In A Year

And man, did I find that out in 2014. It seemed like everything that could happen did happen. And while I realize that life does not follow the calendar, and that change is much more gradual than can be signified by a ball dropping, I can't help but think back on the lessons of 2014 (and there were a lot of them) and imagine what I'd like 2015 to look like. 

In 2014, I learned...

About loss. The really tough kind of loss. The toughest of tough kind of loss. And about the pain that goes along with that kind of loss. And that I'm strong enough to endure that pain.

What it means to truly love someone, and what it means to stick with that person through the trenches of the real-life darkest moments of their lives. Even when there is no way out of that trench and you know the ending has already been written.

Religion is not for me. 

That we will always want more time. And we won't always get it, which is unfair, but is how life works and so we have to appreciate those good and great times as best we can.

Life is made up of second chances, even if it's not in the exact same way as the first chance.

To listen to my gut.

How to dress myself.

About the importance of self-love.

How to form a running habit - and enjoy it.

How to laugh even when I'm faced with loss and grief.

We rarely understand life as it is happening, but time and distance usually sheds light and clarifies events, and at least gives meaning to the things we cannot understand.

In 2015, I intend to...

Increase my gratitude and decrease my cynicism.

Write. Write more. Write at all.

Improve my health through clean eating, regular running/yoga/strength training, and simply doing more of the activities I enjoy.

Grow my photography.

Experience more adventures abroad (Belize is booked, Oxford is a possibility) and at home.

Not just hear but act on my gut instincts.

Set monthly goals.

Have more patience.

Achieve the things I really want.

Trust life and leave space for the improbable, the inexplicable and the magical.

Love - everyone and as much as I can.


Choosing My Favorite Book: An Exercise in Futility

I mean, seriously. I can't pick a favorite book. That's just the way it is.

At first, I was going to choose Jane Eyre. Not just because it makes me sound smart and because of its feminist themes. But also because its heroine is plain (i.e. a real person) and her love is not attractive and I find that refreshing. Also, because of its feminist themes. Like how Jane complains of being dressed up like a doll, how she expresses herself with force, how (spoiler alert) she ends up saving him. So good.

But then, I thought about Animal Farm. I read it at a ridiculously young age (#humblebrag) with my mom, and was completely fascinated by it. From there, I went on to read about Stalin in the encyclopedia, because I was that kid who read the encyclopedia (#dork).

And then, I immediately thought of Fahrenheit 451, which I read in seventh grade and I still read. This book taught me the importance of questioning leadership, it spoke to my love for literature, and it validated my fondness for sci-fi as more than just a goofy trend - this was a sci fi book that was serious. I love the girl, who is just as important as Guy, in my opinion. And I love the opening line. I dare say that opening line is the best ever. Period. This book made me want to be a writer.

To choose one favorite, though, is pretty much impossible. They all met me at different points in my life, and they all mean different things to me. I don't believe in best friends, and I don't believe in favorite books.


Stomach Flu (That Isn't Ebola) - And Being Positive

So I came down with some sort of stomach flu today. I just needed to share that. In addition to being generally unpleasant, it has also stressed me out because I wasn't able to do any of the things I needed to do this weekend, which means that this coming week is probably going to be a mess and even more stressful than usual as I try to catch up. But it's not ebola, I'm pretty sure, so that's a plus.

Anyway, the nausea and headache have abated a bit for the moment, so I just want to chat about the shirt in the picture above.

Look, I think it's hilarious. I love that it's a little tongue-in-cheek play on the line from The Fault In Our Stars and that it has to do with running. I'll also admit that when I first saw this shirt I thought to myself, "Damn, if that isn't my love life right there." And that's my problem with it - which isn't actually so much a problem with the shirt as it is with my perspective on life and relationships.

One of my favorite movies is Little Miss Sunshine, and one of my favorite lines in that movie is when Steve Carrell's character tells the moody teenage son, "Hey man, it may seem cool to be all cynical and negative and hate things, but it's really not. It just makes life unpleasant." (I may have absolutely paraphrased that line.) I want to tell this to my moody teenage students all the time, but it's occurring to me that I need to tell it to myself, and especially when it comes to relationships.

Self-deprecating humor can be amusing, but lately I've been thinking that it's doing more harm than good. It's so easy to fall into a cycle of "I suck at relationships" and "Guys are dumb" punchlines, but does that actually do me any good? I feel more powerful when I take a positive outlook, believe that I'll find love, believe that I'm worthy of a good relationship. I feel more powerful when I function from a place of choosing to be single and choosing to not settle, rather than having bad guys and bad relationships happen to me.

The shirt is hilarious. But I won't be buying it.

However, if you want to buy it, you can right here!


November Goals

I'm going to give it to you straight, no chaser:

October was a hard. fucking. month.

