At the end of last year, I wrote a post gathering together all of my major accomplishments in 2017. In that post I talked about the donut method for celebrating successes. It's fairly simple: every time you do something noteworthy, get to a new milestone, or accomplish a goal, you pause and celebrate with a simple, sweet treat. This helps overachievers like me from blowing past successes in favor of always charging ahead.
Since the first six months of this year are almost finished (!!), I wanted to pause and take a few moments to aggregate my donut-moments so far this year.
So, in no particular order, so far this year I have ...
Hosted book launch parties for Fifty Feminist Mantras in Chicago and in New York City. In Chicago I shared space with forty amazing women and learned from my friend Rose Truesdale. In New York, I developed a mantra movement workshop with Aryn Shelander, and we led two dozen women in crafting embodied mantras. At the end of that workshop, each woman created her own movement mantra, and Aryn and I both (without consulting) came up with the mantra birth clarity!
I also found Fifty Feminist Mantras featured in the main window at Quimby's Chicago and on the back page of Chicago Woman Magazine!
Launched and hosted a series of four feminist creative consciousness raising events where 25 women explored themes of abundance, investment, process, flexibility, cycles, and interdependence through creative practice. We used colored pencils to map process, made bracelets to consider cycles, and experimented with watercolors to make collaborative reflections on interdependence.
Compiled the fifth and final issue of Lady Parts Zine and sold a bunch of copies of it at Chicago Zine Fest. It has been a true joy to share the work on more than twenty women in the past three issues of the zine, and I think this final issue was my favorite yet.
I also wrapped my four-year run as a DJ on CHIRP radio after 591 hours on hair. I closed with one final Girl Power Hour, and it was so bittersweet to sign off for the last time.
Traveled to San Francisco and Portland to see dear friends and took a trip to Detroit with a dear friend. Traveled to Syracuse to teach a zine-making workshop to a group of college students. Worked on my dissertation quite a bit and presented some of my dissertation research at a very cool feminist conference at Penn State.
I also saw some amazing art at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Detroit Institute of Art and went to a few amazing concerts where I saw Porches, Snail Mail, Adult Mom, Lucy Dacus, and Valerie June.
And last, but certainly not least, I successfully launched, promoted, and funded a Kickstarter campaign to support Fifty Feminist States and threw a launch party to celebrate the project being funded!
The next six months are going to be all about Fifty Feminist States, and I can't wait to share them! Please be sure to follow along there!
Last winter, I wrote a blog post about radical self-love and the power we cultivate when we care for ourselves. At the time, folks were just beginning to quote Audre Lorde’s mandate that self-care is an act of political warfare, and in the face of the then-recent election, her words rang true as a necessary missive in the face of what was to come.
Since then, it seems like there’s been a veritable self-care explosion in our culture. Everyone from the biggest celebrities to our closest relatives tout self-care’s healing powers as they climb into a lavender-scented bath, uncork a bottle of wine, or spend hundreds of dollars on skin care.
In the outpour of media coverage, expensive products, and celebrity culture, it seems that--like all good things--self-care has been co-opted by capitalism and white privilege. That said, no matter how many smart, intersectional critiques I read of the concept and practices of self-care, I still can’t shake an outcry from my gut that says “Who cares if self-care’s corrupted, we need it!”
This became incredibly apparent to me this spring when I took on one too many projects and found myself pretty regularly drowning in some combination of tears, coffee, and panic sweats. I didn’t have money for the self-care products I saw advertised everywhere, but I did have a suspicion that self-care wasn’t really about those things anyway and that I could find self-care resources that would help me get back to some semblance of composure and happiness in my daily life.
What I realized was that when I was at my most busy, broke, and over it, what I needed was a (relatively) quick, simple (and cheap!) way to bring myself back to myself and remember how powerful I could be.
That leads me to this self-care exercise that I wanted to share. It’s half a missive to care for your body and half a mantra to reflect on your mind. It’s entirely meant to remind you that self-care is deeply important and widely accessible, and that in its original forms it’s meant to show us how to resist capitalism and sexism and racism and all the hateful -isms.
Before you get started you’ll want to clear 10-30 minutes and find a seat somewhere comfortable. This could be on the floor in your room, cozy in bed, or even at your desk at work if that’s where you need to bed. Have a journal or notepad nearby if you want to write down your answers to the reflection prompts, then take a few deeps breaths and begin.
Wiggle your forehead.
