Downtown Gallery Crawl: From Historic Roots, Art Blooms

IMG_1693As a recent Pittsburgher, one of my biggest fears about moving here was not finding a community that I could fit in with. Simply speaking, I thought I’m a small, country girl moving to a big city by myself: “will there even be an opportunity to fit into a city scene?” I can’t speak for other cities, but as for Pittsburgh the answer will always be a loud and certain, “Yes!”


IMG_1656Pittsburgh nurtures a community scaling from professionals to artists. It’s small, but diverse enough that you never have to choose a night out at only one location. It would be very easy to dine the corners of IMG_1658Market Square and ponder over sparkling mists at Point Park all in one night. It’s a community offering social opportunities that are not only easily available to all, but are unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed. A perfect example of one of these social events is the most recent Gallery Crawl hosted in Downtown Pittsburgh on September 25th from 5:30-11:00pm.


Downtown transformed IMG_1653into a playground for adults of all ages, offering life size chess sets, various vendors, countless art exhibits, and wonderful, catchy soundtracks humming through the busy streets. What was wonderful to me, as a budgeting body, was money was not necessary to enjoy the festivities of the Gallery Crawl. The experience was priceless but ultimately fulfilling to a soul in need of inspiration.


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A definite crowd pleaser had to of been the India in Focus concert. The streets simply sparkled with the inspired spirits of many dancing and expressing the memorable beats pumping the airwaves. It was warming to witness such a diverse crowd coming together to appreciate a specific culture.


Other gallery hotspots included Hetain Patel’s “Eva” series and “Jump” video installation at the Wood Street Galleries, the “Plus One” contemporary technology exhibit showcasing the importance of textures and patterns to the Indian culture, and the Humanae/ I am August photo gallery showcasing the human color palettes.


IMG_1701IMG_1700It just goes to show us that art has no definite definition. It can be unorthodox, contemporary; contradicting at times, but always serves as a means to collect witness of its surrounding community. There is beauty in simple mundane tasks; such as, folding laundry. There is a need to recognize the differences of individuals, while still understanding that we make up a larger community. All that can be expressed in a collective series of snapshots showcasing our very own Pittsburgh public. At a time when we are beginning to welcome Fall into our streets, it was beautiful to be reminded of the seasons changing through the tapestry laser point illustration at the SPACE “Plus One” exhibit.

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Pittsburgh is a city you don’t want to fall asleep on, not when there are so many experiences to be had steps away from your neighborhood. There is history being made everywhere, even between the iconic landmarks that make this city so enchanting and inviting. Last night, I witnessed neighborhoods gathering at the Gallery Crawl for the name of art.

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take the time to commit to your community and #healthyself

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Black Bean Bowl

Being a vegan, means eating A LOT of beans. They are a nourishing staple to every wholesome diet. I’ve been recently trying to switch to buying bulk instead of canned beans 😳. What’s awesome is the shelf life, price, and pretty pantry you get from shopping bulk. What’s different for me is this new soaking process. It’s crucial to soak, rinse, and cook those beans. 🌟

About two days ago, I had some friends over for a homemade Indian dinner. I was thrilled to show off my new passion for the kitchen by cooking up some cuisine. I decided to soak some black beans and make a twist on vegetable curry. My friend who was going to bring lentil soup, forgot to soak her beans in time, an easy mistake when you switch to the dry, bulk foods. Those hours of soaking are so important but in this world where we want things immediately it’s easy to forget to prep this step. 

We ended up just featuring this warm black bean bowl, which was a Mexican twist on vegetable curry. A sure success for any dinner night 😊. #enjoy 

  
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 jalapeño peppers 
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cups vegetable stock 
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro
  • 1tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper 
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 sliced avocado for garnish 

  
Directions:

Black Bean:

  1. Soak beans overnight
  2. Rinse in the morning
  3. Bring 1cup water and 1 cup of vegetable stock to s boil
  4. Add beans, reduce heat, and let simmer for one hour
  5. Once cooked, strain
  6. Add 1/2 the beans to a food processor and process until mashed (1minute)
  7. Put all the beans back in sauce pan and cook on low

Vegetable Cayenne 

  1. Heat 1tbsp olive oil 
  2. Add chopped garlic and chopped red onion
  3. Cook 2 minutes
  4. Add cumin and cayenne pepper and stir
  5. Add chopped jalapeño peppers and diced fire roasted red bell pepper
  6. Cook for 7 minutes or until tender
  7. Stir into finished black bean paste 

Rice:

  1. Bring 1 cup water 1 cup vegetable stock to a boil
  2. Add 1cup dry brown rice, lower heat to a simmer 
  3. Add 1/2 cup frozen peas 
  4. Let cook for 10 minutes.
  5.  Strain and stir in chopped cilantro

To plate: 

