Monthly Archives: February 2017

Snow day

Oh the quiet and peace and ease of a snow day at home. At 7:45, when I would normally be on a train into the city or on a subway or at the gym near my office, I’m in my jammies with pillows propping me up and a velvet comforter keeping me warm as the year’s first big storm howls outside. Hygge, indeed.

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A room with a view

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“Nevertheless, she persisted.”

Hell hath no fury like a woman silenced. Like Trump’s Nasty Woman putdown, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s rebuke (and silencing) of Elizabeth Warren last night only fanned the flames of female fury. Here‘s how it went down: Warren began to read a letter from Coretta Scott King’s feelings about a prior Jeff Sessions’ appointment. McConnell objected to both the reading of the letter and to Warren’s history of outspokenness, even after she is asked to stop talking. Then came the line.

“Nevertheless, she persisted.”

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Instantly, this has become a rallying cry for women in government, in the workplace and in relationships to “persist” in the face of would-be male silencers. Writes Heidi Stevens for The Chicago Tribune:

“Just keep talking. Keep your pauses short. Maintain your momentum. No matter if he waves his hands, raises his voice or squirms in his chair, you do you.”

Or push back. “Bob, I wasn’t done finishing that point. Give me one more sec.”

Persist.

Sometimes the floor remains yours; sometimes you get rebuked and silenced by your colleagues.

But you say what needs to be said. And here and there, you inspire a rallying cry.

“Nevertheless, she persisted.”

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The Four Agreements

 

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The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

Oliver* bought me The Four Agreements, a book he found helpful in breaking bad habits and moods and reframing how we relate to each other. That’s a lot for such a little book but I read it, because he gave it to me, and I was astonished at how applicable Don Miguel Ruiz‘ “agreements” are to my life and habits and moods and relationships.

{This is the disclaimer paragraph and one I will one day be able to skip, once I become a more evolved human being. I am wary of New Age and Self-Help and this book belongs on those shelves. I tend to shy away from easy appropriations of “ancient wisdoms” — the glib referencing of Buddhist, Mystic, Mayan, Whatever thought promoted as “wisdom” based on the very fact that it’s “ancient,” a tautological argument if I’ve ever heard one. And finally: written 20 years ago, selling 5.2 million copies in the U.S., translated into 38 languages — why I have never heard of it?}

But lately, I have formed the habit of challenging the hard little “truths” that are diverse in their content but share this: they are self-limiting. I ask myself: why do you believe that? what if you’re wrong? wouldn’t it be a relief to be wrong, to not know something, to let someone tell you, help you? isn’t it possible that the answer is not in your head and therefore you have permission to stop ruminating and just experience the world, finding or not finding answers elsewhere?

In a more succinct way, the Four Truths guide seekers (and everyone else) out of the jail-like constructs of habitual thought and out into the wide-open lands I like to call “possibility.” And here they are:

  1. Be impeccable with your word — this is about honesty, but also a caution against toxic judgment and gossip.
  2. Don’t take anything personally — the most salient for me, who assigns meaning to casual words, smiles, even glances, rejecting people because I know how they really feel about me. Put another way, in a Psychology Today article written by John A. Johnson: “Because each person sees the world in a unique way, the way that others treat us says as much about them as it does about us.”
  3. Don’t make assumptions — ties closely to #2 but also my self-challenge, above, and best summed up as: confused? just ask!
  4. Always do your best— this is a hedge against that internal judge and jury that critiques every word and action and finds them lacking. Do your best, whatever that is, and move on (if only to silence Judgey McJudge).

Funny, in the telling of them, they seem so self-evident and exactly the sort of overheated leftovers a skeptic would expect from a long-ago Buddhist/Mystic/Mayan/Whatever meal. But that’s the assumptive way (self-help is garbage), to which the self must ask: what if you’re wrong? *Also, Oliver, what a guy!

 

 

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Cissexism (and other things I want to be smarter about)

This post was supposed to be about the surge of pro-woman discourse in the age of Donald Trump. I mostly wanted to post the posters, below, which I think are beautiful. Following a path I could not recall if I even wanted to, I fell into Everyday Feminism and an article called “Here are 20 Examples of Cissexism We’ve Probably All Committed at Some Point.” And I, a supposedly broad-minded, thinking-caring-and-soi-disant feminist, have committed so many of them. For example:

3. Not Noticing When Personal Information Forms Have Only ‘Male’ or ‘Female’ as Options — yes ma’am! and sir and, um, other honorific I don’t actually know 

6. Never Wondering Why Tampons Aren’t in Men’s Restrooms — never, ever wondered this

12. Referring to Equal Marriage as ‘Gay Marriage’ or ‘Same-Sex Marriage’ — guilty again and I thought I was saying the right thing, but now I see the problem  

19. Expecting Trans People to Educate You If You’re Struggling to Understand the Trans Community — perhaps worse (again) I never considered this question at all. And I love the author’s notation on this one: I am not your teachable moment. Teach your own damn self on your own damn time. 