Rub your earlobes.
Click your tongue.
Roll your shoulders.
Crack your knuckles.
Arch your back.
Tighten your pelvic floor.
Touch your thighs.
Flex your calves.
Point your toes.
Where does it feel good?
Where does it hurt?
Where will it get better?
If you follow the body prompts from beginning to end, you’ll complete a simple body scan that helps you feel some of your (perhaps) more neglected body parts. That said, feel free to choose just one directive you like to bring some body awareness into your day or life.
The reflection prompts are simple questions that can yield profound realizations. You can write down the answers or just carry a question or two in your mind throughout the day. Either method will help you become aware of the multiplicity you hold and the power it contains.
As spring and summer unfold and the year brings more challenges and, hopefully, triumphs, I hope you can hold on to simples exercises like these to cultivate a habit of caring for yourself in a deeper way, and I’d love to hear from anyone who uses these prompts or develops their own!
PS - I first developed these prompts for a workshop for What Women Read in Chicago last month, and I'd love to bring them to a workshop near you soon! Just email me :)
Image by Hannah Smith.
This spring I've been doing a deep dive into my personal habits and working on revising my self-image. After at least ten years of deeply ingrained beliefs about bodies and beauty, I finally got tired of seeing myself through the male gaze, and I am giving it up for good! It's hard, painful work, but it's so rewarding.
And since it's about all I've been thinking about lately, I wanted to share thoughts on two areas I've had a few breakthroughs in: style and self-care.
I've been thinking a lot lately about how personal style can make me feel more powerful and beautiful than ever. To work on this, I've been reading the book Women in Clothes and then scrolling through the hundreds of personal style surveys compiled on their website. I particularly love the multitude of answers to their very first question:
"When do you feel at your most attractive?"
I can't get over what a good question it is. How do I know it's a good question? Because I honestly have no clue what my answer would be! And trying to figure out my answer has me realizing that I feel attractive in all sorts of scenarios I never considered. What are your answers, friends? When do you feel most attractive? Please tell me. I'd love to know.
As much as these reflections on personal style have me feeling empowered about crafting an all-me aesthetic, I'm still wary of the consumer culture that can undergird such an effort. So in addition to reading about clothes, I've also recently been re-appreciating this age-old content about being "pretty."
"If you are clean, are covered enough to avoid a citation for public indecency, and have bandaged any open wounds, you can wear any color or style you please, if it makes you happy."
The best part about developing personal style, I realize, is that it's personal. The only person your appearance should please is you! ...that said, I'm sure you are a brilliant, challenging mistress to please! So it may take some work to please yourself with your appearance. But I hope you can find kind, caring ways to take pleasure in styling yourself for yourself.
This leads me to the second area I've been thinking about a lot lately: self-care. Last weekend, I went on a four-day no-phone-no-laptop retreat with my partner and spent a few wonderful days sleeping and eating and doing little to nothing else. It was a real joy, but when I returned I felt completely overwhelmed by catching up with everything I'd put down for a few days.
Somewhere soon after I came across this article and the following quote:
"True self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from."
Damn. I thought I was doing so great with my vacation as self-care, but I'm seeing now that I need to build more vacation habits into my day-to-day life so that a full shut-down doesn't seem quite so necessary and the shock of re-entry isn't quite so tough. This shouldn't be such a surprise since I wrote an essay on this last year ... but sometimes we can't hear our own advice, am I right?
Amidst my many other projects, I've been mulling over a #loveyourgut womanifesto lately. I want to make something that clarifies the intentions and actions I've cultivated as I'm learning to love my body and find myself beautiful. Any tips or tricks you can share? All advice is welcome.
This post originally appeared in modified form in my monthly-ish amelioratic newsletter. You can sign up to receive that in your inbox here.
It seems obvious that US culture has undergone a veritable feminist awakening in the past 18 months, and "feminism" has become a buzzword worthy of being voted Merriam-Webster's bright pink "Word of the Year" in 2017.
I've undergone my own feminist awakening of sorts during this time, and that process has been fruitful and challenging and made me feel both nourished and cynical simultaneously. From that process, I birthed a book of feminist mantras that helped me stay both centered within and critical of the world, and I met so many women searching for the same sort of feminist practice.
As a result, I've realized how hungry I am for feminist community -- not simply communities of women where many of them identify as feminists -- but communities in which women (and trans folks and non-binary babes and allies) come together to discuss their experiences and build feminist perspectives on and for their (our) lives and their (our) worlds.
