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Picture this: Thousands of people sitting together, unified in their lack of speaking, all experiencing the magic of mass meditation. That’s exactly the goal of The Big Quiet, a social club that brings the masses together to “deepen human connection, celebrate the good in life, and generate more inclusivity,” according to its founder, Jesse Israel. And while the landmark events have only taken place in New York City up until this point, the organization is now taking its mission on the road.
Next month, The Big Quiet will be head across the country on the world’s first-ever mass meditation tour. Kicking off in Chicago on October 9 (in a greenhouse, nonetheless!) then heading to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin, and ending in New York City, each event will include the beloved meditation experience, plus live sound-bath practitioners, string instrumentalists, special guest musicians, and surprise performances. That $30 ticket also comes with healthy goodies from Sweetgreen and chic duds from Outdoor Voices. (Yeah, talk about a swag-bag #goals.)
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So whether you’re a meditation pro or a total newbie, getting to practice the skill with thousands of other like-minded soul nourishers is sure to leave a lasting impression—and help the healthy habit stick. And even though there are only five cities on this tour, The Big Quiet taking requests around the globe for round two—AKA your local digs could get a lot quieter very soon.
Jumping rope is one of the best ways to get in some cardio (and totally nostalgic of all those years on the playground when you had no idea you were exercising during recess). Because the accessory is so portable, you can use it anywhere—and after just a minute or two, you’ll probably be sweating. Doing the exercise wins you some lower-body benefits thanks to all the up-and-down action, but if you really want to sculpt your butt while lifting your heart rate, simply add in a resistance band.
During a workout with Fuller House star Candace Cameron Bure, celeb trainer Kira Stokes decided to really up the burn factor with some banded jump-roping. By putting a resistance band right above your knees while you’re jumping, you’ll be able to majorly tone your behind. “It’s a surefire way to wake up your body and make sure your glutes are in on the action,” Stokes notes in her Instagram caption.
To work the booty, Stokes utilizes that extra resistance with some jump-rope jacks and scissors. Since the moves involve some coordination, getting it right might take a little practice—there’s a lot going on as you’re trying to avoid tripping over that rope, after all. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll feel the burn more than ever.
Thanksgiving—aka Turkey Day—has traditionally not been accommodating to vegans. Sure, there’s cranberry sauce and Brussels sprouts, but the more decadent dishes like sweet potato casserole and macaroni and cheese are typically loaded with dairy. Pure torture.
Fortunately, this is 2018 and alternative ingredients are not only readily available, but taste so good even your non-vegan family members won’t know the difference. (And that includes your stubborn uncle who still refers to vegans as “hippies.”)
You’re no longer left to nosh on picked out green beans from the green bean casserole to get you through dinner. Rounded up here are delicious T-Day dishes that will hit just the spot—and please everyone around the table. And yes, that means there’s way more than just tofurky. (Talk about something to be thankful for.)
Whether you’re hosting a vegan Thanksgiving meal or just want to bring the healthiest, no-meat option to your feast, the below dishes will make even the mouths of bird-eaters water.
Click through for healthy vegan Thanksgiving dishes that’ll give you all the fall flavors without any of the meat.
Nothing hits the spot quite like a warm, creamy soup during winter. This dairy-free one is loaded with squash and butternut, and has a savory mix of health-boosting flavors like ginger, curry, and nutmeg.
Photo: Simply Real Health
2. Fall Salad with Avocado and Yams
With roasted sweet potato, green apple, and pumpkin seeds, this salad will fit right in with the flavor profile of your Thanksgiving Day spread. (The recipe calls for feta cheese, but it’s a 100 percent optional add-in.) The texture of the creamy avocado, crisp lettuce, and crunchy apple make for a satisfying sensory experience.
Photo: Oh She Glows
3. Lentil Mushroom Walnut Balls With Cranberry
Biting into these out-of-this-world protein-packed balls will definitely quiet your veggie-skeptic relatives and friends. Green lentils, mushrooms, and walnuts are the star of this dish—which also happens to be gluten- and soy-free—but the thyme, cranberries, and oregano make them sophisticated and festive.
