cheers to you!

The year has just begun. It is full of possibilities and adventures and we are really looking forward to all that 2018 has in store. Not long ago we posted this little message:

the 91 rewind: cheers to you

To that effect, we would like to re-introduce ourselves as The 91 Rewind

The 91 rewind: cheers to you

Don’t worry! We are keeping all the content you enjoyed on HebrewDawn, but this time as a joint project between two friends who’ve known each other almost forever. We appreciate all of your support so far and we look forward to bringing your more stories, pick-me-ups, and good vibes.

Crystal and I became friends in 1991 when I moved to Smoketree South. We have been besties since then, and although we have both grown and changed, a lot is still the same. When someone knows you like you know yourself, it can help you stay grounded. When the road gets rough, connections like these can help you get back to your authentic self.

Crystal and I are very different but we are both honest to a fault. Our friendship has endured the test of time; probably because we have always kept it real with one another. We continue to help each other see the best in ourselves, accept what cannot be changed, and find the motivation to keep going on.

We started this blog as a way to share-with everyone-the little pep talks, comic relief, and good conversation we have been sharing with one another for years. If our friendship has taught us anything, it is that sometimes sharing your story with someone else helps to lighten the load.

The 91 Rewind is our version of a digital treehouse. It’s a place to get away for a moment, catch your breath, and find silver linings. If you need a refresh, a reset, or a “rewind and try again”, you’re welcome here. Come on over for a bit. Listen, share, but more than anything, just be yourself! We’re happy to see you 🙃

cheers!

C+E

new year newness

If you’re a longtime reader of HebrewDawn you know that things have evolved over the years. Initially this was a personal blog for Crystal sharing funny things that happened (*ahem* is this Keisha?), foot surgeries, and the birth of kids. Then this site evolved into what it is today. A place for people to come and find words to encourage on the journey to being our most authentic selves. During this site evolution, Erica came on board, and the dynamic duo of two best friends brought HebrewDawn to new heights.

As time has gone on, HebrewDawn has grown, and new prospects are on the horizon we, Crystal and Erica, we realized that we needed a new site needed and a new name. This site hasn’t been just Crystal’s for quite some time, but HebrewDawn is not reflective of both of us. We thought of waiting to share this news with you once all the details are ready (logo, site rebranding, etc.), but we wanted our faithful readers to know sooner than later. You’ll notice that some fonts have changed on our site already, today our Instagram handle is changing, a new logo is coming, and so much more.

We are excited to share with you about our process as we go, but we want to assure that the only real change you’ll notice is our name. The content type will remain the same, but we dare say the quality will continue to get better. We are super excited for 2018, continued growth with you, and seeing what’s in store for….

HebrewDawn: new year newness

you survived…celebrate that!

HebrewDawn: you survived...celebrate that!

Here we are…down to the 11th hour in the year 2017. Social media is rife with emotional diatribes and reflections of the past year. Some include a laundry list of accomplishments, others include a giant list of things to never do again. No matter what happened this year — good or bad — it seems we all want to talk about it. Soooo, let’s talk! How did it go for you? Was it the #bestever? Was it totally forgettable? Perhaps it was somewhere in between…

Full disclosure-having a winter birthday has made me into one of these wistful wintertime wonderers. Around the beginning of December each year, I start this little scorekeeping activity. Did I do everything I said I would? Did I do it well? Did I suck less at some things and excel at others? Did I completely change my life for the better? If I didn’t, do I still have enough time left to make my mark?

I gotta tell ya, as important as I feel it is to self-evaluate, I generally feel pretty awful about myself after this little exercise. Why? Because I’m always so disappointed. I’m really good at finding room for improvement, everywhere, all the time. This is a great habit for productivity and goal setting, but pretty miserable for self-esteem. Sometimes the accomplishment is survival. Sometimes, like my best friend Crystal says, done is enough.  So that’s how I feel about this year. It’s almost done, y’all!

As long as I can remember, I have tried to “figure it out”; tried to equate what I have with what I feel I deserve. And guess what always happens? Since I am the common denominator in the events of my life, I  have to blame myself for all the shortcomings. I resent my multitudinous bad habits. I am envious of what others have done that I believe to be better or more important than my own accomplishments.