During this time, I've also realized how important I find an art practice to be to that endeavor. Building feminist worlds is a matter of undermining structures of domination and oppression and imagining new lives. Doing that imagining is creative work that requires creative practice.
These realizations lead me back to ideas about feminist consciousness raising groups that I wanted to share here.
What are feminist consciousness raising groups?
Feminist consciousness raising groups first emerged in the 1960s and 1970s as spaces where women gathered to discuss their experiences as women. These groups were community gatherings with critical aims. They sought to bring women together to examine their lives and feelings on their own terms and imagine new and different terms around which they could center their experiences.
As a result, consciousness raising groups were (and are) very personal. They are not meant to be occasions to examine abstract theoretical or sociological phenomena, but rather opportunities to reflect on individual and group experiences by the individuals and groups present. They both affirm and interrogate our histories, presents, and futures.
What have been some of the problems/issues with these groups in the past?
To put it bluntly, feminist consciousness groups failed to include and engage women of color, women from economically disadvantaged positions, women of different abilities, and, at large, women who weren't white (upper)-middle class women. As a result, they became spaces in which white women talked about privileged issues and failed to work toward addressing marginalization and oppression as systemic, structural issues impacting different communities differently. Their "feminism" became too exclusive.
What can a twenty-first century feminist consciousness raising group look like?
To avoid past problems, feminist consciousness raising groups have to be inclusive spaces that bring together women from different backgrounds to share their divergent and similar experiences of the world. They have to cultivate trust across difference in order to hold all of these experiences and make sense of them together.
This is hard work! But I also think it's why creative practice brings new meaning and intention to consciousness raising spaces. Our experiences of art can be parlayed into conversations about our lives in ways that keep the focus on individual and group experiences while maintaining societal reference and inviting other perspectives. Creating art together can also give groups a sense of shared purpose and endeavor that threads voices together without diminishing any one.
This tentative thesis is why I've called this new group, a feminist creative consciousness raising series. This group/series centers the creative spaces of imagining new, feminist worlds amidst the important personal and political work of discussing our experiences and lives.
This group will bring together women, femmes, and allies in conversation and artistic practice. It will be actively inclusive and non-hierarchical. Those in better economic positions will support the participation of those in more marginalized positions without comment. Each meeting will center specific feminist values that provide a starting point for conversation, and dialogue and creation will proceed communally.
I very much consider this series an experiment. I'm not positive that feminist consciousness raising groups (even creative ones) will be the best way forward, but for now they seem to me to be a fruitful path toward feminist action and the dismantling of white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy.
If you're interested in joining, you can find more information here. I'd love to be in community with you.
I recently had a conversation with my most-successful-business-owner friend (yes, I know this is a dubious category -- hi, Kristen!) about how her business slows down toward the end of the year and she feels like she ends up wrapping the year on a low note even though it was full of immeasurable highs.
I feel like I often fall victim to this way of thinking as well -- moving so quickly past major successes that I forget to celebrate them because I'm on the next thing. Earlier this year, in fact, another friend (hi, Caro!) called me out on this and introduced me to the donut manifesto. The idea of the manifesto is that you treat yourself to something small (in this case a donut) every time you accomplish a goal. That way you pause for at least a few moments to celebrate your achievement before being off to the next thing.
Since 2017 is wrapping up in a few hours, I thought I'd take some time to count my donuts for the year and compile my donut-worthy 2017 achievements.
So in no particular order, this year I ....
Interviewed (and mostly produced) 25 episodes of CHIRP Radio's local artist interview podcast. Some of my favorites were these episodes with: Matchess, Air Credits, Tortoise, Half Gringa, Ravyn Lenae, BJ the Chicago Kid, Vagabon, Liars, and Lykanthea. I also started a new, small series I've been calling "In Conversation" where I got to have conversations with a few of my favorite artists about trans representation in the Chicago music scene and sexism in the music industry. One of those conversations even led to my first appearance in the Chicago Reader.
Oh, and hosted Girl Power Hour on air at CHIRP every Tuesday morning (6-9am CT)!
Worked with Forth Chicago to host events, run their social media, and launch a brand new podcast called Go Forth, where we interviewed Chicago's most fantastic creative women entrepreneurs. Every episode of that podcast is a gem, but interviewing Julie, Jenna, Alia, Emily, and Kelly were particular joys.