Not only is the maple syrup, crushed walnut, and tempeh combo delish, but the turmeric, curry, and cayenne seasoning keep these triangles chock-full of inflammation-fighting powers. It makes for the perfect vegan turkey-sub or side-dish.
This maple-flavored, veggie and tempeh stuffing will leave your traditional gluten-laden stuffing in the dust. The nutty flavored meat-substitute is packed with protein, fiber, and gut-friendly bacteria—it’s fermented, after all.
Photo: Fork and Beans
6. Creamy, Vegan Green Bean Casserole
When it comes to dairy-free substitutes, sometimes they’re a total win (like this tangy vegan cheese), while other times it’s a major #foodfail. This 100-percent vegan casserole is the former, as in: “Omigosh I can’t believe this lactose-intolerant safe.” The secret? The veggie-broth and non-dairy milk combo.
Photo: Delicious Everyday
7. Mushroom Wellington
This vegan take on the carnivorous fave is all about ‘shrooms and onions. The secret to nailing a deliciously juicy yet flaky dish, according to the recipe-creator behind Delicious Everyday, “is to pat everything dry and make sure it’s completely cold before wrapping it in your vegan puff pastry.”
Photo by Melissa Hom
8. Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie
Looking for a Turkey Day classic sans dairy and gluten? This pumpkin pie ditches those pesky common allergens and replaces them with anti-inflammatory ingredients instead. The maple, cinnamon, and vanilla combo will have your feast ending on a sweet note.
On skin, sodium bicarbonate (the sciencey term for baking soda) works to fight impurities and act as an antiseptic. Since it’s good at targeting oil, it might seem like a natural connection that it would also be good at dealing with oily roots. From what the pros tell me, because of the basic pH level (which is the opposite end of the spectrum to skin), using baking soda on the scalp actually exfoliates it. “Baking soda is good to exfoliate the hair and scalp,” says Alexis Antonellis, colorist at New York’s Eddie Arthur Salon.
According to her, it’s most effective when you’ve spent time in the pool or are finding yourself dealing with flakes. “It’s especially great for when you have lots of chlorine in your hair or buildup from products,” says Antonellis. “Also, if you have dandruff, mix baking soda with lemon juice, scrub it in, and then be sure to rinse it out very well.”
So why haven’t we all embraced the stuff whole-heartedly and run into its open arms? There are a lot of caveats and even those in the hair-care world are split on whether its actually good to use. “I’m actually not a fan of baking soda for your hair,” admits Will Johnson, owner and master stylist at cool-girl salon Whistle in New York City. “Baking soda can be damaging to your hair. Many people try using it but there are better ways to cleanse or style without being so harsh.” He notes that if you do happen to use it on your lengths, be sure to rinse with vinegar afterwards to bring back the pH balance (skin naturally skews acidic like vinegar).
Founder of Arsen Gurgov Salon, Arsen Gurgov, agrees. “I’m not into the idea of using baking soda in place of shampoo,” he says. “Baking soda is an abrasive and can be very harsh on the hair and scalp,” he says. “Instead, use a shampoo that’s sulfate-free and gentle on your hair and concentrate it on your scalp.”
If the goal is simply healthy strands, Gurgov says to wash your hair less often. “If your hair’s not dirty, instead of shampooing, simply rinse it with conditioner,” he says. “Invest in a hydrating conditioner formulated for dry, damaged, weak, and frizzy hair types as these generally contain more nourishing ingredients that lock in moisture and shine.”
Got product buildup or dull hair? Gurgov advises to avoid the baking soda for exfoliating and instead look for a specific hair treatment. “Use a clarifying shampoo once a week,” he says. Also, avoid products with silicones which are waxes that build up with repeated use and coat the hair making it flat, dull and lifeless.” The last caveat? If you color your hair, you should definitely avoid it. “Baking soda can’t damage the hair, but it sure can ruin the color,” says Antonellis.
So suffice it to say that while baking soda has so many stars in its crown, you hair might not be the very best place for it since there’s so much fine print that comes with using it. If you’re game to give it a go, however, just remember that when all else fails, there’s always shampoo.
