I think it was 2009 when I first started honing my homemade pizza skills. I was home for the weekend (an environment that always triggers exploration in the kitchen), and I decided not only was I going to make pizza from scratch, I was going to grill it. Suffice it to say most of the dough ended up in between the coals, and my pizza more so resembled a cut-out of the state of Florida rather than a round pie. But despite its shape and the lightened load of toppings, it was still good. Really good.


I trudged onward, attempting homemade pizza back in my own kitchen in an oven. The dough got better but the pie was largely raw, due to the fact that I hadn’t preheated my oven properly. Again though, it was still pretty good. Not perfection, but progress.

I had a handful more experiences of this kind. I wrestled with dough, unsuccessfully transferred my pie to the oven countless times, produced pies that were burned on the top and raw on the bottom (and vice versa), and so forth. But there was something about the process that was still enjoyable.  At the onset, I remember quietly thinking to myself that the pizza I made at home was probably not going to be good….for a while. But that the only way to get over the hump of it not being good was to practice. A lot. Instead of focusing on the failure, I focused on the small improvements that were made with each pie, recognizing there was simply no way around them. That doesn’t mean I didn’t spend a good portion of those attempts cursing the dough recipe, yelling at whoever was nearby to help (apologies to those involved), and angrily throwing yet another pizza away in a fit of rage. That definitely all still happened. But somehow, I was driven to keep trying, to the point where homemade pizza now falls into the category of simple weeknight meals for me. The pies aren’t always in the shape of a circle, but you guys, they are really freaking good. #patsselfonback

This realization around my pizza making journey was triggered a few weeks back when my therapist challenged me to think about failure. She specifically wanted me to think about the areas of my life where I easily accept failure as part of the learning process, and others where I leave zero room for it. Pizza dough, and cooking in general, is one of the areas I leave room, as is yoga. And not only do I leave room, but I still really enjoy the process of honing my skills in these areas – even when I’ve failed countless times.


Yoga presents an interesting comparison as well. I got back into my practice this September. Having danced a lot growing up, I’m naturally pretty flexible, but I’ve always struggled with any strength based balancing poses. So I decided I’d just start with crow pose as a goal, figuring of all the balancing poses, that was the easiest one. During each class when my instructor would encourage everyone to attempt handstands, headstands, etc. I’d focus solely on getting into crow pose. And then a few months in, while in a completely different sequence, my body somehow found its way into flying pigeon. Albeit, not as good as that photo, but still. I was in shock.  And yet somehow, it felt so natural. It was like everything suddenly clicked. The very nature of consistent practice allowed the progress to happen organically. Rather than being forced, my body found its way into the position on its own.


From a physical perspective, the same thing happened with homemade pizza. The reason it’s now easier is because my hands are more familiar with the process,  regardless of whether I’m getting the dough to rise, kneading it, morphing it into a pie-esuqe shape, adding just the right amount of toppings, and so forth. I was reminded of how everything had already clicked when I succeeded in making this pie last weekend. It’s been over a year since I’ve made pizza from scratch (more on that later), and yet it was like riding a bike. My hands knew exactly what to do. The meal was divine.

But then back to failure. No, I’m not ready to throw my hands up and readily welcome failure in all forms. But I am more inclined to trust in the process, and accept that failure is an inevitable part of that process. And for those areas where I’ve left zero room for it, I’ve also realized I’ve left zero room for growth. Ironic how that plays out. xx Clara

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If 2014 was the year of change, then 2015 will be the year of sifting through all that change and working to truly understand it. In the first few days of this New Year, I feel much more inclined to look back– not for fear of moving forward, though. Rather,  in order to be sure I gather up all those bits of knowledge and insight, and pack them deep inside my brain. And probably my heart, too.

On a flight back to the city last week week, I began to jot down the little bits. Bits turned to fuller thoughts, then actual ideas, and finally, lessons.  After about an hour of scribbling, the following 10 stood out:

1. Perfectionism is a freaking plague. It holds us back in so many ways. I personally have to fight against it constantly in order to just be myself. My paralyzingly desire to have others think I’ve always got it all together does far more detriment than good. Not to mention it’s an outright lie.

2. People are not inherently malicious or mean spirited. Most of us are just trying to do the best that we can (or know how to). Go easy on others. Forgive relentlessly.

3. And on that note, forgiveness is freedom.

4. “Nothing haunts us like the things we don’t say.” This quote weighs so heavily on me. Say what you truly mean in the moment. You’ll be much better off in the long run.

