the bar that doesn't even need a title to introduce it (or posts that cara is too tired to give proper titles to)

last week i was at my friend natalie's house.
eager to get over there to cast her beautiful pregnant belly,
i managed to skip dinner.
mostly because i had grown tired of
my detox diet friendly take out choice:
chicken, salsa, guacamole, and rice
from chipotle.
don't get me wrong, i was greatful to have something
so delicious to indulge in while on such a strict diet.
but i had induldged one too many times
and it was no longer appealing.
so i showed up to natalie's house starving.
not only was i starving, i tend to be picky.
so i wasn't even interested in most of the foods i was offered
that i could eat within the confines of the diet.
then dave (her husband) offered me
what i will forever more refer to as
"nirvana in bar form".

i present you with: the larabar.

high fiber
high protein
packed full of nothing but fruits and nuts
never cooked (for all you raw food junkies out there)
gluten free
dairy free
soy free
vegan friendly

perhaps most shocking,
it doesn't taste like cardboard, poop, or toes.

i mean seriously, it seems to good to be true.
but unless i grow a third arm or spontaneously combust,
i simply can't imagine what could be wrong with these beauties.

law & order is ruining my life (and other confessions of a woman who hides behind her remote control)

at the end of 2007 i was sick and tired of how much time i was wasting in front of the tv. it is embarrassing to admit how much time i was spending. that was part of what was making me sick and tired. let's just say that i only started watching law & order about two years ago, and i was beginning to see repeats! do you know how many different versions there are of law & order? three. there are three different versions of law & order. when combined, there have been 31 seasons of the show. that is more years of law and order than there are years in my life! all i am saying is, that is a lot of law & order. good for them. they have found something that works. but if i am seeing reruns, well, that is a major indication to me that it might be time to reevaluate the tv situation.

i started wondering what i would think, hear, see if i wasn't watching tv. how would i fill my time? what would i think about if i didn't have this source of input to inform my opinions, thoughts, feelings, and desires? how might my creativity be impacted? how about my marriage? what would happen if herb came home and i was reading on the couch with jazz playing? and how would that be different than the times he came home to find me wrapped up in my red fuzzy blanket, watching my 5th back-to-back episode of america's next top model on bravo?

so, i just stopped. altogether. i stopped. with the exception of one or two shows in the evening here and there, i didn't watch tv. the few times i did watch felt fine. i still felt like i was within the spirit of the "rules", and to tell you the truth, i really enjoyed those times in front of the tv. i paid attention to the show. i looked forward to that time. it was intentional. i relaxed.

since i wasn't watching tv, i found other ways to fill my time. i read. in three weeks, i read "the pillars of the earth" by ken follett. have you seen this book? it is over 1,000 pages long. 1,000 about the building of a church in england during the 11th century. and i enjoyed every minute of it! i made a little art journal, and i used it. i took baths. lots of hot baths. when herb came home, i had set up a paradigm in which, instead of him sitting on the couch with me to watch tv, or retreating to the office to "play computers" while i finished my show, we had time to play games together and talk and enjoy the evening.

it worked. for six weeks, it worked.

then, i got sick. for two or three days, i laid on the couch. and watched tv. all day long.

after that, i quickly moved back into my old patterns.
always in the back of my mind was my promise to myself.
it was not just about NOT watching tv; it was about doing other things. using my time and my energy and my life for other things. it was more about embracing my life - taking out the tv was just a great way to help me do more of that.

last night i was reading a chapter in a wonderful marriage book ("the new rules of marriage: what you need to know to make love work" by terrance real). to be honest, i nearly skipped the chapter altogether because it was about the importance of removing addictive behaviors from our lives in order to be able to engage in a truly intimate marriage. it didn't feel applicable to herb and i. but as a therapist, i decided to go ahead and read it. i was sort of stunned to realize how much my mindless, intentionless tv (and computer) time fit right into his description of "misery stabilizers" - things we do that keep us stuck in our discontentment; things we do to avoid dealing with painful things in our lives. things that keep us from being totally available for true intimacy because we are blocking out things we need to deal with internally.