But with all of the healthy innovation on offer, crafting an itinerary can feel a little overwhelming. The trick? Narrow down your list to the adventures you can’t readily find outside the City of Angels. Start with the local favorites below—some brand new, some well established—to experience wellness like a true Angeleno. (Don’t forget to pack your crystal water bottle.)
Keep reading for a city guide of LA’s healthiest places to sleep, eat, and play.
Few people realize it, but this Downtown-adjacent hotel is a low-key haven for fitness fiends. It hosts a weekly Saturday morning run club, free Tai Chi in the garden on Sundays, and guests have access to Linus bikes and local riding route maps seven days a week. Plus, its rooftop restaurant, Commissary, is located inside a greenhouse—basically a plant lady’s dream.
Wanna be within walking distance of Venice’s wellness epicenter? The Rose is just a few blocks away from Café Gratitude, Moon Juice, Gjusta, and the beach, not to mention tons of other boutiques, coffee shops, and restaurants. Once you’re done exploring, take advantage of the hotel’s in-room massages, available in a number of different styles.
If you’d prefer to stay in the buzzy heart of Hollywood, the W hotel is quite possibly the best for the health-obsessed. It’s got a gym filled with the latest equipment, a Bliss spa, and it often hosts wellness events, like talks and fitness classes led by local influencers. You’ll also be a quick Uber away from the Hollywood hiking trails if you want to take your workout al fresco.
Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills
Sometimes, being healthy means drinking green juice and eating kale—and other times, it means letting yourself eat brioche toast piled high with fluffy house-made ricotta and seasonal jam. (Balance, amirite?) There are tons of vegan and gluten-free options on this beloved Silver Lake brunch spot’s menu, too, for those with dietary restrictions.
This West Hollywood gem is known for its plant-based Mexican food, but honestly, the cocktail menu is where it really shines. Try one of the many mezcal sips or keep it traditional with a pitcher of ultra-clean margaritas.
Chef Tal Ronnen has created an after-dark scene at this dimly lit Melrose Avenue hotspot, where actors, models, and fashion bloggers nosh on pizzas and Impossible Burgers to a classic rock soundtrack. Oh, and did I mention that everything is totally vegan? (Honestly, you wouldn’t know it by looking at the menu. And that’s the point.)
For a bona fide LA booty, stop by this new boutique fitness studio, which proclaims itself “Home of the Better Butt.” You’ll spend part of class doing drills on a Stairmaster, and the other part executing floor exercises using sliders, resistance bands, and dumbbells. Try not to be shocked at how quickly the hour flies by.
With locations in Venice and Silver Lake, Love Yoga has attracted some of the most talented young instructors in town. Power yoga this is not—expect languid, feel-good flows that focus on opening up the body and its energetic channels. The space also hosts moon circles, yoga nidra meditation, and sound baths on the regular.
Got 30 minutes? That’s all you need to get your sweat on at this cult-fave studio created by celebrity trainer Jason Walsh. (His clients include Emma Stone and Alison Brie—NBD.) The super-high-intensity classes feature the Versaclimber, a no-impact climbing machine that works all of the body’s muscle groups at the same time. Efficiency FTW!
LA’s largest boutique fitness studio is a must-visit—not just because it’s seriously glam, but also because its signature 123Stack workout is one of the best in town. Class starts with 10 minutes of core work, moves on to 20 minutes of high-intensity resistance training, and ends with 30 minutes of indoor cycling, (Pro tip: Visit when ultra-charming founder Jason Wimberly is teaching.)
Bulletproof UPGRADE Labs
If you’ve ever used a sheet mask, you’ve been influenced by Korean beauty. Slathered on snail slime? K-beauty’s responsible for that as well. And if you double cleanse or have a multiple-step skin-care routine, that’s pretty much because of, you guessed it, K-beauty. “Korean women have always loved to experiment with their skin care, introducing new products and new steps,” says Sarah Lee, co-CEO and co-founder of K-beauty site and brand Glow Recipe. “This led to the 10-step skincare routine.”
To the “I just wash my face and moisturize” kinda girl, this sounds like a lot—but K-beauty enthusiasts are adamant about the benefits of each and every step. Not only that, but it’s a major factor in self-care.
