[language warning at one point]
So this is totally random, but I was browsing back through my YouTube lists thinking about school (I have a bunch of things saved on there in lists for various classes I teach) and I found this TV commercial, which is up there with my favourite for 2016. I found it to be super body-positive and inspiring, so I thought I’d share :3
What commercials have you seen in 2016 that you actually enjoyed? Please share in the comments!! 🙂
What you consider a compliment is different to what other people consider a compliment. But there are distinct patterns to the kinds of compliments we prefer, and they seem to align pretty neatly with our personality types (for self-evident reasons?). Head over and find out what the ultimate compliment for each personality type is.
Amanda Palmer, multi-media artist extraordinaire (and, though I am loathe to fall into the old ‘identify the woman by her family’ trap, wife of Neil Gaiman) is pregnant. I happened across this article today, in which she defends herself from an eloquent yet, in my opinion, insufferably critical and nosey fan who is concerned essentially that Amanda’s standards are slipping, and will continue to slip when/because she has a baby. Amanda has some lovely things to say, and I think you should definitely take a couple of minutes to go read the article (link again), because this is an Important Issue.
What’s the issue? Fundamentally, a compartmentalisation of women’s roles, stemming, I think, from the fact that a woman’s contribute to the public sphere has been historically undervalued. Put simply, this issue is this: while it is never called into question that men balance fatherhood and careers on a daily basis (some better than others), women are constantly beleaguered with questions surrounding their ability to balance motherhood and a career. I’m too lazy to go look up links right now, but there are plenty of examples of female celebrities being asked this question in professional interviews, while their equally-famous husbands are quizzed simply about their jobs. I’d like to say that this goes double for artists of any kind, but let’s be honest: western media culture as a whole lacks competent role models who are both mothers and workers. Trying to figure out how to balance the two falls solely on our shoulders and, if we are fortunate enough to have personal role models, those around us.
Amanda notes in her article that she is terrified that becoming a mum will somehow vanquish her identity as an artist. This really resonated with me, because I had the exact same fear when I fell pregnant with my first child. Teaching, I knew, wasn’t optional: for us, me not working was never an option. But writing? Art? Writing was a hobby, a love, something I wanted to turn into a career but something that wasn’t really contributing to the family income. Would I have time to write? Would I even want to write? What kind of person would I become when I had a small person to depend upon me?
The answer, obviously, is that I would become the exact same kind of person I was before I had a small person depending on me, because becoming a parent doesn’t change your identity, it just throws another cap in the ring. Yes, becoming a parent has changed me profoundly in many ways–but it hasn’t changed me, if you understand the distinction. I’m still the same kind of person I was–just without a lot of excess flaff. As my husband once put it, having a baby is a great way to distill your life to its essence, to what’s really important and what’s not–because you don’t have time for what’s not.
And to my great pleasure, writing was one of the things that was really important. It took time, of course; I quit writing at one point because it had become yet another yardstick by which to measure my own failure. But before my son was a year old, the itch returned–and by the time he was two, I was writing my non-fiction book From The Ground Up (2016). Last year I wrote over 100,000 words. So far this year, I’ve written nearly 70,000 words of fiction. My best year ever was 200,000. Has having children slowed down my art? A little, yeah. But has it killed it? Hell no. And as the babies grow ever, onwards, older, they will need me in different ways that are somewhat less demanding on my sleep reserves and time, and late evenings (my peak writing time) will once again be mine. (In point of fact, my day job has interfered with my ability to write far more than having children, because in busy weeks I’m stuffed by the time the kids are in bed.)
Ladies? It is possible to both mum and art. You can be an arting mum, or a mumming artist. Having children will change you profoundly–but it only makes you more you. If being an artist is what you are, don’t fear. When the dust settles, when the sleepless nights are over, your identity remains. Art on, my lovely one. Art on.
Possibly the single most beautiful and profound discussion of racial discrimination I’ve ever seen. It’s gentle, it’s lovely, and it’s all in pictures!
But seriously, it’s lovely. And profound. Check it out.
In a similar vein to the last repost, and again, applicable to a lot more than just writing……..
I was originally going to title this post ‘A New Cure For Writers’ Block’. But really, it’s not a new cure, for either the world in general, or myself. You’ve heard me talk about it before; the cure is simple: listen to your characters.
But it occurs to me that the principle involved has so many more applications, and can be summed up in just one word: listen.
Most of us are not so crash hot at the concept of listening. The fact that it’s a primary skill taught in relationship seminars speaks to this point. Sure, we hear other people talking, and we can repeat back a rough idea of what they’ve said, and we can even respond appropriately, but how often do we actually listen?
Listening is hard. It requires focussing completely on the speaker, clearing your mind of everything but what they’re trying to convey. No wandering off onto tangents of your own, no pondering what you’re going to say next as soon as they finish speaking; just listening.
One of the primary reasons we’re so bad at listening is the kind of world we live in, where minute-long soundbites are six times too long and an article nearing a thousand words is more like an essay. We’re used to doing ten things at once – we call it ‘multi-tasking’, and we’re proud of it.
As I type, I’m also half-watching The Flintstones on tv, I’m chatting to my baby sister via gtalk, I’m discussing puppy care with my husband, looking up a timetable on the school intranet, and uploading photos to my webalbums. I also have my email inbox open, a short story I’m editing, the spreadsheet that reminds me I need to weigh the puppies, and a host of writing related articles to read. Oh yeah, and Twitter.
