July 20, 2015
by Sarah

Comic Book Trivia and The Importance of Vulnerability

The cast of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con International.
Photo courtesy uncle_shoggoth.

So I’m a member of a Facebook group called SciFi Fandom. It’s pretty awesome. I’m actually surprising myself by how much I’m contributing to the group – but I guess that’s to be expected from someone who started watching Star Trek at age five and worshipped David Duchovny in the 90’s the way most girls my age loved Brad Pitt.

Over the weekend, I was watching an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, a Marvel series, and I thought I had cleverly spotted a bit of subtle geek humor. One of the main characters, Skye, has a father named Cal (actually Calvin, but no one calls him that). In the episode I was watching, we’re shown Cal’s name on a sign hanging on his office door, “C. L. Johnson” – so Cal. L. Like Kal-El, which is Superman’s true name. So I thought maybe it was Marvel making a D.C. joke. I posted about this in the group and asked if I was reading too much into it. And I silently congratulated myself on my shrewdness.

One of my fellow Marvel aficionados weighed in and let me know that the door sign was intended tell the audience that Skye is actually (SPOILER ALERT!) Daisy Johnson, aka Quake. But yes, he said, the “L” part could have been intended as a joke.

It’s silly, but I was a little embarrassed. Even though the guy who posted was perfectly nice, I felt like my nerd cred had taken a bit of a blow. I mean, the whole Skye thing should have been pretty obvious to someone who has been watching the show for two seasons. But in my defense, I’m relatively new to the rest of the Marvel universe(s) and I hadn’t actually heard of Quake – though I’m now super stoked to read about her in the Secret Warriors comics. Anyway, I posted a quick reply that said something like, “Yeah, I was just wondering about the ‘L’ part…haha.” Smooth right? What can I say, I was trying to save face.

But it kept nagging at me. I went to the kitchen and started chopping veggies for a batch of quinoa tabouleh, but I couldn’t stop thinking about my response. It was disingenuous – something I had posted because I was afraid to admit I didn’t know it all.

And it got me thinking about vulnerability. Many of us have been socialized to believe that we have to maintain the appearance of keeping up with the Joneses and, as a result, we’re completely afraid to be vulnerable – to admit that we’re feeling stressed or sad, or there’s something we don’t know, or that we don’t have our shit together 100 percent of the time. But the unfortunate truth is, this prevents us from relating to each other like real human beings. When we feel like we have to have our game face on all the time, it denies us the opportunity to open up to others in a sincere way. And it deprives those around us of the chance to demonstrate support and empathy – and to see that they’re not the only ones who have difficult crap to deal with. But there’s nothing wrong with being imperfect, or with allowing others to see the parts of your life that aren’t squeaky clean. That’s just called living on planet Earth.

So about an hour later, I went back to Facebook and posted another reply. This time, I explained that I was relatively new to Marvel and that I was super excited to find out about Quake.  And of course, this led to a fun and – for this budding comic book fan – genuinely enlightening conversation that I totally would have missed out on if I had continued to be afraid of looking foolish. I was relating to the Facebook guy as a real person and, as always, it paid off!


July 15, 2015
by Sarah

Pluto and the Human Spirit

As a longtime sci-fi nerd, I’m totally stoked about the Pluto flyby. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft traveled nine years and more than 3 billion miles to take and deliver detailed images of the dwarf planet (does anyone else think that term is a little condescending?).

The flyby made me consider what it really is that I love about sci-fi – and about real-life space exploration.  I think what it comes down to is the belief that, as human beings, we can always continue to grow, to explore aspects of our reality that can energize our existence in incredible ways. I think this is a very significant part of what it means to live your fullest life, in fact. We all come into the world with soul lessons that we need to learn, and our spiritual homework is to incorporate those lessons into our lives in a way that allows us to experience reality in a more complete way. Space exploration does the same thing, just on a grander scale.

