There are good people in the world. There are strong people in the world. There are knowledgeable, informed, active people in this world, and they are doing good things. And if we just keep being positively rebellious and rebelliously positive, every little thing will be okay. Trust David Tennant: he’s a Doctor.
I did something useful, even though it was a very small thing. It wasn’t like I brought peace to the world or anything. I just kept some people from killing each other for a little while. I was useful. It felt good.
Nothing I did will last. Omar will live the rest of his life without his parents. The killing will keep on going.
But in that little place, for those little moments, I actually did something good.
Context is everything.
Deborah Ellis, The Cat At The Wall
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!! 🙂
Sometimes I read back over things I’ve written, and man, I was so wise! And then I realise that actually I must be pretty stupid, because if I can have learned this lesson once, then why does it need relearning again, and again, and over and over and over again?
Last week, when I wrote up that post about my fesking gallbladder, I happened to stumble across an old post of mine that held this:
Sometimes, when it feels like you are drowning, all you really have to do is stand up.
I am such a drama queen sometimes. Not out there, out loud, out where you guys can all see it (internet and in person I mean), but inside, in my head. MAN I am a drama queen. There are weeks when every. little. thing. just feels so goddamn important that I forget how to breathe, how to move. Every choice is fraught, every decision agony, every moment imbued with import and solemnity that far outweighs the consequences of its time.
Seriously: Drama. Queen.
It seems to me that I have been doing a lot of drowning lately, when really all I had to do was stand up. Yeah, life’s not been a big ol’ bucket of roses, but you know what? It pretty much never is. And it hasn’t exactly been a tub of stinking manurepoop either, so you know. Worms? Maybe. But you can make damn fine compost with worms, so whatever. Stand up, woman. Put your big girl panties on, quit kicking and screaming that the world isn’t falling neatly into alignment around you, and go DO something. MAKE something. Feed that piece of your soul that knows how to live no matter what the circumstances, that part of you that lives and laughs and dances with delight in the sunshine just because, because the sun is warm and shiny and pretty and here and it’s now, now, NOW, and now is glorious because it’s here, it’s alive, let’s celebrate. Stand up, ignore the water sloshing around your knees (or hips or waist or chest), or if you can’t, at least notice the way the swirling depths catch the sunlight, the way the colours run together like liquid silk reflecting back the sky, radiating out their sense of infinite mystery, swirls and patterns dancing around you in one great big celebration of what it means to be human, and now, and alive. Breathe the sweet air around you that, even though it might stink of the water that’s pulling you down, still holds breath and life enough for this moment. Feed the pieces of your soul that matter. Feed the pieces of your soul that sing. Dance with the waves that hold you.
Stop complaining that your feet are wet. Stand up, right now, and sing. You’re alive, woman, so damn well act like it.
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.
Sometimes, when you’re writing, you hit the point where you just want to give up. On the current story, maybe, or maybe even on writing altogether. We’ve all been there, I promise. So this post is for me as much as for anything, and it’s as the title says: bookmark it for when you need encouragement. I’ll put this over in the writing articles too so there’s a static page, and I’ll add links as and when I find them. The list ain’t pretty, it’s just a mess of hyperlinks, but every one of these represent something that has helped me rekindle my determination and love of writing–and, most importantly, my confidence–when I’ve had IHATEWRITING patches.
Hopefully, you’ll find it useful too 🙂
http://99u.com/articles/7094/the-future-of-self-improvement-part-i-grit-is-more-important-than-talent (and part 2 as well)
http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2011/07/19/25-ways-to-defeat-the-dreaded-writers-block/ – language warning 😛
http://susandennard.com/2014/11/the-productive-writer/ – a compilation of links
http://susandennard.com/2014/11/facing-fear-and-tackling-writers-block/ – another compilation of links; look for the FRAB ones particularly
There are days when you just want to wash your hands and quit humanity. You know the kind. Maybe someone (or a whole host of someones) was rude to you; maybe people were petty or spiteful or jealous or rude. Maybe the news is a nightmare, with people taking advantage of everybody else, with the powerful lording it over the under-powered, with other people not caring or people whose opinion you respect and admire turning against something you believe in, and you feel betrayed. Maybe you’re just tired, stuck up to here with your own problems, and the next person who tells you to put things in perspective is going to be smashed into ‘flat on the ground’ perspective.
Whatever it is, it’s got you tempted to quit. To just wash your hands of the whole, ugly mess of humanity and give up, give in, pack it up, get out. You want to run away and hide on an island somewhere, in a desert far away, in a lonely log cabin, at the top of a mountain where only the truly pure in spirit can reach you.
There’s a time for looking outward, for extending your perspective and taking in the troubles of the world, for feeling the full intensity of other people’s suffering, for acknowledging the role your lifestyle plays in the oppression of others (all of us do, all our lifestyles do in some way or another, even if we don’t mean to, even if we’ve got the raw end of society’s stick, society’s mess up and unequal and founded on prejudice and injustice and so if we live in society, we’re part of this mess too)… But there’s a time and a place, and if you feel like giving up, if you feel like quitting, that time and place isn’t now.
If you feel like quitting because humanity’s greed and pride and pettiness has rubbed you the wrong way and left you raw, now’s the moment to put your head down, to look inward rather than outward, and to be reminded of all the little goods you do each and every day. Now’s the time to remember what it feels like when a stranger smiles nicely at you in the supermarket. Now’s the time to remember what it sounds like when a toddler laughs. Now’s the time to remember how easy it is to remind your friends and loved ones that you’re here, that you care. Now’s the time to remind yourself of the difference you make every. single. day. in the life of at least one person on this planet, just by the very act of your existence.
There will be a time for fighting, a time for standing up against the horrors and injustices of our world. But today, if you feel like you’re about to break, if you’re raw and hurting and helping seems so, so much harder than quitting… Look down. Look in. What you do matters, even if it isn’t huge, even if it isn’t grand. Someone, somewhere, has a better life because of you.
So don’t quit. Just come sit down for a while, and we can hold each other’s hands and hurt together, and maybe the carrier bats can bring us tea and cake and cookies, and we’ll just look – inward, downward, at the small things in life. Just for a while.
Today, the big things can wait.