Taming: Part I

The other night, I was watching the episode of Friends where Rachel goes out on the town for the first time since giving birth. She’s wearing a dress that shows off her (frankly amazing) cleavage, and Ross (of course) takes issue with it. When she’s at the bar and a couple of guys come up to her to chat and eventually ask her for her number, she says she didn’t go out to meet guys, she just wanted to go hang out with her friend and get a drink. I found myself thinking Why did you dress like that if you didn’t want guys’ attention? That is my taming.

Taming is something Glennon Doyle defines in Untamed as the conditioning we receive starting in childhood to make us more acceptable in the eyes of society. She points out that at one point, when we were kids, we were wild, and dreamt of uninhibited futures and expressed emotions freely. But then, society began feeding us its messages that tamed us and put us in cages, and we learned that we were not supposed to be wild. Glennon (yeah, I’m using her first name, because I see her as part of my sisterhood more so than an untouchable author) has opened millions of readers’ eyes by calling bullshit on capitalism and the patriarchy, and teaches us in Untamed how to return to our wild.

I remember one of my first tamings. It involved the school dress code. Girls were not allowed to dress too “provocatively” (how can we dress provocatively at six fucking years old, I ask you?!) because it was too distracting to our male peers. And with no similar rules warning boys not to distract the girls in their class, us girls grew into women who were taught that men can’t help but objectify us. This leads to the body-shaming and blaming of women that I found myself (a 26 year old female feminist) doing to a television character.

This doesn’t mean I’m a bad feminist. This means that I’m still learning how to fight the toxic training and taming I’ve received for most of my life. When that training starts in childhood, unlearning it as an adult is hard work! What’s exciting is that I immediately recognized my Rachel-shaming thought as my taming. A year ago, I think I would have noticed myself making such a comment, but not been curious about it.

I’m equal parts excited and scared to rekindle the wild inside me. But I’m insanely curious what my life can look like outside of the cage I’ve been tamed into.

Some days can feel like I’ve abandoned my cage entirely, when the next feels like I’m right back inside with the door firmly closed. Other days I’m sitting on the edge, questioning whether to leave the cage that’s been my home for ~20 years, or leap into the wild unknown. Being wild is scary, especially in a world that does not accept or appreciate wilderness. But I do know that I’m curious about the wilderness enough to explore.

New Moon, New Mindset

I’m still not sure if I’m one of those people who believes in astrology or the spirituality of lunar cycles, but I decided to use today’s new moon as an opportunity for change.

I need to reset. A depressive episode a couple of weeks ago left me in some bad habits, and shame has lingered enough to wreak some havoc on my thoughts and behaviors. I want to set some new intentions. I thought it was pretty exciting that I had these thoughts on the same day of a new moon…for those who don’t know, new moons symbolize new beginnings.

I figured I could use the blog as a means of accountability, to hopefully manifest new intentions and habits. So, here we go…

Intentions
~Self-love
~Communication
~Mindfulness
~Inner strength
~Gratitude

Affirmations
~I love you
~I am not my feelings
~My breath is my anchor, my anchor is my breath
~I am capable

Goals/Habits
~Regular sleep schedule; get up/go to bed earlier
~Daily walks
~Regular yoga practice; same time every other day
~Daily meditation practice

I’m ready for this change, I’m welcoming it. We’ve got a President-elect who gives me hope, and I have professional and personal opportunities on the horizon. Let’s go, New Moon. I’m ready.

Today Was a Good Day

I feel like I can breathe again.

It didn’t sink in until about an hour ago that I actually have hope again. I haven’t felt hope like this in a long time. I can finally imagine a world in which I can safely leave my house, see my friends, run to the store, hug my parents. That is no small thing.

Not to mention, we have a woman of color as our Vice President. Honestly, this was the highlight of this win for me. Not so much Joe, but Kamala. I used to call her office when I lived in CA, when I was afraid of the then-newly elected administration. Hearing her speak tonight made me proud. I think the women of this country, and the parents of daughters across our nation shone a little brighter tonight. Representation is powerful. Hope is powerful.

