humor

Change Tastes Good: How I developed an appetite for uncertainty

“Is anyone using the Long Island house next weekend?” I typed, biting my lip. I proofread the email to my aunt one last time before hitting send. I’m sure she won’t mind…

My aunt owned a small, rustic family home near a bay that was one of my favorite getaway spots (and favorite places to paint without permission). It was the perfect place to hide my new secret.

I walked away from the computer and got ready for that night’s group cycling ride. Every Wednesday night, a few girlfriends and I would sweat through our padded Spandex shorts as an excuse to go eat sushi and drink wine afterwards.

Sometimes we even got on the bikes!

That night, we went to one of our usual Asian fusion spots.

“May I please have two orders of the avocado roll?” I asked when the waiter appeared, my heart pounding.

When our food arrived, one of my friends glanced over at my plate.

“What, you’re not eating meat now?” she asked with a smile.

I gulped. “Actually…no.”

I cringed, waiting for the fall out. But Jules, I don’t know anyone who loves bacon as much as you. What about cheese? Butter? Smoked salmon?!

In fairness, I did have a bit of a reputation. (Jules circa 2012)

My friends tilted their heads. “How come?”

“I watched this documentary,” I began in a rush, feeling my face crimson. “And I saw things I can’t unsee.”

They nodded as if to say, “Fair enough,” and the conversation quickly pivoted.

That was it…? I inwardly sighed with relief and stopped worrying where the conversation would land.

While holed up in Long Island for the weekend, I read every plant-based cookbook I could get my hands on, tinkering in the old kitchen with things I’d never tried before. Tempeh…huh. Flax seeds…all right.

Oh thank god.

It was terrifying.

Just a few years earlier, I’d been vacationing in that same small Cape Cod-style house with my now ex-husband, wondering if we’d have kids and whether we’d ever be financially stable enough to take that plunge.

Hello…? Future…? If I have kids do I have to put on clothes? (I’m kidding. I had a bathing suit on here. I only get naked in the middle of the woods.)

A few years later, in 2019, I’d be living in a 350-square foot apartment before quitting my steady, corporate job and moving across the country to pursue an entirely different life.

In 2016, unaware that I was straddling major life events, I hadn’t quite learned to embrace the unknown. With each spare second, I turned my vegan epiphany into a research project, reading every plant-based blog under the sun and even enrolling in a related Masters program. I quickly created a framework and milestones for “being vegan,” like completing grad school and signing up for a plant-based meal plan.

Being in the middle of change is a little like being in the eye of the storm. Things are swirling so quickly around you that you can’t even process the chaos. But suddenly you’re staying up past midnight, again, triple-checking that you locked the front door, and obsessively picking out the perfect picture frame for your desk. Control begs to be heard and yet, counterintuitively, the only way to quiet her cries is to let her go completely.

But what if I NEVER LEARN TO PREDICT EVERY POSSIBLE OUTCOME OF EVERY POSSIBLE SCENARIO?

If recent years (especially this one!) have taught me anything, it’s that very little ever goes according to plan. The beautiful thing about accepting this, and relinquishing control, is that you start to get excited about the unknown. Well, gosh, how amazing might things be, beyond my wildest imagination? Who KNOWS what chance meeting or conversation I might have tomorrow that changes the ENTIRE TRAJECTORY of my life…

Like that time I won an Emmy.

Since I know what we focus on expands, I know if I focus on the infinite possibilities, I’ll always have something to look forward to. And if I focus on the endless opportunities of an uncertain life, well, then…

Signed,

(The Future) Mrs. Justin Timberlake

(A slightly altered version of this post will soon be cross-featured on my new baby/business venture, PlantBasedPoint.com, launched in partnership with Robin [more on her soon]! Huzzah!)

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humor

The Piercing Truth

Go Jules Go Title Graphic The Piercing Truth_14AUG2019

I stood in the mirror, turning my head to the right just slightly.

The side of my nose bore a small mark where a metal stud had just been. During a particularly enthusiastic nose blowing session, it had fallen loose. I’d gotten the new facial bedazzlement (…what? It’s a word) just five months earlier.

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At which point I DEFINITELY didn’t proceed to take 10,000 selfies.

After quitting 12+ years of corporate America, about to hit the open road, I had steeled my nerves and done yet another thing I’d always been too scared to do.

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See? Just a selfie or two (thousand).

Now, happily settled in Oregon, 3,000 miles from my New Jersey hometown, I reconsidered my reflection. As tiny as it was, the nose stud had been a booming echo of my inner state. It had symbolized the version of myself I’d tried so hard to hide – or at the very least, keep subdued. The independent thinking, rebellious, stubborn adventurer.

Go Jules Go drinks river water in Utah
Oh, a little muddy creek water on the side of a mountain in Utah? Don’t mind if I do.

When I had first gotten the piercing and had looked in the mirror, I had nearly cried.

Finally.

Jules-pink-highlights_8MAR2019
Now all I need is pink hair. Oh! Got that, too!

Five months later, I turned my head back and forth once more, staring at my bare nose, remembering the panic I’d felt in April, while roadtripping in Canada.

“I took my nose ring out to clean it and I can’t get it back in!” I had frantically texted to my friend, Sandy.

“I hate to break it to you, Jules,” she had immediately replied. “But you’re just going to have to shove it in.”

After a tearful 30 minutes in the bathroom, I’d finally gotten the nose ring back in place. I’d taken a few deep breaths, attached to this ‘other’ thing that I had been sure was a critical part of The Real Me.

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“Just shove it in and leave me alone. Uncle Jesse and I are having a moment.” –Sandy

I stared at my naked face, hit by the exact same thought as when I’d first gotten the piercing.

Finally.

I didn’t need it anymore, I suddenly realized. I didn’t need an outward symbol to acknowledge my newfound badassery. I was an independent thinking, rebellious, stubborn adventurer. No piece of jewelry could outshine my current lifestyle. My day to day choices, at long last, represented the authentic me.

…Or maybe I’m just really fickle.

Go Jules Go Mt Bachelor June 2019
Day to day choice I will not make again: Riding a ski lift over jagged lava rocks to get this view.

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How do you (or have you) express(ed) the ‘real’ you?

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