But Really Though Reads – The Female Persuasion

I finished another book and I can’t stop thinking about it. I gobbled through Meg Wolitzer’s newest book The Female Persuasion over the last two weeks and it has left me in the strangest emotional place.

If you have not read anything by Wolitzer please do yourself a favor and pick up one of her novels now. Her stories are what I imagine we would have gotten if Sylvia Plath had access to Prozac (and her YA novel Belzhar is proof). Wolitzer creates her characters from all angles meaning that the reader gets to see them through multiple perspectives (themselves and others) in the book. Just like in reality, the character has no idea and no control over what others think of them. The feelings are raw and the strings don’t tie up neatly, but her writing encompasses the human emotional scale.

With this prior experience in Wolitzer’s worlds I picked up The Female Persuasion thinking I was prepared for the uncomfortable moments and the characters that make me squirm. I was not ready for the journey we take through Greer Kadesky and Faith Frank’s lives. Greer meets Frank when Frank speaks at Greer’s college. Wolitzer carries us lovingly through the beginning of the professional relationship between the second and third wave feminist duo. The novel touches on intersectionality, the recognition of privilege and the importance of a feminist boyfriend. Wolitzer also highlights where the animosity between second and third wave feminism stems from through anecdotes from Faith and Greer’s lives.

I’m going to stop here before I ruin the novel for anyone who hasn’t read it yet. Wolitzer’s novel is filled with triumph, heartbreak, deceit, confusion, tragedy and ends on the importance of everyone using their power for good until they cannot anymore.

Have you read The Female Persuasion yet? If so, what did you think of it?

But Really Though Reads – Sex Object by Jessica Valenti

B and I went out for a walk in SF today and we magically ended up near a bookstore. Being the bibliophile that I am we had to take a “quick look around”. My quick look turned into a $30 purchase of two books – one of which I promptly went home and read cover to cover today. The book I chose to spend my Sunday with is Sex Object by Jessica Valenti.

Funnily enough, I have put Sex Object in my Amazon shopping cart upwards of 12 times only to then decide to purchase another work of fiction or a collection of essays instead (I apologize to my past self- I don’t know what I was thinking). I have failed myself by delaying the delivery of this book into my hands – it is amazing.

Valenti doesn’t reclaim the title of sex object, but instead provides anecdotes on how she has come to accept this as part of her identity; not because of anything she has done but because society, specifically through the male gaze, has told her this about herself. Valenti provides powerful truths about being a woman in a world that hates women and she doesn’t leave room for the fluff. Sex Object is neither a fight call or a pity party, it is the truth and that is what makes it so powerful.

Valenti and I share many differences but I could relate to her in every story she told. She explained the guilt we feel as women for telling men no. How, even as a published author and feminist, she can still be made to feel small by comments by men. She explains how easy and common it is for us to not react to someone treating us poorly because we like them or their nice or we don’t want to blow up our friendships. She puts into words the emotions we are forced to carry from all the misogyny and blatantly shitty things men (or women –  anyone can be a sexist) do to women.

Thank you, Jessica Valenti for creating something that felt cathartic to read. Thank you for not forcing a silver lining into every story. It was beautiful and painful and still managed to be humorous.

If you want to buy the book I’ve included a link here.

March Madness and April’s Recap

March was for action and boy did I take it in that goal on in my personal life. Mid month I decided it was time to start waking up early and working out and feeding my body the good stuff. Starting that habit has created a paradigm shift in my daily routine. Work is no longer the first thing of my day or the last thing that I think about at night.

America has cultivated this unhealthy obsession with getting ahead and my actions helped me realize that. (Yes, I know it is seemingly ironic that by doing more things I have stopped trying to get ahead but being mindful and meditative while doing yoga and running has been so good for me). While I want to succeed in my career I’ve realized that my health has to come before my job. I’m oh so very lucky to work at a company that allows me to take midday walks on beautiful days and encourages the use of PTO but the culture of American corporations in general weighs heavily on all of us. My morning routine and evening workouts allow me to put myself on the schedule instead of just my job. Due to this focus on myself, I have been better at focusing at work. Yin and Yang. That work life balance is oh so very important.

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The view from one of the many beautiful places I’ve gotten to visit. Rattlesnake Ridge in Seattle.

