104830-full

It’s nice to daydream about warm tomatoes and plucking peppers by their stems as we creep deeper into these dark, sometimes dismal, winter days.

You can learn more about Grow Indie, Homesweet Homegrown and get your entries in!

.    .    .    .    .

Beliefs or Behavior

“There are as many valid philosophies in the world as there are people to have them.

But for a philosophy to be truly useful — to be more than just another element on your Facebook profile or team logo to wear on your sweater — it has to be practiced.

You have to live your philosophy, or it’s not your philosophy. You can’t just admire it from a safe distance, unwilling to put in the effort required to change your actions to fit your theories, or unable to muster the courage to face the potential consequences of having your ideas proven wrong in the field.

By refusing to walk the talk, you’re showing admiration for an idea but not supporting its legitimacy. You’re talking big game, but never dribbling the ball.

We as people are the sum of what we do, not what we think. A good philosophy that you don’t adhere to is worthless.”

– Colin Wright of Exile Lifestyle

Echoes and Glimpses of Beautiful Times

I am trying to figure out why it is that the better we do, the more pressure we put on ourselves to outdo it the next time around. What does anything mean when we can’t be content that we are doing enough? That we are enough?

(And in the pit of my guts, I really do think we are but sometimes our brains forget what our hearts know.)

I’m sitting in my kitchen finishing some writing projects, the house smells like butternut squash and marinara sauce. I’ve been making my own from scratch and it’s so good, I don’t know what to say except I can’t believe it took me nearly 30 years to figure this out. Better late than never.

Anyway, this song came on and made my breath catch in my chest. Sometimes songs happen that make you cry into your wine at your kitchen table at 9:30pm on a Tuesday. Maybe it’ll mean something to you, too.

Goodnight. xo

Left Brain, Right Brain and The Art of Doing Nothing

In October, the air smells like cardamom and everyone has changed their playlists over to softer sounds. Scenic back road drives look like watercolor paintings, you question your choice of outerwear.

I’ve been neglectful here, it’s just that I’ve been spending my time living off the internet instead of just writing about it. There’s comfort in starting a good movie at midnight, huge pots of chili, and library books I never remember to return on time.

It’s not good enough to seek happiness. We have to revel in what things make us happy when we find them.

left brain right brain

Recently a doctor told me about “left brain clutter” – when all of our obligations and goals and stresses and to-do lists make us so overwhelmed it’s hard to see any of them clearly, or do any of them well. She recommended (dare I say, “prescribed”?) at least 1-2 hours a day of just doing what makes you happy.

No agenda. Just doing the things you like because you like them.

This isn’t a presumption that all of us have the luxury to sit on the couch all day in our pajamas (though, if you can do that one day a week, I say do it unabashedly). Being “busy” doesn’t always mean being productive, and can in fact cloud our creativity. We can confuse busyness with being effective by default.

Explore your library. Take a day trip. Cook one big,  laborious meal and eat it when it’s finished at 11pm. Take the prescription to just enjoy your time without needing an outcome beyond joyfulness. That may be the best medical advice I’ve ever heard.