Day 2: Katowice, Poland

 Day2Intro

Act 1. Figuring It Out
After almost a full 24 hours of flights, connections and layovers Jeremy and I landed in Katowice, Poland. We walked out of the airport and the sun was abnormally bright – kind of like when you walk out of a dark movie theater in the middle of the afternoon. And we had no idea what to do next. So we walked back in to the airport – and while I was starving I was too embarrassed to buy anything and becoming increasingly self-conscious about my limited Polish vocabulary (at this point I knew how to say “hello”, “good evening”, “thank you” and “happy”.) Finally we asked a couple of really nice women at the information desk how to get to the city center and they told us to take the bus, which leaves in an hour. So we waited an hour, hopped on the bus and took it about an hour into the city. Except I have no idea how long it actually took because I basically passed out from exhaustion until we hit our destination.

Act 2. A Nap
From there we walked to our hotel and I became overwhelmed with gratitude for Jeremy’s sense of direction. We checked in and the girls at the counter giggled at our attempts to thank them in Polish. We showered, brushed our teeth, stripped off our clothes and slept for a solid 2 hours. Our alarm went off at 6PM and we both felt disoriented and drugged but forced ourselves to get out of bed and go out to dinner.

Now, I’m sharing all of the boring details of getting from the airport to our hotel to a restaurant because this kind of sets the stage for the theme of our entire trip: “figuring it out”. Seemingly simple tasks would take forever because A) we’re in a new place and B) we don’t speak the language.

Act 3. Dinner
And that leads us to dinner. We checked out a place around the corner from our restaurant. We sat down to a menu in Polish (no English available) with a waitress who spoke very little English. She barely understood the word “vegetarian” enough to tell us we were shit out of luck. So for maybe the first time ever, we walked out of a restaurant.

Fortunately, around another corner there were lots of restaurants on a strip with patio seating and menus posted outside. We settled on one that had a few items we could eat. We ordered a couple of beers, fried Camembert with jam and pierogies (a dumpling stuffed with potatoes and cottage cheese). We were dead tired but happy to be there. That’s when a prison-tattooed man sitting at a large table for 8, by himself, catches our eye. He lifts his glass to cheers and begins talking to us in Polish. We tell him we don’t understand but we smile, lift our glasses and move on with our own conversation. But then homeboy won’t stop talking to us – in a language we clearly do not understand. Jeremy tells me he has to pee and I tell him not to leave me at that table by myself. I might get on a boat with a stranger but this incident made it clear that I still have some sort of instinctual judge of character going on. So that’s when I get up to go the bathroom. I take my time to wash my hands and stare at my bloodshot eyes in the mirror.

When I return I ask Jeremy if anything interesting happened. Apparently, homeboy gets up to sit right next to Jeremy. He puts his hand on his leg and proceeds to have a heart-to-heart with Jeremy. In Polish. Jeremy kept replying “Nie rozumiem.” which translates to “I don’t understand.” The host steps in and tells the guy to leave Jeremy alone – he goes back to his table and that’s when I return. I see two girls are now enjoying dessert and wine at a table nearby. When ol’ boy starts chatting them up they completely ignore him – and that’s when I decide I will to when he directs his energy back towards us. He starts getting louder and angrier – and that’s when the host tells him to leave. I understood a stern “Do widzenia proszę” – “Goodbye, please.” At that time dude stands up and shoves the big umbrella over our table as hard as possible, gets up in the host’s face and finally saunters off. A waiter from a sushi place across the street comes over and shakes our host’s hand. They laugh it off as do Jeremy and I.

Day2Beer

Day2BreadCheese

Day2Pierogie
The first of many Polish beers, cheese, bread and pierogies.

Act 3. Continued with A Life Lesson
The scenario itself wasn’t really that dramatic and if something like this happened at home I wouldn’t really think twice about it. I certainly wouldn’t blog about it. But what was so rad about it was that this dude could have been saying the most vulgar and crass things – and all we could do was shrug and laugh it off. Not only did I not understand what this guy was saying – I didn’t care. The power of language became so clear – but so did our ability to choose a response. It was a fairly deep lesson to learn over a jet-lagged dinner.

Day2Katowice

Day2KatowiceChurch
The first of many beautiful churches we would stroll by on our way from Point A to Point B.