My external actions were a little trickier. I tried to make as many calls to my representatives as I could but I did not reach my goal for the number of calls that I wanted to have made. I still highly recommend Jen Hoffman’s guide and I will still continue to build on this baby foundation of political activism.

April was my month of reflection and repetition. I had not taken enough political action by the end of March to feel like I had accomplished my goal. In April I continued to take action. I donated clothes to a local women’s shelter. I donated money to the ACLU and Emily’s List. I revisited my goal of self-love by getting back into daily yoga and doing little things that made me happy like enjoying coffee with B in the morning. I practiced self-love by reading the book Cunt and really sitting in my powerful feminine energy.  I made plans with friends that I hadn’t seen in a while and visited them in their cities. I allowed myself to appreciate the moments I spent with them and to be present. I revisited my goal of listening by taking the time to think about the needs of those I interact with daily and trying to view the world from their perspective as well as my own. I have added this extra lense to as many conversations as I can.

I’m so glad I spent this month slowing down. Making times for friends, myself and relationships I feel like I have now built the steady loving habits I need to start plugging into my creativity. Bring it on May – I’m ready for you.

March Madness

It’s almost spring and the world is getting stranger and stranger with each passing day.

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While we are capable of normalizing anything, including the insanity that is commander in cheetoh, it is important for us to maintain our sanity and remind ourselves that this is not normal.

 

This not normal. The world we live in is angering, frightening and stressful. The fear for the future and the knowledge that evil is not only out there but in a position of power, can be debilitating. It stops us in our tracks. To combat this and continue on my journey to self-love and creativity, my goal for March is to get mad and stay active.

 

Em, you may say, how does anger lead to love and creativity?

 

I believe that love and anger go hand and hand. I am the most angry at and for people that I love. I get angry defending friends, family and creatures that I love. I get the most mad at the people that I love when they disappoint me. Anger shows us who we really love. When I hear that Cheetoh is going after the LGBT+ community and women, I am angry for my friends, sisters, gender non-conforming friends and even myself because all of these (including myself) are people I love.

 

Getting mad inspires action and being active is the best way to combat this hellish environment. This month I am going to follow Jen Hoffman’s weekly action guide (click here for more information) and do one item a day. I am going to attend as many rallies and protests that I can. I am going to speak for those who cannot or are afraid of being punished if they do. As I mentioned in my Self- Love and Gratitude recap last month, protests are an act of self-love.

 

Anger and fear are also inspiration for art and strength. I tend to run faster when I’m angry. I tend to think more creatively when I’m frightened. When I am mad, most often it is because I cannot find a solution to the problem in front of me.  I am going to use skills from my meditation toolbelt to bring the emotions I have towards the political climate into myself to create change. I am going to use the anger I feel towards my body as fuel for my workouts instead of fuel for self-destruction. I am going to try one new creative activity a week whether it be hip-hop dance videos, painting, a new type of workout like barre or a new style of writing.

 

The start of spring, like the beginning of all new seasons,is a time for change and I am going to use my anger to fuel my transformation. Spring may not begin until March 20th, but my transformation begins this Wednesday. Spring is tied in with growth. After the darkness and death of winter spring brings the plants (and some allergens) back to life. Spring is not perfectly sunny like summer but is a time for rain, mud and change. 

 

I am going to use my march madness and take action. Tell what ways you are taking action under this new administration!

 

As always, I will update at the end of the month!

But Really Though Reads—You’ll Grow Out Of It by Jessi Klein

For Christmas I received so many beautiful books! One of these was Jessi Klein’s autobiography, “You’ll Grow Out Of It” and this writer/comedian did not disappoint.

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Klein is a writer for Inside Amy Schumer, SNL, Transparent amongst many other works. Not only is she insanely talented with the pen, she is also captivating in conversation (she often appears in NPR’s radio show “Wait..Wait..Don’t Tell Me”). Jessi identifies as a “tom man” meaning she is a tomboy who never “grew out of it”

Jessi Klein is so hilarious and captivating that I finished this book in one sitting. I have not been actively engaged in someone’s story like this since I read Tina Fey’s Bossypants. Klein is a comedic genius and her staccato comedic timing translates perfectly on the page. Reading this memoir felt like a conversation. Klein’s perspective on everything stereotypically feminine, from weddings to the television show The Bachelor, is relatable and refreshing. Klein identifies as female and heterosexual but still finds that she never fits in the feminine box. She is the comedic queen of the not so feminine female.

