Links Worth Sharing: Urban Agriculture, School Lunch, Adulthood, and more!

S.F. property owners to get tax break from creating urban farms via SF Gate

Excited to see an economic policy that encourages sustainability. “Starting Sept. 8, owners of empty lots could save thousands of dollars a year in property taxes in exchange for allowing their land to be used for agriculture for five years or more.”

Good bosses aren’t good enough via Daily Kos

Having a good boss is great. Not having to worry about having a good boss is better. “Coming out of Labor Day, it’s important to remember that American workers didn’t get weekends, or overtime, or the minimum wage, or workplace safety regulations, because good bosses decided to be nice. We got those things because workers joined together and organized and fought and demanded and built power and used that power to make change.”

Feeding the Street: The Untold Story of Women Vendors in New York via Feet in 2 Worlds

I admit to taking street food totally for granted when we lived in SF and not thinking about the barriers or risk for the vendors; this is a good awareness raising piece about what it means to do that work.  “Like workers at fast food restaurants, street vendors also cook and sell food at an industrial pace. But while employees of McDonald’s, Taco Bell and other fast food chains have stepped up their demands for higher wages and better working conditions, vendors like Heleodora have been left out of the movement.”

School Administrators: Kids Like Healthy Lunches Just Fine via Time

There’s still so much work to do when it comes to school lunch and how to make it healthy, tasty, and affordable for everyone involved.

“But most had come around by the spring, they reported in a new study backed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Now, around 70% of elementary school students “generally like the new lunch,” they said.” 

“Yet, according to the new survey to be published in an upcoming issue of the Childhood Obesity journal, high school students and students in rural schools have been more reluctant to accept the changes.”

Mother Nature’s Daughters via The New York Times

An interesting look into urban ag in NYC and the role that women play. “More significant, if urban ag work comes to be seen as women’s work, what will that mean for the movement’s farming model, mission and pay?”

Thanks to A Practical Wedding for bringing these articles to my attention – a fascinating examination at what it means to “be an adult” in the US today. 

The Death of Adulthood in American Culture via The New York Times

“What all of these shows grasp at, in one way or another, is that nobody knows how to be a grown-up anymore. Adulthood as we have known it has become conceptually untenable. It isn’t only that patriarchy in the strict, old-school Don Draper sense has fallen apart. It’s that it may never really have existed in the first place, at least in the way its avatars imagined. Which raises the question: Should we mourn the departed or dance on its grave?”

The “death of adulthood” is really just capitalism at work via Salon

“Well, if Scott gets to play frustrated English professor in his article, I get to play former college Marxist in mine, and insist that sometimes economic forces really do shape the cultural zone. Real wages have fallen since Don Draper’s heyday, especially for American men and double-especially for the middle-class and working-class white men who were once the bulwarks of the mid-century model of adulthood. We now live in a culture (using the word in its anthropological sense) of diminished expectations and permanent underemployment, where many or most young people will never be as affluent as their parents.”

Staying Balanced with Self Care

I feel like self care is getting a lot of press these days, which it should. Everyone should have the time to exercise and eat well and get enough sleep and see family and friends and enjoy their hobbies. Too often this is something that is reserved for those with plenty of extra resources, and even then, our culture is not one that often embraces the idea of stepping off the treadmill of work to step onto the actual treadmill (or trail/yoga mat/kitchen/etc).

That said, I’ve also noticed a trend (mostly in myself but I’m guessing there are others out there), to prioritize exercise and eating healthfully  in a detrimental way. It becomes so important it seems stressful. Exercising becomes another  thing to check off the to do list. Other tasks are looming, but dinner has to be made and while a peanut butter and jelly sandwich would be easy, it’s not the healthiest so instead I embark on a longer recipe and end up tired, hungry, and grouchy. Self care should bring more balance rather than throwing it further out of whack.

School starts in less than two weeks, and I know it’s going to be overwhelming. Two hours of commuting per day plus new people plus five classes plus readjusting to getting up and out of the house very early – it’s going to be a shift. A shift I am welcoming, but a shift nonetheless.

In the midst of all this, I’ve been thinking about how I want to approach self-care during the next few months as I readjust to a heavier workload and new routine. I haven’t yet touched on cooking and eating, though I’m expecting to utilize the freezer more and rely on Alex more heavily, but I have given quite a bit of though to my exercise habits. I wanted to share what I came up with in case it’s helpful for anyone else trying to figure out exactly how to prioritize these things without going overboard.

