Tag Archives: women

She Yearns For A Hug

Required reading in high school was always daunting.

My high school didn’t offer Creative Writing as an English class while I was there, which bothered me to no end. I gladly would have taken that class instead of AP English Language. I tested out of the remedial 101/102 classes when I headed off to college. I knew I would, so I felt absolutely no disappointment when I scored a two on both my AP English tests.

Out of the many books we were required to read, I enjoyed only a few. King Lear, Romeo & Juliet, Regeneration, All Quiet On The Western Front; these books I happily read. I barreled through The Great Gatsby even, but didn’t really enjoy it until choosing to read it again a decade later. Everything else, though, I don’t remember reading.

There was one book that stood out. I devoured every page and wanted the story to never finish. I cried, I smiled, I fell madly in love with the art of storytelling. The book shocked me, and it seemed to speak to me directly. I felt as though the author wrote this book specifically and solely for me.

I’m certain I was required to read this book twice in high school. Or, I was required once, and decided to reread it for an elective book for different class. Whatever the case, I happily read it again.

This is a book that I feel everyone who speaks English should read, even if English is not their native tongue. It’s a famous story, but often not fully understood. You can say the title and people immediately recognize it. But, that doesn’t mean they’ve read it. People usually think of the horror movies that take very loose liberty with the plot. To this day, especially now, I find myself having to describe the plot and talk about the incredibly obvious themes, and explain that, while entertaining, the cheesy B-List horror movies that people automatically think of are somewhat of a disgrace, as there is so much more oomph and depth and enlightenment to the actual story.

Can you guess what the book is yet? I’m sure some of you can. If you’ve taken any honors English classes in high school or are an English Literature major, well, duh. Of course you should be able to guess!

My copy from high school started to fall apart a long time ago. It kept me company when I went off to college the first time round. About six or seven years ago, I finally replaced my well worn copy. This new(er) copy remains present on my nightstand. Sometimes, it gets place on my bookshelf if I’m engrossed in other books. Whatever the case, it is within reach. I have periods in my life that seem heavier, darker, and more introspective. This is when I really yearn for this book. I always want to get lost in the story, hoping to find a different answer or clue. I know that whilst getting lost in the words, I’ll come through the experience renewed and hopeful. People have often questioned why. There isn’t a concrete explanation as to why. I just know that the themes of loss & yearning, motherhood (creation, compassion), consciousness, free will, and good v. evil speak volumes to my soul. You have a man playing God, and let’s be real, he’s not very successful. We have a champion, a hero in this story, and it’s certainly not the man playing God. At least, I don’t find him to be any kind of hero. I hope that those of you who’ve read this book agree with me, or can, at least, understand where I am coming from.

If you haven’t guessed the book by now, shame on you! No, I kid. You don’t have to know what it is.

The one book that I keep coming back to is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Holy hell, this book is phenomenal. It cranks my gears. It makes me happy. It inspires me to read and write and create. For me, Frankenstein is one of those stories that stands the test of time. It touches on humanity in such a way that, even in our tech savvy times, we can all pick a theme or three from it, and acknowledge them within ourselves.

Seriously, though, if you haven’t read it already, go read it as soon as possible. Take your time with it. Digest it. Let the words dance around your mind. Then, go give your loved ones a hug.

Second Time Around

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If You Stare, You Pay

The shakes, the racing heart, the sweat, the confusion. They happen every single time.

This is nothing new, and it happens all the time. The moment puberty hit, speaking in front of and to a large group of people has been really uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I thrive in large groups of people. I’m often the life of the party and would rather be surrounded by people than be alone. But, having to deliver news, information, or any kind of speech to more than three people? I’d really rather not.

I am sure many of you feel the same way. It takes a certain personality to be comfortable speaking eloquently to a large audience. One of my favorite public speakers is Martin Luther King, Jr. How he managed to calmly talk to thousands of people blows my mind. Never faltering, always level, he managed to get his message across with love and strength. I wish I had that ability.

But, I don’t.

I get nervous and clam up. My heart feels like it’s going to explode out of my chest. My palms get sweaty, and I shake very noticeably. I’m never confident that what I am about to say is real, true, correct, or even kind. I’m too concerned with making everyone happy, and I’m equally as concerned that I won’t sound intelligent enough. Sounding intelligent is a very big issue I constantly struggle with.

Casually put me in a room with a bunch of people, though, and I can wax poetic in small conversations about things I am passionate about. The desire to sound intelligent melts away. If I’m wrong or confusing, I’ll gladly take that to heart and seek out the correct information. A casual conversation has never been an issue, and probably never will be.