Without giving away too many of the book’s comedic secrets, my favorite analogy of hers is the Poodle v Wolf. According to Klein, women are categorized as either poodles or wolves and while both are from the same species, they have very different defining characteristics. A poodle is in sync with her feminine side and a wolf is more masculine. Being pretty is not the dividing line between poodles and wolves, poodles are more yin and wolves are more yang. For example, Sofia Vergara would be defined as a poodle while Jennifer Aniston is a wolf. While both are beautiful, it is their personality characteristics that place them in their category. I love that Jessi differentiates between the two without belittling either category. You trot on you beautiful poodle or wolf!

Klein is a genious, a goddess and a wonderful soul. This book is a must read for any misfit with a love for wit.

I’m always on the hunt for new books, leave me some suggestions for my reading list!

Ways to Get Woke!

All of my beautiful feminist friends it is time to educate ourselves.

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Image from here.

For my February intentions I am practicing active listening.I am guilty of not listening and learning throughout these college/post grad years, I was a bit egocentric coming off the college high. I knew I was a feminist and I was fighting for my rights but I really needed a post grad education on intersectional feminism. The time has come for me to stop thinking about how things affect me and start listening to the stories of other powerful women.
Take this challenge with me by checking out some of the books, podcasts. organizations and others below.

Songs:

Quiet – This version of the song performed at the Women’s March brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it.

Don’t Dream It’s Over –  Miley and Ariana compliment each other so well in this cover. I love the song, the people, and the message.

Podcasts:

Call Your Girlfriend – This podcast is unapologetically feminist. I’m obsessed and you MUST check it out. CYG allows the listener to eavesdrop on a high level conversation between two intelligent and talented besties.

2 Dope Queens –  Not only are Phoebe and Jessica fucking HILARIOUS and real but they also feature amazing up and coming comedic talent on their podcast. A must listen for any feminist comedy lover.

 

Books:

Feminist Fight Club –  Please buy the book and join the FCC with me. Read more about it here!

Men Explain Things to Me – This collection of essays has become the cornerstone of my feminist movement. The essay #YesAllWomen resonates with me because it is about a tragedy so near and dear to my heart that took place in Isla Vista while I lived there. A tragedy that sparked a movement. This collection of essays is a cliff notes guide to the many issues women face in our country.

Organizations:

ACLU 

Planned Parenthood 

Women’s March 

Please leave me recommendations in the comments! I would love to have more knowledge under my belt as we move forward in this fight against bigotry and hate.
Spread love and fight back my fierce friends.

Self-Love and Gratitude – January Recap

We made it through January!

 

January was a whirlwind. Everyone was running around, trying to stick to strict goals and putting themselves in boxes as a way to better themselves. We watched a tyrant man who refuses to listen to the people he represents take over this country. We watched his administration lie on day one in office. But, most importantly we fought back.

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Tina & I are ready to join WITCH. Image from Bob’s Burgers

If protesting isn’t a sign of self-love and gratitude I don’t know what is. Women’s Marches all over the world promoted love, peace and a lot of gratefulness for living in a country where we are allowed to make our voices heard. We have a long way to go before we get to equality but January 21st left me feeling grateful for the women, men and children who are going to be on the right side of history.

 

My intentions for January were to meditate every day, do 31 days of yoga and to turn my “I’m Sorry’s” into “Thank you’s” I am proud to say that I did it, well mostly. I did miss a few days of meditation, I’m not perfect.

 

One of my daily meditations inspired me to start keeping a gratitude journal. Every night before bed I sit down and write at least 10 things that I am thankful for from that day. They can be as benign as food or as productive as learning a new skill at work. It can be hard as fuck, but love it. It forces me to recognize that even on long, tiresome, weird days there are still so many beautiful things in my life. This has turned some of my bad days around right before bed. Along with my magical pillow spray from my Calm Box, this has been helping me sleep better at night. It’s just like counting your blessings as a little kid.  

 

These acts of self-love that I participated in truly did help me on my journey to love and creativity. It is easiest to spread love when you already hold it within you.
How are you holding up on your intentions with the new year?