In the words of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, my authority on all things space-related, “…That is what it is to be human. To make yourself more than you are.” I would tweak it slightly to say that being human means discovering what you’ve been all along and allowing yourself to live accordingly. But you get the drift.

When I was 10, I went to space camp in Orlando with my cousin, who was 12 at the time. It was pretty badass. I got to take part in a simulated spacecraft repair. I got to man the computers at Houston. But the best part was getting to imagine what it would feel like to be a part of something that, in my mind, spoke to the power of the human spirit.

I’ve heard it said that we shouldn’t be spending money on NASA when there are Americans who are facing very real financial challenges that impact virtually all areas of their lives. Shouldn’t we be spending that money to help them? It is, admittedly, a very difficult argument to refute. It’s ridiculous, actually, that we don’t do a better job of creating structures that make it more feasible for the majority of Americans to live a comfortable, middle class lifestyle. But that’s a totally different convo.

Space exploration represents one of the best parts of human nature–the desire to stretch beyond the limits that previously confined us. And I think that’s why we need to support NASA, and to pause and take a few minutes to enjoy important benchmarks like the Pluto flyby. It reminds us that, despite how we may sometimes feel when we’re sitting in traffic or staring at our computer screens, there are still things in the universe that are worthy of awe. It feeds our souls. And if you deny the importance of that, you’re kind of missing the point of why we’re here at all.

As Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and pal of Stephen Colbert, says…

“I look up at the night sky, and I know that, yes, we are part of this Universe, we are in this Universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the Universe is in us. When I reflect on that fact, I look up—many people feel small, because they’re small and the Universe is big, but I feel big, because my atoms came from those stars.”

I couldn’t agree more, though I guess he never saw this episode of Animaniacs…

or this classic Monty Python sketch.

So…my point is this. Whether it’s space exploration or just a really gorgeous morning sky, allow yourself to enjoy the things that are amazing and beautiful. Don’t get bogged down in boredom or cynicism. Don’t let the challenges make you hard. Stay soft. Remember how to open your heart. And don’t stop growing.

July 10, 2015
by Sarah

How to Avoid the Food Challenge on Holidays

So I’m a little late posting this, but I wanted to share my latest blog for REGlam. Even though July 4th has passed, I think the message is still relevant.

As with any holiday or social gathering, July 4th can be a difficult time for those of us with eating disorders or challenges around food. I rigidly counted calories for 10 years, and social events where food was served were always stressful to me during that time. I was either mentally tallying the number of calories I had consumed, or trying to avoid eating and thinking of excuses for why I wasn’t taking part in the meal.

With that in mind, here are a few of tips that will help you enjoy the holiday…

Visit REGlam to read the full blog.

July 9, 2015
by Sarah

What Divergent Can Teach Us About Authenticity

Shailene Woodley.
Photo Courtesy Nick Stepowyj.

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t read Divergent: Allegiant, or you’re waiting for the movie, you might not want to read this just yet.

Earlier this week, I finished reading Divergent: Allegiant, the third and final book in the Divergent series, written by Veronica Roth (I have yet to see the movies). I’m a sucker for a good sci-fi, especially when there’s a strong female lead. And by that, I don’t just mean a chick who knows how to kick ass and take names, although that’s pretty sweet to watch, too.  My favorite kind of strong female lead is one who can be brave and save the day, but who is also vulnerable and human. Who has to face and process her emotions and experiences, and who grows as a result.

Divergent’s Tris Prior (played in the films by Shailene Woodley) definitely meets those criteria, which is why I was totally devastated by her death. My first reaction was something along the lines of, “Sonofabitch!! This is just Roth trying to make the story seem more profound by killing off the main character. Screw that!”

But after allowing myself enough time to mourn – and reflect on Tris’s character arch – I realized, Tris had to die. And this has some pretty meaningful parallels to the way things work in real life.

