Just Say No to ’50 Shades’

Mayim Bialik — yep, of both Blossom and The Big Bang Theory fame — shares a powerful point in an essay, linked below, and that point is why I won’t read or watch the 50 Shades franchise.

To echo one of her sentiments, it’s not my place to judge a consensual relationship that might include some extreme behaviors — if they’re mutual and respectful to those involved — but what’s been pretty clear from the get-go is that what we have here isn’t a fantasy based on adult bedroom behavior, it’s a fictional world built to include psychological abuse (manifested in numerous ways) and sexual coercion.

IMAGINE A PROMOTIONAL MOVIE PHOTO HERE.

BECAUSE I COULDN’T FIND ONE TO SHARE THAT DIDN’T TURN MY STOMACH.

Is fear romantic? How about manipulation and mind games, do those make you swoon? When was the last time you thanked someone for forcing upon you something for which you didn’t give consent?

As one with a history of abuse and a present passion for advocacy, I ask you to think about what message you’re accepting and supporting when you buy the books or sit in a theater, expecting entertainment. #education #advocacy #abuseisabuse #justsaynoto50Shades

Ms. Bialik’s commendable essay can be found on her website GROKNATION.COM.

HERE’S A DIRECT LINK.

You’re welcome.

Hitting the Path

When you’re a writer, there are ideas and there’s inspiration, which might not pan out, or can remain a bit aimless. And then there’s finding your platform with sudden, clear epiphany and finally understanding the story you must write. Plots and premises fall in line. Character development takes form. Research becomes fun and satisfying. And the work happens, because you both want and need it to.

The road ahead of me with my novel-in-progress is long, but for the first time in years I have direction. And, possibly, for the first time ever, a story which suits and fits me (and my writing) perfectly.

I wish this for all writers.

Sit Still, Look Pretty

A Valentine’s Day Message

for all the ladies

Sometimes it seems music with a message of girl power, inner strength, and personal confidence — especially when it’s considered pop — isn’t taken seriously. It’s not sexy or indulgent. It promotes independence and free-thinking, even cold bitchiness and an uncaring attitude. Ain’t nobody got time fo dat, apparently.

But there are positive, self-affirming tunes out there that every girl and woman should celebrate with no apology.

Daya, a teenage singer/songwriter, gets it. She wants us to know we don’t need anyone else, namely a guy, to be worthy, and that we don’t have to fill certain society-driven roles, either. She is refreshing.

Sit Still, Look Pretty | Daya

Could dress up
To get love
But guess what?
I’m never gonna be that girl
Who’s living in a Barbie world

Could wake up
And make up
And play dumb
Pretending that I need a boy
Who’s gonna treat me like a toy

I know the other girlies wanna wear expensive things
Like diamond rings
But I don’t wanna be the puppet that you’re playing on a string
This queen don’t need a king

Oh, I don’t know what you’ve been told
But this gal right here’s gonna rule the world
Yeah, that is where I’m gonna be because I wanna be
No, I don’t wanna sit still, look pretty
You get off on your nine to five
Dream of picket fences and trophy wives
But no, I’m never gonna be ’cause I don’t wanna be
No, I don’t wanna sit still look pretty

Mister Right could be nice for one night
But then he wanna take control
And I would rather fly solo

Then Snow White
She did it right
In her life
Had seven men to do the chores
‘Cause that’s not what a lady’s for

The only thing a boy’s gonna give a girl for free’s captivity
And I might love me some vanilla but I’m not that sugar sweet
Call me HBIC

Oh, I don’t know what you’ve been told
But this gal right here’s gonna rule the world
Yeah, that is where I’m gonna be, because I wanna be
No, I don’t wanna sit still, look pretty
You get off on your nine to five
Dream of picket fences and trophy wives
But no, I’m never gonna be, ’cause I don’t wanna be
No, I don’t wanna sit still look pretty

Sure, I’m a pretty girl
Up in a pretty world
But they say pretty hurts
And I don’t wanna sit still
I’m a pretty girl
Up in a pretty world
But no, I won’t sit still, look pretty

