5 Questions: Jeannette of ShuttheKaleUp

11353024_1578526512413022_1633012863_nAt some point in January Instagram made the best following suggestion ever when it brought me to a user named shutthekaleup. There were only a few snaps to look through at that point, but still, I knew I had found someone special. A yoga instructor on the west coast and health enthusiast, I was instantly drawn to Jeannette’s humor, honesty, and frankly, her taste in food (i.e. Pressed + Justin’s). In such a short matter of time, Jeannette has built something very special and it’s immensely excited to see what she’ll do next!

1. How did you come up with #shutthekaleup? It’s so clever! I wanted to come up with something catchy. It honestly took me a good week to finally land on something I really liked. One night I was on the couch and yelled, “shutthekaleup!” and immediately knew that was it.

2. One of the many unique things about what you do is that you’re not a blogger, you’re entire online following is based on Instagram. Is this something you set out to do, or was it an evolution? And HUGE congrats on hitting the 10k mark (in under 6 months!)—what was that like? Thank you so much! I didn’t think much of it to be honest. I just wanted to show people that balance is the key to a healthy lifestyle. I never expected to get any following let alone reach 10k in such a short amount of time. I’m just grateful for my followers and everyone that has helped me along the way. A blog/website is something that I’m working on at the moment. Stay tuned!

 3. You’re honest and unapologetic about your food/eating habits—how did you develop such a healthy relationship? About a year and a half ago, I had an eating disorder. I used to starve then binge, starve then binge. I was on every diet/juice cleanse you can think of but I’d always go back to unhealthy eating habits. I never knew what balance meant. After being laid off from a job of 7 years, it was like all bandages were off. I got into teacher training for yoga sculpt and didn’t look back. Fast forward to today – I have found balance and confidence in myself, something I never thought was possible. 11137764_1543495062578463_1044945391_n

4. When you’re not teaching, spending time with family, or just generally kicking ass, what do you enjoy doing? I enjoy hiking and traveling ANYWHERE. Seeing the world is something I’m very passionate about.. Especially if there’s good food involved.

 5.  What’s one thing that your followers might be surprised to find out about you? All I want after a long day, isn’t the gym.. it isn’t to go hiking or eat dinner at True Food Kitchen (one of my favorite restaurants in this whole world). A perfect night to me is as follows :

1. Yoga Pants ✔️

2. Snacks (ALL the snacks) ✔️

3. Netflix ✔️

 

 

#dicklit

 Forgive me if I’ve already gone on the following tangent before (though I don’t think I have), but over the course of the last year or so I’ve had an insatiable appetite for reading. We’re talking about a level of fervent passion akin to a tween’s ability to consume vampire novels and faintly-masked tawdry romances involving at least one participant with a life-threatening illness. This was a spirit and want that I was convinced college had knocked out of me the old fashioned way, with reading lots of primary sources. Nevertheless, I quickly proved myself wrong, and was digesting tales just as swiftly as girls half my age. Amidst all of this reading, one trend I noticed from the stack of titles I’d acquired is that the majority were written by men, guys, dudes, boys, or whatever you want to call them. Though I’d never shied away from reading books that were either written by men or had male protagonists (i.e. Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Ned Vizzini’s Teen Angst? Nah…, and Dan Ehrenhaft’s Tell it to Naomi) I never aggressively pursued books like these or made it a point to stray from the likes of Meg Cabot, Megan McCafferty, or Sarah Dessen. So maybe now all these years later, I’m making up for things? Or is it that, on some level, I’m connecting more with the subject matter being written about by men? To anyone remotely interested in gendered marketing or anthropology, this is a fascinating and bewildering case study, but to everyone else, there probably isn’t much meaning in my drastic change of reading material. I grew up and things changed, what’s the big deal?

