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.

Don’t be a hoarder, DONATE : A Guide to Spring Cleaning

For the month of March I am turning my anger at our political climate into action. Since this is not enough to completely exhaust the well, I am also directing the rest of my angry energy at cleaning out my closet.

 

Spring is a time for rebirth, and my closet is in dire need of a new life. After watching The True Cost on Netflix I’ve decided to stop investing in fast fashion and start sustainably shopping. Fast fashion is horrible for women, children, the fashion marketplace and mother earth. How we spend our money talks (just look at how consumers coerced the Uber CEO out of a Trump administration position) and conscious consumerism is one of the many ways to protest against this administration. Unfortunately before my closet can be reborn like the phoenix, I must first let it burn.  

 

Instead of throwing all of my “old” clothes away, I decided that the best plan was to take the items from my closet and use them for good. If you, like me, are in need of a closet rebirth check out my ideas below for ways to recycle and places to donate your clothes.

 

The first idea is to donate to women’s shelters! While online shopping, aka speaking with my money, on one of my favorite feminist website Female Collective, I came across their Uplift the Girls campaign. Uplift the Girls was created to spread awareness and request donations for undergarments for homeless women. Unfortunately, most of us do not think to donate our gently used bras leaving homeless women without the proper undergarments. Female Collective started this campaign in December and have continued it after its success this winter. Personally, I am guilty of bra hoarding and I have a collection of bras that have almost never been worn. Female Collective has an address on their website that you can mail bras to where they will donate to shelters in LA. 

 

Another option is to donate to the women’s shelters near you. I am guilty of creating a giant donate pile and then ignoring it for months until I finally take it to a donation dumpster in a CVS parking lot. The items I am removing from my beloved wardrobe this time will be going to a local women’s shelter.

 

Now Em, you may say, if fast fashion is evil, shouldn’t you reuse or recycle the items you no longer need? Why don’t you try to resell some of your clothing to make a profit?  In reality, there are probably too many stains on things or missing buttons to resell but if you are a goddess at laundry and your items are still in mint condition I recommend selling them on Depop, Poshmark or Mercari. This helps reduce the creation of throw away clothes, helps people with less money get the latest fashions and if you want to go above and beyond you can donate the money you earn to your favorite charity, or use some of it to buy more clothes (I won’t judge you).

 

My final closet cleaning tip is to turn the shirts you love and can’t give away into a quilt. Blankets are my favorite things in the world and a blanket made out of soft tshirts is heavenly to snuggle with. When I graduated high school and left my first job (a job I worked at for all four years of high school) my best friend made me a quilt out of all of my old shirts. Six years later, I still use that blanket on a weekly basis. I love it and it takes up way less space in my closet than my shirts did.

 

I am very excited for the rebirth of my closet. This purge is a necessary part of the rebirth of my closet and it feels good to do good for the planet and other women while doing so.
Let me know what some of your favorite charities to donate are and what you do with the casualties from your closet clear outs!

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!