  1. Scoop a serving of fluffy rice
  2. Top with warm, spicy black bean and vegetable paste 
  3. Garnish with avocado slices

   
#healthyself 

Observing a Yoga Class in Center City

My bare feet stand rooted shoulder length apart, heels pressing all of my weight into the shallow pad of my yoga mat. My toes extend into tangled green roots burrowing and nesting deep into the earth. I feel my toes spread and dig deeper as my breath flows cyclically through my wooden lungs. My arms extend parallel to the ground, shooting out branches so far my shoulders pop out of their sockets and extend to catch the sun on the horizon. I feel my torso stiff and solid carrying the weight of my heavy branches, but I feel balanced because my roots are deep and connected. I feel my breath exhale shaking the leaves of my branches and as I open my oak brown eyes I reconnect with the physical world around me once again. I wiggle my toes and shake out my shoulders, feeling a connection with every pore draping my newly refreshed body.  
What I have found is that yoga means something very different to every individual person. To Mary-Ellen, my own instructor, it is a form of meditation, to Kathryn, the instructor I am observing today, it is a healing ritual, to my father, it is a waste of “Goddam’ time”, to me, yoga is mindfulness and exercising control of the body.

The large room where class will take place looks to be a repurposed dance studio. A wall-to-wall mirror reflects the floor-to-ceiling window opposite. On this sunny day, this room embodies the world. You could look in that vast mirror and touch the face of a biker on Market Street and race your fingers alongside his reflection until he disappeared and your fingers pedaled right into the brick wall adjacent to the mirror. A single African American mother walks with child on hip, holding desperately to the small hand of another young child around the age of 4. He seems to be crying in the upper corner of the mirror, but the mother has a destination on the opposite side of the mirror where the wall molds intersect at the door, and cannot listen to the resistant child’s wails. Bustles of women and men march past one another; poor passing wealthy, father passing child, privileged passing needy.

At the very center of the mirror you can spot Love Park. The pool is empty and a bed of granite backdrops the love statue. In pictures, I imagine the statue silhouetted with lovers and that sparkling fountain. The statue, void of sparkling water appears as empty as the dance studio where I wait for class to start. This room is one world within a larger world. Micro within macro.

Kathryn walks in frantically, hoarse from a cold she is trying to heal. She shakes my hand while stripping off her street clothes. Underneath her oversized jeans are skin tight leggings.

“So glad you could be with us today,” she says through her Temple University sweatshirt as she pulls it over her frizzy short cut hair.

“Thank you so much for having me. I’m really looking forward to this.”

She notices my own robin egg yoga matt and I spot awkwardness in her expression.

“Oh, um, actually…for liability reasons, I could lose my job if you join in. I thought this was just an observation. I feel bad, but I could lose my job and it seemed like you just wanted to watch.”

Who just watches a yoga class?

Not wanting to make her uncomfortable and seeing her distress, I assure her it’s no big deal and I would just observe, “I’m just grateful to be here.”

The classroom of eight fills with girls draped in oversized neon armor: soft woolen socks and cozy sweaters cover their frames as they lazily slouch over their array of rainbow yoga mats. Kathryn begins to teach a lesson on spacing ribs and pushing palms between shoulder blades in order to enforce ‘the breath’. The class inhales and exhales as the wind reflected in the mirror breathes life into Philadelphia streets, lumps of trash thrown about through city’s lungs, navigate through alleyways as blood coarses through arteries. Students nod along, bobbing disheveled buns carefully placed on top of their crowns. Girls in colorful crop-tops over skin tight leggings stretch out their fingertips-popping joints- waking up their bodies.

Kathryn strolls the classroom touching each student, repeating, “Find your base, your skeleton, and feel how it moves.” My morbid imagination begins to take hold, manifesting itself in every corner of this classroom. Suddenly, they are all sitting skeletons striking sharp poses- downward facing dog, warrior, and triangle. Their sliding shoulder blades slipping through scapulas entrance me. I stare at each skeleton, still adorned in colorful garments breathing through their ivory bones. In the mirror, I catch a glance at myself. I meet my mirrored stare and can’t shake my comparative gaze of solid meat and flesh aside these dancing, slender bones.

My right hand callused with Russell’s sign wanders to my chest and I start pushing down on the soft skin searching for the bones beneath. I feel wiry muscle intertwined underneath my goose-bump skin. I dig and scratch at my skin searching for the structure I know lay below the armor of this solid body.

The warm sun drapes my back like a hand stitched afghan, but I shiver, huddled frozen to this hardwood floor, thinking, “How can I make these swaying skeletons disappear?” I don’t know how to let go of these images and see meat filling out flesh once again. I cannot un-see the bones before me pressing heels-imprinting their mats with simple touches. The dangerous beauty of these bones makes me cry, but I’ve mastered the mask. I sit with my face still and unmoving, but tears roll down my cheeks and dribble past my chin. I try desperately to remember the strong tree that I had inhibited earlier. I remind myself that trees are sturdier than ivory bones and this strive for a skeletal frame is what has haunted my mind for 3 years now. I want the shadows of skeletons to stop appearing before my eyes every time I come close to not caring about the protrusion of my rib cage.