This is all negative reinforcement and I find myself asking why I do this? What is the point in keeping score? Tallying arbitrary accolades that mean very little to anyone else and say very little about the person I am. At some point, will I accumulate enough positive life events to win something? Will 365 days of AWESOME bring me to some amazing place of clarity and self-actualization?

The logical part of my brain is laughing at the mere thought of this. If we know perfection does not exist, why do we still expect it from ourselves? The purpose of life is not to be perfect, but to live; to continue experiencing one moment to the next for as long as we have moments on earth. In order to do that, we must be present. We have to participate in all the moments fully. We have to find the best in every moment/day/year…even the really sh*tty ones.

Through my yoga teacher training, I have come to accept that we can only control our reactions and responses. From this latest year on earth, I have come to learn that life really isn’t fair. It is from this place that I offer my conclusions on the year 2017

  1. Some sh*t happened.
  2. Some of that sh*t was positive – YAY!
  3. Some of that sh*t was negative…but it provided a chance to learn/regroup/restrategize-still a YAY!
  4. So far, I’ve managed to survive every day..even the really sh*tty ones.

Whatever happened this year, be grateful for it and then let it go. It hasn’t taken the breath from your lungs, the love from your heart, or the thoughts from your head. Celebrate every d@*% thing that you went through this year because it made you tougher, stronger, better. Bad things help us know and trust ourselves more. They make us resilient. Good things help us stay motivated to continue doing more. They empower us. So really, all things are good things, if you want to see it that way.

We are ALL strong. We are ALL overcoming. We are ALL brave. Let’go into this new year with a goal to make it through the whole stinkin’ thing, NO MATTER WHAT!

I believe in you guys…

xoxo,

E

HebrewDawn: you survived...celebrate that!

learning to be southern 

I’ve lived my entire life in Richmond, Virginia and it’s only now, in my mid-thirties, I’ve fully accepted my southern roots. In all fairness, it’s been a lifelong process of learning to be southern.

You see, I come from a mixed background and that has caused some internal doubt of my southernness. I’m Japanese, Cherokee, Irish, and Norwegian…basically a one-woman mixing pot. My mom was an Army brat and lived all over the place, but has lived in Virginia longer than anywhere else. My dad is from Danville, Virginia which makes him the most southern of us all. Neither parent really taught me the hallmarks of southern charm or little figures of speech, it’s mostly been picked up over the years.

Through the help of patient friends and family, I’ve come to understand the importance of a pineapple in my home, when and why to bless someone’s heart, how I like my iced tea, and most importantly why y’all is the perfect southern word.

Y’all has long been a word to be avoided in my vocabulary, but finally in my mid-twenties I began to embrace it. But that was only because of my studies during seminary, particularly with Hebrew and Greek. I came to the realization of how perfect y’all is when communicating. If you have taken a foreign language you’ve experienced the distinction between you singular and you plural and its affects on conjugation and syntax. How else can you articulate the plural form of “you” without it being cumbersome?

Now in my thirties it’s in full-on use. Hate on the word if you want, but I think it’s perfect. If you walk into a room full of your girlfriends, wouldn’t “hey y’all” be better than “hey guys” since there are no guys in the room. If you walk into a room full of guys and girls, wouldn’t “hey y’all” be better than “hey guys” since guys are not more important that the ladies in the room too. AND wouldn’t it be better to be more inclusive in our language period?

So if you come in my home, you’ll most certainly be welcomed by the site of a pineapple or two; we hope you’ll stay awhile and enjoy a meal. I also hope I’ll have no cause to bless your heart. AND if we do have the good fortune to meet sometime, please don’t be surprised by the “hey y’all” coming from the chick without a southern drawl…it’s because she knows the perfect way to communicate with all y’all.

xoxo,

C

HebrewDawn: learning to be southern

cleaning up our act

Over the weekend I had family over for dinner and some brussel sprouts roasting in the oven. Seems like no big deal, but I burnt them. I was seriously looking forward to eating them, and so was everyone else. Like any kitchen mishap, I had some cleanup to do; the half sheet pan they were roasting on needed a good scrubbing. In using the old elbow grease, I had a revelation about our own need for taking care of ourselves and how it’s never too late to start cleaning up our act.