I'm not exaggerating when I say that, and I'm not sure that sentence truly conveys just how much I hated October 2014. I needed a ridiculous amount of strength to get through days and weeks of the past month, and I'm just too happy to see the month go.

So here we are now, November 2014. It feels like a fresh start, and even though I know time is all fluid and months are just a way to measure time, starting a new month helps me feel as though I'm going to be able to start moving forward and away from the difficulties of October.

Graylin at yepindeed started up a blogging challenge for November, similar in vein to the NaNoWriMo challenge other people do: 30 posts for 30 days. I thought it might be a good way to set more intention for November, and help me get back in the groove with blogging. I do everything better when there is a clear challenge and end goal, so this seems like it would be good for me.

Anyway, today is the first post! And the topic for today is November goals. So...here goals. (Punny, right? My students hate me.)

I've created these goals with the basic theme of making sure I focus on things that make me happy. I needed to do so much self-care during October, that one good thing that came out of the Hell that was October was that I became more in tune with what makes me happy and what makes me feel good. So the overarching theme for November 2014 is to keep doing those things that make me happy, and I've created specific targets to help me do that.

1. Read these two books: Yes Please by Amy Poehler and The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters.

2. Write at least 2-3 days a week. Journaling counts. Blogging counts. Any type of writing counts.

3. Make sleep a priority.

4. Yoga every day.

5. Run two 5Ks (one is my school's fundraising 5K, one is a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot) - and run three days a week.

6. Clean eating as much as possible, and that also means no alcohol this month. Not that I've been alcoholic, but October was marked by a few bad nights and worse mornings and I want to push that reset button (and save money by not spending a ton on booze).

7. Keep up with meal preps on Sundays. Because it is the best time saver and money saver and it helps me stick to clean eating throughout the week.

8. Continue with working on my marketing plan for my photography business.

9. Continue supporting my students and attend their extracurricular events (i.e. Choir performances, art shows, musicals and sporting events).

Hopefully I'm not biting off more than I can chew here, but most of these things I've started doing in the past week (or longer) and I've noticed a remarkable difference in my attitude.

Here we go, November, here we go!!

Beautiful Reasons print available here.


Feminism 101: Different Types of Feminism

I make no bones about the fact that I am a feminist. My friends know I am a feminist, my co-workers know I am a feminist, my students know I am a feminist and the men I date know I am a feminist. I know about Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Alice Paul, Susan B. Anthony, NOW, NAWSA and the Feminine Mystique. (#humblebrag) And yet, I still do not know everything there is to know about feminism. It turns out that feminism is incredibly complex, while simultaneously being very simple.

I think this paradox is both beautiful and confusing. After all, I am a woman and I believe women should be equal; isn't that enough? Isn't that the entire conversation - the beginning and the end - about feminism? Actually, it isn't. Like any other movement (civil rights, gay rights, politics in general), feminism is much more complicated, with a fairly extensive and thorny history. People have differing opinions, differing approaches and the result are differing types of feminism. So, as I start a conversation about feminism on this blog, I thought it most appropriate to begin with a discussion on four of the main types of feminism most people would be familiar with, even if people don't know they know about feminism. Granted, this post is not going to be an exhausting description, nor am I intending to delve into a debate about what's right and what's wrong in feminism - at least, not yet. Simply consider this a primer on feminist labels...

What is Feminism?

So let's start with what's simple: What is feminism?

Celebrities have commented on the definition of feminism, authors have written entire books about what it means to be a feminist, Tumblr blogs are dedicated to explaining what it means to be a feminist. Everyone has an idea on what feminism is, but I believe it can be summed up quickly:

Feminism is the belief that women and men are equal.

Or, as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie more eloquently put it in her famous TED Talk,

"Feminist: A person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes."

Okay. Done, right? You either believe that or you don't, as Aziz Anasari pointed out on David Letterman, and that either makes you a feminist or not.

So now that you know whether or not you're a feminist, let's look at how it gets a little more complex from here.

Cultural Feminism

Sometimes known as "Difference Feminism" because this is the idea that women are different from men. A cultural feminist believes that women are naturally made different from men - that women's bodies are structurally weaker than men, that women are naturally more nurturing than men, and naturally calmer and less inclined to violence and more inclined to good morals.

Third-Wave Feminism

Did you know that there's a third-wave of feminism? And we are currently in it? The first wave of feminism was during the fight for women's suffrage (pre-Civil War through 1920 because the United States is cool like that), the second wave came and went from the 1960s through the mid-1980s, and the third wave began in the mid-1990s. The third wave of feminism has been characterized as more man-friendly, more accepting of the different varieties of feminism and encourages political activism, while the second wave is generally characterized as the angry women who burned their bras.

