Do you ever say yes to something when you really want to say no? Isn’t it the worst?
I have a hunch we are better at spotting this on the small scale (I wish I’d said no to this event,) than the large scale, where it really matters (I wish I’d said no to this major life choice.) Some of those major life choices just seem predestined, handed down to us in such an expected way that we forget we have a choice at all.
When we remember we have a choice, we are empowered. When we choose something “unconventional” or “nontraditional,” we exercise power over our own lives.
I didn’t write this list to brag or show off, although I can see how it might come off that way.
I simply believe that by being honest about the ways I’ve chosen to do the unexpected, it might help someone else feel OK about making the “weird” choice. (Or being in the “weird” situation, as not all of these are conscious choices exactly.)
So I guess what I’m saying is… Here’s to being unconventional!
OK, here goes:
- I had my first child when I was 19.
- I’ve been with my partner, Jason, almost 8 years. We don’t own property together. We don’t share any bank accounts. We’re not married. We don’t ever plan to get married. However, I would still like to come to your wedding. I think they’re fun! Please invite me.
- Jason and I don’t have any kids together, and we don’t plan to, but he has been around since my youngest was 1 year old and my oldest was 7.
- After my divorce, I didn’t go back to my maiden name. I chose a new last name from my maternal grandmother’s side of the family.
- Jason, the kids, and I all have different last names. So there are 4 on our mailbox.
- I don’t send Christmas cards. I think they’re just a total pain at an already crazy time of year. However, I like getting your Holiday cards, so please keep sending them. If you want.
- I didn’t finish my bachelor’s degree until I was 30. It took me 10 years and I changed schools and majors several times, until finally settling on a self-designed Women’s Studies major from Lesley University.
- I have performed in burlesque shows (for fun, and sometimes dressed as a dude) and worked at strip clubs (mainly to pay the billz when I was young and poor.)
- On a related note, I saved up and bought my own condo at age 22, but ended up losing it.
- I don’t have any tattoos. It’s a commitment thing. However, I love your tattoos. Very much.
- I never dyed my hair until I was in my thirties and now I cannot stop putting rainbow colors in it. In fact, I refuse to stop.
- Highly mentholated products such as Altoids mints make me sneeze. There’s nothing anyone can do about it.
- I didn’t have much of a career in my twenties, but really threw myself into my work starting around age 30. I am kind of a workaholic now.
- I have been through domestic violence. It was awful. Sadly, I don’t think this is “unconventional,” but talking about it definitely is.
- I play the ukulele.
- I consider myself a feminist, and enjoy using the “F” word shamelessly. (I also enjoy saying “fuck.” It helps me express myself.)
You’re still here? Nice! What fun facts don’t I know about you yet? Will you share them in the comments?
Also, would you like to see any of the topics above expanded into its own post? Let me know!
I would have LOVED to dye my hair crazy colors as a teenager, but my parents would never have allowed it! It wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I finally went for it. It’s been four years now, and I haven’t stopped. In fact, I may be addicted. (Fuchsia, purple and blue shown above. The blue is a little hard to see, but it was fun because it reminded me of Wonder Woman.)
Having tried a few things, I have a few tips that I thought I could share with you.
1// Go to a pro
Find someone you trust and who has done this before! It is possible to do your own touch-ups when your color starts to fade (though I usually just stick with the salon) but for most people it will take some bleaching to get your hair light enough first, so go to a pro for this step at least. I go to SHAG salon in Boston and oomph salon in Portsmouth, NH. Make sure they use great products. Most stylists I know seem to really like PRAVANA brand hair color.
2// Consider going with ombré highlights
This has worked well for me, especially since my hair is so dark. If you’ve got dark hair, you’ll need to lighten it in order to see the pretty colors. Going with highlights means you don’t have to bleach your whole head, and doing ombré means you don’t go to the roots, so there’s no need for frequent re-bleaching.
I only go once, maybe twice a year to have my hair lightened (yes, actual bleach blonde highlights. I try not to look because it’s alarming.) Then the vibrant colors go on over that. You only have to touch up your rainbow colors as they start to fade, every 4-12 weeks, but at least you don’t have to continually be damaging your hair by bleaching it.
