Currently Reading: "Outrageous Acts And Everyday Rebellions" by Gloria Steinem

Sunday, January 26, 2014

I yam what I yam

At the risk of sounding conceited, I am announcing that this year will be all about learning to love myself. I want to love the whole me, not just parts. Because let's face it, I am awesome! We all are awesome. (Ok, well about 98% of us are...I really can't vouch for the remaining 2% who are just terrible. Stop being so terrible, terrible people!) And honestly, I cannot think of one good reason to spend another day down on myself. In the wise words of Kid President "The time to be awesome is now." Right on, Kid President. Right on.

I fall too easily into the trap of self-loathing and being my own worst critic. My ability to self-reflect is a blessing and a curse. I can readily recognize my strengths and faults and take steps towards change, but I dwell entirely too much on my faults, the things I've done wrong, what I could have done better, and things I cannot change. That's no way to live, right?

I don't believe in new years resolutions. I think they are flighty and fleeting and I never make them anymore. It's like setting yourself up for failure - that moment when you realize you aren't accomplishing these major life changes in 12 months. And you always end up making the same resolutions, year after year after year. I believe if you really want to resolve to do something, it should be meaningful and something that transcends a calendar year - life-long goals, and aspirations that positively affect you and the people you surround yourself with. It should probably last past January.

So now, at five and twenty years, I've declared a life-long goal of loving myself. (Also, Josh Radin's "Brand New Day" just came on my Pandora playlist...Oh, universe, you are so great sometimes.)

How does one begin an endeavor such as this?

Step 1: Love my body.

Because it's wonderful and beautiful, albeit imperfect, and it's the only one I've got! I refuse to let society's standards define my body image. I was made in God's image and I am beautiful. I will repeat this mantra until I get it through my thick head. This means actively choosing to ignore the messages thrown at me daily (as a woman), telling me to look a certain way, dress a certain way, and be a certain way. So I'm not a size 2 with perfect hair, book-ended by Michelle Obama-toned arms, and a Jillian Michaels stomach in the middle. I still know I look pretty good for a human.

My face...I am not hiding it anymore with a mask makeup. Can you wear makeup around me without me judging you? Absolutely! Make-up your face to your heart's delight, ladies. I just won't be participating for awhile. I stopped wearing it this past August, and can count on 1 hand the times I've worn it since.  At first I was all, "Oh my face. It must look so unattractive right now. People may think that I look...plain!" It didn't help much that my boss (innocently) mentioned that I looked "tired today"....(on more than one occasion) on days when I was feeling refreshed and ready to take on my world of 8 year olds. But he didn't know. Because in a world where half of us have been taught to hide our faces behind products, and the other half has been taught that beauty is for girls who own pretty faces, I am sure my clear face looked 'tired' after all. But now, I'm all "Oh my face. It must look like me. People may think that I look like.... I own a face!"
I get to start my days thinking about what I will accomplish rather then what I will look like. And let me tell you how freeing it is......It's SO freeing!

Step 2: Embrace my personality & Forgive my shortcomings.

I will, without fail, say something awkward in a social setting. I am cheesy, and laugh too loud at things. I like being the speaker in a room full of friends. Saying things for the shock value is my favorite. I am a lover and I do it whole-heartedly. I need music and smiles. I will spill something on myself when I eat, and I usually care way too much about a subject no one wants to hear about. I'll analyze the psychology behind everyone's decisions and I have the propensity to react badly to things I don't like. I want to be needed, and need to be wanted. I'm working on my anger, and my overly-high expectations for the people in my life. But this is me. Love it or leave it. I'm choosing the 'love it' option in case you weren't sure.

It can only get better from here. Here's to learning to love and accept myself, in spite of faults and imperfections.

After all, I yam what I yam. 

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 - The Year of my Awakening

I am a feminist. I am a STRIDENT feminist! Or at least that's what Caitlin Moran told me to say. But I'm not saying it because I've been told to. Speaking (and typing for that matter) these words does not make me a feminist.

Neither does owning the symbolic pair of black boots, wearing granny panties, or skipping make-up rituals for more time to eat food in the morning. (Although I do all three.)

Also, pinning feminist pins on Pinterest, though satisfying, doesn't do it either.

