Friday, October 7, 2016

Privilege vs. Accomplishment: Fun Birthday Thoughts

Yesterday was my birthday. My birthday is always one of my favorite days of the year. Who doesn't love a day devoted to self-celebration, excess, cake and favorite foods, presents, and messages from friends new and old? I also really love getting older. I have felt out of my depth for most of my life, and every year that passes I feel more confident, less worried about others' opinions of me, and more comfortable in my own skin. (I am shooting, at this point, for an early grandmotherly look. I want long grey hair, a big, soft body that I will drape with cool skirts and scarves, and tons of funky jewelry. I will call everyone "dear" and talk a lot about crystals and spells and push coffee on everyone. This goal is SUPER attainable- I am at least halfway there.)

I was thinking a lot about how lucky I am and how much love there is in my little life and I was separating out what has been given to me versus what I have earned, because that's a fun way to celebrate getting older. But it's important.  I took a picture of my sons and I was thinking about posting it and captioning it something like "My two biggest accomplishments of the past 31 years" or something similarly clever. And then I paused, because my sons are not accomplishments. Sitting with that felt weird. 

My body made my sons, not because I worked hard or because I had to go through a lot, but in the lottery of the world I got a body that easily makes babies, and then they fairly easily slid out of me, and I truly had little to nothing to do with that. Now, yes, I am raising them, and trying very hard to give them the things they need while also giving myself the things I need, but I screw up EVERY day and I have a MASTERS DEGREE in working with little kids, so I can't really say that surviving my parenting battles is any real accomplishment. Also, they are people, and calling other people a personal accomplishment seems kind of gross. So my sons, the two biggest sources of frustration and joy in my life, are not really an accomplishment I can claim.

Maybe my house? Well, no. Moving into this new house is not that big of an accomplishment. I didn't build this damn thing. There was a lot of stress with the move and my family made it through the summer with the help of the people around us who held us in their loving arms and soothed me every step of the way. There is work to be done turning this house into OUR HOME, and we're partway there, but I've even had endless help there: friends and family turning up to paint and peel and clean and love, money from my grandfather's legacy to pay for repairs that might have had to wait, a detail-oriented husband who stayed on top of bills and paperwork when I was too emotionally burnt out from leaving our old home to deal. So this house is a blessing and I'm so happy I'm here, but I can't call it a personal accomplishment.

I was starting to get nervous. My writing? I've always been able to put words together. My job? Given to me when I was young, secured by a contract rule that says that after three years, you're pretty much guaranteed a position. My relationship? Ben's patience is not my accomplishment.

Well, I'm thirty-one and I've done nothing.

EXCEPT. Well. I'm a lot different than I was even five years ago.  The biggest change I can recognize is my temper at home- a combination of medicine and therapy and long talks with my husband have helped me realize how I effect my home when I unleash the emotions that I keep pent up in public and as a result, our home life is happier. I am happier. It's a work in progress. It's an accomplishment.

I speak up more now. My voice still shakes and I still turn bright red, but I no longer assume that anyone older than me is smarter than me. I no longer live in constant fear of offending someone I work with, or someone I interact with, or the teller at the bank who might overhear me.  It's a work in progress. It's an accomplishment.

I love more now. I went through a period in my twenties where I was very closed off. I liked being home and alone and I never wanted to visit or have people over. Getting out to meet someone was a huge inconvenience. I resented people who wanted my time. I don't know if I was depressed or just selfish, but I had a really hard time holding up my end of relationships. I still get overwhelmed sometimes, but I have come to realize the joy of having a group of people who are your people. I appreciate the push and pull of the time we give each other, and realize that it's not a zero sum game. My female friendships are a freaking treasure. It's an accomplishment that I got out of my own damn way to embrace them.

I am a better teacher and writer because I've stuck with both. I've taken criticism and made adjustments. I've studied craft and applied new techniques. I've looked inside myself, thought about what I specifically can offer, and used that to improve my practice. When I remember my first years teaching, or think about some of my first drafts and stories, I cringe so hard I almost turn inside out. But over the years, I've improved, and I truly believe that will continue. Becoming better through hard work is an accomplishment.