now, you may be thinking, "it is just tv. she is being way to hard on herself and taking this so seriously!" but i can assure you that this struck me at the core. tv doesn't just keep me from being intimate with herb; more so, it keeps me from myself. it keeps me from facing some realities that i don't want to face. like, for instance, if i am not watching tv, i am more aware of the fact that i have really low energy and that i am a 30 year old woman, without kids who works only part time. and then i have to do something with all of the questions of identity and value that come up. but if i can face those questions, i will become a fuller person. and i will have more to bring to my marriage with herb.

to think that my tv habits are keeping me from personal health and marital closeness makes me sad.

so i decided that instead of trying to go back to that time where i was magically able to discard tv altogether without feeling ashamed or punished, that i will just give myself some parameters. five hours a week. used up however i wish! we'll see how it goes.

next stop, check to see if the novels i have on hold at the library are available yet. let's be honest, even if i am getting more real with myself, everyone needs a little escape from time to time!


dear internet, thanks for introducing me to rhian caroline cooksey quinton

this is my friend rhi.
this picture of her was taken in central park.
by me.
rhi lives in wales.
yes, like, the united kingdom.
i live in denver, co.
yes, like, the united states of america.
and yet thanks to al gore's new fangled world wide web,
we met.
and became friends.
and then we met up in NYC.

i sure do like her.
and yesterday, i got to talk to her on the phone for nearly two hours.
so, thanks alexander grahm bell -
i appreciate you too!

(i would have told you all of the great things about rhi,
and why i would spend a sunny afternoon chatting with her on the phone,
i would have told you she is kind and funny and true.
but all of that is much too gushy for the sensibilites of a true brit,
so i will leave all of that out. i won't tell you how creative she is,
or how thoughtful. nope. none of that. this post is strictly intended
to thank the great inventors who allow me to communicate with her.)

old dogs can't learn new shower routines

i step into the shower,
left foot first.
then right.
the water has not yet been turned on
in effort to save water, i guess.

the water is turned on;
too hot for the likes of someone like herb harjes,
just right for the likes of someone like me.

if it is a good day,
i have remembered to tilt the shower head,
(which is tilted up for the tall, lukewarm shower taker of the house)
so that the water doesn't hit the back wall,
burst out the side of the shower curtain
and flood the bathroom floor.
(not that i have ever done this before.
maybe once.
or twice.)

i quickly wet my face and then turn
to face the back wall and allow the hot water
cover my hair then my back.
i turn back around to quickly wash my face,
then turn again to face the back,
allowing more hot water to massage my back,
begging the muscles to relax,
and i begin to wash my hair.
once i rinse my hair,
assuming i remember that i have JUST washed it
and don't wash it again,
i move on to condition my hair.
while my hair is being softened,
i use herb's flowery body wash to clean the body.

rinse hair.
rinse body.

stand once again,
facing the back wall
and lean forward
with a yoga inspired flat back
and place one hand on each side of the tub
allowing the hot water,
once again,
to do its work on waking up my back.

the hot water is turned off.
and i wrap myself in a brown or green towel.

a few months ago,
i bought a new kind of non-soap, pH balanced product
that works to wash both face and body.
two in one.
it is great.

what cracks me up is that i continue with the above mentioned routine,
despite the fact that i am now using the same product twice during the shower.


on the practice of human consumption

she caught my eye from across the room.
in that oxy-moronic kind of loud whisper she said,
"you are totally analyzing EVERYONE, aren't you?"

from the other side of the apartment, filled with people i didn't know,
she nailed me.
she was a newer friend -
we had only met a year or two previously when i moved to denver -
but she sure did seem to understood how i operate in the world.

it wasn't just because i was a counseling student,
though that was part of it, i'm sure.
it was the way that i am in a group.
the way that i take in people
chew them up
digest them.
the way i taste them
but i don't always serve up heaping spoonfuls

with the advent of blogs and online communities
it is becoming more and more clear
that i have an appetite for those i don't know.
i like to figure them out
and glamorize them.
i like to imagine their world.
if i am honest,
perhaps it is not so much their world i am imagining,
but rather the world i might like to have as my own.

people talk about stalking blogs.
this is, i believe, the act of reading a person's blog
but never commenting
never interacting

i don't stalk for long.
for that would imply watching
without taking any action.

i either move along,
bored with what i have found,
not seeing the value,
not seeing the person.
but seeing that it cannot fill me.