This weekend, I am celebrating. On Monday, I get back to work to figure out how to be a better American, a better woman, a better human. But for now, I can relax. I can exhale. We did it.

unnamed 1.77

wandering aimless for years
i never thought i’d find a home
in any one place
wondering, hoping
will i ever settle, find peace?
then this year i learned
I am my home
beneath my skin
wherever my heart beats
is where i hang my hat
i’ve made it comfortable in here
my resting place
i am my home base
my breath is the key
that opens my front door
so long as i inhale, exhale
i can enter here
a space furnished by trust and love
mind and body knit together
but when depression rings the doorbell
i feel its pull and long to leave
the home i’ve made out of body
of flesh, blood, bone
fraying edges of body and mind
this cunning mood tricks and deceives
and if i’m not careful
he will carry me out out out
lying through his devil smile that says
there is no home after all
you’ll have to keep wandering
lost, alone, forever
soon i forget my breath’s ability
to anchor me in what i’ve created
here within myself
and i wander through the ether a while
until depression looms no more
and my inhale, exhale returns me
to my heart, my hearth, my home
within

A Highly Sensitive Activist

Our cultural and political climate has been weighing heavily on me lately. This happens more intensely for me because I am a Highly Sensitive Person, which means my nervous system is on high alert, I pick up on subtleties in my environment, and I feel things on a massive scale.

Sometimes I feel like there are so many injustices happening that I can’t pursue the one that stirs me the most because I feel like it’s the incorrect choice. That I’m prioritizing the wrong crisis. That I can’t be vocal about one issue because there are so many others to be vocal about, too.

The trouble I run into in wanting to be vocal about all of the issues that move me is that I am highly sensitive. As a Highly Sensitive Person, my availability to absorb the crises in our world is limited. When I see or hear these things, my empathy is triggered and the pain that others’ are facing amidst these issues penetrates deep within me. I am still learning the best way to move through that empathic pain in order to break through to the other side. And as much as I want to prioritize all of the injustices I see in the news every day, I also know that I need to prioritize and protect my sensitive brain and nervous system, so that I will have the capacity to tackle more issues in the future. I don’t want my sensitivity to get in the way of my activism, but rather I want my sensitivity to be a catalyst of activism.

An excerpt I just finished in Untamed said this:

“The magic of heartbreak is that each person’s doorbell rings in response to something specific. What rings your bell? Is it racial injustice? Bullying? Animal cruelty? Hunger? War? The environment? Kids with cancer? What is it that affects you so deeply that whenever you encounter it, you feel the need to look away? Look there…The thing that breaks your heart is the very thing you were born to help heal.”

Glennon Doyle, Untamed

Glennon struck a chord with me here. Because there is an issue in particular that rings my doorbell every single day. There is an issue that keeps me up at night and interrupts my daily thoughts. There are images that hurt me so much I almost can’t bear to look at them. There is a crisis that has me brainstorming ways I can draw attention to it so that maybe, somehow, change will happen.

That issue is climate change. Every single day I think about the animals who can’t do anything to prevent themselves and their planet from dying, and grow more and more furious at the human race for causing such destruction. I think about how we can do something to prevent these things, with such simple solutions*, and I feel like I must do something to bring about this change. I must keep these poor animals alive somehow. I must make people feel what it is that I feel—an absolute betrayal of humankind and utter devastation that these animals can do nothing to stop their species from dying out or their environment from getting too hot or their water sources from drying out or their homes from becoming uninhabitable—because if people can put themselves in these creatures’ shoes (or paws/fins/hooves, if you will), surely they will start taking this climate change thing seriously. Right?

I will say that just because I feel the fire burning inside me, calling me to do something about our home that’s dying because of us, doesn’t mean that I don’t care about other extremely important issues. This isn’t an all-or-nothing situation, which I think is why I struggled writing this post (and tackling this issue within me) for so long…I was worried that I was wrong somehow for choosing to act on one injustice while ignoring other crucial issues our country, citizens, and neighbors are facing. But the thing is, I’m not ignoring them. It’s not so black and white.

I am choosing to listen to the call I hear within me (my Knowing, as Glennon Doyle calls it) to try and make a difference for the sake of our planet and its creatures. And while I do that, I will continue to speak out about the other issues that make me feel big things, and do more self-reflection and education on issues I don’t fully understand or may even be contributing to. I will do these things in ways that are healthy and protective of my body and its sensitivity so that I don’t damage my ability to answer the door when someone/something rings the bell.

