Changing the World…

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This morning, on Facebook, a friend raised a question about outrage in response to the death of Cecil the Lion. He asked why people weren’t so upset over the death of Sandra Bland.

They were. Or at least a large portion were. Then, the next outrage hit the feed. It’s so easy to become numb, to let the content stream and news feed keep us limping from one tragedy to the next. Reading it all sometimes feels like drowning. And then, someone posts this:

The tension relaxes. Our souls sigh. Tragedy is lessened a bit.

The oscillation is pretty intense. It’s so easy to forget the ground we stand on — the families, friends, neighbors, and businesses that comprise our community. Here, news isn’t the flash of a match in a turbulent wind. It’s the stuff of bonding and memories.

There is a big, wide world out there, to be sure. It requires us to think and act, to be stewards, to connect and comment, vote and lament. But there are also the microcosms, the communities, the places where our voices are heard every day.

We can’t change the macrocosm. There, our voices are lost in the storm. It is at home and in our communities that we change the world.

Getting What You Want

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Getting recognized.

Getting paid.

Getting our needs met.

Focus on getting renders us powerless and entirely dependent on others. It consumes our energy, builds resentment, and wears us down.

What if we focused on giving instead?

I can give you a discount because it helps you.

I can give you a well edited book, a painting with proper mounting hardware, or a sculpture attached to a beautiful base. That way you aren’t frustrated when you try to appreciate what I’ve created.

I can give you my attention, a back rub, or a strong hug.

I can give you what you want.

Changing our focus changes the game.

If you’re happy with things the way they are, by all means stay the same.

 

 

 

 

 

Not that Monkey, Not that Ceiling

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I’m reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In. It’s inspiring, honest, and chock full of good advice for women seeking to climb the corporate jungle gym. Unfortunately, I’m not that monkey.

Women like me never made it to Harvard. We didn’t take Larry Summer’s economics class and our first jobs weren’t at the World Bank. No, we worked as waitresses and sales clerks, in daycare centers and hotels – underpaid cogs in the service industry.

Men slapped our asses while we slung their drinks. Harried parents took advantage of us and regularly picked their children up late. For us, the glass ceiling was so far away we only occasionally caught a glint on its surface while we dreamed of bigger things, a life that wouldn’t grind us down, some money in the bank.

On my way to work this morning, I thought a lot about what I’ve done and who I’ve become since those early days. I did achieve a modest wealth. I did receive a fair share of accolade, but I did it the hard way. Without a degree and with three children in tow, ordinary doors weren’t open to me.

Women like me find their way through cracks in the wall. Sometimes we even leave the building. Rather than live under that far away glass ceiling, we step outside and build a new structure, one that works for us and our families. It is this movement that may just change our world. Women in leadership positions are essential, but women need to create those positions, not just attain them.

As Seth Godin says frequently, we live in a permission economy. Women are great at asking permission. We thrive in community situations. We know how to work as a team. There has never been a better time to pursue our passions and make a living from our dreams.

Asking Amazon to Add a New Book Category for Women’s Empowerment

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This morning, doing research for my upcoming book, I went in search of books dealing with women’s empowerment. I didn’t find much. Next, I searched Amazon for best selling books on women’s issues. Again, the search engines returned bizarre results. When I searched body image, I found results. Unfortunately, they were all in the pathology or eating disorder categories.

Body image issues are often not tied to either of these (and the category itself is shaming) but try finding a book about them outside these hurtful categories.

I searched for Lean In and found it in memoir and business. I searched for Brene Brown and found her in mental health/emotions and motivation.

I want a new category — one in which all these books are easily found and work in tandem to help women feel empowered and gain traction not only in the book industry, but in their everyday lives. So I wrote the company and asked for it. Here’s what I said:

Hi,

I’ve been searching for best selling books on women’s issues. There is no category. I’ve looked for best selling books on body image and they are all either in eating disorders or pathology. Brene Brown is in mental health/emotions and motivation. “Lean In” is in business and memoirs.

