If you need help…

Originally posted on The Bloggess:

If you are considering suicide or know someone who is, please call a suicide hotline.  They can help.  They’re free.  They’ve saved and helped so many of us, including me.  Click here for a link to suicide crisis organizations around the world.  They listen.

I find it very triggering to talk about a humorist who has lost his battle with mental illness so I’m not going to write about this.   I’m practicing self-care by making an appointment with my therapist and avoiding triggers and watching bad tv.  I was, however, asked by a lot of people if I would share the post I once wrote about how the full moon makes me feel unbalanced and more willing to believe the lies that depression tells, and considering we’re dealing with a super-moon right now then maybe reading it will help if you’re feeling vulnerable yourself.  So it’s here…

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Adding fuel to strengths.

Recently, Erin Donley recommended a book to me called “StrengthsFinder“.  I have been sitting in a place of a personal “What’s next” for quite a while, and I asked her what she would do.  She said that when she was walking in my shoes, she found this book extremely helpful.

The book exists on the premise that if we added more time, attention and focus on our strengths, our lives will become more enriching.

I liked the sound of that.

So I bought the book. I did the quiz and got my results. Which I will share only because I love you.

Achiever – I have a great deal of stamina and work hard.  I take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.
(I think this is a common Capricorn trait – Goats like to climb… climb… climb.)

Relator – I enjoy close relationships with others. Specifically, I find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.
(Always take a swim buddy)

Context – I enjoy thinking about the past.  Specifically, understanding the present by researching its history.
(My first college degree was in History)

Individualization – I am intrigued with the unique qualities of each person and have a gift for figuring out how peopel who are different can work together productively.

Significance – I am independent and want to be recognized (and very important) in the eyes of others.
(I think this speaks to the Leo moon I have orbiting my chart)

So, I now that I have recognized all of these wonderful strengths, the tough part is now how to focus this energy and these gifts on some niche that is a source of personal fulfillment.

Dress Coded: An Education on (unnecessary) Sexualization

Originally posted on Sophieologie:

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When one Illinois middle school cluelessly decided to ban leggings & yoga pants because they were “distracting to the boys”, they probably didn’t have any idea it would be the catalyst to a national conversation about dress codes in school.

I mean, dress codes are like, so un-controversial. Until now.

Now, all sorts of interesting stories are surfacing. Girls wearing the same regulation gym outfits, but the curvier ones are getting dress-coded. Tall girls getting dress-coded for short garments, even though they’re finger-tip length, while short girls seem to not draw the same leg-bearing ire. One girl getting sent home from prom for wearing pants. Another girl was sent home from her homeschool prom because male chaperons said her dress was “causing impure thoughts”…for the teenage boys, of course.

So… Many interesting stories indeed.

The leggings ban irked me immediately for two reasons. The first…

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Patriarchy Privilege

This is what Patriarchy looks like. And Rape Culture, and glass ceilings, and , and, and… She was fired. (another/different link here) (and yet another link hereShe was kicked out of prom.  She was walking while Fat and Female.   All of these things happened this week. (and I’m not going to even include the ridiculousness which abounds elsewhere – here and here and here (well, not really there) but, I’m sure you can use google).

At this point, it doesn’t matter what the truth is.  Because the truth is different from the point we are held at, at the tip of the sword. And it is not Seppuku, nor an initiation.  It is standing at the tip of a sword as a hostage.

This is the point that is a problem. And whatever shape, size, age, sex, gender, race or religion mask it wears, it has to stop.  Patriarchy privilege is a real thing and until we put a name on (and point at) the elephant in the room, it won’t stop.  These women aren’t pointing this out because they are “emotional” or “overreacting”.  They are pointing it out because it marginalizes us (women) as humans. I am a woman, I feel this pain, I ache for these women and cheer for the voice they have found.

It pisses me off.  Just like is pisses me off that #BringBackOurGirls has no resolution. It pisses me off that a girl gets shot for wanting an education, and it pisses me off that there is a BOOMING (over $31Billion annually) human trafficking business (by the way, did you know that the global average cost for your own slave is just $90? 70% of slaves are women, and over half are children). I am doing a lot of pissing at this point …

Anger is good. It is a secondary emotion that moves you to action. It is the spark that starts the fires of passion.  Anger is a useful emotion.

I once listened to a reading at the Hugo House in  Seattle on a cold blustery night. It was a non-fiction piece the author wrote after meeting with a girl over about a year. This girl was a part of the sex/slave trade and was brought across the border into the United States (from Canada) in the back of an Ice Cream Truck.  She was a popsicle.  Fit to be eaten, her stick (soul) ready to be discarded.  She was kept in an abandoned house in Portland Oregon and chained to a bed in the basement.  She eventually escaped by kicking out a boarded up window and squeezing her sickly-sweet-stick body through broken glass and barbed wire.

When does this stop?  When does the abuse, the victimization, the exploitation and the shaming stop?

It will stop only when the people in power start fighting for those who are oppressed. It will stop when one person, one hundred people, one thousand people, one million people, stand up and say “Stop”.  All of the people. Not just women, or children or minorities or homeless or disenfranchised.  All of the people.  Not the labels.  Labels are for clothes.

When falling, sprout wings.

Oh how the mighty  have fallen.

Oh how the match is sparked and watched to burn into ash.

Oh how the wings are beautiful on that big red bird.

Do not be afraid of an uncomfortable conversation, but have it with an open heart, and the big red bird will unfurl its wings.  Do not be afraid to burn, for the fires will draw you into it’s red breast and take flight with your hand buried in the down.