For the uninitiated, I’ll give a little background about Tris’s story. She lives in a futuristic Chicago, where the population is divided into groups called “Factions,” each of which structures life according to the particular character trait it deems most valuable. Tris is born into a faction called Abnegation, which prizes selflessness above all else.  But instead of helping her to grow into someone who is generous and giving, her life with Abnegation makes her feel stifled, as if everyone else’s needs are always put ahead of her own, and she can’t live the life of her choosing.

So at 16, she leaves Abnegation and joins a faction called Dauntless, which values bravery. But at first, her understanding of the faction’s values is a little unbalanced. She uses Dauntless’s penchant for boldness and daring as an excuse to carelessly risk her own life, because she’s going through a period where she doesn’t value herself as highly as she should. She doesn’t have a healthy sense of self-worth.  But, as she learns to stand up and speak truth to power, she proves to herself and pretty much everyone else what a smart, tough badass she is, and her confidence grows. She learns to believe in herself, and realizes how precious life really is.

That’s why it’s so significant when, near the end of Allegiant, she risks her life, and ultimately dies, to save her brother. She genuinely wants to live at this point, so it is truly a selfless act. It also demonstrates real bravery, not just careless bravado. She has really learned her major soul lessons – what it means to have self-confidence, to be brave, and to be generous. And if she’s going to live authentically, she has to rise to the occasion. To allow her brother to risk his life instead of her would not be in alignment with the wiser, more authentic person she has become. To be true to herself, she has to take the risk.

In an interview with MTV, Roth said that Tris’s decision to sacrifice herself was intended to show that she had finally come to understand “what it means to make a grown-up decision…”

And really, what’s more grown-up than choosing a path based on what you really believe, and know to be right? Except for mimosas – I mean, only a real adult can booze it up before noon and make it look classy.

This lesson is, of course, completely true in the real world, as well. I think so often, our intuition – our inner wisdom – tells us which decisions are right for our lives and which are not. But sometimes, we choose to ignore that because we’re afraid of the consequences of living authentically. Most of us aren’t actually risking our lives like Tris on a regular basis. But there are very real things for us to be scared of when it comes to taking the leap and living authentically. Maybe we worry about what other people will think, or we worry about the financial impact that changing course might have on our lives. Whatever it may be, too often, our fears hold us back from living our fullest, most genuine lives.

The truth is, being authentic – really taking ownership of your life – isn’t easy. It requires us to take risks, and to have faith that if we’re true to ourselves, things will work out for the best. It also means that we have to accept that maybe things won’t work out the way we want them to, but making the authentic choice is still better than ignoring who we really are and taking the safer road.

Tris had to accept that putting her life on the line could lead to her death. But if she didn’t do it, she’d be stuck living her life as a smaller, more fearful version of herself.

This has been true in my experience, as well. I rigidly counted calories for years to maintain the kind of body I thought I was “supposed” to have – the physique that would make me an acceptable, worthwhile human being. I was afraid that if I started listening to by body’s intuitive wisdom and eating in a more relaxed way, I’d gain weight and no one would love me. But in order to flourish, to live an authentic, more joyful life, I had to risk it. And luckily, my story turned out better than Tris’s! I’m so much happier and healthier than I ever was when I was counting calories. In all likelihood, your story will turn out well, too, if you choose to listen to that little voice that knows deep down what’s right and let it guide you.

And now…a little something silly. I’ve been mildly obsessed with crack videos lately (check out Loki Crack #5…it’s my favorite one so far). Basically, fans take footage from their favorite movies and pair short clips with corresponding pop songs and sound effects – and hilarity ensues. Here’s a pretty awesome Divergent crack…enjoy!

June 23, 2015
by Sarah

Spirit Sandwich Podcast Episode 3 – Abra Snow Adams

In this episode, I interview Abra Snow Adams about her powerful coaching, and the ways in which bringing mindfulness to the experiences in our lives can help us to feel happier, healthier, and more accepting of ourselves.


I by Kendrick Lamar
Kids by MGMT
Worthy by Jacob Banks