what it takes to find yourself {and honey persimmon muffins}

when the book "eat, pray, love" first came out i was a junior in college and i had absolutely no interest in reading it.

yes, yes, even though it was on the new york times best selling list (and remained for 187 consecutive weeks), and even though my college roommate, nose buried in the book assured me i would love it, even then, no.

i thought i knew better because i vaguely knew what it was about: a young women in her thirties, who divorced her husband, didn't want any kids and left her beautiful suburb life in new york of everything, in search of her happiness by traveling the world. at the time it sounded a little too self-serving for me. i mean, i come from a long line of women who birthed 10 pound babies, got married young and aren't afraid to get their hands dirty. none of this "leave all responsibility to find your identity" crap seemed to relate to me. 

then 8 years later, a new friend most recently asked me if i'd read "eat pray love". after shaking my head no, i told her it was on my list, but i honestly didn't really have any plans of reading it any time soon until she said, "you would really love it. it's my favorite. " 

so, this month, i finally picked up a copy of the dang book. 

and i love it. seriously i feel liz (the author) is a friend and i just totally misjudged her and got the book all wrong. 

my misjudgment about the author got me thinking about a lot of things, but mainly the judging and identity crisis’ we go through as humans, but mainly, as women. 

i thought i went through a recent identity crisis, but, let's get real, i still feel i'm going through it. 

when john and i first got engaged i told him i didn't want to change my name. that sounds mean right? sounds like i'm a fool of a girl who doesn't love her man, but nothing could be further from the truth. i just really loved my name. it was something that was mine. i was born with it and i liked being called by it. plus there aren't that many of us in my family with my last name. my husband comes from a family of millions. i didn’t want to be known as anyone else. i felt i worked hard for my name. this is all so embarrassing to admit, like i have some silly movie star "stage name" mentality - "working hard for my name" - which heavens above, i'm certainly NO movie star or anyone important - so admitting this, makes me feel even more sheepish, but sheesh, can't i just like my name? 

why couldn’t i just be like every other girl i knew and change her dang name without hesitation? why couldn't i just be excited about it like most girls i knew instead of resisting it?

did tina fey, maya rudolph or amy poehler ever have to go through anything like this? 

when i told john i didn't want to change my name he didn't even bat an eye. which, just goes to show you how perfect he is for me: i love your name too! keep it! he said, and just like that, my worries were soothed. 

well, kind of. 

when you have an engagement ring on your finger it's like a spotlight to strangers wanting to know about your anticipated new life and i swear, in all my life, i don't think i have EVER asked a girl what her new name was going to be, but man oh man, did i get this question daily. (i also want to disclose that at the time, i worked with the general public, so, yeah.) when i told them i wasn't changing it, their reactions were either curious, delighted, full of fear or disgusted. 

i had women shake their heads and say that i was stupid and just plain disrespectful.

i had a man tell me once he wouldn't have married his wife had his wife not agreed to take on his name, like right in front of me. so i retorted with something like: "well it's a good thing i didn't marry you than isn't it?" 

the truth is, i didn't really know my name meant so much to me until marriage threatened to take it away. i tried to explain to people that changing my name felt like trying on pants that were way too big and someone telling me they looked good and fit perfectly when i knew better. pants, may i add, i had to wear for life. 

it also didn't really matter much that i resisted it. i got called my husband's last name everywhere when we were first married. even loved ones refused to call me by my "preferred name" saying i was silly. (and some of them still do;) 

and i know God has a sense of humor because as friends so frequently remind me, "john's last name is SO similar to yours robyn, what's the difference?" 

fighting for your identity, or i guess, trying to have people call you what you want to be called is a struggle and messes with your feelings. it's like wearing a costume daily and walking into the room and having people chuckle and ask WHAT are you wearing? you don't feel proud, you feel exhausted and you just want everyone to get it.

the worse part is, you are accused of being lots of things you aren't. you're teased and poked and people think you're stubborn and weird. after being prodded, i always felt like telling people i made my husband homemade lunches and loved to cook, and "did you know i used to volunteer and teach kids about home economics?" to show them a balance to my feminist ways. they assumed they knew me, but they didn't. 

and want to know the funny part?

nobody really cares. like really, when it comes down to it, nobody cares, but some people feel the need to prick you with their opinion then walk away, not wanting to see if they made you bleed. 

now, after close to five years of being married, i'm okay with being called by my husband's last name. it's not my favorite, i still prefer my last name like x100, but i do see the beauty in sharing a name. it does make me feel like we're "official" and belong together. so, give me another 5 years, and i might be a few inches closer to being more okay with it.

figuring yourself out is weird and it never comes without pushback. you find yourself apologizing or explaining yourself when you don't have to. (you learn a lot about this in eat, pray, love) oh, and the name thing for me, it's such a silly identity crisis isn’t it? i mean, i MAKE CINNAMON ROLLS FOR FUN and i don't want to be a mrs.?

pretty much. 