Oh, and hosted a Go Forth podcast wrap party and panel (my first public event!) with some of my favorite podcast guests. Shout-out to my co-collaborator Amanda for making all those things happen with me.
Wrote a dissertation proposal and defended it to a committee of my favorite scholars in my department. This means I'm officially ABD and (theoretically) working on my dissertation full time to (perhaps) complete my PhD in 2019.
Oh, and traveled to Atlanta and Berlin to give papers on parts of my dissertation to a lot of academics.
Saw a TON of great art in all media (even though I was crazy busy with all the aforementioned projects).
- Fave concerts of 2017: LCD Soundsystem at Pitchfork, Liars at Riot Fest, Ravyn Lenae at Mamby, Big Thief at Thalia Hall, Alvvays + Jay Som at Thalia Hall, Half Gringa at the Whistler, Future Islands at the House of Vans opening, Dan Deacon w/Marijuana Deathsquads + Art Credits at the Empty Bottle, Angela James in residency at The Hideout,
- Fave readings + podcast tapings of 2017: Patti Smith reading at Music Box Theatre, Call Your Girlfriend at Lincoln Hall, Longform at The Hideout, Love + Radio at The Hideout.
- Fave art exhibitions: Yayoi Kusama at The Broad (LA), Non-Binary Portraits by Laurence Philomene at Cogalleries (Berlin), Pre-Vinylite Society female screen painters at Chicago Arts District, finally going to The Brooklyn Museum to see Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party.
Edited the fourth edition of Lady Parts zine and made a new series of zines with mini-essays on some of the feminist topics most important to me. Then tabled Chicago Zine Fest and sold a ton of copies of them.
Hosted a strike event for International Women's Day with Forth Chicago where I did a teach-in on Intersectionality (with that yellow zine up there) and ended up on the Chicago evening news!
Oh, and I taught three sections of a course on sex and gender where I used that zine to enlighten a few college minds.
Ran a 10k and did a *ton* of work on body-love, including writing an incredibly vulnerable essay about my relationship with my weight that got more responses than probably anything I've ever put on the internet (even my very best cat and food pictures).
Made my most ambitious zine since 2013 for an exhibition curated by my friend Amanda Roscoe Mayo and remembered what it feels like to be an artist and explore materials.
Wrote a feminist mantra every Monday and then published a book of the compiled and revised mantras. This may be my favorite thing I've ever created, and I get all warm and fuzzy every time I think about it.
Managed to take time off and go on actual vacations to visit friends in Los Angeles (twice!), San Francisco, Joshua Tree, North Carolina, New York City, and Milwaukee (twice!).
Okay, I think that's all the donuts for 2017, and *damn* I'm exhausted just compiling that list, let alone doing all those things.
Up first thing in 2018 is the Fifty Feminist Mantras book party (tickets here!) and then the launch of my most ambitious project yet. See you in the year of the dog, y'all!
Well this year was a hellmouth masquerading as an apocalypse, wasn't it?
I'm still holding my breath waiting for what tragic nightmare is going to take place before 2017 actually closes (although yay Doug Jones!), but December is also my favorite time to reflect on the good in my life over the past twelve months.
So in honor of that, here's my good things in 2017 GIFsticle!
1. I DJ'd Girl Power Hour for CHIRP Radio every Tuesday morning from 8-9am CT, and now we're on terrestrial airwaves at 107.1FM.
2. I wrote a dissertation proposal, defended it to a committee of scholars I admire, and advanced to ABD status.
3. I stopped wearing a bra (for the most part) and embraced my asymmetric body.
4. I went to Berlin for a week, California for two weeks, New York for another week, and a host of other places in between.
5. I built community with more brilliant, inspiring women in Chicago (and beyond) than I could have imagined a year ago.
6. I helped host an International Women's Day strike event that garnered the attention of a hundred or so women and the local TV news.
7. I launched a podcast interviewing my fave creative women entrepreneurs in the city and hosted a wrap party panel celebrating my work and their success.
8. I interviewed a number of my very favorite bands for CHIRP Radio.
9. I tabled at Chicago Zine Fest with Lady Parts Zine and made one of my favorite zine's yet for a friend's art exhibition.
10. I ran a 10k even though I didn't really think I could run anymore.
11. I saw the solar eclipse with the closest woman to a sister I'll ever have.
12. I thought a lot about my body and then took about a million selfies for self-care and got new headshots taken to remind myself that I'm a babe at any size.