Women are woefully under-represented in book publishing and, when they do come out with a book that might help women take their rightful place, the search functions and category placements seem to render them, again, less important.

I’m wondering if Amazon would radically increase sales of these kinds of books (and help the women who need them find them more easily) if Amazon created a new category of books for women’s empowerment. Just a thought. Thanks for considering it.

If you feel Amazon (and other book sellers) would benefit from this kind of category, maybe you’ll spread the word and join me in telling them that women need a room of their own.

This Doesn’t Help the World

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If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time on social media. My Facebook feed is filled with cute animals, people dancing, politics, and propaganda. It is also filled with outrage, pain, and bewilderment.

We’re all hurting. Every day, we’re inflicted with tiny cuts so small we don’t notice them. But, in spite of their seeming insignificance, we bleed.

rolling stoneYesterday, this image offended me. So did Sinead O’Connor’s word choice in her impassioned response to The Rolling Stone. Neither helped the world.

A few days ago, I saw a cartoon of Hillary Clinton in a bucket. The caption read, “Two fat thighs, two small breasts, and a whole lot of left wings.” The image hurt. Every woman, hell every person, deserves more respect.

I’m tired of the vitriol, of the hateful comment streams, of the sting of a thousand, tiny cuts.

So I have an idea. From now on, when someone says something particularly nasty, I’m going to reply with #Sorryyourehurting. When someone posts an offensive meme and/or a nasty comment, I’m going to say #ThisDoesntHelptheWorld.

Maybe, just maybe, if I engage gently I might make some small change.

What do you think? Will you join me?

Race to the Finish

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I saw this image on Facebook this morning and had to laugh. In so many ways, it’s an excellent graphic of what women face in the workforce. But, thinking about it again, I had to wonder about the race itself.

The woman’s terrain lends itself to slowing down, to curiosity and exploration. The broken wall, pond, and garden feature juxtaposed with the industrial elements have my creative juices simmering.

I’m curious. If you had to choose a path, would you choose the easier one? The one with the fewest hurdles? The one without a landscape worth exploring?

If we stop for a moment, break the chain that hinders us and leave that ugly weight behind, do we get to define not only who wins the race, but the nature of the race itself?

What do you think?

Over the Wall

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Photo credit: Pictify.com

Photo credit: Pictify.com

I’ve been thinking a lot lately. Thinking more than writing. Thinking more than talking. Thinking more than doing. You know what I got for all my effort?

Fear.

It paralyzed me.

Who am I to think my voice might matter?

What can I say that might help?

What if someone actually listens and I get slammed by the trolls?

Or, worse, slammed by those I seek to support?

When I wrote, I over-wrote.

When I talked, I stuttered.

Then, late last week, I told a customer about my fear. Tongue tripping and sweat dripping, I explained my new book and how I wanted to navigate the narrow passage between opposing walls of Internet vitriol, how I wanted to build a bridge between them – a safe passage, a resting place for bruised hearts, a new dialog.

She patted my hand. She can do that. She’s got twenty plus years on me and isn’t afraid to let me know it.

“Destiny,” she said. “Don’t waste your time in between the walls. Go over them.”

Oh.

Soooo, I turned down a traditional publisher who wanted me to make changes to make the marketing easier (i.e. compress the book into a traditional category), contacted my editor and cover designer, and reached out to a couple of publicists.

I’m going over the wall.

The Romance Diet is a feminist book with a male hero. It is a diet book without any recipes or exercise tips. It is a love story. The villain disappeared twenty-eight years ago, the heroine falls apart.

The first rung of the ladder feels pretty easy. What do you think? Are you climbing, too?

 

John Oliver and Internet Harrasment

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Last night I lay in the arms of my love and stared at the sky. Clouds like curdled cream clung to a brilliant half moon. A puff of air stirred the black-coffee sky. In the distance, a truck careened down the highway. Closer, a horse kicked a metal trough. A dog barked. Juniper and dust. Southwestern romance.