It takes years as a woman to unlearn what you have been taught to be sorry for. It takes years to find your voice and seize your real estate.
— amy poehler

as women, we have a lot of roles to play and it gets confusing and tough and i don't even feel i've scratched the surface of life yet - but the balance of being a wife, mother/daughter/friend and queen b (queen b = working on your career or passions or whatever fulfills you) is a tricky dance and the tune is always changing. sometimes, we're a little too quick to judge instead of seeking to understand. we may find that the very thing we judged, is the very thing that's good for us. 

amy poehler's said lots of things that have stuck to me like perfectly cooked pasta to a ceiling, or like those pencils that are stuck in the ceilings of high school portable classrooms? either way, her words stuck

“Good for her, not for me. That is the motto women should constantly repeat over and over again. Good for her! Not for me.”  

amen.

i just know that after this whole "eat pray love" misjudgment (a book which, honestly is now on my top 10 favorite list), and enduring the whole name change thing, it seems i am always reminded in some way or another, to judge less, stop saying unnecessary sorries and love a little more. heaven knows, we could all use it.

love to you. xo 

Now that you’re starting to have a sense of who you are, you know better what kind of friend you want and need. My peers are crushing it right now and it’s totally amazing and energizing to watch. I have made friends with older women whom I have admired for years who let me learn from their experience. I drink from their life well. They tell me about hormones and vacation spots and neck cream. I am interested in people who swim in the deep end. I want to have conversations about real things. I’m tired of talking about movies and gossiping about friends.

I want to be around people that do things. I don’t want to be around people anymore that judge or talk about what people do. I want to be around people that dream and support and do things.
— amy poehler

honey persimmon muffins 

yields: 16 muffins // adapted from love, bake, nourish by amber rose. 

i love the cookbook this recipe comes from. adore it. the author, amber rose has such a beautiful style and name. i am jealous it's real and she is definitely one of those people i admire and would love to sit down and share lunch with, just soaking up her life experience. plus i love that the name of this book has a similar title to the book i resisted reading for so long: "eat, pray, love" vs. "love, bake nourish" - and what's the word they both share? my goodness, it's almost serendipitous.  

two notes: 1. this is my adaption on her recipe "date, walnut and pecan loaf". 2. if you can't find persimmons, you don't NEED to add them. the muffins will still be beautiful without them, but might require a smidgen more of honey.  

½ cup honey 

7 whole dates, pitted and chopped 

¾ cup walnuts, chopped as finely as you'd like

¼ cup pecans, chopped as finely as you'd like

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

3 cups spelt flour (if you'd like to use your favorite gluten free flour, it might need a tad bit of adjusting...i'm thinking ¼ cup more of chopped nuts and a little squeeze of lemon. i made this with spelt flour, as soon as i make them with gluten free i will update my notes accordingly) 

3 generous teaspoons baking powder

zest of one lemon 

1 teaspoon kosher salt 

2 ⅓ cups water 

1 cup ripe, persimmons, chopped (i also think 1 cup of chopped apple or pear would go beautifully with this in place of persimmon too)

turbinado sugar for topping, optional  

directions:

preheat oven to 350° F / 180° C and line muffin tins with liners

In a medium saucepan, bring the honey, chopped dates, nuts and water gently to a boil. Set aside and let it cool. 

sift the spelt flour, baking powder, lemon zest and salt into the cooled date + nut + honey mixture and fold until combined, then add the chopped persimmons last, gently folding in, careful not to over mix.

spoon into muffin liners, filling each one generously. i filled mine almost to the top. top with turbinado sugar for some extra sweetness. 

bake for about 20 minutes, or until tops appear brown and no longer wet. i sprinkled with a little more turbinado sugar right when they came out of the oven. 

these are best warm with some unsalted organic butter but, these keep beautifully for 3-4 days in a sealed container. 

 

why is this good for me? 

persimmons are a good source of vitamin a, potassium and helps moisturize and hydrate body. it's been rumored to help with a dry, unproductive cough. 

walnuts and pecans are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. we need these fatty acids for our cells, brain function, skin, metabolism, to regulate our insulin and prevent diseases.

dates are a good source of niacin, iron and potassium.  niacin is one of the b vitamins (vitamin b3) and the b3 vitamin promotes healthy skin and aids in helping us digest our food properly by helping us better absorb all of the nutrients from our fats, carbohydrates and proteins. dates are high in sugar, so you don't want to chow down on 7 a day, but they're packed full of more nutrients than just a cup of raw sugar. 

resourced from my brain and from: 

Rebecca Wood, The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia (New York: Penguin Books, 1999)