“We believe that skin care is a new movement of self-care,” says Christine Chang, co-CEO and co-founder of Glow Recipe, a K-beauty site and brand. “While skin care used to be viewed as a chore, K-beauty [has] this idea of ‘skin-tertainment’ and so taking care of skin is just as fun as doing a makeup look for glowing results. Personally, I really look forward to the few minutes each day when I can pamper myself and indulge in my daily skin-care routine.”
Of course, if the idea of 10 steps is just too much to actually implement into your life, Chang and Lee note that each and every step isn’t totally necessary—the main point is simply to take good care of your complexion. “Skin care is like working out and staying fit—one workout will not yield dramatic change versus being consistent and deliberate over time,” says Chang. “A properly structured routine, which doesn’t have to be a certain number of steps to be effective, consists of products, customized to your skin type and concern, that each perform an important and different role. This will keep the skin hydrated, nourished, and protected, and the skin barrier intact, which will ultimately give you a healthy, radiant glow.”
It’s about taking the time to care for your skin, and getting to know it so you can fine tune what it needs. “We believe in using different products and routines for different concerns,” adds Chang. “Listen to your skin and create your own routine that truly speaks to your needs. If you’re skin’s dehydrated, you may need all 10 steps at times, but we believe all these steps should be used throughout a week, not in a day, for maximum benefits. The base routine will always have the cleansing, toning, treating, moisturizing, and protecting with SPF steps.”
To learn more about the famous K-beauty 10-step routine, keep scrolling.
Photo: Getty Images/Macniak
Cleansing oil or cleansing water
As you would guess, it all starts with a clean base via a proper cleanse. “The first step of cleansing is with products formulated to remove the most stubborn, oil-based products and eye makeup,” says Chang of cleansing oils and cleansing waters. “You want to apply these products to dry skin as to not dilute the efficacy of the cleanser.” For a product that dissolves makeup and purifies your complexion in one swipe, she recommends the Make P:rem Cleansing Water Oil ($28).
In K-beauty, double cleansing is essential in making sure you’re truly ridding your skin of all of the day’s grime. “The second cleanse is to clear away remaining dirt and debris from skin,” Chang explains. Her advice? Opt for something clarifying, such as a cleanser with AHAs to unglue dead skin cells—she likes the Glow Recipe Blueberry Bounce Gentle Cleanser ($34). Take note, however: “We recommend just a foaming or gel cleanser in the morning as a double cleanse is not needed [then],” she says. One step down.
After thoroughly cleansing, it’s time to go a bit deeper with the pore unclogging action. The OG decongestant for your skin is your exfoliant. “Dead skin cells accumulate on the skin’s surface, so exfoliation is important in order to resurface skin and buff away dead cells,” says Chang. “We love our Blithe Splash Masks ($45), a highly concentrated blend of lactic acid and botanical extracts that re-texturizes skin and adds radiance over time.” This step is an easy one to add in post-shower when your pores are opened up.
The next step then preps your skin for the nourishing goodies to come: your toner. “Hydrating toners in Korea are often referred to as ‘softeners’ and is the first leave-on step of hydration after cleansing,” says Chang. It’s also there to balance your complexion’s pH. For an antioxidant-rich option, Chang recommends the Super 12 Bounce Essence Oil Toner ($37).
You may think of masks as an essential component of your nighttime regimen, but, in K-beauty, they’re incorporated into their full skin-care routine. “Sheet masks have always been a staple in Korean beauty as they originated from South Korea,” says Chang. “They provide high concentrations of good-for-skin ingredients like hyaluronic acid and other actives while also preventing them from evaporating, locking the serum in place.” Try the Peach and Lily Dream Mask Collection ($6)
Since K-beauty leaves no spot unturned, there’s a step dedicated to that soft spot around your eyes (one that I personally tend to forget about). “Eye creams are important to your daily routine as not all skin-care formulas are ophthalmologist-tested for the delicate eye area,” says Chang. To pep up that skin, Chang prefers the Whamisa by Glow Studio Chai Tea Eye Cream ($26), which has rooibos tea extract in it to nourish and soften fine lines.