Running
Goal: Between now and the new year, run three times per week. No distance goals or time goals or challenge goals. Just get my shoes on and run in whatever way feels good.
Reason: I’ve been struggling with my running motivation for a while now. Alex and I want to run a marathon next year, so I really want to build up an enjoyable base, and remember why I like to run in the first place. Some days that might be sprint intervals, and I’m guessing a lot of days will be slower, easy runs. Come January, I want to add in hills, distance and speed work before picking up formal training in April.

Yoga
Goal: Three yoga sessions per week (two flow and one yin or restorative) of whatever length works on that day.
Reason: Yoga is good for me. I haven’t been doing it consistently in the last few weeks since we moved and I can feel it, both mentally and physically. I won’t have time to go to a studio for 60 or 90 minute classes that often, so I’m trying out YogaGlo and like it so far. You can filter by length of class and style, and they seem to have quite a variety of videos. Going from three flow to two and one restorative is an effort to both go deeper physically and slow down emotionally.

Strength Training
Goal: Two to three lifting sessions per week. No major strength goals except to maintain.
Reason: Ideally, I’ll hit three, but in practicality, it may more often be two. I just straight up enjoy weight lifting and don’t want to let it slide just because I’m busy. I’m still learning how to balance running with strength training, and may examine that more deeply in future posts. My schedule is going to be tight in the mornings if I workout, so I’m going to have to start being more efficient at the gym. I’ll definitely be writing about this.

Rest
Goal: One full rest day per week.
Reason:  I need this mental break. I’m currently not very good at it, and need to practice. In order to do this, yoga and running will likely have to overlap days, which actually makes sense to me anyway as yoga can be a great warm up for a run or post-run stretch.

For me, letting go of major exercise goals is going to free up a lot of mental space for school, while having broad goals will ensure that I’m taking study breaks and taking care of my body.

I’m going to celebrate each 20 minute jog, and be present in my 30 minute yoga practice. This may sound basic, but I suspect I’m not the only one that struggles with pushing and pushing and pushing, in the name of being healthier. I want to focus on exercise (and cooking/eating, too) as a wellness practice that can be tweaked and adjusted, based on what else is happening in my life, rather than an end goal.

Links Worth Sharing: Low Carb vs. Low Fat, Ray Rice, Epic Quests, and more!

Low-Fat vs. Low-Carb: The Winner is Neither
“And so, once again, the dialogue on health and diet is stringently focused on nutrients–an approach that is utterly unhelpful and misleading. As I see it, there is nothing inherently bad for us about carbohydrates or fats. Our bodies require both. The more important question is whether we’re eating whole, unprocessed foods.” 

I’m curious to read the actual study, but I think this quote pretty much sums up how I feel about it. That said, I think there are people that do well on different macronutrient breakdowns, and it’s mostly about what works best for you both physically and mentally.

Reading list: On Ray Rice
“It’s good reading about a really shitty situation.”

Thanks to Rachel Wilkerson who always links up to the best articles on any situation.

The Happiness of Pursuit: How a NYT Best Selling Author Took Over the World
Throughout this interview, Chris and I discuss everything from the importance of having big quests, how to actually start crossing things off our bucket lists, and what to do if we’re the type of person that just wants to lose weight and doesn’t have time to travel yet.”

Nerd Fitness always inspires me or makes me think; this interview made me want to figure out what my epic quest is going to be – after I finish graduate school, of course.

Do Workplace Wellness Programs Work? Usually Not
“More rigorous studies tend to find that wellness programs don’t save money and, with few exceptions, do not appreciably improve health. This is often because additional health screenings built into the programs encourage overuse of unnecessary care, pushing spending higher without improving health.”

I wonder how a program could be designed to both save money and bring awareness to health issues. I do think there is some value in making wellness a greater part of the work environment, but it has to be effective on both sides.

The Vermont Paradox: Youth Program Takes on Hunger and Chronic Disease in a Locavore State

““Poor nutrition is an enormous problem, “ says Barbara Bendrix, Community Resources coordinator at the Plainfield Family Health Center, which has participated in the program since 2012. “It’s much bigger than people are willing to acknowledge. The lack of access to fresh, nutritious foods—that and the fact that people don’t cook—amounts to one of the biggest social problems that we face.””

This is true in so many places, and I love this innovative model for trying to address the issue.

Re-Defining Home

Most of our boxes are unpacked. We’re having our first visitors this weekend. The cats are no longer freaking out (much). I have a fully stocked pantry again. I suppose all of this means that we are settling in, finding our place. Making our home here.