Is it any wonder, then, that we struggle to really listen?
I mean, seriously. I’m a writer. I know I need to listen to my characters. I know my characters should have personalities that are well-rounded and unique and individual, and that motivate all of their actions. I know this. I know that this requires listening to them, letting them be.
So why am I so bad at doing it? Why, every time I butt my head against another wall in my story, does it take me forever to remember to stop, breathe, relax, listen?
I think there’s a clue in what I said about the kind of society we live in. Our lives are so fast paced, we’re conditioned to believe that everything can happen at the click of a button or the speed of thought. I sit down to write, and I expect that the words will be there, waiting for me – and if they’re not, I get restless, dissatisfied, think I’m doing something wrong.
I procrastinate, because I know it will take me fifteen minutes or so of concentrating on writing for things to start flowing each day, and fifteen minutes seems like a Really Long Time.
But here’s the thing: Creativity takes time.
It takes time for ideas to filter through our mind, for connections to be made, ideas to be formed. It takes time for these things to consolidate, to shape themselves into more than ephemerality, to live.
It takes time.
So I need to remember to give it time. I need to slow down. In the scheme of things, fifteen minutes isn’t that long; and it’s certainly less time than the hours I can fritter away through procrastination otherwise.
Turning off the distractions doesn’t help; if I’m not committed to sitting down and pushing through those fifteen minutes, I’ll find other things to keep me occupied – dishes, dinner, tidying, puppies…
As writers, it’s so tempting to look around and see how much progress other writers are making, and to let that get us down. I need to work faster, I need to work harder……
Well, maybe. But that’s only going to happen if first, I slow down.
So, this is a relevant appendage to my post from yesterday about loving the imperfect. Enjoy.
Posted this on Tumblr just now, and thought the blog could use it too.
See, the thing is ladies (and those gents that need to hear this too, naturally), no one ever said you had to only love things that were perfect. Pretty sure all of us could pick flaws in EVERYTHING we love, if pressed. I love my son, but sometimes he annoys the snot out of me. Ditto my husband. Ditto my job, my friends, the people I spend my work day with, my house, heck, even my favourite foods. I love them, but I wouldn’t want to eat only them, right? And my dog. Don’t get me started on my dog.
Point is, no one ever said love was only for the perfect things. So when I tell you that I love my body, I’m not claiming that it’s perfect. I’m pretty unfit right now, and my skin is not so great because I’ve been neglecting it, and I have stomach flabs, not abs, and there are a list of other flaws I’m cognisant of. But that’s exactly the thing: acknowledging these things does not equal automatic hatred, any more than noting that the two-year-old can be obnoxious means I hate him. None of these things change the fact that I can still choose to love my body, exactly how it is, for what it is.
And you know what? It’s pretty damn awesome. I’ve typed this entire post right now without once thinking about where my fingers are going on the keys. You want telekinesis? Your fingers move just by thinking about it.
My body walks, my body runs, my body hugs and laughs and breathes and eats tasty food and feels the fresh air on my cheeks and the rain on my hair and the sun on my skin and the soft damp kisses of my son and the warm, strong embrace of my husband and the careful shoulder knocks or fist bumps or high fives from students who want to connect. It made a baby, for crying out loud, all by itself, with exactly ZERO input from me. That’s like, magic. MAGIC, YOU GUYS. YOUR BODY IS MAGIC.
It doesn’t matter if your body isn’t perfect. It’s magic. And you can love it anyway.
Found this great project by Cambridge University today on Twitter, via a friend (I forget who, sorry). Basically, they had a bunch of personal-sized whiteboards and asked passers-by (presumably students in the main) why they needed feminism. The results are obvious, shocking, enlightening, and heart-breaking, and seriously, you should go have a look right now. Here’s the link.
At the end of the images is a tiny little link to the facebook page, whereon there are heaps more of the images – here, if you’re interested.
Seriously. You should go read them. They are highly awesome and not at all anti-men, I promise. Plenty of males participated willingly 🙂
But anyway, to close, here are my contributions, all more or less inspired by real live events (though not necessarily personally experienced).
I need feminism because my son should be allowed to wear pink, enjoy sparkly jewellery, and love headbands without anyone questioning his sexuality.
(He’s 16 months old, to clarify.)
I need feminism because someone’s housekeeping skills should not be relevant to their job unless they’re applying to be a housekeeper.
(And certainly not the most prominent part of a job-related ‘magazine’ interview!)
I need feminism because I’ve been on the internet.
(Read the comments on some of the Cambridge pics on facebook. ‘Nuff said.)
I need feminism because having hairy legs/underarms/bikini lines is not “unhygienic” o.O
(This one’s verbatim true. The terror.)
I need feminism because no one asks whether a man can ‘have it all’.
(Yes, totes stole that one from facebook, but !!)
And finally, I need feminism because no average-sized fifteen-year-old girl’s Most Major Life Goal should be ‘Lose 10 more centimetres’.
Chime in, if you feel so inclined. Why do YOU need feminism? 🙂
ETA: A friend posted this on my facebook wall: a whole Tumblr of them.
(A real final one: I need feminism because I was afraid to show the campaign to my husband for fear of his reaction. Luckily, he once again proved that I got a good one ;))