Also cessexist as a adjective is really hard to say but I’m going to try, I really am.

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Lauren Crew

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Ashley Shley

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Mary Purdie

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Yes, it’s an Audi ad

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The road between Trinidad and Havana

But my attention is caught by Walt Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road,” an extremely long poem that I excerpt here, just the first and last parts. A plus: it’s also a love poem.

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.
Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the book on the shelf unopen’d!
Let the tools remain in the workshop! Let the money remain unearn’d!
Let the school stand! Mind not the cry of the teacher!
Let the preacher preach in his pulpit! Let the lawyer plead in the court, and the judge expound the law.
Camerado, I give you my hand!
I give you my love more precious than money,
I give you myself before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself? Will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?
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Self Care Saturday

Self acre is newish word for something that’s been a subset of “self help” for a long time. But self help seems to have been co-opted by a certain kind of book and talk-show host. By contrast, self care feels more modern, a way for women (or mostly woman) to value the practice as much as they value working hard, working out and doing shit for other people (hey, I’ve just described my life).

Here’s how an Atlantic article rationalizes (and in my mind elevates, because it’s in the Atlantic) the need for self care: “…there’s little about modern society that prioritizes, encourages, or facilitates caring for yourself or treating yourself well. It’s all, ‘Buy more things!’ ‘Work harder and at any hour of the day!’ ‘Click back and forth uselessly between the same five websites and call it leisure!'” (And, hey, that kind of describes my life, too.)

I had a week, let’s just say. A return from Cuba (more to say about Cuba), a 24-hour bout of NoroVirus (the less said about this the better), a farewell to Oliver, whose off to Asia for another year (more on that, too), and a  9-course Southern Food dinner last night. And now it’s Saturday morning and I’ve been to the gym and am sitting by the fire, feeling not at all obligated to go outside again today (it’s 20 degrees). Can’t imagine a better setting for my Self Care Saturday, which, thus far, has included:

  • That gym workout
  • Shopping at Whole Foods which, unto itself, makes me feel virtuous, more so today because I bought Argan Oil for my dry, dry face; coconut oil for my dry and peeling skin; Savannah Bee lotion as a gift for the Southern-Food chef from last night; kale; slaw; honey crisp apples
  • A thorough application of these oils before getting into the bath — which is something I should do all winter long, along with a vigorous loofah scrub
  • That bath
  • More oils to skin
  • This outfit: Madewell’s fancy grey sweatpants, a grey cashmere Grandpa cardigan, a slightly ratty pink camisole, slippers
  • Steve playing something he calls spa music: non-melodic, tonal sounds that wouldn’t be at all out of place in a yoga classself-care

I might have even achieved hygge, an even more modish state of being. We’ll turn to The New Yorker — because we’re all about elevating the act of sitting around the house in sweatpants — for this one. And, by the way, let’s call our sweatpants hyggebukser, shall we, defined by “that shlubby pair of pants you would never wear in public but secretly treasure.”

Like many of the best things from Scandinavia, hygge might seem, to some Americans, to come with a whiff of smugness. The term is often mentioned in the same paragraph that reminds us that Danes (or, depending on the year, Norwegians and Swedes) are the happiest people in the world. Perhaps Scandinavians are better able to appreciate the small, hygge things in life because they already have all the big ones nailed down: free university education, social security, universal health care, efficient infrastructure, paid family leave, and at least a month of vacation a year. With those necessities secured, Danes are free to become “aware of the decoupling between wealth and wellbeing.” 

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This is what 96 looks like

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Playbill reports that actress Carol Channing turned 96 this week and, by the looks of her, she’s sticking with her winning style: tousled silver bob, foot-long lashes, big red lips, a dress like a disco ball. I was about to write that I best remember her in “Thoroughly Modern Millie” but in skimming the libretto, I recall none of this: devil-may-care paperclip salesman? ‘several white girls tied up to be sent off to Peking?’ And somehow all of this adding up to ‘the happiest motion picture hit of the year?’ Funny, too, how Millie is thought of as “modern” when she takes a job of a stenographer, then marries a millionaire.

Regardless, many happy returns Miss Channing! thoroughly_modern_millie

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