HebrewDawn: cleaning up our act

I neglected to get a before shot of my half sheet pan, but let’s just say it had a good layer of burnt brussel sprouts on it, along with seasoning from previous forays in the kitchen.  I had a moment of negative self-talk about how I’d let things get out of control; for how filthy my pan was and my neglect for scrubbing it all off earlier. But let’s be real, all the bacon, roasts (chicken, beef, ham), and delectable vegetables left their marks on the pan that a regular sponge or dishwasher couldn’t get off. It took me getting out the Brillo pad, scrubbing, and SCRUBBING to get that pan back to its shiny self.

As I scrubbed and scrubbed, it got me thinking about the ways in which we take care of ourselves. How at times, a messy pan can be intimidating. How when our work is so clearly cut out for us, it makes us feel nervous. The pressure of can we/can’t we sets in and it’s downright scary. Let’s face it, we all kinda want to eat a little cleaner, to live a little more active lifestyle, to donate a little more to organizations we believe in…but finding the time, the energy, the money can make us feel anxious.

When the scaries set in, the best defense is a small step forward. There are many little things we can do each day to take better care of ourselves. Instead of trying to wrangle them all at once, choose just one or two and see if you can stick to it. Park a little farther away from the office if you can. Challenge yourself to bring nutritious lunch to work for three days in a row. Set a “mental break” timer at work to give yourself a chance to refresh after a session of intense focus. When we break down our goals into smaller “bites” it can seem much more manageable. Plus we generate momentum by achieving these little milestones along the way.

HebrewDawn: cleaning up our act

Sometimes we don’t take the first step to take care of ourselves because we’re afraid of how hard it’s going to be. Sometimes we feel like that burnt brussel baking sheet; like we will never get back to our old self. But if we don’t try how will we ever make any progress? The first day is always going to be hard, but a month from now it will be easier and we will be stronger. Every day you show up, every day you try to reach your goals, you’re proving to yourself it can be done. This positive experience will snowball and it WILL become easier. Although you will have to experience it for yourself.

I want to end today by saying that we all have work to do in this self-improvement department. Deep down we all have things we want to do better, but it all starts with the first step. After all, little changes over time really make a difference.

Let’s do this!

xoxo,

C

the lies we tell ourselves

HebrewDawn: the lies we tell ourselves

So I completed the inaugural Race Across Durham Trail Marathon, last weekend. My third marathon, but my first true trail race of this distance. It was a great day overall; the course was awesome, the volunteers were amazingly supportive, and the weather was perfect for spending the day on some technical ass trails. My awesome pals, Amy and Liz, and I just kept stepping and sharing encouraging thoughts with another. We made jokes about how slow we were moving. We celebrated when there were cookies and Pepsi at the aid stations. We pushed past a barrage of crazy feelings along that soul-crushing course all the way to the finish. The race was a lot more challenging than we expected, and we all had to keep the positive mental attitude strong to get through it.

The truth is this: for moments in the race, I was absolutely lying to myself. For only the second time in my amateur “I-like-to-run-for-long-periods-of-time” career, I wasn’t sure if I had it in me to complete the race. Parts of the course I could barely hike without tumbling ass over ankles, much less run. I didn’t know if we’d ever make it out of the woods. I was in way over my head, but acknowledging that uncertainty would only make matters worse. I had to make a choice to banish my doubt and pretend it was going to be perfect. I had to monitor my inner dialogue and speak only kind words of encouragement aloud to Amy and Liz. I crafted lie after lie so I could stay focused and be supportive of the process.

When we finally stumbled out of the woods six hours later, it was revealed that my friends and I experienced the same exact thing. Each of us had doubts and worries and concerns, but we all made a silent vow to keep it positive for every step of our 26.2 miles. It is truly amazing that three completely different people can-without talking about it-get on the same page. Trail running is not really a team sport, but on 12/3 in Durham, it absolutely was.

As a person who subscribes to an “honesty is always best” policy, I have to admit that the lies we told ourselves last Sunday were absolutely necessary. Honestly, I did not KNOW what would happen. I had to hope for the best and believe we would get through it. I’m reminded of Henry Ford’s famous words:

HebrewDawn: the lies we tell ourselves

This has always resonated with me. I believe that the mindset you have going into a situation informs it’s outcome. Think about it for a moment. When we look forward to something with excitement, we are usually a little more forgiving. Maybe the caterer mixed up an appetizer order, but the party was still great! Maybe our best friend’s incoming flight was delayed, but there was no traffic on the way to the airport! When we are hopeful, we can overlook some of the imperfections and idealize reality.