Sure, I’m a pretty girl
Up in a pretty world
But they say pretty hurts
And I don’t wanna sit still
I’m a pretty girl
Up in a pretty world
But no, I won’t sit still, look pretty

Oh, I don’t know what you’ve been told
But this gal right here’s gonna rule the world
Yeah, that is where I’m gonna be because I wanna be
No, I don’t wanna sit still, look pretty
You get off on your nine to five
Dream of picket fences and trophy wives
But no, I’m never gonna be ’cause I don’t wanna be
No, I don’t wanna sit still look pretty

Oh, I don’t know what you’ve been told
But this gal right here’s gonna rule the world
Yeah, that is where I’m gonna be because I wanna be
No, I don’t wanna sit still, look pretty
You get off on your nine to five
Dream of picket fences and trophy wives
But no, I’m never gonna be ’cause I don’t wanna be
No, I don’t wanna sit still, look pretty

Sit still, look pretty
Sit still, look pretty
Sit still, look pretty
Sit still, look pretty

Written by Gino Maurice Barletta, Scott Bruzenak, Mike Campbell, Britten Newbill • Copyright © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., The Bicycle Music Company, Reservoir Media Management Inc, BMG Rights Management US, LLC

We should seek independence. We should seek self-suffiency, faith in our abilities, and trust in our opinions. We should be able to find happiness in ourselves, and before we seek it from someone else. Too often, the opposite is what’s romanticized in our society.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with having your King, being interdependent, and having a healthy, mutually-respectful relationship. But more important stuff comes first for authentic development, and our true worth comes from our sense of self.

We don’t have to sit still. We don’t have to submit. We don’t have to be pretty. We don’t have to meet superficial qualifications. We don’t have to fit man’s expectation of us. And we don’t need a man to be complete, either.

I can’t think of a better day to bring this point home than today, February 14th.

Composting All This Time

Have you read Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg?

bonesIn this short-chaptered, easy-to-digest craft book, which comes off comfortably — as if you’re sitting with Ms. Goldberg over a cup of strong coffee — she says:

It takes a while for our experience to sift through our consciousness. (pg. 15)

One of her personal examples: When her father died, she expected to write about it right off. But it took months of contemplation, false starts, mourning, a subconscious mulling over of understanding and expression before she could put her experience into words.

She also says of this process:

Our senses . . . take in experience, but they need the richness of sifting for a while through our consciousness and through our whole bodies. I call this ‘composting.’ Our bodies are garbage heaps: we collect experience, and from the decomposition of the thrown-out eggshells, spinach leaves, coffee grinds, and old steak bones of our minds come nitrogen, heat, and very fertile soil. Out of this fertile soil bloom our poems and stories. But this does not come all at once. It takes time. Continue to turn over and over the organic details of your life until some of them fall through the garbage of discursive thoughts to the solid ground of black soil. (pg. 15)

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amenic181, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Huzzah! Full revelation! Composting. THAT’S what I’ve been doing.

It’s been years of composting for me. In the Before, I had promise, I had drive. The writing was in me. The output was on paper. There were a lot of creative opportunities for me. Then I lost my dad. Then I left a toxic, abusive marriage that had lasted more than a decade. In the After, I had a lot of garbage collected, much to sift through and let ferment, to cultivate, to see growth come from.

I knew it all along, that there were things to work through. Truths to learn. Behaviors to reconcile. Hurts to heal. I never questioned it, or turned away from the need. But I sure knew it affected my ability to write. And I thought that meant I was lacking, a failure. That I’d, maybe, lost this writing entirely. Maybe I’d just been a poser before. A fraud. Or that, if it had once been authentic, I might never get it back.

I had no clue — and I can’t tell you how much it means for me to learn through Natalie Goldberg’s wise insight — that this process was, at the same time, a level of creative energy doing its own thing. The writing has been here all along. It’s just I had to let it work independently, to push toward the other side of the rich soil that awaits.