I recently had a conversation with a colleague about the grand debate that is male vs. female writers. I mentioned my unaware bias toward men, whereas; she had a very calculated gravitation toward women. And her reasoning totally made sense—part instinct and part emotion, she felt that women write relationships with more nuance and understanding, while men are defter at writing span and big picture. While I don’t completely disagree with this statement, I don’t necessarily agree with it either. Two of the books I read last year exemplify a man’s deft ability to understand, explore, and illuminate interactions and relations with a fine sense of detail: Ted Thompson’s The Land of Steady Habits and Boris Fishman’s A Replacement Life, despite their being superficially quite different from one another. It’s unfortunate, but I do think that guys have earned a reputation of not caring about or being cognizant of details, the intricacies of contact included. Unless, that is, you’re Woody Allen. Conversely, women are assumed and expected to be the emotional, understanding, and observant ones, which is unfair and not always the case (as is true with most generalizations).

In light of these feelings I’ve started using the horribly insensitive term dick lit—in direct reference/homage/disgust to the previously deemed, long-standing phrase chick lit, which has so much baggage it’s a five-piece set! While I initially started categorizing titles as such that were perhaps more guttural, gruff, and gritty, I’ve come to use it in the colloquial sense for any book written by a man. This sometimes refers to highly literary work like Paul Beatty’s The Sellout, because hell, it was penned by a dude. I suppose there is some validity in calling these books more manly because, and this is my truth, most of the women I know read mostly commercial titles, but if they are upmarket or literary, they’re still written by women. 

I’m not really trying to make a point here, if that’s what you’re wondering by now. I just happen to like books written by guys and since they’re giving me plenty of chances, it would seem a shame to pass them up. 

*I should also mention that I wrote this post before this one was published.

what have i become?

Processed with VSCOcam with c3 presetA long time ago, at least as it was in the blogosphere, a debate arose as to whether or not bloggers should post photos of themselves in ordinary ensembles, ones that were particularly special, imaginative, or exciting. At the time I had mixed thoughts on the matter. While I was definitely utilizing my blog as liquid courage to push the envelope* for dressing, if my blog was, in theory, representative of my life, and what I was, in turn, wearing, then wouldn’t it be a misrepresentation to avoid sharing the more average days? If in fact they did exist? I thought so, but apparently I was in the minority, the voice of dissention amidst a sea of graphic designers, stay-at-home moms, and professionals. Nowadays, bloggers are more than thrilled to share their bare faces, off days, and glammed up versions of jeans and t-shirts, but in 2010 that was most definitely not the norm. I do suppose, however, that not wanting to share these mundane moments is part of why I post with such annoying infrequency**. During my last trip home, something occurred to me—I actually like dressing like a slob. Okay, that may be a little harsh. I’m not really a slob—I’m not dirrrty, my articles of clothing are the proper sizes, and I do manage to look put together, but I  definitely find comfort and confidence in simple outfits that may be a little on the unfashionable side.  Exhibit A, to your left, is the ensemble that shifted everything in perspective for me. My family was going out for Sunday dinner at our favorite Pan Asian restaurant (though let’s just call it what it is, Chinese food) and torn jeans, slubby t-shirt, and my Birkenstocks were all I wanted to wear. While I used to think that this gravitation toward the unfashionable while being at home, in suburban Rhode Island, was a result of living in Manhattan, and always feeling “on,” I’ve been thinking more and more lately that this isn’t actually the most accurate reasoning. I think it’s just more exemplary of who I am, or perhaps, the moment that I’m in right now. Though I was always interested in/fascinated by fashion, I always saw myself apart from “it all.” This all changed when I got to college and vigorously refused to be another liberal arts student with clogs, unwashed hair, skinny jeans, ironic vintage, or tie dye—the bizarre amalgamation of hippie and hipster that my alma mater so masterfully represents. To that end, I cultivated a professional, yet fun wardrobe that I felt set me aside from my classmates. And it did. There was a time when I wouldn’t even wear my Uggs to get the mail or take my dog to shit, but now I shamelessly hop over to Panera in them, while also donning sweatpants and old concert shirts. I die when I think of the fabulous outfit I wore to my graduation. With my frosted lips, silver and turquoise brocade frock, and killer attitude, I felt like Liz Taylor as I crossed the stage, just without any of that personal drama. So now, why do I find myself in such a different place, and only two years later? Has the professional world hardened me to dressing up? Do I not care anymore? Or even worse, is this who I really am? Right now, the future is just so unclear.