“Home is where one starts from.”
-T. S. Eliot

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I’ve been in motion for most of the last two weeks; unpacking, running errands, seeing friends, going on Seattle adventures. Taking advantage of the good weather. When I have made time to sit down, it’s to zone out with chocolate and a romance novel – I haven’t had the mental energy for anything more substantial. I also haven’t made the space to reflect because I haven’t quite been ready. Moving felt big to me, too big to handle all at once. I’ve had to edge around it, inspect it, examine it in chunks.

I am finding that moving away has made home take on a different meaning.Home is Seattle, because I live here now, because Alex is here, because my life is here. Home is San Francisco, which I unexpectedly fell in love with and where I did a lot of growing up. Home is my parent’s house, where I always revert to a slightly-more-mature adolescent which is both charming and annoying. I am finding that home doesn’t have to be one place, and how lovely that is.

“Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.”
-Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

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When I miss my now-faraway friends, I think about how lucky I am to have so many people in my life who care about me. When I visit with my Seattle friends, I am grateful to have connections here to ease into a new routine. For some reason, this particular transition has reminded me in a new way about my priorities and values – experiences, giving, relationships – an important reality check that was probably a long time coming.

“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.”
-Maya Angelou

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And even as I miss my SF life and create a new and exciting Seattle one, I’m mostly aware of the privilege I have in getting to choose these things. Choose where to live and where to grocery shop and where to go to school. I think about how many people don’t have choices, or who are told they don’t have choices, and it fires me up. While I’m trying to figure out where to put all my shit, so many people are figuring out how to live in a world where home isn’t safe for a variety of reasons. It makes me want to work hard to create a world where everyone’s biggest concern is how to not lose their minds in Ikea. Where people don’t have to worry about where their food comes from, or whether that copy is an ally or an enemy, or whether they have access to healthcare, or whether they can walk down the street safely, or a whole host of other threats to fundamental needs. I want to build a community where we can tackle those questions together.

Links Worth Sharing: Racism in Healthcare, Population Growth & Economics, and The Reality Behind Fair Trade

To End Population Growth, Spread the Wealth via Grist

“‘If you want parents to make the choice to reduce their number of offspring, there’s no better way than making sure those offspring survive,’ he said. ‘There’s no example of decline in fertility that has not been preceded by a decline in child mortality that I know of.'”

Fair Trade: Using Poverty to Sell…More via Casual Kitchen

“‘…for each dollar paid by an American consumer for a fair-trade product, only three cents more are transferred to the country it came from than for the unlabeled alternative.'”

12 Ways to Be a White Ally To Black People via The Root

“So let’s talk about an active role for white people in the fight against racism, because racism burdens all of us and is destroying our communities. White people have a role in undoing racism because white people created and, for the most part, currently maintain (whether they want to or not) the racist system that benefits white people to the detriment of people of color.”

How Racism Creeps into Medicine via The Atlantic 

“Today, doctors examine our lungs using spirometers that are “race corrected.” Normal values for lung health are reduced for patients that doctors identify as black. Not only might this practice mask economic or environmental explanations for lower lung capacity, but the logic of innate, racial difference is built into things like disability estimates, pre-employment physicals, and clinical diagnoses that rely on the spirometer. Race has become a biologically distinct, scientifically valid category despite the unnatural and social process of its creation.”

Goodbye SF, Hello Seattle!

So we’re officially Seattlites! We had a big, glitter-filled send-off in San Francisco, complete with cupcakes and champagne and most of our awesome friends from the Bay Area. It was bittersweet, and I wish I could bring them all with me on this adventure, but Alex and I finished the weekend feeling so loved and cared for. And thanks to technology, and planes, we’ll be staying in touch with folks and having visits often! We also managed to squeeze in a good-bye beach trip, a run to the Ferry Building, and coffee and toast at The Mill – all SF essentials for us. 

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On Sunday we packed up the cats and the car and hit the road. We drove to Ashland on Sunday night and on to Seattle on Monday. Many people have asked how the cats did. Sunday’s drive was a little rough; cats unfortunately can’t communicate the way people can, at least verbally. We certainly understood what happened when Runty started flinging pee at us through the front of her carrier. We cleaned her up as best we could in a questionably-clean gas station bathroom and got on our way. They did fine at the hotel, and Monday’s drive went smoothly without any accidents and minimal meowing.