Side note: the colors will actually be darker when they’re fresh, and will get lighter and brighter through the fading process. Your shower/towels/pillow cases/hats will never be OK again. Be prepared to deal with this.
3// Don’t wash your hair too much
I try to only wash my hair every other day. (Let’s be honest, this is one of the main reasons I don’t do hot yoga. Excessive sweating leads to excessive hair-washing.) You can use a dry shampoo on non-washing days, but I haven’t found one I absolutely love. You can also get creative with up-dos when your hair’s not clean and shiny enough to wear down. When you do shampoo, use a product that’s made for colored hair, and it’s a good idea to wash with COLD water, so less of your color will rinse away.
4// Put some of your hair color into your conditioner!
Have your stylist put some of the color into your conditioner. Each time you wash your hair, leave the conditioner on for 5-10 minutes while you’re in the shower. This really extends the time in between touch-ups.
5// Have fun and don’t take no B.S. from anyone
It’s YOUR hair. Have fun with it. And really, it’s JUST hair. Let’s not take ourselves too seriously.
Do you have other tips to share? Questions? Let me know in the comments!
The Sweat Shop offers attractive, well-made workout apparel from some alternative brands, so if you’re bored with the usual options, you will definitely want to check them out! They have a physical shop in Burlington, as well as a great online store.
And while you’re on their site, check out my interview on their blog page!
I recently finished 2 books. OK, technically “audiobooks” since that’s what seems to work best for me these days. I’ve been using the Audible app which I think is reasonably priced at $14.95 for 1 credit/month and offers unlimited returns on books, so if one were inclined to return a book and reuse that credit, one could…
I was excited to read How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran. I truly think she is one of the funniest and sharpest modern feminist writers out there.
The story focuses on the teenage years of a self-proclaimed fat girl, growing up in a poor family with her many siblings, who spends a good amount of her free time “wanking” and the rest of the time listening to alternative bands and lusting after boys. I was confused — having read How to Be a Woman, which is memoir, I recognized some details from Moran’s life, but others didn’t sound right. I looked it up afterward and saw it was actually a very-semi-autobiographical novel. Oh! Makes sense.
Moran’s writing is highly self-deprecating and confessional. I personally related to her rock-star-fixated character, having been the same way as a teenager, and let’s face it, I still am.
Despite dropping out of high school, she manages to get a job as a rock critic, and establishes herself by ripping to shreds any band she reviews. In reality, Moran herself got her start as a writer in similar fashion.
One thing I marveled at (enviously) while reading was the apparent ease with which teenagers can write. What I wouldn’t trade for the naiveté required to simply put something down on paper, without the highly tuned inner critic of an adult, and a bit less regard for offending the reader.
The best part about this book was a passage in which the main character posits the theory that every great thing that’s ever been done has been inspired by unrequited love:
Since I met you, I feel like I can see the operating system of the world – and it is unrequited love. That is why everyone’s doing everything. Every book, opera house, moon shot and manifesto is here because someone, somewhere, lit up silent when someone else came into the room and then quietly burned when they didn’t notice them. On the foundation of the billion kisses we never had, I built you this opera house, baby. I shot the president because I didn’t know what to say to you. I hoped you’d notice. I hoped you’d notice me. We turn our unsaid things into our life’s work.
-Caitlin Moran, How to Build a Girl
Beautiful sentiment. Beautifully written.
I also recently
read listened to Yes Please by Amy Poehler, another funny and feminist lady, and a Boston native. This memoir is a collection of stories, essays, and even some silly haiku poems on topics like divorce, cosmetic surgery, career, and motherhood.
If you’re a fan of Poehler’s work on Saturday Night Live, or Parks and Rec, you’ll enjoy chapters which go into some detail on her creative experiences on these shows. Because I’m not a big TV-watcher, these chapters were slightly less interesting to me, but overall I found the book very entertaining. I also appreciated seeing a hugely-successful TV star get on her soapbox about gender equality issues in the workplace in her humble, funny way.
Another thing I appreciated is the way she shared personal anecdotes without over-sharing. When she wasn’t comfortable going into detail about the circumstances of her divorce for example, she acknowledged it, and instead shared her observations on what going through divorce was like, for her, without focusing on her ex or throwing anyone under the bus. Reading this book was part of what inspired me to start blogging again and sharing more of my own experiences.