After only a few hours of sleep over the past 36 hours we make our way back to our hotel and crash hard.

Tomorrow we go to Auschwitz.

Day 1: From here to there

Day1Agenda

Day1Instagram

Day1FlightPath

Leading up to our trip I kept telling people that we were going to Poland. And yes, we knew that we would be flying in to Katowice, Poland on a Wednesday with a week and a half to explore and get lost anywhere our passports could get us before meeting up with our trekking buddies and guide for a stroll through the High Tatras. But it should be known that I did zero prep for this vacation. I didn’t buy any new gear. I didn’t do any special training beyond my daily workouts. And most importantly – we didn’t book any hotel rooms or hostels. We packed the day before our departure with warm weather clothes appropriate for sight-seeing in cities and some layers and gear, warm and cold, for our hike. We fit it all into two backpacks, grabbed our passports and made our way to the airport.

On our way I asked Jeremy, “Are you just pretending to be cool about not having a plan? Or are you actually that cool?” I thought maybe Jeremy was trying to impress me with a bit of go-with-the-flow spontanaeity when he responded, “No. I’ve just been really busy.” Me too.

Day1TheBigChill

So with that I booked a hotel room in Katowice just so we wouldn’t have to think about finding a place to sleep after a long flight overseas. On our longest stretch, from Chicago to Frankfurt, I watched The Big Chill for the first time. If you’re not familiar with this delight from the ’80s it’s a movie about a group of former college buddies getting together for a funeral-turned-long-weekend. There’s lots of coffee, food, mid-life crisis and making out. It made me miss my friends. It also made me long for the ’80s – when you could non-nonchalantly show the boob of a one untouched and curly-mulleted Glenn Close crying in the shower. And maybe I was just tired but this movie left me confused. I wish my sister (my go-to expert for all things movie and plot related) had been there just so I could ask her “Wait? She slept with who? But her husband doesn’t really care? And now she’s letting him impregnate the creepy mom from Big Love?!” And was it normal in the ’80s to look 45 years old but act 25 when you’re actually a 30 something? Clearly I wasn’t using this time on my flight to contemplate the kind of person I want to be in life or my goals for this adventure. Instead I was watching The Big Chill. Maybe twice in a row.

When we landed in Frankfurt, 7 hours ahead of Oklahoma’s central standard time, it was already Day 2. So you know what that means… to be continued…

Paleo | Matters

PaleoMatters

I am really looking forward to digging in and sharing my European adventure but first… a detox – Paleo style. So no, I won’t be fasting on juice or going on some sort of cayenne pepper & lemon cleanse. I’ll be eating really good food – and lots of it. But it’s still going to be challenging. 

A Little Backstory

I’ve been a designer for some pretty well-known folks in the Paleo industry for a little over a year now. It started when I designed the cookbook Well Fed for Melissa Joulwan and David Humphries. Then I went on to design a few branding assets and the book It Starts With Food for Melissa and Dallas Hartwig. In a nutshell Paleo is a diet that consists of meat, eggs, fruit, veggies and healthy fats. It excludes grains, dairy, sugar, legumes and alcohol. You can probably imagine how sheepish I was to tell these folks that I was practically a vegan when I started working with them. Anyway, in that year I’ve learned a lot about cooking (thank you to Mel for teaching me how to cook with flavor) and I’ve learned a lot about eating Paleo. I made being a vegetarian a priority and while I got what they were saying my strong attachments to my morning bowl of oatmeal and my evening glass of wine made the Paleo diet an impossibility for me.

Since reading Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food I’ve become passionate about what and how I eat. Local, organic, and pastured are important. But also, the kind of conversations and bonds and love that are created over a great dinner shared with friends and family is equally important. In fact, traveling makes me almost regret not eating beef, chicken and lamb because it’s impossible to fully experience the authentic traditions of the places I’m visiting.

So,  A Bit of a Disclaimer. 

