Balance (More Adventures of a New Texan)

by Jayne M. Chobot

I have gained ten pounds, give or take, since moving to Dallas in November. This has several causing factors, including a 20-fold increase (at least) of my annual consumption of Tex-Mex cuisine, a decrease in the necessity for running for a train in 3-inch heels several times a day, a Texas-sized refrigerator right upstairs from my work-at-home office, and an overall lessening of hourly stress (like trying to dodge tourists around Rockefeller Center). Thankfully, as my Texan so eloquently puts it, the weight “is in all the right places,” supposedly. Still, when you’re used to feeling lighter on your feet, the extra pounds can inspire you to make a few changes.

The last time I was in a gym was 2004. But in my ongoing quest to relax and get both my body and mind healthier now that I’ve left the big bad big apple, I decided to take a mere two block stroll from my new house and try yoga for the first time in my life. I always had real excuses not to try yoga before: no time, no money, the logistics of getting to a studio using public transportation, too much work to do, and a simple lack of necessity in my logical mind. But like everything else in relation to my move down here, the obstacles all moved aside in one cohesive sweep and a path was cleared for my next step in my journey of new Texan self-discovery.         

It feels good. I stretch and challenge muscles I was never aware of before. It is a warm – literally- and welcome environment, as peaceful and full of positive energy as I’ve come to expect after years of pop culture exposure to the practice. The instructors at Gaia Flow Yoga are amazingly patient, making sure that even the most novice of their students (me) is learning and growing at their (my) level of ability. What I am learning goes so much further than the physical, however. I am learning to relax, I am learning to take time for myself, and I am learning to balance, in all areas of my life.

This past Friday was much like some of my favorite spring evenings in Manhattan. On Oak Lawn Avenue we enjoyed an early and light dinner at the utterly charming Parigi, a restaurant owned by one of my new favorite people in Dallas, Chef Chad Houser, and his lovely partner Janice Provost, who as luck would have it was behind the bar that night. As it was early, we only dined on a few chef-recommended appetizers, but they were all perfect. Janice helped us to pair wines with our meal and we thoroughly enjoyed the company of staff and fellow patrons immensely.

Unfortunately we had to move on, but for good reason. We had, courtesy of a dear friend, tickets to the TITAS Command Performance La Fête du Ballet. Sitting in the orchestra of the beautiful Winspear Opera House later that evening, we sat in awe as some of the world’s most celebrated and accomplished dancers perform. The classical pieces were gorgeous, but MOMIX’s Millennium Skiva impressed even my Texan, and TUU featuring Steven Ezra Marshall and Rebecca Rasmussen, moved me to tears. The entire evening was pure elegance. We gasped and applauded in distinguished appreciation and amazement.

On Saturday I drove (which, as an ex-New Yorker I am still learning how to do) north to Allen for another dinner and another show. And it could not have been more of a contrast. It was raining, so we parked and ducked into the first restaurant that would have us, the adorable Cotton Patch Cafe. My 3-year old daughter colored her place mat and drank her chocolate milk while I contemplated the amount of butter in the basket of bread placed on our table. It wasn’t exactly a Manhattan crowd, to say the least, but it was warm and it was cozy and the service was sweet. After dinner we crossed the street and spent the next two hours watching the Allen Americans hockey team defeat the Missouri Mavericks 4-3 at the Allen Event Center with family and old friends. Hockey players fought on the ice. Young local girls danced during halftime with the Ice Angels. The mascot Biscuit and Ronald McDonald posed for photos with little (and big) fans. We clapped, we cheered, we rang cowbells. It was fun.

It is the poignant juxtaposition of the two evenings that I found fascinating. Friday was black satin and a low chignon, champagne and single malt scotch. Saturday was cotton denim and a ponytail, popcorn and domestic beer out of a can.

Both evenings were wonderful. Both were needed. Both were Dallas.

It is less and less surprising to me how relaxed I find people here to be. Relaxed and healthy. And I realize that it is due to the balance that you, we, have here. We can get all of the extremes that we want but if we look for it, running down the center, through our core, is a beautiful balanced life of art and comfort, elegance and fun, culture and family, work and rest.

Namaste.

Jayne is new to Dallas and discovering the city with a voracious appetite. Read more of her discoveries at her website, A Moveable Appetency.

3 Comments

Filed under Ballet, chefs, Crave, Dallas, Events, Jayne M. Chobot, TexMex, Wine

3 responses to “Balance (More Adventures of a New Texan)

  1. nylund

    As someone who lived in NYC for a long time and also moved to Dallas, I know about the weight gain thing. My theory is basically three-fold.

    1. Less physical activity. NYC life involves so much walking. Dallas, basically none. You’re going to have to hit the gym hard, 3 – 5 times a week to mimic what just happens naturally in Manhattan.

    2. It’s easy to fall into the habit of eating food that’s really not great for you. Burgers, fries, fried food, Tex Mex, BBQ, etc. will slowly start replacing the salads from Chopped and other lighter foods that probably made up a larger portion of your NYC diet than it does here.

    3. Portions! Texas portions are huge. Learn to order appetizers or smaller dishes, try to split dishes with others, and learn that it’s ok to leave enough food to feed a family of four still on the plate when you declare yourself done with the meal.

    But honestly, on the food front, the best thing to do is simply start cooking for yourself so you can control the ingredients, the calories, the fat, and the portion sizes. Of course, for someone dedicated to reviewing food prepared by others, that can be real hard. But, here in Texas, if you rely on others to cook you for food, chances are, you’re going to put on weight unless you’re really diligent and smart about where and how you eat. It’s not always easy. That, mixed with finding a way to reliably replace all the lost physical activity in your new car-centric lifestyle is what it’ll take.

    If you don’t, it won’t just be the 10 pounds you’ve already gained. They’ll keep coming. This can get depressing and can make the transition to Texan life even harder. Better to establish good habits and nip the problem in the bud as early and as often as possible.

    • Thank you Nylund. At first i embraced all of these things as part of my new culture but now I’m ready to go back to some healthier choices. Thankfully, what my life in Dallas does have that’s better is a much bigger kitchen than what I had in New York, as I’m sure you can imagine! I can actually shop for more than one day’s food at a time and I have a 4-burner gas stove and more counter space than I know what to do with. My kitchen/dining area alone is larger than one of my Manhattan apartments. So cooking I shall continue to do and I will love every minute of it.
      In other news, I’ve been thinking about doing an Ex-New Yorker happy hour here at some point, maybe in June. Message me if you’re interested!

  2. Funny we were there Friday as well! i had the two ittybittyfoodies in tow and they thoroughly enjoyed meeting Chad Houser & Janice Provost at Parigi.

    I agree with NYLUND – we always walked everywhere in NYC when we did a 6mth stint and when we moved here, we were shocked that a lot of the neighbourhoods did not even have sidewalks.

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