Essence or serum
To get the leave-on skin-boosters started, the seventh step is your essence or serum. “This should be treated as your treatment step since essences, serums, and ampoules are highly concentrated formulas with actives that help target specific concerns,” Chang explains. This is where you can do everything from tackle acne to fight dryness. A blemish-treating, hyaluronic acid-infused option that Chang recommends is Leegeehaam’s Grow Tea Tree 95 Essence ($34), or the Grow Hyal B5 Ampoule ($33) for dehydrated complexions.
Of course, after all of this skin-nourishing work, it’s essential to lock it all in. “The moisturizer step is the last step of hydration and acts to lock-in all of the previous steps,” says Chang. She notes that you should choose one based on your skin type—so look for a non-occlusive option if you’re acne-prone, or a richer creams for drier skin. Opt for a gel-based moisturizer such as the Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb ($38) as an oil-free choice for combination or oily skin, and the Innisfree Youth Enriched Cream with Orchid ($30) to deeply moisturize and firm the complexion without leaving skin greasy.
To deliver even more of a hydrated glow, it’s all about oils. “Face oils are the extra credit of K-beauty and are used for an extra dose of deep nourishment after the moisturizing step,” says Chang. “It’s perfect to add into your routine in the evening or to even add a drop to your daily moisturizer for an extra boost of radiance.” We like applying a few drops of the Julep Boost Your Radiance Reparative Rosehip Seed Facial Oil ($36) to fingertips and massaging it in each night.
You’d be correct in guessing that the last yet still just as important step is one you’re already wearing on the reg: sunscreen. “This is a super important step to Korean women because UVA rays cause premature aging, skin damage, and are present year round,” says Chang. Opt for either a chemical or physical SPF—either way, stay covered (the Dr. Oracle EPL Daily Sunblock SPF 50 is a fan fave). And—finally—you’ve finished.
Skin care is a conversation. Ask anybody about how they take care of their complexion, and I guarantee that you’ll get far from a one-sentence answer—rather, the topic opens the door to details regarding everything from specific products to steps to ingredients to rituals (you know, like jade rolling) that all work symbiotically to maintain the skin that someone’s in.
That’s why, last year when one beauty devotee shared the Google doc that she sends to everyone who asks about her regimen with The Strategist, it sent a ripple effect throughout the skin-care loving internet. People don’t just want to see a shelf with beautifully styled products anymore (though of course that’s great, too), they also want to know what works.
Enter the skin-care spreadsheet: A place where all of the complexion confusion is meant to be dismantled cell-by-cell. Here, people keep tabs on the beauty hauls they’ve invested in over the years, noting everything from the product’s texture to how effectively it works. It might seem stripped down, but skin-care spreadsheets get people talking as evidenced by the thousand-comment long Reddit chains about specific products.
Not only is it a totally shareable way to tell your friends about which products you’ve been trying and how they’ve been working for you, it’s also nice to keep track of whether it’s time to shake something in your regimen up. That way, when you find yourself facing a pile of empties, you can figure out whether you want to rebuy or move on.
Personally, I’ve tried hundreds of SKUs over the years—and this kind of document would read like an love letter to my body’s largest organ—if only I’d kept one. Because nowadays when shelves are actually overflowing with beauty products, an excess of skin-care goodies doesn’t necessarily equate to a glowing complexion…unless all of those bottles have the power of the spreadsheet to back them.
Seeing the word “yin” tends to conjure its counterpart: yang. Visually, these two represent the complementary aspects of opposing sides of a circle, but in yoga, it’s totally possible to find the two polarities under the same roof, or, er, studio.
Here’s how they differ: Yang-style practices encompass fast-moving flows like the ones taught in sweaty, vinyasa classes. And as you’d expect, yin is, well… so not that. “There are only 26 total yin postures, and while they look similar to yang poses one would take in a vinyasa class, they have slightly different names and intentions,” explains Lindsay Pirozzi, a New York City-based yoga instructor at Y7 Studio. “Since the emotional and energetic layers of the body are the main focus, [yin] practitioners experience a dramatic reduction of emotional imbalances, such as less anxiety, stress, frustration, and depression.”