I’m still figuring out what this looks like. I’m not comfortable not having all of the answers yet. It’s difficult being a Highly Sensitive Person and a perfectionist. I want to be the perfect activist and I can’t. I also recognize that it’s much easier for me to do nothing than to grapple with these things, but I’ve sat in silence for far too long. And, as I’m learning from my brilliant new role model, Glennon Doyle, I can do hard things.


*If you’re interested in learning about the simple changes we can make to save our planet, David Attenborough lists them in his film, A Life on Our Planet, available on Netflix.

No Resolution This Time

I usually write these posts with a purpose or a solution in mind. I don’t often write just to write. I think that’s perfectionism convincing me I need to have a pretty, polished result in order to show it to the world. I can’t ever be a work in progress.

Women aren’t typically allowed to be a work in progress.

I’m doing so much reading and thinking lately about what it means to be a woman. I haven’t thought much about it before, not until recently. I’ve also started reading, among many other books, Glennon Doyle’s Untamed. (I told myself I had to finish at least one of the other 10+ books I’m reading right now, but I just couldn’t resist!) I don’t think I could’ve picked a more perfect time to start it, though, and if you haven’t read it yet, I highly suggest it. I can confidently say it’s worth the hype, and I’m only 13 pages in.

Each page I read I think to myself “Why aren’t women raging mad all the time?!”

We’ve had the very essence of our being stolen from us, and the accomplice to this robbery—the instigator, in fact—was this patriarchal, capitalist world we live in. Anything about us that is even slightly feminine we are taught to stifle, to hide, to be embarrassed about, to feel shame about, to silence, to plaster a smile on, to wrap up in a pretty, perfect, pink bow.

Don’t show your emotions, you’re being irrational. Yeah, she never smiles or anything, she must be made of stone. You act like you don’t care! Jeez, you’re so sensitive. I’ve heard that chick sleeps around, she’s such a slut. Wow, you’ve never had sex, what a prude! Don’t wear a top that shows too much skin, you don’t want to distract the boys in class. Why are you dressed so modestly for a date, he’s never going to want to sleep with you. Aren’t you angry at how he spoke to you? Stop overreacting, you’re embarrassing yourself! Girl, you’ve gotta stop throwing yourself at him. Why don’t you wanna go out with him, he’s clearly into you! Well, of course they didn’t want to hire someone who’s pregnant. Don’t want kids?! Don’t worry, you’ll change your mind and want kids someday. You really need to stand up for yourself. God, she’s so bossy! Damn, your boobs look great in that Victoria’s Secret bra! Why is she breastfeeding in public, no one wants to see that! Gross, she looks like a skeleton. I’ll sign you up for a gym membership, you can’t gain the Freshman Fifteen. I don’t care that you have to go home to your family, you need to meet this deadline! Why would you consider this job, who’s going to look after your kids? You’re gonna be hot if you leave the house in sweats and a sweater! You were basically asking them to cat-call you by wearing shorts that short. You don’t need all that makeup, you’re so pretty! You sure you at least don’t want some blush and mascara, you don’t look very professional.

I could go on. I mean, holy double-standard, Batman!

We have to change the way we speak so we’re not as threatening. We can’t show our emotions without being seen as weak, irrational, dramatic, or crazy. We can’t be ambitious and family-oriented. I’m so tired of fitting into such a small box.

I still don’t know what to do with the anger that keeps rising in me. I don’t know how to quell my guilt and shame for defaulting to ignoring my power and making myself smaller for others’ benefit.

It bugs me that I’m going to publish this without any resolution or conclusion, but I don’t have any answers just yet. This is only the beginning…

Shame, That Cunning Bastard

Earlier today, after frustration over a search for socks snowballed into anger and I sent clothes flying all over our bedroom, my partner came to check on me. I was balled up on the floor, sandwiched between the bed and the wall, and my head was tucked below my knees. Anger, not being something I’m particularly used to yet, had left me feeling humiliated. As my kind and compassionate partner sat next to me rubbing my back, I didn’t want to admit to allowing socks (or lack thereof) to cause such a tidal wave of ferocity in me.

In the past, I wouldn’t have said anything. I would have remained silent and let my emotions consume me, driving away the person I desperately wanted to stay by my side. But see, I had made a promise. A promise to my partner not to shut him out. Not to make him think that my anger or moodiness is directed at him, or the result of anything he did or didn’t do. A promise to communicate.