Currently, since a friend recommended it as their favorite book ever, I’m taking on Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. I’ve never read the book/seen the movie/watched the musical and am a total newbie to this tale. The audio-book I’m listening to is about 56 hours long. So yeah.
Last one! The kids and I have been listening to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows during any of our medium to long car rides. (The Jim Dale-narrated audio-books, always. Not available on Audible, unfortunately.) It takes us a while to finish the books this way, but that’s part of the fun.
My son and I listened to the entire series when he was 7-8 years old, on many long trips back and forth during an inter-state divorce and life-relocation that we were going through at the time. The stories provided us with a richly imaginative escape during a truly stressful time.
Now that my son is 15, I think he has been enjoying listening to the series all over again with his little sister, now 8, almost as much as I am. I love these books SO, SO much and had to mention them here.
Have you read any good books lately? I would love to hear what you recommend!
Is it ever too soon to start having car-commercial-esque summer fantasies? Warm nights, driving with the windows down, fireflies, the smell of pine trees, and Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon” in the background…
I have already started indulging in a few spring/summer staples. A few of my favorites for this year:
1// This white button up makes a perfect swimsuit cover-up.
2// I’ve been WEARING OUT these leopard Vans. (Note: order a half a size smaller than usual.)
3// This kimono is THE prettiest cover-up and makes you feel sooo elegant the minute you put it on. (Back shown.) This one might be sold out but they have many styles right now at Urban Outfitters.
4// I haven’t quite figured out the hair bandana thing but it’s something I might play with this summer.
5// These retro resin flower earrings are great for a pop of color.
6// Obligatory straw fedora.
7// YES!!! A very important discovery for larger-chested ladies. Asos.com has GREAT mix & match bikinis. The tops come in bra sizes, including DD and up!
What’s on your spring/summer wish list??
Before heading in, I texted a friend that my stomach felt weird and I had just spilled coffee down my shirt.
She reminded me that at least I wasn’t going to be on TV.
This was a good point.
“I’ll just pretend I’m Oprah,” I said. ”Or David Vendetti.”
And with that, it turned out to be an AMAZING experience. I hope I get to wear my coffee on the radio again sometime!
They made it easy by asking me about a bunch of stuff I REALLY like talking about.
The interview is below. For the quick and dirty version, just skip ahead to these topics:
- 4:22 Interview starts
- 5:30 WTF is barre?
- 8:07 Info for
future cult membersbarre beginners
- 10:40 My sordid past
- 16:20 Butts, young and old
- 18:33 WTF is fit feminist?
- 22:50 Is it my turn to do something great?
- 31:02 Working out isn’t all that fun
- 32:22 Maybe don’t eat that twinkie
- 37:55 Why can’t I just like yoga like everybody else?
- 39:00 WTF is aerial yoga?
- 43:00 The #1 thing that will change your body and your life
For real though:
If feminism is going to continue to progress as a movement… it needs to be much more inclusive, a “me and you” philosophy, not “me or you.”
No “us vs. them.” There is no “them.” There is only “us.” We are all one.
I’m excited to be returning to the blog after almost a year off! Wow. Glad you’re still reading! The last big moment I shared was in April 2014.
Here are a few events, big and small, that have happened since then. I’m looking forward to diving deeper into a few of the stories below, and I have a list of other topics I can’t wait to write about.
April 2014: Harry Potter World at Universal Orlando! I had to include this because OMG, have I told you how much I LOVE Harry Potter?
We made a trip up to Maine for my birthday at the end of April break 2014. Driving through Portsmouth, NH on the way home, I noticed this space for lease. One thing led to another… and for the next few months…
May, June, July… Many delirious days and late nights were spent creating Barre & Soul‘s second studio (after Melrose). Having grown up close to Portsmouth, each day that I made the drive felt like coming home. This is one of the playlists that kept me company on the many trips back and forth.