We also ate some great food on the road. In Ashland, we had breakfast at NW Raw; it’s pricey for the portion size, but it was healthy, tasty, and filling. In Portland, we had lunch at Blossoming Lotus. Well, we got food at Blossoming Lotus and ate in the car because it was super hot and I did not want to leave the cats alone. We had a vegan Brie and Fig sandwich and a vegan BBQ bowl and both of them were amazing. I definitely want to try and recreate the sandwich at home.

And then we were in Seattle! We ate pizza on the floor of our new apartment, with my college roommate who live close by! – and promptly passed out onto our air mattress. We’ve been exploring our neighborhood, checking out restaurants, coffee shops, running routes, gyms, and grocery stores and just giving ourselves a little time to settle. I start school in a few weeks, so I’m looking forward to having some time to get our stuff organized and put away before classes begin…it just has to get here first. 

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Our stuff is due to arrive Monday, so we’ve been living out of a few boxes and with limited kitchen supplies – it’s basically Burning Man without the dust and wind. I’m really excited to have all of our cooking tools back and get everything cleaned and organized! I’ll feel a lot more settled.

In addition to the obvious logistical issues at hand that come with moving, there are a lot of feelings. I mean, I have a lot of feelings on a normal day and if you toss moving into the mix, it’s like a feelings explosion. But my mantra for this transition period is, “the only way out is through.” Pretending my feelings aren’t there isn’t going to work. Trying to force them away isn’t going to work. But acknowledging them, embracing them, and then moving on from them probably will work so that’s the approach I’m taking.

I also plan to be here more, despite the fact that I’ll be busier with school. I’ve actually found that the busier I am, the more productive I am. A few years ago, I was blogging, creating new recipes, and marathon training WHILE working full time and commuting 2 hours a day. This summer, I was mostly packing and hanging out with family and friends, and I managed to write a paltry amount. Some of the things I plan to write about…

  • Transitioning to a new city
  • Cooking adventures in a new kitchen environment (I’m going from a full size gas range to a half size electric one!)
  • Seattle outdoor adventures (I’m eager to hike, stand up paddle board, kayak, cross country ski, snowshoe, rock climb, and all the other awesome things out there!)
  • Graduate school learnings
  • Building an at home yoga practice (From a financial and scheduling perspective, I don’t think regular studio classes are in the cards for me, but I’d love to explore a dedicated at home practice)
  • Explorations about the overlap of food and social justice

I’m feeling energized and motivated around writing in a way that I haven’t in a long time. In addition to “the only way out is through” I’ve also learned that “things get done when you do them.” Things don’t get done when you think about doing them. Or plan to do them. Or talk about doing them. As satisfying as all those things are, things actually get done by doing. And sometimes that’s scary because who knows how it will turn out when you actually start doing? There’s little risk of failure in talking about something; there’s a much larger one in actually doing. But one of my new mottos is “fail upwards!” so I better be pushing myself pretty hard. 

Hills and Humility

Alex and I have a 10K coming up in September. Given that we’re moving to a new state between now and then, we’re not taking training too seriously. We picked the 10K distance instead of the half marathon for this very reason – we’re realistic about how much we’re willing to do when we have a lot of stress on our plates. 

With limited time in mind, I’ve decided that incorporating hill workouts into our routine will give us the most bang for our buck. We did our first one this week, and what a dose of humility! Five hill repeats totally kicked my butt, even with significant rest time between them.

We did five repeats of a 0.16 mile hill, with a walk down for recovery. The steepness ranges from 3% to 25%, with the majority of it falling between 11% and 15%. It’s a steep hill. And running up it fast (“fast”) made my lungs feel like they were going to explode. But they didn’t, and here I am to tell the tale. 

In addition to pushing through the physical challenge, I could feel the mental resistance creep up.

“This is too hard.”

“You’re never going to be better at this.”

“What’s the point?” 

Those voices were louder than I’d like them to be. And at the top of the fourth repeat, I told Alex I was done. But as we walked back to the bottom I thought, “I have one more in me and I can do this.” So one more we did. It was hard. The mental critic didn’t exactly get quieter. 

But then I reminded myself that I haven’t done that kind of workout before. And that I’m not going to get better at it by quitting. So next week, we’ll hit the hills again. And the week after that. And hopefully continue the trend when we move to Seattle. At some point, I’ll be able to go faster or further or not feel as much like I’m going to collapse afterwards. When that happens, I’ll push a little harder to find the next edge because the only way to quiet those voices is to keep at something. Eventually, I’ll be the one kicking the hill’s butt!