Food is a tricky subject. When it comes to what we eat people can become sensitive, defensive and angry when they feel like they are being judged by what they put in their mouth. I’ve experienced it time and time again when I tell people I don’t eat meat and they start to A) make unnecessary excuses to explain why they do or B) make fun of me. Either way, oftentimes what I choose to eat or not eat brings out this insecurity in others and I hate that. There is already enough (media-induced) shame and guilt involved with food – the last thing we need is to be judging each other for what we eat. I’ve been on the flip side of that too – self-consciously explaining my reasons for not eating meat without coming off a preachy or judgmental. So the disclaimer part: what I choose to eat really has nothing to do with you and what you eat. But conversations about food are important – especially as a nation when our health is on the decline and some pretty gross practices are in place (like factory farming, GMOs and the subsidizing of corn). So I’m going to share a little bit about what I’m eating for the next 30 days and why.

The Beginning of the Detox 

VacationFood

Beer

Cappuccino
Here’s a sampling of what we ate in Europe – proportionately to the size of the photo. 

While on vacation Jeremy and I ate lots of bread, cheese, butter, pastries, ice cream, cappuccinos, wine, beer, and vodka. We were relieved to find a couple of vegetarian restaurants on our last three days of vacation and basically camped out there. But otherwise, yeah. We weren’t properly fueling our bodies with the veggies, beans and whole grains we were used to. Our digestive tracts were all out of whack and I constantly felt hungover. But I think our flight home is what really did me in. As we were leaving the city to the airport (at 4AM) I bought a couple of oatmeal cookies and ate those for breakfast. Then at the airport I had a cheese sandwich and another cookie. Then on the flight out I had another cheese sandwich, 4 glasses of wine (the free alcohol was so novel that I gave in), 1 baileys on ice, some sort of cheesy penne and then tortellini – both which coated my mouth in some sort of waxy substance – along with some chocolate pudding and some sort of cake. The whole time I was eating this stuff I was starving but never found myself quite full. With each bite I started to feel more and more gross. When we finally landed I kind of felt like my bloated guts were going to pop in my body and I would die – right there in the airport.

I decided to start my detox right then. I bought a huge bottle of water, a small jug of coconut water, a banana and some raw almonds. I started making a grocery list full of veggies and eggs and fish (I’m an ovo-lacto pescatarian, if we’re getting technical about what to label me) in my head. And that’s when I started to think about doing Dallas and Melissa’s Whole30.

The Whole30

The Whole30 is basically a nutritional “reset” where for 30 days you eat only foods that will make you healthier. For me this means fish, eggs, lots of vegetables, some fruit and healthy fats like coconut oil and avocado. What it excludes: alcohol, sugar, grains and legumes. Right now I’m on Day 3. I’m doing alright with the food part of it but over the course of 3 days I’ve made lots of justifications in my head as to why it will be okay to have a glass of wine in the evening and maybe a bowl of irish oats on the weekend. Over 3 days I’ve convinced myself that I’m depriving myself of basic human pleasure and that we only live so long. But it’s just 30 days. It’s a lot easier for me to digest when I frame it as an experiment – if I can last 30 days and at the end of it feel a whole lot healthier it will be a success. I anticipate having a bowl of oats on day 31 and really being able to take note on how it makes me feel. Read more about The Whole30 here. In fact, comb the entire web site and blog and be sure to read through the comments if you really want to become informed on eating Paleo.

Now, I think it’s important to listen to your body and go with the flow but when my body has become a pusher telling me I need another pastry and some more alcohol I’d rather listen to my brain. On Day 31 I’ll listen to my body and trust what it really needs then.

WELLFEDCookbook_FINAL_Dec6B
The kinds of food I’ll be eating while on The Whole30 (minus most of the meat). From the Whole30 approved cookbook, Well Fed.

Note: I am not being endorsed in any way to do or write about The Whole30.