Girlie Feminism

Also known as "Lipstick Feminism", because that's not insulting at all. (I'd roll my eyes but I'm afraid they'd get stuck up there.) Essentially girlie feminism is exactly what it sounds like - that women who believe in the equality of the sexes can also be very accepting of their femininity. That feminists can wear dresses and wear make-up, and crafts and "womanly activities"are acceptable, while sexual experimentation is an acceptable part of femininity as well.

Pro-Sex Feminsim

I bring this one up because it's been a bit of a controversial topic (in popular media and in the school lunch room with my co-workers). This one was also called "Do-Me Feminism" by Esquire in 1994 (ugh, my eyes almost got stuck mid-roll on that one). While the Pro-Sex Feminism came out as a response to anti-porn feminism in the 1980s (I see ya, Reagan) and while it isn't necessarily pro-porn it is the idea that women should have sexual freedom in their choices. Including, I'm guessing, having access to free birth control.

Clearly, this is just a surface level description of different types of feminism. These varieties of feminism can't, and probably shouldn't, be described in one paragraph, not to mention all the other different types of feminism that I didn't even mention. I don't necessarily believe that we should be applying specific labels and categories on what kind of feminist we all are, because I think that separates us rather than unites us. But it is a place to start thinking about the role of feminism in society, and how you personally function in the discussion about feminism.


Oh and BTW, I didn't actually know a lot of this information on my own. A lot of this information came from "Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Feminism But Were Afraid to Ask" on Bitch Media (part of Bitch Magazine). I highly recommend reading that article if you want to know more about different feminist movements (throughout history and in present-day).



I am acutely aware of this blog's presence and my lack of effort in keeping the blog updated. To be fair, I have excuses, a lot of them, and they're pretty valid excuses. These aren't the kind of excuses I would roll my eyes at if my students came into class with them. Just so you know.

So...where do we go from here? I'm at a rather large crossroads in my life. Professionally, I'm not entirely sure what next year is going to look like. For that matter, I'm not sure what next semester is going to look like. There are a lot of shake ups in my district, most of which are not for the better. Personally, though, I suppose my life is pretty simple. I have my friends and my family. It's simple and I like it that way.

And then there's this blog. And the photography business I just started. There's the fact that I want to write a book (books?) someday, although I'm not entirely sure if I want to have a full-time job as a writer. I'm interested in the idea of occasional vlogs, although putting my face out there on the internet is horrifying because the reality is I sometimes have low self-esteem about my appearance. (I think in reality pretty much everyone does, and if someone says they don't, they're probably lying. Then again, maybe I'm saying that just to make myself feel better.)

The bottom line is I do want to inspire people. I want to show young girls and teen girls what it means to be a strong woman, and all the different facets of being a whole woman. That it's okay to be goofy and awkward, and it's okay to be sexy, and it's okay to be smart, and it's okay to be a tomboy, and it's okay to be girlie. I want to encourage young women to educate themselves on health and finances. I want to inspire women to break out of the cycle of competing with other women. For a long time I felt the best way to do that was to be a teacher. I still feel that way, but I also wonder about how effective I can be with a writing career and web presence (a la John Green).

Food for thought. In the meantime, there's this blog, and the present moment, and a persistent gaze forward.


Some Thoughts On Rape

I know, that title is a little bit...uncomfortable, and probably makes you not want to read this post. But then, that's part of the problem. If you don't know what I'm talking about, or even if you do know what I'm talking about, you should read Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. She talks about rape - the gang rape of an 11 year old girl and then her own rape - and it led me to thinking about rape. Specifically, why people talk to women about rape but no one talks to men about rape.

For example:

When I moved into a downtown apartment, I was told very sternly by multiple people to keep my window blinds closed, to not walk alone late at night, to keep my door padlocked the entire time, to buy a can of mace for my bedside table. I was told to do many things to stop myself from being attacked and/or raped.

I have a question about this: If I did not do any of these things, would I be at fault for being attacked and/or raped?

I have another question about this: What are men told about rape? As far as I am aware, no one sits down a teenaged boy and tells him, "You do not have the right to rape a woman. You do not have the right to do whatever you want with a girl who is walking alone, who is wearing a short skirt, who has large breasts, who has spurned your advances." (Or does this happen? I don't have brothers and I haven't asked my male friends, although I probably will now. But I suspect the answer is no.)

I'm sure part of this is because we assume decent human beings would not rape a woman. I think there is something faulty about this thinking, partly because "rape" is a very vague term that encompasses many different forms of unwanted sexual behavior. It's also obvious that assuming decent human beings don't rape isn't an effective way to stop rape because hey, it's still happening, and I'm being sternly told to do multiple things to prevent rape.

I'm tired of women being shouldered with the burden of stopping rape by "preventing it." I'm tired of women being expected to be the "smart one" about sex because "guys are guys and they can't help it." It's time for the conversation to change, and it starts by having higher expectations for men and having frank discussions about sex and rape with our men when they are boys.