Sleep came before the sky cleared. I surrendered to its mercy, but woke hours later alone. I found my love on the couch watching John Oliver.

“You have to see this,” he said as I kissed the top of his head. “It’ll just take a minute.”

“What’s up?” I asked.

“Just watch.”

I snuggled against him on the couch and yawned. “Why aren’t you sleeping?”

He squeezed my leg. “Hot. And Tillie was trapped outside and howling.”

Tillie is our oldest dog. At thirteen, she is snake-sleek and muscled. I want to howl like her when I’m old.

He rewound the video and I listened to John Oliver speak at lightning speed about Internet trolls, rape and death threats against women willing to speak about sexism, the ineffectiveness of law enforcement, and the absence of laws. Oliver finished the segment talking about revenge porn.

“You should have showed that to me in the morning,” I said.

“I’m sorry. I thought you’d be interested.”

“I am, but now you’ve got my mind going.”

Later, in bed again, he pressed his body against my back, the weight of him strong and comforting. I settled into him and murmured, “John Oliver was wrong.”

He twitched, regained consciousness. “What do you mean?”

“He did this segment on Internet trolls threatening women for expressing their feelings and ideas.”“Yes. Okay. He did…”

“But he ended the segment with revenge porn. He should have separated the two,” I said.

“Why?”

“Because revenge porn has nothing to do with trolls. Ending the segment that way changed the focus from women’s minds to women’s bodies and made the topic sexual again.”

I waited for a response that didn’t come. In the cool air, under a cloud-cloaked moon, I listened, sleepless, to him snoring.

Adding My Voice to the Feminist Chorus

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It doesn’t seem possible I wrote my last post more than a year ago.  Days flew into nights flew into days – clouds casting shadows on the plains, Koyaanisqatsi at full speed, and not a moment wasted.

I learned to dance again, built two new businesses, and broke – kaleidoscopic shards splintered into a million pieces the only evidence of who I’d been.

Putting the pieces back together required some very strong glue.

I have a new book and it will be out soon. It is the scariest, most honest work I’ve done.

In a nutshell, the book is about body image, relationships, diet, health, and sexual assault.

I’ve skirted these issues in the past and failed to add my voice to the feminist chorus. That’s changing now. I have no choice.

I hope you’ll stick around and share your stories. I promise to share mine with you.

We Get to Choose

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I’ve missed you. It’s been too long. For that, I’m sorry.

Over these last few months, as my new store got off the ground, I’ve affirmed a deep seated conviction. Life and art are not that different. Creativity is inherent in everything we do and art is not dependent on media. My store, Utopia, is as creative as my sculptures, my canvases, and my books. It evolves, changes, and grows every day. Because it does, I do. The relationship is symbiotic.

It’s also all consuming. Last weekend, my husband and I got away for the first time since the business opened. We drove south and camped in the Cibola National Forest near Magdalena, NM. The experience, as always, revived us.

On one of our walks, we ventured over a fence and discovered a couple of crumbling homesteads. After exploring one of them — rickety stairs, creaking floorboards curled up at the ends, stained concrete walls tinted and worn by time and weather, we hiked further up the trail. Turning to look behind us, we stopped short. The breathtaking view of red rock cliffs towering over the ponderosas juxtaposed against the ruinous cabin impressed us deeply. It seemed, in that instant, that our lives are infinitely small. We are only the dash between dates and everything we strive for is irrelevant compared to what will endure beyond us. Then we shook our heads, kissed briefly, and proceeded up the trail.

This world, this land, this beautiful sky are vast and powerful. What can any of us do that can compare? Write a book?  Bear and raise a child? Scratch our names and a date into a cliff?

The only thing I can think of is love. Love our people, our planet, our creative endeavors. The forest and its towering cliffs are, by nature, impassive. We get to choose.

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