13. I bought a new car -- by myself, for myself.
14. I developed some kick-ass personal policies that saved me a lot of emotional labor.
15. I wrote fifty feminist mantras and published a book of them.
16. I took care of myself in real, valuable, and important ways.
17. I let other people take care of me.
What's one (or 17) good thing(s) that happened in your lives this year? I'd love to hear about them.
The end of 2017 has been a very busy time for me, and I'm excited to announce that I have not one, but *two* books out in the world this week!
The first is my recent release Fifty Feminist Mantras. This book began as a series of weekly blog/Instagram posts last fall and blossomed into a year-long project that I just wrapped. I wrote 50 mantras for the project, then edited and compiled them for this book.
Inside, there are fifty feminist mantras arranged by week and season. with the purpose of helping readers embrace feminisms and themselves as feminists. Each mantra includes guided reflection and writing prompts, and the idea is that meditating on each mantra will help readers embrace feminisms and themselves as feminists.
You can purchase the book here!
I've also just finished a special edition zine to accompany my friend Amanda Roscoe Mayo's new exhibition at The Franklin, Art of Sight, Sense of Feeling.
The exhibition is inspired by Edwin Abbott's book Flatland, and I used the text as inspiration to create a zine that emphasized the multidimensionality of art, even in 2D forms. This was a really fun project where I got to delve back into my past five years of zine-making and revisit old art store haunts to find papers and pens that connoted the dimensions I was hoping to invoke.
You can find copies at The Franklin at 3522 W Franklin Blvd in Chicago!
This essay was originally published on The Glossary. You can find it here.
The summer after I graduated college, I packed up a pickup truck with all my belongings, dropped them off in Chicago, and then headed west for a month-long road trip. I drove from Chicago southwest to the California-Mexico border, up the west coast to Vancouver, and then back across Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota. In those weeks, I conquered highways, slept under stars, and explored cities. I found myself as utterly alone and deeply connected as I had ever felt.
Since that trip, I’ve gone on many other adventures. A week in Peru. Another in Berlin. Paris for three months. Weekend journeys all over the US. I make it work on a meager grad-student budget and a whole lot of luck/privilege, because travel is one of my top priorities.
As I’ve traveled, I’ve gleaned a few important lessons about how to make the most of my time away, particularly how to learn the most about myself while I’m gone. Here are a few of those key ideas.
It's important to travel alone.
Traveling with friends and family and whoever else can be wonderful, but there’s nothing like waking up in a brand new place entirely alone and deciding how you want to spend your days/weeks/months there.
Traveling alone has taught me how much I enjoy walking when I have the time (e.g. I once walked six miles across Los Angeles for no apparent reason), how important good coffee in the morning is to me (e.g. my three-month hunt for decent drip coffee in Paris), and, on the opposite spectrum, how lazy I can be when I’m jet-lagged and not sure what to do in a new place (e.g. rapidly moving through my Netflix queue on my first two nights in Berlin last month).
By traveling alone, I face my strengths, weaknesses, and boundaries, in ways that you don’t discover when you’re also negotiating other peoples’ needs and interests.
It's important to try new things while traveling.
This one may seem obvious, but it’s easy to take for granted that a new city will bring new things to you, rather than acknowledging that you can sink into old habits most anywhere.
After visiting at least a few dozen US and European cities, I realized that I had gotten into a standard “bookstore - coffee shop - art museum” routine that wasn’t helping me get the most out of each place I visited. I needed to seek out unique experiences that helped me make new sense of myself in a new place.
When I went to Peru last summer, I stumbled upon a yoga studio tucked into a back alley in the hills of Cusco. I am no yogi(even a simple downward dog often intimidates me), but something about the place stuck in my head, and I made myself attend a 90-minute vinyasa class the next day. It was mostly in Spanish, and I was by far the least experienced student there, but it was wonderful. On that trip, I hiked Mount Machu Picchu, ate cuy seaside, and made bffs with an alpaca, but that yoga class is what stands out in my mind more than anything else, because I not only traveled to a new place, I also pushed past my personal boundaries.
It's important to distinguish between travel and vacation.
Some trips are ripe for activity. You’ll visit museums, hike mountains, practice languages, and learn by doing. Other trips are better for rest. You sit quietly, think deeply, meditate, and learn by reflecting. I like the call the former trips travel and the latter vacation, but it’s important to note that both are valuable.