“Since the emotional and energetic layers of the body are the main focus, [yin] practitioners experience a dramatic reduction of emotional imbalances, such as less anxiety, stress, frustration, and depression.” —Lindsay Pirozzi, NYC-based yoga instructor
Yin classes ask you to linger in asanas (or poses) for minutes at a time to get past the superficial shell and target the deeper muscles along meridian lines as well as acupressure points, with the goal of achieving these mind-body benefits. And while, yes, the practice can make you feel blissed out, it can also challenge you mentally.
“Yin allows the mind to rest by producing a dream-like quality to the thoughts. A student can feel unsure of where one thought ends and one begins, and by allowing the mind to rest, the practice promotes clarity,” says Pirozzi.
Ready to try it?
Below, Pirozzi breaks down the ins and outs (and physically how to get in and out) of 9 essential yin postures.
Photo: Stocksy/aaronbelford inc
But first, the basics
It should take you 30 seconds to exit each yin pose, moving as effortlessly as possible out of the postures. It’s best to lie down on your back or stomach between each posture for 30 seconds to let your chi (or the energy of the body) recirculate. Breathe through your nose as naturally as you can the entire time to ensure the body stays in rest. Lastly, remember that our bodies will never keep us in pain, but often, discomfort is necessary for healing. Be sure to drink a lot of water after. Yin yoga is like a deep tissue massage, so now it’s time to flush the toxins from the body out.
1. Ankle stretch
Begin by sitting on your heels with the tops of the feet down. If you have ankle or knee sensitivity, enter very mindfully. Leaning back on the hands is the first position (and the least stressful), but beware of collapsing backward. Keep the heart forward, and imagine you are trying to do a backbend. After a few moments, bring the hands to the floor beside your legs. Try not to lean away from the knees. Keep the heart open, arching the back forward. Finally, try holding the knees and gently pulling them toward the chest. Hold for 90 seconds.
2. Toe squat
Begin by sitting on your heels with the feet together. Tuck the toes under and try to be on the balls of the feet, not the tippy-toes. Reach down and tuck the little toes under. Stay for just one minute. If you prefer to do two sessions of 30 seconds each, that’s okay too.
From a seated position, bring the soles of your feet together and then slide them away from you. Fold forward, allowing your back to round. Lightly rest your hands on your feet or on the floor in front of you. Your head should hang down toward your heels. No stretching or reaching or striving is required—just allow your body weight and gravity to do the work, and feel the traction of tissue. Hold for three minutes.
4. Reclining twist (right and left)
Lying on your back, draw both knees into your chest. Open your arms to the side like wings and drop the knees to one side. Adjust the body so hips are stacked directly on top of each other, and then soften into your anatomy rather than forcing the twist deeper. Hold for three minutes on both sides. Rest in between each side, flat on your back.
5. Child’s pose
Begin by sitting on your heels and then slowly fold forward, bringing your chest to your thighs and your forehead to the ground or to your forearms if it doesn’t touch down with ease. You can open your knees as wide as you would like, but as you settle into the shape do your best to soften your muscles. Hold for four minutes. Slide onto your stomach slowly, and rest there before the next posture.
Sitting with both legs straight out in front of you, fold forward, allowing your back to round. Keep your head heavy to allow the traction of your spine to occur. You can also sit on a cushion to elevate your hips and pelvis on the proper direction. Hold for two minutes, and slowly round up to exit.
7. Straddle (dragonfly)
From a sitting position, spread your legs apart until they won’t go any further. You can sit on a cushion to help tilt your hips forward. Fold forward, resting your weight onto your hands with your arms locked straight, or rest your elbows onto a block. Head is heavy, spine is naturally rounding towards floor. Hold for three and a half minutes.
8. Sleeping swan
You can come into this pose either from downward dog or from cat pose (on hands and knees). Slide your right knee between your hands, lean a bit to the right, and check in with how your right knee is going to feel. If the knee is fine, flex the right foot and move it forward; if the knee feels stressed, bring the foot closer in toward the right hip. Now, center yourself so your weight is even. Try tucking the back toes under and sliding the back knee away. Do this a few times until your right glute is on the floor or as low as it is going to get. You want to feel grounded, so the intention is not a squared hip, but a grounded hip. This may require bending your back knee slightly up toward the top of the mat. Recline slowly, try to stay for four minutes on each side, resting in between.