  
Yoga is supposed to be mindfulness, but my mind is wreaking havoc through this brick sanctuary. My mind is a distressed youth, out of control, screaming protest through cans of hissing spray paint, smashing mirrors begging for my attention. Like a disappointed mother, I don’t want to listen. I just want it to shut up and go away. I shut down and ignore the skeletons and my mind’s encrypted message meant for me and me alone. I don’t know how to deal with this, so I won’t.

I curl into a fetal ball against the hardwood floor and try to remember my breath. Through a clenched esophagus I swallow the iron ball of air that has puckered itself within my cheeks. I force the breath down and allow myself to release the breath. It sputters out like toxic sludge and I swear I can see shadows of my inky breath rejected on the hardwood panels. I take in another breath and it comes in more smoothly, like a spoonful of raw honey. The breath leaves my throat expunged and clean.

I feel my feet become solid and stony. My eyelids shut from a heavy force and my body sinks into the floor as every muscle both tightens and relaxes, allowing me to transform into a singular solid object. I am cool to the touch and my pores open up to become solid masses of granite. I bring my arms and legs into my chest to make myself as compact as possible.

I am not mountain, strong and stable standing tall looking over the world with clarity and perspective. I am neither strong nor healthy enough to be mountain. However, I am stronger than these bones dancing around me. I am rock, but one day I will grow by developing strength from overcoming my comparative gaze. I will be mountain.

  

This was a harder piece to share ; because it’s admitting a weakness with no resolve. thank you for taking the time to read it 💐🌸

  
#healthyself 

September 18th: A day of Transformations

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Transformation:IMG_1497 How fitting, to accept the death of a current situation. A day declared to the commitment of healing, a day i launch my blog, a day i start writing again. It is essential to learn how to live in a world without self-restricting thoughts. It is time to end self-imposed restriction that only stunt growth and prevent forward movement. To truly move forward as a healer, put to rest the beast and let yourself transform into a human again


IMG_1498Ace of Swords: Again, acknowledging beginnings of a sort. Use logic and action to actively make transformation meaningful. Be honest about the reality of what is possible. don’t get carried away with grand ideas that usually fall short of reality. Stay on-top of yourself, be accountable, but progressive. Realize the way forward is through logical actions.


10 of Pentacles: Familial ties, whether good or bad exist as a baggage: a part of your past. It’s so easy to slide backwards and dig up dead issues, but those actions no longer service you as a transforming individual. It only prevents your need to be human and keeps the situation bestial (back to Transformation card). In this time of new beginnings, take comfort in past experiences and earned wisdom. Try not to demonize your baggage. It’s present for a reason. You wouldn’t be you without it but recognize that it’s done. No amount of re-living or self destruction can change, validate, or help in a present or future sense.


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Pennsylvania Winters

1378133_10151933732431797_115355039_nPennsylvania Girl
born and raised
in the City of Steel Stacks
taking hayrides through pumpkin patches
in hot Octobers
visiting Amish farm stands
laughing over drunken bonfires
hunting for slimy mud puppies
while trailing wild bucks
only to find soft eyed doe
with baby fawns–trailing close by.

Between cities of bridges and brothersIMG_0703
breathes miles of maize
–and buggies
–and mud sales
where curly haired Amish boys
punt roughly worn soccer balls.

Kayaking through Lake Promised Land
–Hiking hills with no crests
–Driving through echoing tunnels
Freely crossing tressles
hands clasping a friend’s –who is too terrified to look down.
Sipping on wheat beer 11155145_1101085299908308_6551503884220963728_o
in frigid April
on a porch with insomniac friends.
Gazing at falling snow
over tacky Christmas lights
in a car with your high school sweetheart
–Wishing these Pennsylvania winters would never end.

A Garden Mirrors Life

SproutsAll lined up neat in a row. I thought they should share a window box and feed off one another’s growing powers! #That’showitworksright ? 🙂 It’s amazing how a garden can perfectly parallel a life. In a short matter of weeks, with a bit of patience, these green buds barely greIMG_1440w. So much so that their transition into life is seamless; however, looking back to when they are seeds to now, so much has changed. They’re taller and stand upright, radiating life and stretching towards the sun of life and drinking their fill of water. I admire these sprouts. In a matter of weeks, I have made small seamless changes too. And its not until right now that i can see how important it is to keep stretching towards the sun. I’m excited to start focusing on making my writing into a profession. There is so much more to learn and i’m going to keep growing. IMG_1442IMG_1443