I used to think that traveling was all about activity, but I’ve come to realize that you can discover a lot about yourself by resting in a different space and place, as well. Travel requires energy, planning, and excitement, while vacation entails introspection, calm, and purpose. What’s most important, I think, is to set the right intentions and expectations before you leave, so as to prepare yourself for maximum personal growth.
It's important to travel at home.
I’ve spent my past four summers largely away from home, off exploring new countries, cities, and continents. I’ve relished in being away from myself and my life and my everyday expectations for all the reasons I just cited.
But one of my favorite feminist writers, Maria Lugones, talks about how women (especially women of color) are inherently world-travelers, because they are always traveling between different identities that place them in different worlds even if they don’t change locations. World-traveling can happen two blocks from your apartment as well as it can two thousand miles from there. It’s a matter of shifting your perspective and being willing to loosen the boundaries of your identity so that new encounters can emerge.
So this summer, I’m staying home from June to August. I want to become a local in my neighborhood and see new corners of the city. I want to “travel” close to home and see what selves I discover here. Every journey outside your door is a powerful one if taken in the right direction.
Image by Vandejong Creative Agency
Since summer is just kicking off, I wanted to write a bit about goal-setting in these crazy fun months. I don't know about anyone else, but normally I start June with high hopes and then find that it's suddenly September, and I've spent the past two months running around, drinking beer in the sun, and taking extra naps. Not that that's a bad thing *at all* but this year I'd like to accomplish a few things over the summer, especially because it's the season where I find myself having tons of extra energy as the days grow longer.
So how am I going to go about this? Well, over the past few years, I've developed a few *top secret* goal-setting methods that I want share. (Okay, they're not really top secret, but whatever.)
- Set goals that lean into the energy of the season. Every time I set a goal to be a social butterfly in the winter or a homebody in the summer, it fails 100%. Why? Because nobody wants to go out all the time when it's freezing or stay in when it's beautiful out. This example is a way of saying that it's important to be in touch with the times of year that you're the most introverted/extroverted/energetic/calm/introspective/circumspective/etc. Set goals that match where you're energy's at, and you're more likely to achieve them.
- Set goals by asking questions. When I go about goal-setting, I like to begin by reevaluating my wants/need/desires, and I find that to do so I need to ask myself a series of questions. They generally go something like: What do I want for X aspect of my life? What seems to be the best way to accomplish X? How can I work X into my daily life? I move the questions from big picture to manageable tasks, and set a very specific goal from there.
- Set goals in threes. This one is a trick that I learned from my dad. When I was growing up, my mom would ask him to run to the grocery store for something at least once a week. If her list got over three items, he'd pull out a sheet of paper and begin writing things down, saying "Wait. I can't keep more than three things in my head at a time." Whenever I go on a self-care/self-love/self-improvement binge, I often want to set a million goals at once, but I've learned to embrace my dad's truism and keep my mind on no more than three things at a time. Sometimes this means three goals at a time, and sometimes it means three steps toward one goal at a time, but three's become my magic number for goal-setting.
So all of that said, my three goals for this summer go something like:
- Develop a daily writing practice by writing something each morning *before* I check my email.
- Launch the Your Feminist Life Instagram.
- Embrace my all-around babeliness *aka* spend more time outside in the sun, and let my limbs hang out with no shame or regard for what others think.
What are your goals for this summer, loves? Comment below and let's check in with each other.
GIF by the ever-inspiring Jocelyn Tsaih.
I currently weigh 210 pounds. When I say this out loud to someone (which frankly happens almost never), I generally get one of two responses. If they are a person of average size, they look at me slightly shocked and say they can't believe it because I'm "so thin." But if they're a woman who has ever been much bigger than a size 12, they look at me knowingly and nod. Bodies carry weight, even if it doesn't seem obvious.
My relationship with my weight has been tenuous and challenging since I was about 12 years old. From what I can remember, I went on my first diet around that age. I was headed to middle school and wanted to look like the other girls in my class and attract the boys they attracted. Things only progressed from there, and by the time I was 14 I was dieting frequently, trying to attract the holy grail of middle school girl life: high school boys. (*praise hand emoji* *barf face emoji*)
When I say I was dieting, I definitely don't mean that I was twelve or thirteen learning to eat healthy foods and take care of my body. I mean that I was a pre-teen counting calories and grams of fat religiously, eating only pretzels and salads during the day and then binging on cake frosting at night. I wasn't old enough to join the gym, so I lifted my mom's dumbbells in my room, teaching myself basic calisthenics and simple weightlifting routines. More than anything else at that age, I wanted to be smaller. I wanted to weigh less.