Conversely, when we are full of dread and anxiety, when we are fearful or doubtful, there is a snowball effect. I know we have all had days were things start off bad and progressively get worse. Without fail, if you are already running late for anything, there will be some traffic situation to delay you even more. And then you will probably spill your coffee everywhere and leave your lunch at home on the kitchen counter. Is the universe out to get you? Probably not, but it feels that way.

Why does this happen?

It happens because negativity, even a kernel of it, can send us down a spiral of doom. It begins to color the lens through which we see everything. When we start expecting a hot shitty mess at every turn, our brain will do everything it can to make that a reality.

It takes great effort, and sometimes a little creativity to be positive, but it’s worth it. The little lies we tell ourselves, the little uncertainties we smooth over, they help us to stay focused on the task at hand. They keep us moving forward so we don’t get stuck in the spiral.

So remember, next time things start to get a little dark, try with all your might to look at the bright side…even if it has been created with artificial lighting 🙂

xoxo,

E

HebrewDawn: the lies we tell ourselves HebrewDawn: the lies we tell ourselves

recovery discovery

I have grown to resent the number hours I need to sleep to feel rested. I find myself saying things like “if I could just wake up a little earlier” or “if I could just have a couple extra hours in the day” all the time. Although, I’m quite sure if I had “extra” time, I wouldn’t spend it resting. I would undoubtedly find ways to fill that time with all sort of stuff and find myself in the exact same situation.

Not long ago Crystal posted about slowing down and taking time to enjoy the little things in life. I read it and even commented that I agreed, but have I taken time to slow down since then? No, I have not.

Every day seems like a race against the clock to do more in our waking hours than we did the day before. If we succeed, the bar is raised! (And so is our anxiety from trying to continually increase our productivity.) If we fail, we feel sad and guilty.

So what gives? When our cell phones and tablets indicate a “low battery” we know and respect the limited amount of time left. We stop what we are doing and scramble to find an outlet, we rush to recharge these devices so we can stay connected. People will traipse miles in an airport or conference center to find a place to plug in their devices. We even tote little portable battery packs so that we can stay charged up.

If we can understand the limited lifespan of our rechargeable devices, should we not take it a little easier on ourselves? It’s as if we expect our “batteries” to last forever. If we do actually admit we feel depleted, we make excuses as to why we have to suffer through it and we keep on trucking.

We don’t recharge. We grind away at life, willing ourselves to continue despite our exhaustion. Why? Because we feel guilty.

Self-care is greatly undervalued in this country. Most can agree that we don’t have time to be sick/injured/tired/not in the mood, yet most of us don’t take the steps needed to prevent the maladies from affecting us.

While taking a vacation may not prevent you from getting the flu, research shows that it can relieve stress. Chronic stress can affect a wide variety of biophysical processes AND can weaken your immune system. Regular exercise and a whole food diet may not put more money in your bank account, but it may help you sleep better. Arriving at work well-rested helps us stay positive and productive. 

Taking “personal time” can be seen as a narrowly afforded luxury or worse, as an excuse for slacking off. (The entire concept of playing “hooky” was born from the idea that our personal time is not valuable enough to be taken seriously.) We feel irresponsible taking a “personal day,” like doing something just for fun is not value added. We have talked already about the importance of playtime, but still why don’t we allow ourselves a break?

If we temper our expectations for our devices when the batteries run low, why can’t we also temper our expectations for ourselves?

There is a tremendous amount of research in the fitness world that suggests that recovery is as critical to your routine as the workouts themselves. Elite athletes all over the world tout the benefits of the “off-season”. Think about it, even professional basketball players do not hit the court every single day. They spend long hours training in their chosen modality, but they also take time away. Giving the body time to rest and rebuild between workouts is the keystone to realizing progress.

Recharging does not have to include sleeping, or binge-watching shows on Netflix-although that is pretty darn nice too. Rest and recovery means engaging in low-stress (physical and emotional) activities that stimulate creativity, bring joy, or help us connect with others. Cleaning my apartment has become a favorite off-day activity for me. (I can’t believe I just said that. Mom will be SO proud!😂) I can take it at my own pace, listen to music, and by the end I feel way more relaxed.