So, at 33, I’ve decided that if I ever am put in a situation that requires me to speak to a large group of people, I better get paid. That way, I will have the financial resources to research what I’m speaking about. And, I’ll have the financial resources to get help for the fear of public speaking. I promise, therapy is wonderful. Therapy is a great tool to guide people in positive directions. However, good therapy isn’t always cheap. For public speaking, I know that I would need an actual, physical human opposite me, giving me the right tools to melt the fear away.

Fear of public speaking is very real and very legitimate. Delivering information to large numbers of people requires a somewhat deep understanding of what is being discussed. It also requires the belief that what is being said is real, true, and correct. [Not all speeches have merit or are true. Look at Adolf Hitler. One of the things he is known for is his public speaking skills. Was a lot of what he said good or right? Of course not. But, he believed it, and that allowed him to be firm in what he said.] I’m decently educated. I attempted a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications and a minor in English Literature. I’m two classes away from a Paralegal Associate of Arts degree, and plan on eventually going back to university and getting a BA. But, I’m not educated perfectly. There are a lot of things in this world that I have to learn about. There is only a small handful of things I can comfortably talk about, and I know that there is a lot more to learn about these things. With that knowledge about myself, I am naturally scared that I will be judged by people listening. I automatically think to myself, “who here knows more than I do and will want to immediately judge and correct me?” I don’t mind being corrected. I welcome being corrected. But, the judgement? That’s scary.

Long story short: if I am going to be watched and stared at, someone better pay me.

Naked with Black Socks

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Goals!

In a previous post, I discussed doing a feminist reading challenge. Please check out the post to get a better idea of what I’m talking about.

So, guess what? I failed to complete it. I didn’t even pick up one book off the list. Sure, I decided to start the challenge in August just before embarking on a full course load for my paralegal program.

Anyway. I’ve decided to transfer the challenge over to 2014 and add a few books to the list. I shall challenge myself to read 10-12 feminist themed books.

The books I hope to read (or reread) are:
1. The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
2. The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank
3. Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
4. Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins
5. Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins
6. How To Be A Woman, Caitlin Moran
7. The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
8. Alanna: The First Adventure, Tamora Pierce
9. How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, Julia Alvarez
10. Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys
11. Fear of Flying, Erica Jong
12. Bastard Out Of Carolina, Dorothy Allison

So, there you go. There is my list. Luckily, I own most of these books, so I don’t have an excuse to not read them. And, I officially have 13 months to get them read. Between quarters I’ll devote time to reading for pleasure. And, while school is in session, I’ll reach for a book instead of Netflix as a treat for finishing school work. My brain needs exercise, right??

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Kindness is Infinite, I Promise

I’ve worked retail for the last nine years. At the beginning, I was full of hope and ambition. As the years have caught up with me, the hope vanished and my ambition is tough to grasp onto. Let me clarify that I’ve worked in a female dominated environment, both with my co-workers and the customers I experience each day.

Women can be exceedingly more callous and manipulative than men, especially when in large groups. We, as a gender, are prone to falling prey to herding mentality, doing what is deemed acceptable to a large group of people. Also, singularly, women can be outright nightmarish. We have the tendency to let our bad moods or bad experiences get the best of us. We get used to blaming everyone else for our bad luck instead of evaluating why we process our emotions in regards to bad experiences. We forget that our mental state is our responsibility only and out of the hands of everyone else. With our lengthening lifespans and declining sense of physical community, we become much more selfish and isolated. Therefore, it is up to us, as a gender and individuals, to break this cycle. And, it is incredibly easy.

Let me break it down for you:

  • Set aside time a few days a week to write a few lines describing your experiences & your physical/emotional reactions to said experiences.
  • Say “thank you” five times every day, even if it is just to your body for not failing that day.
  • Smile. Studies have proved that it helps your mood remain positive, makes you appear more approachable, and allows your voice to be audibly attractive.
  • Compliment others for the things they do well. Recognition from others is a great confidence booster. Paying someone a genuine compliment & receiving gratitude is also a confidence booster.
  • Spend time outside. Sit on a park bench and read a good book. Go for a walk. Do yard work. Spend time on a swing. Sunshine causes your body to produce much needed vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your body absorb the majority of other nutrients you need. Sunshine also helps your body produce melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate your sleep cycle. By going for a walk outside during daylight hours, your body is helping itself function steadily. Plus, exercise boosts serotonin, the mood regulating hormone. Wouldn’t you want your body to function well?
  • When I was a child, I ate anything my parents put in front of me. As an adult, I have become more picky with the food I eat, but the things I crave the most are vegetables and water. So, eat like you are a five year old. This means, eat all of the right things the majority of the time. That makes having a cupcake or glass of wine every now and then is okay. Treating yourself with an indulgence should be just that – an indulgence & a treat. Things like alcohol, sweets, or decadent food should be rewards for treating your body & mind well. They should be rewards for accomplishing a huge project at work successfully or getting a promotion, etc..
  • Don’t bottle things up. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable or hurts your feelings, tell them within 24 hours of your reaction. Not only will your honesty help the other person evaluate their actions & change, but it will help you have confidence in yourself.
  • If you are old enough to have a bank account, shop at luxury shops regularly, and remember what you were doing when JFK was shot, you probably can afford bi-monthly therapy. The amount of money you spend at a luxury retailer & the energy you spend being exceedingly rude and scathing to sales associates being tooth achingly sweet to you cannot and will not solve whatever it is that has made you this unhappy. Spending 2-6 hours a month meeting with a therapist can be a valuable experience.
  • Don’t play the victim if you aren’t truly a victim. And, even then, there are proper avenues to take in order to process your experience. Unloading on strangers, coworkers, sales associates, gas station attendants, etc. is not the solution.
  • If you are jealous of another woman, don’t tear her down or attack her. Go about your business, respect yourself, and try hard to be the best person you can be. Attacking someone because you are jealous isn’t a solution. Nothing will come of it but hurt feelings, tension, and difficulty existing in close proximity with said person. Being successful is a solution. That way, you will actually accomplish something and get the credit you deserve. And, perhaps, you might even outshine the person you’re jealous of.
  • Sales associates don’t control the layout of a store, what is sold in a store, the amount of things available in the store, the machines installed in the store, the location of the store, etc.. The only control how nice they are to you, the amount of knowledge they have for you, the level of service they give to you, and the promptness at which you are able to shop & pay for your services/products. If they controlled anything outside of those four things or the previously stated things, they wouldn’t be sales associates and they surely would have a larger paycheck. So, if you’re angry that a pinpad registers your debit card with the Visa logo on it as a credit card, don’t make a stink and demand the sales associate fix the machine right then and there. Don’t demand that the manager fix the machine either. Because, your bank account probably will completely process the purchase by 6pm on the nearest business day. Paying by check will delay the process even longer, taking your bank account 3-5 business days to (hopefully) process your check. And, storming out of the store while the sales associate is trying to process your check you crumpled & threw across the counter doesn’t help. Because, we know that every time you shop at our store, you have something horrible to say about the company, the product you are buying, and the person you are ringing up. We know that you don’t have a shred of kindness in you. And, we refuse to bend over backwards for you, because you seem to be inherently evil. If shopping at a store makes you that angry, write to the CEO. Do that at least once a week. And/or stop shopping at a store that makes you so angry.
  • If you choose to chew gum in public, that’s fine. It is a disgusting habit that Western society has now deemed acceptable. But, that doesn’t mean you can pop & snap your gum constantly, especially with your mouth wide open. No one needs to hear that sound. No one needs front row viewing of your dental work. It’s distracting. It’s rude. And, it’s crass. A real lady (and man) chews with her mouth closed, and possibly even creates the illusion that she isn’t even chewing. And, a real lady uses an Altoid to freshen her breath, instead of incessantly chomping on gum. It makes you appear like you are still in the seventh grade.

These are the main things we can do to shape our future as women and as humans. Sure, there are many more things we can do. I hope that if I ever have a daughter, she doesn’t have to experience intragender bullying. I hope that she never has her entire being torn to shreds for absolutely no reason. I want her to live in a world that cultivates success for anyone who wants it, no matter who they are or where they are from.

Please, be kind to those in your community. Elevate those you encounter. Take your anger & tell it you have no space for it in your life. Smile. Seek out joy. “Be the change…”

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I Am Half The Sky

Two years ago, my mother bought me a book for Christmas. It sat on my bookshelf up until recently. Now, I am kicking myself for not reading it when I received it, as it has turned into this amazing phenomenon. On October 1st & 2nd, PBS hosted a four hour documentary, the visual tie-in to the book I was gifted.

As “Half The Sky” sat within walking distance of me for almost two years, I always made a note to start reading it. Now, with the PBS documentary aired and an amazing movement brewing, I vow to read the book & watch the documentary, all the while taking notes. I have signed up to become a Community Ambassador & hope to host screenings of the documentary in my neighborhood & community. If accepted, this will be a great way to do something of substance with my life. It will act as a form of education for me, as well as allow more people to get involved with a great movement and work together to build better opportunities for women & children to get the best lives possible.

Please, enjoy the trailer. And, subscribe!

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