Fast forward 14 years, and I've amassed mounds of evidence that my weight is entirely irrelevant to my success and happiness in the world. I've read about a half million articles on the male gaze and the beauty myth. I've run races at 150 pounds and 190 pounds not noticing much of a difference in my performance. I've met men and women who love my body in its various shapes and forms and affirm that not only is there no need to radically alter myself, but my size makes me especially attractive.
All of that accomplished, however, in many ways, I'm not sure my relationship with my body has changed as a result. It's taken me a decade to kick the cake frosting habit. I still do the same calisthenics I did in my bedroom at 13, though now I do them at the gym and sometimes add HIIT or plyometrics or some other ridiculously-named exercise. When I walk past a mirror or see a candid photo, I immediately scan to see how large my arms or waist look. My first response to a breakup is still to take up an intense gym habit and immediately lose twenty pounds.
I find that women so rarely talk about the challenges of existing at this weird place between loving and hating your body. In my experience, it seems that women are allowed to speak of their bodies in one of two ways: 1) either we should spend lots of time hating on our bodies and an equal amount of time working to sculpt them into leaner, toner machines, or 2) we should be 100% confident in our shape and size at all times with no insecurity allowed.
I don't know how to be either way. Logically, I know I have every reason to love my body, and with my feminist political commitments, I would never hate on my body publicly, because I don't want women to see me doing that and think it's normal or okay. But in my lived experience of my body, I do feel so much insecurity and even shame. I can't muster the invincible confidence that I see body-positive and fat-positive women telling me I should have. I want the latter so badly, but I feel the former so intensely, and I don't know how to reconcile the two.
All of this said, what frustrates me more than anything, I think, is that I've spent almost fifteen years of my life wanting there to be less of me. During the years I should have spend finding myself, I've expended so much energy on losing parts of myself, whether they be pounds, inches or bits of fat on my arms, waist and thighs.
I want to end this essay with an anecdote that addresses the Margaret Atwood quote I opened with way up there at the top.
I recently visited a friend in New York City and stayed in her Brooklyn apartment. After dinner one night, we made banana bread and ate it warm with butter sometime past ten. I ate the first slice with relish, and when she asked if I wanted another, I refused and said that I was fine. A few moments later, she cut herself another generous slice and gently insisted that I do the same. "Indulge," she told me. "I hope you can be indulgent here."
I didn't mention it to her at the time, but her words struck me deeply. I don't think I had ever considered myself someone who could indulge. I wasn't thin like she was. Indulging meant disaster for my body. I had learned to avoid it and taken up binging as a sad substitute.
But that night, on her prodding, I did indulge. I stopped wanting less. I devoured more.
What are your body stories, loves? I hope we can share them together.
GIF by the inspiring Abbey Lossing.
This essay was originally published on the Forth Chicago blog. You can read it there, too.
Last month, I went to the Chicago Women’s March alongside 250,000 brilliant women and allies. I carried a neon pink, handwritten sign that read “Radical Love, Real Power,” and I wandered amidst families and organizations, following groups chanting rebellious slogans and stopping every so often to take stock of the immensity of the event.
We were powerful that day, ladies. PowHERful, if you like. But since then, almost every day has felt like a defeat. Every community I’m in is scrambling to better respond, react and resist. We’re at a loss for how to care for each other or ourselves in the turmoil of political instability.
In the midst of these questions, conversations about self-care are emerging more and more often in expected and unlikely spaces. I’ve seen everyone from my mother to my dentist share this Audre Lorde quote:
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
Do y’all know Audre Lorde? She liked to describe herself as a “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” and she was certainly all of those things and more. Audre Lorde was a radical political activist and a radical self-care champion. She always emphasized the connection between the political and the personal, reminding us of the obvious but oft-forgotten fact that there’s no politics without people.
What’s lost when this quote is extracted from Lorde’s work and used as a self-care mantra, however, is the very concrete advice that Lorde gave us for how to care for ourselves, particularly our femme-selves. For Lorde, self-care isn’t about buying a new candle or drinking the good bottle of red wine instead of the $3 bottle (not to hate on candles or nice wine). Those things are nice salves, but they don’t cultivate real care for the self.