Whether your recharge involves being playful, productive, or simply present in the moment, relish in it! Plan for and look forward to it. Make rejuvenation a habit. The ability to recover from stress (whether it’s physical stress from a workout, or emotional stress from an intense day at the office) helps us raise the intensity, to endure higher levels of stress in the future. BUT it is not until we slow down and give ourselves time to recharge that we can actually raise the bar.

The only way to make progress in life is by allowing our minds, our bodies, our spirits, to rejuvenate. Just like our cell phones, sometimes we absolutely NEED to power down and give ourselves a break. If we keep going without enough rest, we become useless…just like an iPhone with a dead battery.

Go hard, my friends! Chase your dreams, and live large. But, if you’re ever feeling tired or stressed, it’s okay! Sometimes rest is best.

Namaste,

E

slow down…

HebrewDawn: slow down
Lately, I’ve stopped taking the highway on some of the routes near my house because I’ve come to a realization. The view is much nicer when taking the roads less traveled. This new desire to slow down didn’t happen overnight.

At least once a week for the last month I’ve noticed something new, discovered an interesting event when traveling near my house. Over the weekend a question suddenly hit me when debating taking I295 (an interstate going through part of central Virginia) or driving down Mountain Road (a road in Glen Allen where I live)…

Why are you in such a hurry? Why don’t you slow down?

Besides, taking the interstate rather than other routes isn’t always faster. Sometimes traffic is backed up and could have been avoided by staying off the highway. But most of all, if I did not to drive down the local roads I would zoom past what’s happening in my community.

If I’m always in such a hurry, I forgo the opportunity to see the improvements that make where I live better. I miss out on the events that matter to the community in which live, and the chance to be a part of them.

So now I ask you, why don’t you slow down? Why are you in such a hurry? What are you rushing past and missing in the world around you?

Our desire to hurry isn’t always in the car. It’s in our desire to be “connected” to our digital world. Our need to monitor the updates, our mindless scrolling. Sometimes we forget that when we are “online” we are out of touch with what’s happening now. our faces are looking down, we fail to see what’s happening around us.

Why are you in such a hurry? Why don’t you slow down?

Let’s take a deep breath, and enjoy where we are and instead of always focusing on where we’re going. Let’s relinquish the need to be in control of everything. Let’s commit to allowing space to savor the good around us. Let’s stop rushing through life and start slowing down.

xoxo,

C

HebrewDawn: slow down

when volumes speak #metoo

HebrewDawn: when volumes speak #metoo

I have to take a moment to appreciate the gesture of those tiny words. As I’ve scrolled through my social media feed over the last week, I see countless women (and men) coming forth in brave solidarity. These people are my family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors; and for many, this is the first I’m hearing of these events. This movement is not about trending or gaining new followers. It’s not about one-upping or getting attention. It’s not even about righting the wrongs of the past. It is simply about awareness. This is a demonstration that encourages volumes to speak two little words…me too.

Some of you have courageously shared the details of your experiences, and I commend you for this because I couldn’t do it. To be honest, I still feel like the times it happened to me were my fault. I still feel like I let it happen; although, the throngs of you who are bravely acknowledging that you too have had this experience is slowly chipping away at that feeling. Seeing all the #metoo posts are slowly helping to alleviate the shame. 

Brene Brown a renowned author and research professor suggests that empathy is the only way to eradicate shame. In one of her videos she explains empathy with a powerful example. An example that epitomizes #metoo  and why it is, in fact, a gesture of empathy.

I thought for a great while about not “fessing up” and posting the #metoo status, but I chose to speak. Besides, what has silence brought me but shame and torment? In truth, the way I’ve handled my shame is by isolating myself. I stopped living my life because I was afraid of repeating “mistakes”.I considered the situation to be something that was my fault so in attempt to gain control, I removed myself from the situation. I stopped drinking with my friends, I stopped dating, I thought twice about what I wore and how it made me look, I chose my words more carefully. I built a wall around myself.  I thought it was to keep bad things out, but it has only served to keep the shame close. You see, we can try everything in our power to “remove ourselves from the situation”, but it will only do so much. When we stop living our lives, we are giving in to the shame.  At the end of the day, the only thing that can ease our shame is the awareness that we are NOT actually alone.