 *or so I thought I was, c’mon, it’s all relative!

**sorry mom.

I can’t…believe I’m doing this

When people talk about the way various forms of exercise changed their lives it makes me want to vomit. Cue the daddy issues, mean girl tendencies, and inability to come across as a normal person. But here I am doing just the thing I so openly oppose. To set the record straight, I do believe that exercise can impact your life in unimaginable ways, I just don’t really like to hear other people talk about it. While I’ve spoken about my unabashed love affair with yoga, in this instance I wanted to focus on my relationship with SoulCycle. As someone who never particularly cared for working out—with the exception of my stint as a gym rat during my junior year of high school—I never thought I’d be at this point. Though I’m not particularly sporty or outdoorsy, I am definitely someone who avoids being sedentary. I appreciate physical exertion and just moving, something that I definitely look forward to more now that I spend eight hours a day on my ass in a cube. Enter SoulCycle.

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Last summer a friend of mine went to Soul a bunch and constantly suggested that I try it out. She was addicted, and I could be too! I had the good fortune of living exactly one block and one avenue away from a studio, so why not give it a try? Though I wasn’t exactly resisting this challenge, I wasn’t accepting of it either. My idea of a frenetic workout is Vinyasa yoga. I’ve tried burpees, intervals, and jumping rope, but all seemed to leave me with a sense of vertigo that was less trippy and more geriatric. And I can admit this now, because it’s been almost a year since my first ride, but I was really intimidated by the idea SoulCycle and fed into believing all of the stereotypes that were out there. I went to school in a town where frozen yogurt was barely a thing, let along spin classes, and while I was anything but a bumpkin, there were trends that this time allowed me to be ignorant toward. But one day, the whole idea of trying a SoulCycle class just clicked for me. In a moment of complete naïveté I decided to sign up for not only one class, but two classes, and first thing in the morning, no less! I have the snippit of my sign up to prove it:

Capture

It takes a lot of nerve to try a whole new way of being at 6AM on a Monday morning, but I did it, and I think that move really set the tone of my relationship with SoulCycle. On a fateful, humid July morning, I arrived to the studio early, as in really early. Walking into W77th’s bright, booming foyer before 5:45AM, to say I was a little disoriented would be putting it lightly, but I got set up, clipped in, and refused to get out until class was over. Very soon into my first class I couldn’t stop cursing myself out. Here I was, riding with someone, who to this day, is one of the fiercest instructors I’ve come across—I felt like I had no business being there. All the way in the back of a dimly, if at all, lit studio with thumping house music, I was trying to determine if there was any way I could sneak out. I’m totally ashamed to admit that, but as someone who doesn’t love failure, I couldn’t stand the thought of not being good at this riding thing. So many of the people around me were graceful, powerful, and knew what they were doing, ultimately making me feel inadequate.

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A little shell shocked from my initial ride, what did I decide to do? Come back three days later for round two. While I was still totally new, at least felt like I knew more of what to expect—how to clip in, towel off without wasting time, and space out drinking my water. But then there was the instructor, who, quite frankly, scared the shit out of me. An original rider and rooster, Julie was a pro. She possessed a unique blend of command, levity, and intense swagger that left me equal parts impressed and frightened. As a devoted student of Julie’s, I look back and laugh to think about this, but after my class with her, I wasn’t sure I was fit for SoulCycle at all. But, I came back and here we are, almost one year later, not letting preconceived notions get in the way of doing what I want to do.

