This morning there was a new girl in yoga.
Our class starts at 5:00 a.m., but you can arrive any time. The New Girl came about 5:30, and the group was already entrenched in the rhythmic breathing of our individualized practices.
Without even looking up, I could sense that she was inexperienced, just from the tentative way she unfurled her mat. She warily claimed the space next to mine, careful not to take up too much room. She began moving self-consciously, hesitatingly.
I admit that for a moment I was distracted. A flood of empathy came over me as I remembered myself being “the new girl,” not just in yoga but at so many things. New in school, at a class, in a job. New at the computer, new at being a vegan, new in a relationship. It sucks to be green at something, partly because the things we’re experienced at give us such a contrasting feeling of competence and a sense of place. There is no feeling of belonging when you first lay your yoga mat down in a new studio or when you give your initial speech.
Still thinking about the topic, when I got home from yoga I looked in my archives and I found a videotape of the first recipe demonstration I gave, back while I was in culinary school. It was filmed in March 2007, over eight years ago. I’ve given hundreds of talks since, most (tho certainly not all) of them better than my maiden voyage presentation.
I had wanted to connect with New Girl after yoga today, but the moment did not present itself; she was done and gone before my practice was complete. I wanted to tell her to hang in there, to give herself a chance. I wanted to make a sweeping gesture at my fellow yogis and say, “every one of us has felt—and still sometimes feels—like a beginner, and as though we will never truly ‘get it.’”
Because I missed that chance today, I dedicate this message to anyone reading this who is trying, or even thinking of trying, something new. Know that you are brave, bold and daring. Trust that whether anyone says it to you or not, you are respected for your courage and tenacity and pluckiness. And believe that you will only be New Girl (or New Guy) for a short while. Just keep showing up.
Recipe from video linked above:
RED PEPPER REMOULADE
Yield: 1 1/2 cups (6 servings)
1 1/2 cups red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup pine nuts soaked, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup purified water, or more as needed
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh parsley, leaves only
1/2 tablespoon paprika
1/2 tablespoon hot mustard
1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic
1/4 teaspoon solar-dried sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 tablespoon agave nectar, if needed
Place all of the ingredients except the agave nectar in a high-powered blender, and puree until smooth. Taste the blended mixture and add up to 1/2 tablespoon of agave nectar if it needs more sweetness. Serve over vegetable dishes. Store in a sealed glass jar in the refrigerator for up to two days.
This recipe may be thinned with water and used as a salad dressing for fruit or vegetable salads.
~Adapted from a recipe by Chef Cherie Soria