Whether you’re lying on the stomach, back or side, find a resting pose that is sustainable for you and rest your body for at least five minutes.
The break room in my office features a galley-style kitchen—long and narrow with four different microwaves at one end, two on a shelf above the counter and two below it. The cramped arrangement is awkward enough during the lunchtime rush hour—there’s almost no space to maneuver without bumping into somebody—but the awkwardness is only heightened by my female colleagues. Oh, and me.
As we move through this space, trying not to step on anybody or block someone reaching to get their meal, there’s an almost unrelenting chorus of “sorries.” At first, I didn’t notice it. But a few weeks ago, my friend/editor (freditor? Hi, Abbey!) [Editor’s note: Hi, Beth Anne!] asked if I’d be interested in writing a piece about women and our complicated relationship with the word “sorry.” Now, it’s all I can hear. Those apologies are as much a part of the lunchtime experience as our soups, Lean Cuisines, and yes, leftover fish (a choice that might actually warrant a legitimate apology, although that’s a discussion for another day).
These lunch-hour “sorries” are what Alexandra Johnston, executive coach and professor of linguistics at Georgetown University, refers to as “ritual apologies.” “Saying ‘I’m sorry’ can be the first part of an expected two-part ritual, one that women expect other women to implicitly understand and complete with a return apology or refusal to assign blame,” Johnston explains. She provides the following example:
Woman to female colleague: “I’m sorry I didn’t get that spreadsheet back to you first thing Monday morning like I promised.”
Female colleague: “No, it’s okay. I’m sorry I sent the data so late Friday evening. You didn’t have enough time.”
When you’re both wrong, no one gets mad and no one gets in trouble. (At least, that’s what so many of us think.)
As the above examples make clear, for many of us, sorry is rarely about actual contrition—it’s a crutch that we use to express all kinds of things that we feel we can’t just come out and say, lest we seem aggressive, or thoughtless, or like we aren’t team players. But when we aren’t saying what we actually mean, it can be all too easy for our message to get lost in translation. Especially when we’re communicating with a group that has, since birth, been socialized to believe they don’t have to apologize for anything (even when they probably should).
Sorry is rarely about actual contrition—it’s a crutch that we use to express all kinds of things that we feel we can’t just come out and say, lest we seem aggressive, or thoughtless, or like we aren’t team players.
“Men often understand ‘I’m sorry’ as a face-value ‘apology’ and [way to take] blame,” Johnston says. “They view it as putting themselves down, not as smoothing over a social interaction. So men may, unconsciously or consciously, think that [when a woman apologizes], she’s putting herself down in the hierarchy—and they may view her accordingly.” (Johnston is quick to note that this doesn’t apply to all men, and adds that one’s cultural upbringing also has a lot to do with how and when they apologize: “I’ve seen ‘sorry’ wreak havoc in corporate mergers between Midwestern-based and East Coast-based corporations,” she says.)
Marcia Reynolds, a communications expert and author of The Discomfort Zone: How Leaders Turn Difficult Conversations Into Breakthroughs, agrees that indirect “sorries” tend to cause more problems than they prevent. The word sorry, Reynolds says, “creates a perception of low self-esteem and status. If you say ‘sorry’ to me frequently, then it sets up the dynamic that I am more important than you, which often doesn’t feel good for either of us.”
As someone for whom “sorry” has become a sort of rhetorical security blanket, I could use a few more tools to help me communicate more clearly. So, I somewhat selfishly decided to ask Johnston and Reynolds for alternatives to the ways I (and, I suspect, many of you) deploy the s-word.
This isn’t intended to be yet another article policing women’s speech, but rather, a practical guide to navigating the obstacle course that is communicating while female. “You don’t want to feel like you’re changing yourself or you’re losing who you are to adapt to a norm that can be very different from yours,” Johnston says. “But at the same time, it’s really empowering to build an awareness of how you communicate…It’s the difference in styles that can cause issues, and the awareness of those differences can be one more tool in your kit to help your success.”
If you aren’t quite sure where to begin, here’s what she and Reynolds suggested to help me and my fellow apology addicts get to the heart of what it is we’re really trying to say.