The Challenges

• Wine – I lean on my glass of wine to help me decompress from my day. It’s kind of a demarcation of when I go from working-from-home to just being home. For now I’m trying to create an evening ritual by sipping on a glass of tea instead but it’s just not the same.
• The Weekend – Every weekend I go to my mom and dad’s lakehouse and enjoy some chocolate chip cookies and cheap pineapple & jalapeño pizza out on the deck. It’s going to be hard to give this up.
• 30 Whole Days – I’m 3 days in and the whole thing is still novel. It’s easy to feel righteous after eating clean for just 3 days. When the new wears off at Day 7 or 14 will I be able to stick with it?
• Friends & Family – None of my friends or family are doing the Whole30 with me. Jeremy is eating what I cook (which is dairy, grain and sugar-free) but he’s definitely enjoying some dark chocolate in the evening and might be a little bummed that I’m not. However, I have to remember that the reason why my friends & family love me is because I’m always challenging myself and doing something a little crazy. I also have to remember that what I eat (or don’t eat) has nothing to do with the pleasure, enjoyment or even pain that they’re getting out of what they eat.
• Going Out to Eat – We really enjoy going out to eat but I don’t want to be that person at a restaurant – so I anticipate I’ll be cooking at home for the next month and not eating much when we go out to eat. But man, I love my local restaurants and will miss them for the next 30 days (plus the three weeks we’ve been gone).
• Becoming Obsessed – I think it’s a little risky, on a mental health level, to be so strict about what you eat. Also, because it’s so different from what I typically eat I have to make choices with each meal and each piece of food I encounter. That can be exhausting. But I have to remind myself that it’s only 30 days and that what I eat does not make me a good or bad person. I’m not going to judge myself harshly if I “slip”. But that said, I don’t intend on slipping.

The Benefits That I’m Looking Forward To

• Feeling & being really healthy in my body and mind
• Having more stable energy and better workouts
• Being able to really tune in and feel the impact certain foods are having on my body
• Pushing myself in the kitchen to create new and tasty meals within the Whole30 limitations

Other Ways I’m Detoxing

I’m not limiting this detox to just what I eat. I’m also going to try and find other ways to detox:
• Sleep at least 8 hours a night
• Unsubscribe to a lot of blogs in my RSS feed that I don’t actually read
• Unsubscribe to a bunch of email lists – especially the ones trying to sell me things
• Meditate daily
• To be intentional and careful with my words
• To have one window open at a time on my computer (I’m that girl with literally 30 windows and tabs open at any given time)
• Declutter my desktop (both real and on the computer)
Declutter my house

Have you ever gone on a strict detox? Do you eat Paleo? I’d love to hear your experiences. Also, I’m curious – would you guys be interested if I shared what I’m eating, along with my workouts, on Google+?

Home

TrainHome

If you’ve been following my Instagram account you may have noticed that I’ve been out on an adventure in Central / Eastern Europe for the last few weeks. Over the course of three weeks we’ve been in Poland, Austria, Hungary and Slovakia seeking out adventure. I made sure to keep a close account of the trip by taking the time to write “my memoirs” in “my diary” along the way. These notes started out detailed and precise but by the end of it my writing became sloppy and full of fragmented sentences. Consider that a bit of foreshadowing for you.

After close to 24-hours of sleepless travel we landed in Oklahoma City around 8PM last night. We promptly went to the grocery store and stocked up on veggies and coconut water. After 3 weeks of living off little more than cheese, bread, pastries, gelato and alcohol I’m feeling the need to detox a little a lot. More on that later. After stocking our fridge (ah, nothing like a stocked fridge) Jeremy and I settled into our own bed, with our own sheets and only woke up a couple times in the middle of the night forgetting we were home. It’s good to be back.

Today I’ve been replying to emails, cuddling some kitties, eating clean food, catching up on laundry, doing some hot yoga and washing my hair. Yes, washing my hair very much deserves its own line-item. But I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Tomorrow I hit the ground running. Over the next few weeks I’ll be sorting through my photos and crafting which stories to tell you about our first time in Europe. I’m also looking forward to reassessing what I’ve been devoting my attention to (or rather, what’s been dividing my attention) and honing in on what’s important – mostly as it relates to consumption – everything from what I eat to what I wear to how I browse the internet. I’ve also got some exciting things in the works with Braid Creative – which I’ll share more about later as well. This homecoming feels like a fresh start, of sorts – and I’m going to leverage that momentum for all its worth.

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Truth and Clarity Through Design

FrenchPress

truthandclarity

My sister and I recently collaborated with a small agency here in OKC. It was so inspiring to see them craft their work with their hands – to breathe life into their work and make it real, instead of letting it stagnate on a computer screen.

I’ve been doing design long enough that it’s easy to take for granted. But lately I’ve had the desire to push it a step further. To step away from the iMac and design with my hands (and my heart). To find some truth in the way I work and some clarity in what I’m working for.

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