The day we put this floor down, I was so exhausted I stretched out on it and fell asleep in the middle of the afternoon.Later that night, Jason and I watched the 4th of July fireworks through the studio window. And then we finished the floor. And then one day… sometime in August…It. Was. Done. Jay and I drove up to Bar Harbor, Maine and celebrated our 7th (!) anniversary. I had never been before and it was soooo beautiful.All the while, my kids continued to get huge. They went back to school. 3rd grade and 9th grade!!I did a radio interview. I was nervous at first, but it turned out to be an AWESOME experience! I look forward to sharing more about that.When I decided to make a go of opening this studio, “Fortune Favors the Brave,” was the mantra I repeated daily… I could not have had a better group of women find me. I am so grateful for the team that makes it all possible. This is the truth. September… Barre & Soul Portsmouth’s Grand Opening. We partied in partnership with the very gorgeous and talented ladies of oomph salon, downstairs from us. Also, I get so much help from this guy.October. I went to hear the Dalai Lama speak. (You couldn’t take pictures, but this is one I took outside.) He said some things that really resonated with me. He also said some things I couldn’t relate to at all. It was an interesting experience and I’m glad I went.Halloween. After spending the summer painting and driving to his music, I got to see my favorite artist, Hozier, live. There are really no words. I realize that by the time of this writing, you’ve all heard at least one of his songs (over and over and over.) Listen to them all. Really.November. Barre & Soul partnered with Centre Yoga at their beautiful new studio in Woburn, MA as our second “affiliate” location, (after Lexington Power Yoga, where it all started!) This means our signature barre program and teachers can now be found there, in addition to Centre’s already- wonderful yoga offerings. Then the holidays came. We did family stuff. These are just a few of the members of the incredible team I get to work with. A lot of people ask me how I have managed to grow the business so quickly. Sometimes I can hear their doubt, like they are really asking, “Are you out of your mind? How can this work?” I will tell you what I tell them: It’s not me. There is a huge team that makes it work… I don’t mean to sound sappy, but I love this team so, so much… I was very emotional, and cried a lot throughout the holidays. They were almost always happy tears.
Oh yeah, and then I saw this place… You can probably guess where this is going.Huge portions of the past year were spent leading Teacher Trainings (barre and sometimes yoga.) The bad: The schedule is usually grueling and it is nearly impossible to maintain what we call “balance” during these periods. The good: There is no other experience like it for building instant connection, community, and long-lasting friendships.
First selfie in the future flagship studio.
I also got to cry my eyes out on opening night at Big Fish, Boston. I am so proud of my friend, Lee, who is starring as Karl, the giant (obviously.) This was a true “War of Art” moment and a triumph for self expression. This man was born to perform. He is also the one who encouraged me to sign up for a 10 month personal development course I just completed, called the Wisdom Course. I don’t have any photos from the course specifically, but I want to acknowledge that since last June, risks are less scary, friendships more dear, and life a bit more playful.
One of the facets of my divorce/custody arrangement is that roughly once a month I have to drive to upstate NY. This can be a burden when it comes to scheduling, driving, overnight accommodations, you name it. What has been interesting is how I have come to embrace these weekends as an opportunity to recharge. I’ve really fallen in love with Lake George and the Adirondack Mountains. I’ve found that perhaps the best thing for my creativity is to book a room, alone, for a weekend. (“A room of one’s own” still ringing true 86 years later.)
The past year has been a whirlwind, and as you can see it has been largely focused on my business. I love it! And, it’s exhausting. A “day in the life” is not what you may think. There is generally less yoga, less play, less sleep than I would like, and more stress, more sugar, more over-scheduling than I care to admit. Being a mom of two and a business owner, plus trying to take care of my physical and non-physical well-being is a balancing act.
One thing that has been missing for me is writing, more specifically, expression around issues that matter to women and to me. Sure, I’ve been busy. We’re all busy. But I want perfectionism to lose. I want self-expression to win. I want to share.
Thanks for reading,
There are so many “cleanses” out there that simply will not give you the nourishment you need. Whether in the form of a juice fast or elimination diet, consuming too few calories and nutrients is simply not a healthy plan. It may result in short term water weight loss, but this is almost always regained immediately afterward and in the meantime these plans play havoc with your metabolism, mood and energy levels.
Julie Starr-Wood, MS, CNS, has put together a healthy option that she calls the STRIP cleanse:
STRIP is a 10-day professionally guided, interactive, food-focused nutrition program. This program will STRIP away the unnecessary food and unhealthy habits from your diet that may contribute to inflammation, digestive issues, weight gain and bloating, and add in foods that will help you feel and look your best. In just ten days, you will have a strong foundation and the essential tools to propel you forward into your health goals.