"Well Jenna, what makes you a feminist?" you must surely be asking by now. Good question, I am glad you asked! :)

The belief that women are human beings too. The idea that women should not be treated as less of a person merely for being a woman. Why, that makes me a feminist. The notion that women are equal to men - not better, not worse, just equal - that's what makes me a feminist. But it goes much, much deeper then that. And that's what I'll be doing with this blog for now on - going much deeper on the subject of feminism and what it means for me.

Contrary to popular belief, being a feminist is NOT about:
  • taking over the world
  • man-hating
  • making every woman a lesbian
  • burning bras
But it CAN be about:
  • treating everyone, (no matter their gender) with respect
  • fair opportunities to achieve and succeed
  • ensuring a woman's safety from rape and assault, and not getting blamed under the pretense of "asking for it"
  • being valued for more than outward beauty
  • breaking out of the baby making/house keeper/sexual trophy role
  • finally feeling comfortable in your own skin

And guess what? Along with my personal feminist values comes some pretty darn good things - like all of the things I mentioned earlier. Not having to worry about makeup every single morning, and feeling good about myself even if I'm wearing full-butt underwear, owning comfortable shoes, and pinning pictures of Georgia O'Keeffe paintings and Rachel Maddow quotes on my Pinterest boards. It's great!

2013 was the year where I realized I was a feminist. I am almost ashamed to say that it took me that long! It was the year of my awakening. The year when I first picked up the book "How to Be A Woman" by Caitlin Moran and said to myself "Whoa!" Her words and wit smacked me in the face (metaphorically, naturally)- and gave me the chance to see my own thoughts on paper. Other women feel this way? I knew, but never had known. After putting down her book, it literally felt like my world had broadened. It was the ah-ha moment. The light bulb above my head that began to buzz with electricity. And just like that, Ms. Moran gave me the confidence in myself to...well, frankly, to do what I'd already been doing. But this time I wasn't embarrassed by it, or ashamed. Reading her book took away the guilt and "explain-awaying" I'd been doing for with decisions for so long.

Seriously, ladies - go read it!
Subsequently, I picked up more books to confirm what I'd known all along. My reading list for 2013 included but was not limited to:
  • Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide - Nicholas D. Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn
  • Women's History for Beginners - Bonnie Morris & Phillip Evans
  • Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists - J. Courtney Sullivan & Courtney E. Martin
  • The Feminine Mystique - Betty Friedan
  • Vagina: A New Biography - Naomi Wolf

Virginia Woolf needed money and a room of her own to write her fiction. Thankfully, blogging is free and I'll strive to write the truth as I see it. I had to start somewhere, and here it is. I am a feminist and I'm proud! More to come...

A feminist is any woman who tells the truth about her life. - Virginia Woolf

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Book Lust

I recently found a book journal at Barnes & Noble called Book Lust - I so enjoy it!

Previously I had been keeping book accounts in my regular journal, but upon my discovery of this little gem, I have been quite unfaithful to my former journal. I have book lust. :)

I like recording each book I have read and then my thoughts and insights brought about by the book. I also add my favorite quotes from said book.

I bought it at the end February and have recorded 12 books so far:

Cutting for Stone - Abraham Verghese
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran Foer
Close Encounters of the Third Grade Kind - Phillp Done
The Heart of a Woman - Maya Angelou
Home: A Memoir of My Early Years - Julie Andrews
Julie Andrews: An Intimate Biography - Richard Stirling
Shanghai Girls - Lisa See
Hood - Emma Donoghue
The Memory Keepers Daughter - Kim Edwards
A Gypsy In Auschwitz - Otto Rosenberg
The Teapots are Out, and Other Eccentric Tales from Ireland - John B. Keane
The Stolen Child - Keith Donohue

(Cutting for Stone & Hood are absolutely wonderful and so beautifully written.)

The creator of Book Lust, Nancy Pearl, writes in her introduction of the book about her two regrets..."Regret number two is that I never kept track of the books that I have read. I would give almost anything to go back to being a kid and having a blank notebook in which to write down the author and title of each book as I finished reading it."

I couldn't have said it better. I absolutely regret not keeping track of all the books I have read! If I had to ballpark it, I think the number would be somewhere in the thousands. It just has to be. All I did as a child was read and read. When you're homeschooled, the only kid in your grade for 10 years, and your siblings are the only kids you see all day, every day - books are a wonderful escape!

I do plan on writing a book (or books) some day. A children's series (for which I already have the main characters figured out) is definitely in the future. I would love to write my own memoir some day as well.

I best be getting back to my current book (Reading Lolita in Tehran) and cup of tea. :)