It’s been almost seven years since my dad passed away. And I’m in my sixth year post-divorce. I’ve grieved. I’ve educated myself, repaired myself, claimed my closure, and moved on.

Turns out my soil is fresh and dark, and it smells earthy and inviting, and I feel like I’ve finally crested the hill — that one I’ve been hiking for years now — to find an endless field of it. Right there, it’s waiting for me.

Huzzah!

“No Graceful Way to Begin”

One of my favorite musicians (Ben Rector!) has a writer wife (neat!) and I really like this essay of hers (I relate!).

Read it at Storyline:

How to Get Through the Not-So-Graceful Beginning

To hesitate and second-guess and feel impatient with the start of something new — a project, a life change, a relationship — is my (unintended and inherent!) modus operandi, too. If I had my druthers, with every endeavor I’d skip the learning curve, the uncertainty, and get to the smoothly-executed good stuff. Knowing and doing. Being.

But, alas, as Hillary Rector says, you must try and experiment and mess up and learn to get to the really quality stuff. It’s an important part of the process.

Perhaps the toughest lesson for me — and something related to expectation of self that I see in my older daughter, too — is that we don’t have to be good (even perfect!) at everything first go, or have it all figured out, or be discouraged when a start seems more false than anything else.

Image courtesy of amenic181 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image courtesy of amenic181 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

“We have to be willing to stumble along uneven steps before our [effort] feels fruitful.”

Borrowing Words / about christianity

Every once in awhile something comes along, a thing someone else has written, and it hits you so deep you feel you could have written it (and wish you had). But because you didn’t, the most you can do is borrow it. Put it out there for others, too.

Benjamin Sledge is a communicator, writer, speaker, and pastor who expresses clearly and passionately thoughts I’ve had and conclusions I myself have come to. And I’ve paid attention to the world around me enough to know Pastor Sledge and I are not alone.

His essay, Why I’m a Christian (and Continue to Suck at Being One), is raw, pointed, honest, profound.

Read it HERE.

Polite Suggestion: If you chafe easily when it comes to Christianity, don’t click through.

One More: Be well. Be blessed.

(Okay, that was two.)

Jessie’s JoyJars: Are You Aware?

ribbon[1]Soon after Jessie Joy Rees was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor at age 11, she noticed that there was a whole floor of kids at her hospital who didn’t get to go home in between treatments like she did.

“How can we help them?” she asked.

That question changed the course of her family’s lives. Her parents found her that afternoon in the kitchen, decorating brown paper bags with stickers and “get well” wishes, and stuffing her whole Beanie Babies collection inside.

Told through the eyes of her father, Erik Rees, and released in conjunction with National Childhood Cancer Awareness month, Never Ever Give Up: The Inspiring Story of Jessie and Her JoyJars, chronicles the ten months Jessie selflessly and courageously battled cancer. Her mission to help became an international movement called NEGU: Never Ever Give Up. She and her family worked in the ‘Joy Factory’ filling packages with toys, games, and love for other kids with cancer.

Jessie first handed them out personally at the hospital where she was being treated, but the effort blossomed quickly and there were soon thousands of JoyJars being distributed across the nation and to over fifteen countries. Today, more than 100,000 kids have received JoyJars all over the world, and they continue shipping each week to kids in over 260 children’s hospitals and 175 Ronald McDonald Houses.negu

Tragically, Jessie lost her battle with cancer in January of 2012, but her message lives on in the Jessie Rees Foundation, which has become a beacon of hope for families fighting pediatric cancer.

Erik now spends his time encouraging others to carry on Jessie’s legacy: “JoyMobbing” kids who have cancer, helping kids set up “Team NEGU” clubs in their schools, enlisting artists to draw sketches and make memory canvases for families dealing with pediatric cancer, and more—reminding people that they’re never too young or too old to make a difference.

If you’re inspired to act, check out the link above for the Jessie Rees Foundation website, or inquire locally. There may be a child (or children) in your own community who would benefit from your awareness and desire to help.

Thanks to Jenna Glatzer, co-author of Never Ever Give Up, for its press release.