I’m learning that I default to shutting people out, or shutting down entirely, when I feel intense emotions because of the unawareness my family and I had around my high sensitivity and my emotional needs as a highly sensitive person growing up. So, now that I know that my nervous system feels things much more deeply than the average person, I have to work hard at communicating when I’m feeling big things.

I’m not saying that I’m great at communicating now that I’ve learned all of this and have made this promise to my partner. In fact, I’m generally pretty bad at it. Sometimes, it’s so hard to say what it is I’m thinking or experiencing that it feels like I’m prying my mouth open with a crowbar and reaching down my throat to physically pull the words out. Often I’m speaking so softly that my partner has to ask me to repeat myself.

Today, though, I recognized that I have made some progress. This past week was particularly stressful, and I recalled the moments where I managed to use my words. At first, I wanted to celebrate this. I remembered how often I had kept my mouth shut in my relationships with my parents, friends, and partners in the past, and knew that any step in communicating was a step in the right direction. But quickly, shame piped in (that relentless bastard) and reminded me how far I still have to go. Shame said “How dare you celebrate this skill that you’re only less than mediocre at? You have way too far to go before you can pat yourself on the back.”

At first, I believed it. Shame is cunning, and uses small truths to create big lies. While it’s true that I’ve just begun to scratch the surface of what healthy communication looks like in my relationship, it is false that I have to wait until I’ve mastered the skill to acknowledge and celebrate my progress.

And, just because I’m not negating or discounting my success thus far, that doesn’t mean I can let up on the gas pedal. The fact is, I do have a long way to go before my communication is easy and open in those moments of moodiness or anger. But the more I practice it, the easier it will get, and I can celebrate the wins along the way.

“Too Much Feminism”

When Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, some of the first posts I saw on Twitter were telling women to hurry and get birth control now, before it gets taken away from us entirely. Other posts said to go purchase a few Plan B emergency contraceptives to keep stockpiled, just in case.

After I watched the film Enola Holmes this weekend—a movie about an intrepid teen defying the traditional path of a woman in order to make her own way in the world—one of the first things I was told about those already commenting and critiquing the film was “We get it…feminism!” There seemed to be eye-rolling about the creation of another film about female empowerment. This left an unpleasant taste in my mouth.

It’s as if these critics are sick and tired of all the feminism they’re seeing on screen lately. As if women don’t need to see themselves represented as powerful, angry, ambitious, intelligent, career-driven, or any other characteristic that we are typically expected to stifle. As if women aren’t being denied the same basic human rights as our male counterparts. As if women detained at our borders aren’t being sterilized. As if the leaders of this country aren’t making it their mission to take away even more women’s rights.

Women need more movies and TV shows and video games and books and comics that represent us the way we deserve to be represented. Especially if what they’re saying on Twitter is true, and our rights will soon be flushed down the toilet. We need reminders to continue to fight. We need reminders that we are strong, and have accomplished change in the past, and we are capable of accomplishing more in the future. We need reminders that our emotions are not things to be ashamed of.

There are many reasons why I loved the feminism in Enola Holmes. Not only does the title character make a wonderful role model for all young girls growing up in this terrifying political climate, but the film also drives home the fact that feminism is about equality of all sexes. We see a male character who has embraced traditionally feminine characteristics, like having a passion for flowers and crying publically, while still being powerful and desirable. Additionally, our protagonist learns that she can forge her own path, create her own future, on her own, but that doesn’t mean she can’t have a companion by her side to be an independent woman.

Lately, I myself have struggled with balancing my need to be a strong, independent woman “who don’t need no man” with my relationship with my partner, who happens to be a man. As I embraced the power of the female, as I described in one of my last posts, I found myself doing some all-or-nothing thinking. I worried that standing up and speaking out as an independent woman would mean I had to hide the fact that I was, happily and completely, in love with a man.

Upon reflection of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life, I remembered the example she set in her marriage with Marty Ginsburg, which proved that just because a woman stands tall and strong on her own, doesn’t mean that she can’t be holding the hand of another tall and strong person. Enola Holmes proved this, as well.

I don’t believe there can be “too much feminism.” I believe feminism will exist as long as human beings exist, and we should continue fighting for the rights of all humans, no matter their gender expression, skin color, or economic status, in order to be seen as equals on the same playing field.