Very quickly after this point, I started riding on a regular basis and could clearly see the reasons why people were so fervent: it’s fun, the workout is amazing, instructors tend to your spiritual/emotion needs as well as your physical needs, and the in-studio culture is unbeatable. While I didn’t start riding in search of anything, I definitely ended up finding things along the way. Riding at SoulCycle, for me, is about a few things. Above all, it’s about taking 45 minutes to focus on one thing only, and that’s being present on my bike. These are precious moments for me, sometimes they’re the only points of my day where I’m not consumed by other thoughts. And the times I’ve let myself wander, I notice that my riding isn’t as strong and I can’t carry out the more complex moves with the ease and connection that I normally try to bring. Riding is also about accepting imperfections, both on and off the bike, and understanding that each ride isn’t going to be like the ones that came before or will follow after. Each time you get on a bike (or on a yoga mat, for that matter) you bring something different to the ride, and that’s totally fine.

10755976_1542551215992183_288474351_nLastly, riding has also become about finding community. One of the core tenants that SoulCycle encourages is riding as a pack, and it’s unequivocally true that I get more out of a ride when I’m in sync with the people around me. What’s more, is the community I feel with the instructors both inside and outside of the studio. Call me delusional, but I really do get the sense that they want me to succeed, even when they’re yelling to break pace or to put more on the wheel.  With encouragement from teachers like Amanda, Julie, Nina, Lori, and Anandah, I do manage to unearth more from inside, and more than I knew existed.

A year later, I’ve brought family, brought friends, made friends. I’ve ridden through colds, career lows, friendship woes, and personal successes, all to come out on the other side. One mantra that Julie repeatedly instills in her riders is that, “we make it harder in here [the studio] so it’s easier out there [off the bike].” And that’s exactly what SoulCycle has done for me.

*PS. Julie is the mantra/ genius behind the title of this post.

on having nothing to say

Why hello there! It’s been a little while, hasn’t it? The thing about not blogging for almost two months, is that once a week goes by, it’s even easier to let a month go by, and before you know it, you’re a few days shy of not having posted since there was snow on the ground. And it’s a self-involved answer, but I can pinpoint the exact reason why I haven’t written anything–I’m really uninspired* and don’t know what direction, if any, I want to drive this blog toward. When I started writing back in 2010, I was so thrilled to have found a creative outlet amidst my studies, which were seemingly uncreative. At that point, it was easy centering everything around fashion when that’s what everyone else was doing. Back then, the industry was a little more innocent, though not entirely so, and it definitely felt more inclusive, unrefined, and bonded, not the multimillion dollar industry that it’s blossomed into. Just like many other bloggers, I posted everything, even the terrible outfits I wore that I thought were cute, and the days spent doing nothing buy writing papers and losing sleep over what my thesis would be. And for someone who won’t speak unless they have something to say, I definitely did my share of posting when I had nothing particularly groundbreaking to write about. Nonetheless, I managed to stick with it and found interest in posting all throughout college and in the months following graduation.

But then there came a point–probably when I was in the thick of looking for a job–where I felt like posting about my ensembles and things in my life was so vapid and pointless. Who the hell even cared? If I was writing this blog for myself and I found my own words tiring, then would anyone mind if I shifted gears or just ceased writing altogether? Probably not, though I still get the occasional email from my mom asking when I’m going to post something new. I just knew who I didn’t want to become and I was getting so close to that point.

Once I landed a job in publishing, I noticed that my posts were definitely representative of that, including thoughts on books I had read recently or more op-ed styled scribbles that lacked any kind of photography. And that was fun for a while, until even that started feeling lame. Why? What’s the point of writing these ideas? They weren’t all that cathartic and I work in an industry where unless something gets crazy traffic and shares, it never happened. That’s not to say that I wish I had a more established following (actually far from it), but that seems to be the only way to be viewed with any legitimacy. So with that, I haven’t written a stitch since March. Everything feels passé and boring, and if I can’t keep myself entertained, how can I expect anything more from you? At this point, I have no idea what the direction of this site is going to be, I feel like when you lose that focus, everything goes to shit, so this is definitely a moment of reevaluation for me. Optimally, I’d love to keep things going over here, possible photographing more and posting the occasional thought, but I don’t know how that work, in actuality. For now I’ll leave things realistically open-ended and see where we end up in a few months!

*this is actually relevant to the larger picture as well (see the #littrip my mom and I took in October)