or i indulge.
i gorge.
i eat it all up,
longing for it to fill the deepest of hunger pangs.

as a turkey sandwhich tastes so different
so much more gratifying
so much more full of flavor
when eaten on the way up a long, steep mountain path,
so does the information of a person's life taste
when i know
that i don't ever have to been known by them.
not just that,
but i do not have to give anything.
all i have to do is take

and i do not give myself to them.
and really, i do not give myself to myself.
it is hard to live your own life
when you are so very busy
digesting the life
of someone else.


art journaling . . . not just for ninjas anymore

hey, if you live in the denver area
(or, you feel like a little road trip!)
come and have some fun with paint and paper and glue.
i am holding two classes in my home this month and would love to have you join us!

if you are still totally confused, here is a little more info.
if you want to know more about how ninjas relate to any of this . . .
i am afraid i cannot help you!

art journaling is a way of expressing and exploring yourself and the world around you.

it uses color and texture and paint and collage to take you from the familiar experience of
writing complete sentences on a lined piece of paper
into a completely new realm of interacting with your thoughts and your voice on paper.
by invoking the creative parts of the brain,
art journaling creates a new level of awareness and understanding.
it can be fun, playful, messy, enlightening, exciting, wild.
it can be as simple as trying out a new color of ink or a different style of handwriting.
or as adventurous as letting paint and ink spill onto your pages and adding elements of collage.
it can be whatever you need it to be on any given day.

example by cara harjes

example by rachel denbow

example by keri smith

example by sabrina ward harrison


please don't blame the butternut squash!

Since starting my detox diet, I have been inspired and encouraged by Shawna James, the "Gluten Free Girl". Reading her blog has reminded me how much I love food. And what I am realizing is that by limiting the foods I can eat, I am being made to use some creativity and a little more love and intention when eating. In order to really help you understand, let me tell you what I can't eat. Not as a means of complaining or gaining sympathy (but you can still send me condolences and gift certificates for massages if you would like!), but rather, to help you really understand why the foods that I CAN eat are becoming more exciting to me. Here's the list: wheat/gluten, soy, corn, sugar, dairy, alcohol, eggs, beef/sausage/pork, tea/coffee, chocolate, oranges. I am sure there are more, but this gives you some idea.

All of these restrictions made my cooking experience so much more rich. I felt so decedent as I sliced open a butternut squash in the middle of the day for roasting. Seriously, who roasts butternut squash at 1 pm on a Wednesday afternoon. Apparently I do.
Later the squash was pureed and put in the refrigerator. The absence of wheat in my diet inspired me to pull out my rice cooker. The rice cooker I have had for a year and a half. The rice cooker I have never used before. In the end, the squash was lovingly stirred into the brown rice. Then I added pine nuts and formed the concoction into small patties which were fried to a crisp in a pan of olive oil. People, I must be honest. They were kind of gross. But that is only because I didn't take the time to toast the pine nuts. And maybe some sauteed yellow onion . . . no, no, shallots! . . . would have added the perfect something. And the rice to squash ratio needs some work. But you see, the problem was not the ingredients. I just need to work out some kinks. And I can, because I am free as a bird to play with these ingredients.

Next came the coconut chicken. I dipped the strips in a mixture of almond and coconut milks with a little chili paste. Then the strips where rolled in organic, no-added-sugar, super-fine coconut shreds. Also less than memorable, in the end. But again, only for lack of experience on my part. You see, I have been cooking for years. Like, 20 years. Seriously. When I was in middle school, I remember calling my dad at work to ask him to brain storm the perfect homemade fried mozzarella stick recipe. What I am new to is cooking with restrictions. From the restrictions, I have opened my eyes to ingredients I am unaccustomed to working with. And learning to play with them will just take some time.


what we look like in the eastern standard time zone

ME: that cab almost hit me!
HIM: they think you are trying to hail them.

hmmm. well yes, yes, that would make sense.
i am, in fact, standing in the middle of time square
sticking my arm out into the middle of the road.
in some parts that is called rougue journalism.
in new york, apparently, it is considered hailing a cab.
who knew.

the lovely sally woodson and her studio,
eastside westside music together.

(hanging out at starbucks with rebecca, rhi, sarah, and gigi)

i have a few more, but blogger is being really weird about loading my pics. so i will share these for now!