5. It’s very important to spend a little time doing absolutely nothing every.single.week.

6. It benefits no one to feel guilty when asking for help. Ask for the help you need and accept it graciously. Then focus on ways you can help others.

7. Take the time. Take the time to really listen to others, to treat the people that deserve it most, to send that sweet text to an old friend, to tell people what a freaking good job their doing, to say thank you to your Mom a million bazillion times….the list goes on.

8. Accept the damn compliment.

9. Learn to go through, rather than around, the discomfort. It’s the real work, but that’s where the good stuff lies.

10. Self love might be he hardest thing. Ever. But we (I) must, must keep trying.

I’d consider it a huge feat if I could master even just two or three of these this year. But I’m gonna shoot for all 10, because as I also learned numerous times over in 2014 - you’ve gotta start somewhere.  xx Clara

Image via College Vintage, Source TFS


When I put blogging on hold back in August, I thought the next step would be the “goodbye” post. For weeks I felt this pressure to get some sort of explanation up as to why I wasn’t blogging anymore. And despite not being much of a procrastinator, the weeks went on and I never wrote it. Then, around late September, it hit me. I shouldn’t write the post. I couldn’t. In the back of my mind I had this small inkling that some day I would return to this space. And beyond that inkling, I also had a feeling I’d know exactly when that time had arrived. In late November things started to percolate.

2014 was just plain hard. My personal life was turned on its head. I moved out of an apartment and neighborhood I absolutely loved into an apartment and neighborhood I never thought I could love. Working alone and living alone really started to weigh on me. I felt a pull back towards the stability of a corporate job but a huge amount of shame and guilt around pursing that shift because of everything I’d built. I thought people would think I’d given up, that I’d failed. And then on top of that, the pressure to continue producing beautiful content that conveyed this near perfect life (as lifestyle blogs tend to do) – it was all just too much.

There was so much for me to process personally, there simply wasn’t room for blogging. I’d even go so far as to say that blogging was detrimental to that effort. I got tired of taking these unplanned breaks where I’d disappear for a week or two, then scurry to pick things back up, full of promises that “I’d be back” or “things would be better.” None of that happened, and the whole pattern only resulted in poorly written posts which still attempted to wrap my life up in a perfect little bow (again, as lifestyle blogs tend to do), when really my life was the farthest thing from a pretty package.

So in July, when my “exploration” of transitioning back to a company became a reality, I had to stop. Mentally, I couldn’t continue in both spaces. I began interviewing intensely for jobs and wrapping up my freelance work. July and August were the hardest months of this year. Reeling emotionally from all that had happened in the previous 6 months and dealing with so much uncertainty…. I barely had the energy to do anything but work, sleep, and eat. I closed myself off from a lot and essentially went into a survival mode.

As hard as it was, there were great outcomes to that period, the main one being my position at SELF. At the beginning of September, I stepped in as their Social Media Editor. There is much to be said about that shift – my decision to transition back into the corporate environment, the job application process, the specific reasons I selected the magazine, and so on.  I will get to all of that, I promise! I’m really excited to talk about it. But in an effort to keep this post from becoming a novel, I’ll save that for another day.

As bleak as this year was, there’s been so much growth and progress. It’s brought to light one of my favorite books, Elizabeth Lesser’s memoir Broken Open. In it, Lesser shares stories of people, including herself, who have been through incredibly trying times – heartbreak, deep loss, disease, and so forth. But what’s unique about these stories is that instead of the person being broken down and defeated by their hardship, they’re broken open and transformed. It’s a beautiful piece, and the learnings could not ring more true for the last 12 months of my life. I’ve literally been ripped to shreds, and, candidly, continue to be on a daily basis. I’ve been forced to truly face all those personal demons I’d consistently told myself I’d “solved” years ago. It’s the hardest work I’ve ever done, but I’m so thankful it’s happening.

So. Where does that leave us? Well, food is still my heart. It’s the thing that heals and calms me. It’s where this blog began 4 years ago and where I’d like to return first. I simply can’t create the volume of posts I was doing before, so for now it will be once per week (fingers crossed!). Maybe that will change in the future, maybe it won’t. I’m working on reveling in the uncertainty of it all.

Huge thanks if you’ve made it this far, and even more so if you’ve hung with me these past few months. Aren’t you excited for 2015? I so am. Let’s do it up right! xoxo Clara

Image Via Unknown