I recently participated in Julie’s STRIP program and was pleasantly surprised by how energized I felt, as well as the reduction in aches and pains when eliminating certain inflammatory foods from my diet! Julie also put together a Facebook community where those of us participating could share recipes, ideas and questions, which actually made it, dare I say, fun?
OK, it’s official. Right now is the most powerful point in my life (so far.) I was recently honored to be a guest speaker to raise awareness for the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center, serving the greater Newburyport, MA area. Why was I asked to speak? Because years ago, I was one of their clients, someone who needed a place to turn, and who came to them seeking help putting my life back together after domestic violence.
For the past several years, it has been my dream to begin sharing my story — this was in fact one of the reasons I created this blog. Speaking up on behalf of the crisis center gave me an opportunity to fulfill this wish, to help shine a light on where I and countless others have been.
Breaking the silence around domestic violence is essential if we want to remove the stigma and shame around this topic so that those suffering from abuse can speak up and get the help they need.
It has also given me the chance to reflect on how far I’ve come and what a different place I’m at in my life these days. I feel empowered and successful, and I am so grateful for that.
I participated in two events, the first of which was at the beautiful new home of Rasamaya studio in Newburyport, MA, owned by my dear friend Carrie Tyler.* It was no accident when the universe matched me and Carrie up a few years ago, and she remains an inspiration to me every day. She is a powerhouse, not only as an incredibly knowledgeable and masterful yoga and movement teacher, but as a visionary entrepreneur, creative spirit, and champion of women’s empowerment in every form. She is one of the few people that understands my passion and excitement for feminist activism, one of the few who understand the word ‘feminist’ to be something alive with inclusion and possibility as I do.
With my notes (and tissues) in hand, I stood before the crowd, many of whom I’d known as neighbors, colleagues and students years ago, and told them that, unbeknownst to them at the time, I’d been fighting the biggest struggle of my life in those days.
I told them that I’d been ashamed for them to know my life was such a mess, ashamed of the choices I had made that had led to that. I told them that it was food stamps and Christmas gifts donated to the Salvation Army that got my family through that first year, struggling not just with my own healing, but with single parenting as well. Despite the challenges, that was the year I enrolled in college for the last time (as a Women’s Studies major, and eventually graduated!), the year I began to teach, the year I met the partner who has been by my side ever since, the year I learned how strong my body could be, as I came back to the barre day after day and watched myself transform, inside and out.
I am grateful that there was a place I could turn to plant the seeds of renewal that would eventually sprout. That I was given legal advocacy at a time when I had no idea how I would provide for my family, a time when I lived in fear for my life, not just everyday worry, but truly fearing that I might actually be killed. It has been a long road, and all of that feels well behind me now. Maybe that’s why now is the perfect time for me to begin speaking up.
When domestic violence landed me on the x-ray table of an emergency room, our neighbors and friends would never have believed it.
We seemed normal, even successful. We seemed to have it all. What I have seen to be true more and more in the years since, is that abuse happens EVERYWHERE, to every ‘type’ of person. I hope that my sharing will help put a face to this issue that is so much easier NOT to talk about. It is so important that we DO talk about it.
The response that I got afterward from those in attendance meant so much to me. To see how many in the crowd wiped away tears of empathy as I shared my story, and to have them thank me and shake my hand afterward was so rewarding, when I was asked to speak at a second event, I did not hesitate to accept.
I’ve had many years to heal from my experience, and I don’t doubt that the trials I’ve been through have made me stronger. I want to say, without belittling the severity of my experience, that I have made peace with this chapter of my life and with the abuser as well.
I believe if there is no hope for abusers, there is no hope for any of us. We are all one.
I look forward to continuing with this work that is so important to me. Not only to reach out to support those who have been victims of abuse, but to help solve the problem of how we can create a world that does not produce abuse in the first place. This is my passion and my mission, and I thank you for reading this post. By taking the time to learn more instead of turning away, you have already brought us one step closer.
Andrea Isabelle Lucas
Founder and Owner, Barre & Soul, LLC
*Barre & Soul is honored to include Carrie Tyler as a member of the teaching staff for our Yoga and Barre Teacher Training.