Photo: Getty Images/Caiaimage/John Wildgoose
Instead of apologizing when somebody bumps into you (or otherwise invades your space):
“I’m a small woman who gets bumped into frequently, especially at airports,” says Reynolds. “My response is, ‘I bet you didn’t see me standing here. Now you do.’ They need to know I’m present. Most of the time, the other person apologizes for being unaware.”
This approach works for people who encroach on your time, too (e.g., the office hoverer). “If someone comes to your office or cubicle and are talking and taking up your time, don’t say, ‘I’m sorry, I really need to work,’” Johnston advises. “Just state the real issue: ‘I need to focus on what I’m working on now. Can I help you with something immediate? If not, let’s make an appointment for when we both have time.’”
Instead of saying, “Sorry, but why didn’t you do X?” when someone hasn’t held up their end of a bargain:
Your roommate leaves dishes in the sink (again), or your report at work misses another deadline. If you plan to confront them, don’t soften your request with an apology, which may cause them to take you less seriously. “Instead, restate the agreed-on expectation and ask the person when they will do what they promised to do,” Reynolds suggests. “If this is a first-time conversation, you might ask, ‘What got in the way? What support do you need to move forward?’ Be very clear on the impact of the delay.” This kind of honesty is especially important at the office, Johnston says: “Don’t apologize for doing your job.” (This goes for email, too!)
Instead of saying “sorry” to prompt somebody else’s apology:
You might think you’re being super-clear when you break out a passive aggressive “sorry” after a disagreement—after all, you obviously didn’t do anything wrong. But if you’re hoping to have a real, productive conversation with the person you just butted heads with, your sorry could be interpreted as an admission of misconduct and you’ll probably leave the discussion feeling dissatisfied. “People who don’t recognize this indirect meaning won’t get it,” Johnston says. “Instead, state the issue directly in terms of how the person’s behavior affected you. ‘When you do X, this causes Y for me and that means Z.’” You can’t control what the other person does with that information, but at least you’ll feel like you’ve been heard.
Instead of inserting yourself into a discussion with, “Sorry, I don’t mean to interrupt…”
When you’re trying to share an idea or weigh in on someone else’s—especially in a professional setting—it can be hard for people to hear you over your apology. “If you need to lead in with something in order to smoothly take the floor during a discussion, try, ‘I can understand what you’re saying. From my perspective we should do X, and I say this because of Y evidence,’” Johnston says. “Without saying ‘but,’ which can discount everything you just said about understanding the other person and sets up a ‘disagreement.’”
Not that there’s anything wrong with some conflict every now and again. Nor—and I can’t emphasize this enough—is there anything actually wrong with the word “sorry.” The key is knowing when and with whom we can use it and still be understood. So while I’m currently making a concerted effort to strip “sorry” from my email and meeting vocabulary, I have zero plans to stop saying it around my friends—or throwing it out to the microwave crew. And you know what? I’m not sorry.
If the March shortage was any indication, people love their oat milk. And I’d like to place my bets now that we’ll fondly look back on 2018 as the year when oat milk went mainstream. Not only are more cafes starting to stock it, but it’s becoming more-and-more commonplace at grocery stores too—even ones that aren’t super fancy or health-minded.
Oatly in particular has become a cult favorite, primarily because of it’s super pure ingredients list. (It only contains water and oats, versus other brands, some of which sneak in gums and sometimes sugar.) But here’s the thing: Oatly had no idea how popular they were going to get and it’s been difficult for them to keep up with production (a la the shortage).
Last week at ExpoEast, a healthy food convention in Baltimore with over 1,000 brands in attendance, I booked a meeting with the brand to find out how they were going to keep their growing legion of fans happy—and satiated. Good news, oat milk fans: Sara Fletcher, the brand’s communications and public affairs lead says Oatly is increasing production by a whopping 1,025 percent from what it was at this time last year. “So when people say there’s a shortage, I can tell you that there’s absolutely not,” she says.
In other breaking Oatly news, the brand will be launching a new mocha flavor next year. Just another SKU to search for in stores. Consider that shortage crisis completely over.