1 // Watching: Swan Lake
We recently went to the Kennedy Center to see Misty Copeland dance in the American Ballet Theatre's Swan Lake. I bought tickets back in November and we were so excited the entire holiday season for this - and it did not disappoint!! ...even though we sat down in our seats, opened up our playbills, and read that Misty was injured and wouldn't be performing. womp womp. J & I were both a little bummed at first BUT Isabella Boylston, who substituted for her, was just. so. good. We loved this whole experience - from walking underneath the flags in the Hall of Nations to the final bows onstage.
We always leave the Kennedy Center saying we need to go more often - maybe this year is the year we finally get that season membership? We'd both love to see masterpieces like this more frequently. Whenever the lights darken and the orchestra starts playing the overture to any production, I am immediately transported back to my acting days. I forget how much I love the theater.
2 // Listening: Pod Save America
I'm living for this podcast right now. Recently I've found myself hungering for media that prioritizes honest discussion, frank analysis of current events, and - probably most importantly - clear pathways to action. The hosts of this podcast all worked for Obama's administration (including speechwriter Jon Favreau, who I'm a little in love with, sorry J), so it obviously leans to the left, but I feel like nothing is neutral these days and I need a weekly update on current events that includes actual practical strategies on (1) getting your voice heard AND (2) ensuring the most marginalized groups in our society are protected and supported. They interview a range of interesting and brilliant people from across the country, working in all different areas of policy and politics. I especially loved one of their recent episodes, recorded live in Brooklyn - the interviews with Mayor de Blasio and Alex Wagner were both fascinating and inspiring. (Head's up for language and snarkiness, in case either of those bother you.)
3 // Eating: Rose's Luxury
A couple of weeks ago I had a suspicion that Winter Restaurant Week might provide the perfect opportunity to eat at what is frequently referred to as the best restaurant in DC. Rose's has a Michelin star and notoriously infamous lines - in fact, there's a bar nearby with a cocktail named "Waiting for Rose's." Thankfully, my instinct was 100% correct - we showed up around 6pm and were seated right away. (!! I still can't believe it.) We made the last-minute decision to have their ten-course tasting menu and it was amaaaaazing and we're still talking about it weeks later.
We are also both now a little obsessed with freshly-made stracciatella. OBSESSED.
Worth the hype, of course, and absolutely one of our more magical dining experiences in DC.
4 // Reading: The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
I have no idea why it took me so long to read this, but I'm so glad I did. On a high level, it's a dystopian novel exploring what would happen if a future America was forced into a totalitarian theocracy, and more specifically, what would happen to women. It's well-written, not very long, and unsettling. I loved it for a lot of reasons, and not just because I love books that also serve as warnings.
Hulu has a TV version premiering in April. I hope it's good. I always get nervous/apprehensive when books I love are turned into shows.
5 // Thinking: about stewardship
Our religion has this section of scripture colloquially referred to as the Word of Wisdom. It's generally interpreted as a health code, and I've never really thought too much about it until a random conversation last year encouraged me to read it again, more closely. And I am a little embarrassed to say that I was so surprised by what I found. That section of scripture is amazing. Sure, there's like the three main things that are all everyone ever talks about - no drugs, alcohol, or tea/coffee - but that's one tiny little part! and there is so much else there. Those verses talk about partaking of meat and herbs and fruits and vegetables not only in their season (buy seasonal!) but also with prudence and thanksgiving. It talks about eating meat and grains sparingly. It's a giant, beautiful, all-encompassing health code that also commands this beautiful way of seeing the earth and partaking of its bounty. I really think that because our culture focuses almost exclusively on like two solitary lines, we are missing out on such a bigger, more wonderful mandate of truly being stewards of the earth.
So much of consumerism today flies directly in the face of these commandments. Thinking about that section of scripture and reading books about rampant fraud in the food industry have really helped me - us - evaluate where we're putting our money when it comes to buying groceries. We've always eaten pretty healthy, but now we're paying more attention to where we're getting our meat and produce, and how frequently, and where our food is coming from. We're trying to be more prudent.
This mentality is spilling over into other areas of my life as well. Just as I've felt uncomfortable with the food industry and how Americans consume, consume, consume, I've also been feeling uncomfortable with the fashion industry. I've grown sick of buying clothes that fall apart after a few wears, with an utter lack of craftsmanship, without any knowledge of where they came from or what went into their manufacture. Like a lot of people, I've been drawn to companies like Everlane who make beautiful clothing while at the same time being completely transparent about their pricing model. And then just last week I read a wonderfully refreshing blog post by the talented owner of Elizabeth Suzann, this beautiful store in Nashville, where she wrote even more frankly about mindful fashion, and it got me thinking about the value of my dollar. If I'm going to spend $50 on clothing, where do I want it to go? Do I want to buy three super-cheap shirts at a fast fashion store that aren't well-made, will fall apart, and were made overseas taking advantage of cheap labor (and the terrible working conditions that often accompany that labor)? Or do I want to spend that $50 on one single well-made item, from a company that houses its entire shop in one big building, produces 100% American-made items, treats its employees well, and prioritizes giving back to the community and protecting the environment? Right now, for me, the answer to that question is obvious.
So, I'm on a mission to buy less and buy better. Because being a steward of the earth means being a steward over all the earth, and doing what you can to help with every dollar that you spend.*
*...where you can. Missing from this, of course, is a conversation about how it is a privilege to be able to be choosy about where you buy your groceries or where you shop for jeans. I fully recognize that privilege, am very grateful for it, and am eager to learn more about opportunities to be good stewards in other ways and through other means.