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When You Leave a Place

This is one of my very favorite things I have ever read.  It was written by Ariel Gore in her book Atlas Of The Human Heart.

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“When you leave a place, its best if it’s raining. Not pouring, but not just drizzling either. You want fat drops that fall on your cheeks like tears. it’s best if it’s early, too, the tail lights and porch lights and streetlights and station lights all begging you to stay just one more day.
When you leave a place, its best if you’re hungry. A girl should never travel on a full stomach.  It’s best if you’re tired, too, still wrapped in the dreams of sleep, oblivious to gravity and the heaviness of your own body.

When you leave a place, it’s best to take as little as possible – ideally a single change of clothes, the jewelry on  your body, the money in your pockets, memories safely stowed in your secure imagination.  Never pack more than you can comfortably carry across the Himalayas on foot, because you never know where a road will take you. It’s best not to bring along anything you care about either.  You’ll lose it, anyway.  Give it away before you go.

And when you leave a place, it’s best not to cry.  If everything is as it should be, the sky will do your crying for you.”

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Goats are Awesome.

Goats absolutely fascinate me.

They can eat anything, their perseverance, hoofed mobility that finds them scaling unthinkable rocks,

Goats on walls

and hanging out in trees.

Goats in trees

I’m a goat-lady, a Capricorn to be exact. So, what comes with that is the intuitive drive for perspective and the sheer pleasure of an impossible job well done.  I know I do many things in life that seem impossible, that looks a little weird, but goats look weird when they are precariously balanced on the side of a cliff,

Wierd goats on cliffs

and yet.. .they seem to always make the impossible journey to the top.

An insatiable appetite for growth and always reaching the impossible is ground into my DNA. I’m still working on the understanding, patience and balance which seem to be required to accomplish such a feat.

Why I self-publish(.?!)

There have been a lot of people who have asked lately why I self publish, rather than pursue a book deal with a traditional publisher.  I think it comes down to a really great line from Pretty Woman,

“I say who, I say when, I say how much.”

Kit and Vivian were talking about getting a pimp, and this sentence ended that conversation.  I feel this line could sum up how a lot of people in the working world feel.  But, just like a hooker of the 90’s, the goings can get a little tough without a pimp.

kit and vivian

This is significant as it applies to why I self-publish, most recently encapsulated in my interest to apply to the #AmtrakResidency program.  This program is where a writer could stay in one of the Amtrak sleeper cars for 5 days and travel around on the rails to focus on their writing.  This sounded EXCELLENT to me. I was totally in. Then I read their Terms and Conditions, specifically #6 …

6.   Grant of RightsIn submitting an Application, Applicant hereby grants Sponsor the absolute, worldwide, and irrevocable right to use, modify, publish, publicly display, distribute, and copy Applicant’s Application, in whole or in part, for any purpose, including, but not limited to, advertising and marketing, and to sublicense such rights to any third parties.

Nope.

Not this girl.

“I say who, I say when, I say how much.”

It is a battle of the copyrights (I almost wrote copywrites … ), and it starts right now.  I understand #AmtrakResidency was probably well-meaning and wanted to encourage writing on it’s tracks. I’m sure there are many writers who thought “I could write the next Great American Novel” while riding along the great history and scenery of the Rail.  It’s perfect.  But… contractual language that preys on writers?  Meh… sounds more like a pimp to me, and …

“I say who, I say when, I say how much.”

My friend (and amazing author) Ramez Naam wrote a great blog piece called “We are all on the same side” about this topic (while under a book deadline).  Amanda Hocking (the most successful self-publisher), just signed on with a traditional publishing house (only after she was making her own millions through self publishing).

“I say who, I say when, I say how much.” ??

This is the reason I self publish.  My work belongs to me. Good bad or indifferent, I want to have the control to say who and when and how much. I want to be the sole person responsible for my own Manifest Destiny.  I want to be able to be free to be myself, express my art AND take full credit for the decisions  from the cover art to the editing. I get it, a check is nice. Someone taking care of the marketing is nice.  Someone putting you on tour, buying the movie rights AND getting a check is SUPER nice.  People helping you are nice.  All of it is icing on the cake.

It’s the who, when and how much questions always come down to pimping.  Money, business and now intellectual property (rather than just bodies).

I will self-publish. Until I own a publishing company, I will self publish.  It will be the “Plan B Entertainment” for writers.  I will keep control of my intellectual property just as I have kept control of my body.  Plan B is a great idea the morning after, and sometimes when I’m writing, the morning after is the hardest part.

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There are times in life…..

There are times in your life where:

You just don’t feel good.

You wish for a Prince Charming or Princess Aurora,

And you get Malificent and King Farquaad.

You want Disneyland, and you the the “House of Horrors”.

But, you know what….

The good news is, it won’t last forever.

I’ve been dealing with some “health issues” (let’s leave it at that) lately.  Real or imaged, stress induced or genetic, terminal or maybe it is just nothing at all.  It really doesn’t matter.  All of these thoughts, feelings and emotions have passed through the sails lately, and I’m ready to see land again.  Even if the island is deserted.

The good news is, it won’t last forever. Nothing lasts forever.original_1345070734

I learned this by watching the monks.  Watching a Tibetan monk spend days and days on end, in silence, with colored grains of sand.  Speck by speck, building one of the most beautiful mandala’s I have ever seen.  Each piece of color-dust was a thoughtful, intended decision. And…. with each speck, the mandala would change.

I kuan-yin-riding-dragon_346x432learned by riding a stalking dragon.   It was 8 seconds of pure chaos and madness, then silence and calm.

I learned: It won’t last forever.

Nothing lasts for ever.

These times in your life …  do not last forever.