The truth is this; if any person has tried to engage you in any sexual activity (conversations, touching, name calling, photos, etc) to which you did not provide consent, that is WRONG. It doesn’t matter if that person is your boyfriend or your boss or your coach or whatever. Taking advantage of someone by force or leveraging shame IS WRONG. The assumption that a woman is promiscuous due to her dress or behavior or that she gives consent by default of these attributes is WRONG. Consent is quite simple. It is a clear YES. Any response other than an emphatic  YES is a f*cking NO.

Excuse my language, but this is a very serious thing we are dealing with. Last Monday tons of people came forward to say “me too”. To crawl down into the pit with those who are hurting and say we are here and we understand. This gesture has helped me to feel a little less shame, and a little more brave in standing up for what is right. I  hope it does something similar for you, too.

In love and kindness…

E

the “I thought I didn’t like eggplant” recipe

HebrewDawn: the "I thought I didn't like eggplant" recipe

 

 

I really love food, but I especially love recipes that take me back. In an attempt to be more conscientious of how I fuel this movement machine, I try to balance healthy with delicious so I’m not feeling too deprived. I find taking the time to make something indulgent from scratch takes a little more planning, but usually tastes a little better and just makes you feel good. It’s like a hug, from your mom 🙂 The recipe I’m going to share with you today will take you back to a time when you had something unexpectedly good. Even if you don’t “think” you like eggplant, I dare you to try this recipe. It’s really great, easy to prepare, and quite versatile.

I’ve been (mostly) vegetarian for five-ish years now and I will be honest, there are some things on the savory end of the spectrum that I miss. When I have a hankering for crispy, salty, cheesey something, this is my go-to.This recipe is crunchy, savory, and satisfyingly simple. Please enjoy my take on my mom’s eggplant parmesan:

Ingredients:

eggplant
note: if they are big bulbous ones, remove the skin and cut into half-inch rounds. if they are skinny, just slice in half, long-wise, if they are the little golfball sized ones, they are too cute for this recipe and you should just roast them whole 🙂

**the following ingredients are for roughly 2 portions so multiply as needed for the number of servings you need.**

1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/4 c of parsely
1/2 c plain breadcrumbs
several shakes of crushed red pepper flakes
shredded cheese for sprinklin’ (any kind of melty cheese would work: parmesan, cheddar, havarti, mozzarella, whatever you have on hand)

Method:

Start by peeling the skin from the eggplant. If you like the skin, you can leave it on. I don’t mind it, but the egg and breadcrumbs will stick better if you remove it. Then slice it up; rounds, long strips, whatever. Once you have it peeled and sliced; salt both sides and press it between paper towels for at least 25 minute. You can use a heavy skillet weighted down with cans or something of the like to press. If you have time, you can “press” it for up to an hour; the more water you will remove and the crispier it will get.

While the eggplants are getting “pressed”, preheat the oven to 375 deg F. Lightly beat the egg and combine with the milk and half the parsley. Season with pepper if you like, but no salt since the eggplants will have some residual salt from the pressing. Add the crushed red pepper and remaining parsley to the breadcrumbs in a shallow dish.

Next, wipe away the salt from the eggplant. They will have released a good amount of moisture, so just try and get them as dry as possible. Now set up your little assembly line. This is mom’s influence. She always says that you need to try and keep one hand clean when you’re doing a coating like this so you can access things you need without getting breading all over the place. She’s a smarty pants, that one. Anyway the order is as follows: eggwash, breadcrumbs, lightly olive-oiled baking sheet. And so it goes, dip your eggplants one by one into each mixture to lightly coat.

Once your sheet is full, throw them in the oven for about 15-20min. When you take them out the bottoms should be golden brown. Flip those little nuggets of yum over and bake on the other side for about 5-8minutes. Then add some cheese to the top. Try not to get carried away, all though it’s easy to do, and bake for another 2-3min or until the cheese is melty and golden on top.

Voila! This is it. It’s up to you from here. Maybe you dunk ’em in marinara like you would a cheesestick? Load them into a toasty naan with hummus and lettuce? Serve as a side item with some sauteed kale and navy beans…The possibilities are vast!  Enjoy 🙂

with love, light, and blessings,

E

HebrewDawn: the "I thought I didn't like eggplant" recipe