I encourage everyone to go watch Millie Bobby Brown as Enola Holmes, on Netflix now. Feel free to share your opinions on the film in the comments below!

Her Legacy, A Revolution

Oh, RBG.

Devastating news tonight. The incomparable, powerful, notorious Ruth Bader Ginsburg is gone. Gone from this Earth, and gone from the Supreme Court.

What I felt tonight was reminiscent of what I felt when I heard Hillary lost the election. I felt the wails of women everywhere cry out in disbelief that this pioneer of gender equality was simply gone. I believe I said to my partner, “She was supposed to live forever!”

As I lit a candle for RBG, two thoughts kept vying for my attention:

1) The future seems scarier than ever with her absence on the Supreme Court, and I fear for the future of this country, its citizens (of all races and gender identities), and the immigrants who sought a better life within our borders.

2) I am so grateful for the strides Ginsburg took so that I may recognize the power in my gender, even when I am treated unfairly on the basis of sex. I am grateful to Ginsburg for setting an example of what a healthy relationship looks like between a man and a woman, and that I can stand on my own two feet while my partner stands on his and still be holding his hand. I am grateful for her legacy, which fan the flames of revolution for women in this country.

I’ve done a lot of reflecting in the last few hours, ever since I heard the news. Nearly two weeks ago I shared that I had finally accepted the feminine part of my identity, and that I’m ready to stand and fight against the dismissal of the feminine by our current culture. I wonder if I would have written that post had Ruth Bader Ginsburg not persisted? Would I even be writing on this blog at all? Would I have these thoughts of identity? Would I be as free?

I hope that we don’t gloss over our mourning period in favor of fear for the future of the Supreme Court. I hope that we take time to celebrate this incredible woman’s life, and steep in our gratitude for her existence in our country and in our hearts. I hope we pick up where she left off, and continue to dissent from those who work to ignore or silence us. She may be gone, but she will never be forgotten.

When asked if she ever reconsidered stepping down (after liberals urged her to, so that President Obama could name her replacement), Ginsburg said firmly, “I have said many times that I will do this job as long as I can do it full steam, and when I can’t, that will be the time that I will step down.”

May we all aim to keep going, full steam.

Rest in Peace, Rest in Power, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Judgment-Free Zone

I’ve noticed that when things get particularly difficult in my life, I want to hide them away. I don’t want to write about them on the blog, and I don’t even want to write them in my journal. I censor myself in case some future me looks back at the entries and… Well that’s the thing. I don’t know how to finish that sentence. What am I so afraid of?

I think the answer is judgment. Subconsciously, I recognize that I am my own worst critic, so I try to deny my future self the ability to judge my past choices or actions. But what good is that doing me?

By keeping my pain inside, I’m denying the opportunity to heal. I’m also denying myself the chance to grow through authenticity. Who knows, someone else may relate to my experience and offer support or guidance. And by writing down my struggles, perhaps it will get me out of my own head and shift my perspective.

So, here goes:

Quarantine is really getting to me. Being stuck at home since March without even the ability to go to the grocery store or run a quick errand is weighing so heavily on me. The other day all I wanted to do was give myself a manicure, but I don’t even have the luxury of running to CVS to browse the nail polish colors. I’m bored most of the time, and am losing interest in the things that usually keep me busy or distracted.

On top of all that, my unemployment benefits have run out and the leave/furlough option I was using with my employer has ended, so I’m staring down the face of termination and unemployment. Uncertainty surrounds me, and loneliness is ever present. I’m scared.

If anyone can relate (or even if you can’t) and has activities or ideas that might help the boredom and restlessness, I’d love to hear them in the comments below.


For those in similar situations, I’d love to create community with you. The comments of this post (or any post on my site) are a safe space for you to share your experience, and please know that I hold space for you to be yourself, even if you’d prefer to do it anonymously. This is a judgment-free zone that is shrouded in love.

If it ever feels like too much for you to handle on your own, I encourage you to reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting “HELP” to 741-741. Lately I’ve been reaching out to them often, and it allows me to catch my breath and recall the tools I have within me to stay grounded and take these uncertain and scary times one day, one hour, one minute at a time. There is no shame in texting the Crisis Line, and you remain completely anonymous if you choose to reach out.