So I guess it's not a throwaway life. I have been given SO much. I will never for one second stop recognizing my unbelievable privilege. But maybe even knowing that is an accomplishment in itself. I do not take this life for granted. I can't wait to see what this next year will bring. 

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Astrology for October 2016

Last night was a new moon, today is a new month. Let's check out some lovely resources for October astrology. Libras, it's our yeeeaaaarrrr!

Rookie Horoscopes: Happy New Moon in Libra!

Astrology Zone: Susan Miller's Monthly Horoscopes (As of this morning, the horoscopes were still September, and I know it takes Susan awhile to update sometimes, but it is so worth the wait. She goes into incredible detail and gives specifics down to the day.)

From Gala Darling: Create Your Own Full Moon Ritual (Full Moon coming up soon!) and while you're feeling witchy, House-Witchery: 13 Easy Ways To Infuse Your Home With Magic is a good read.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Coffee + Blogs No. 27

IT'S FINALLY COLD! This is MY TIME OF YEAR. Everyone in my house is freezing because I'm insisting on open windows and we're all piled under blankets and I'm cradling a mug of coffee like it's the idol Indiana Jones liberated from it's spot under that rolling rock. It's time for the return of  Coffee + Blogs.

Aunt Acid: Advice for a Struggling Writer  This advice about work/life balance and engaging in creative pursuits of the sake of creativity is useful for every single one of us with a passion we don't get paid for.

"There is only one bad reason to write, and that’s for external validation. That’s because, even if you start getting some, you’ll never have enough. Praise is like money: no one ever feels satisfied that they’ve gotten their fair share. Almost no one has the strength to walk away from that particular roulette table."

MASH to Determine Your Gilmore Girls Life  Ugh I hate all my results but at least Lane is my best friend.

A Mary Anne With Kristy Rising: On the Enduring Legacy of The Babysitters Club I always identified with Mary Anne, but mostly because I didn't really fit anywhere else. When she got a boyfriend, I was like "Welp, now I'm no one!"

10 Simple Ways White People Can Stand Up to Everyday Racism 1. Listen when people of color talk about racism and white privilege. This is by far the most important step. LISTEN.

A Harry Potter Where Hermione Doesn't Do Anyone's Homework For Them. I miss The Toast so much. Granger/Lovegood for Prez.

How To Listen When You Disagree  Especially in a world where we are also striving toward the important goal of speaking up for what we believe in, listening to something we disagree with is harder than ever. Now that emotional intelligence is getting so much focus in the classroom, this is going to be one of the most important skills we explicitly teach our students.

When you find yourself in disagreement, just ask one question:
“Will you tell me your story? I’d love to know how you came to this point of view.”

Why Is It So Hard To Imagine Our Lives After Dieting? I did not diet at all this summer. I ate every flavor of Ben and Jerry's and never once chastised myself for a chips to carrots ratio. I deleted my calorie counting apps and started paying attention to how my body actually felt when I put different things in it. It was weird. Weirder was admitting to others what I was doing.

Paradoxically, being vociferous about masturbation or the American history of genocide were way more socially acceptable than my choice to stop dieting.

Letting go of the dream of thinness is one thing. Really recognizing that we live in a culture that promotes injustice, self-harm and the diminished lives of women — and REFUSING to play along — is quite another.

Hocus Pocus Tee This wasn't one of the movies my family loved growing up, but I know it's a cult favorite and this one is by the same ladies who made my BABE WITH THE POWER shirt that I've worn almost exclusively for the past two months.

Are We Meeting the Needs of our Black Girls? Currently in our country, there is an important hyperfocus on the way institutions deal with race. While I watch police forces go through the process of (kinda) accepting and (kinda) dealing with criticism, I realize that education will be next. Here are some conversations we need to start having.

Three Fat Heroines I Wish I'd Met Earlier and 5 Books That Call Bullshit on Diet Culture are two of my recent Book Riot articles that I am super, super proud of. (In the bullshit diet culture article I speak about You Don't Have to Like Me, the last pick for Be Your Own Book Club)

Just A Reminder That All Of Rory's Boyfriends Were Terrible. Two Gilmore Girls articles in one list? Shhhhh.

This is what I have for now, but keep sending me awesome links and stay tuned for some spooky reading suggestions and more interviews with interesting people! Be your own lady, lovelies. 

Image credits: 1, 2, 3