Rather, self-care is about identifying your deepest desires. It’s an embrace of feelings, emphasizing joy but including pain, through which we learn to accept and love ourselves.
Self-care is important not simply in and of itself but as a necessary step toward self-love. We often think that we care for people and things we already love, but it’s also true that as we care for people and things, we come to love them. It works on us too: as we care for ourselves, we come to love ourselves. Self-care leads to self-love.
I’ve spent the past five years or so of my life on a long, winding path toward self-love. In a lot of ways, the Women’s March seemed like the culmination of that, a moment where I was able to come together with thousands of other women and proclaim our love for ourselves and our womanhood. But something was still missing. After the march, I went home and felt more exhausted than I had in years. My sign read “Radical Love, Real Power,” but what did that really mean? How could I radicalize the self-love I had learned and fought for in the face of the precarious political climate?
Turns out Audre Lorde also has a lot to say about radical self-love. As Lorde puts it, self-love puts us in touch with the erotic power that every woman holds. Not a sexual or sensual erotic power, but a relational, community power:
“The power which comes from sharing deeply any pursuit with another person. The sharing of joy, whether physical, emotional, psychic, or intellectual.”
The erotic is what bonds us to others as we work together to build relationships, worlds and lives. It’s the deep, creative source that fuels us at our most joyous. When we connect with others with erotic intensity, our power grows beyond any measure we can imagine. We resist the powers that be and all the ways in which they attempt to oppress difference. As Lorde says,
“Recognizing the power of the erotic within our lives can give us the energy to pursue genuine change within our world, rather than merely settling for a shift of characters in the same weary drama. For not only do we touch our most profoundly creative source, but we do that which is female and self-affirming in the face of a racist, patriarchal, and anti-erotic society.”
So how can we pursue genuine change? By using self-care tools to cultivate radical self-love that radiates outward and builds deep connections with the individuals we organize with and for. Focusing on the news or abstract causes or political agendas leads us to resistance fatigue and political-personal burnout. But focusing on the relationships we build and how they organically create powerful webs of resistance will provide an endless source of energy to abolish whatever obstacles stand in our way.
Every February I send out an open call on social media offering to send valentines to anyone who sends me their address. The first year I sent a half-dozen cards, the second a dozen, and this year over two dozen. I've mailed cards all over the US to old friends and recent acquaintances. This small effort has come back to me tenfold, as women I've only shared a single conversation with have sent me heartfelt gifts thanking me for taking the time to care for and about them. This small act I put out into the world once a year is a simple way to tap into my deeply creative source that Audrew Lorde talked about. It's just the beginning my learning to wield my erotic power.
When 250,000 women gathered in Chicago for the Women’s March, we felt just an inkling of our true power. The connections that we, as women, develop from our deep, creative source are powerful in ways we can only imagine. They can take over the world, one act of radical self-love at a time.
If you've been feeling out of whack lately,
do you think it's because of.....
a) shitty politics
b) impending apocalypse
c) the moon?
While there's not much I can help you with if you circled a or b up there, I do have a little bit of know-how about c: this weekend (Friday night) there's a lunar eclipse!
What is a lunar eclipse, you may ask? Well, it's when the moon travels behind the earth and passes through its shadow. When a total eclipse occurs, the sun, earth, and moon all align and the earth fully blocks the light of the sun, creating the striking blood-red effect that marks the intensity of lunar eclipses.
Friday's eclipse is not a total lunar eclipse (we don't have any of those in 2017, but we get two next year). Rather, it's a penumbral eclipse, which sounds fancy but really just means that the moon is only traveling through the outer part of earth's shadow, so it only appears slightly darker rather than fully red.
Astronomologically (not a real word, I know) this lunar eclipse is kind of a womp-womp eclipse, but astrologically this lunar eclipse roars, because it occurs during a full moon in Leo!
Leo is a powerful sign imbued with leadership and pride that opens a period of goal-setting, accomplishment, and successful #vibes. There won't be another eclipse until July, so now is the time to take charge and start a new initiative in your life. Envision your life six months from now, make a plan, and kick your butt in gear until summer. People will follow your lead if you start down that path.
And when you encounter obstacles this spring, remember that this eclipse finds the snow moon (the name of February's full moon) blossoming under a fire sign. When you've got that fire and ice, there are going to be contradictions, but as long as you don't let them injure your pride, you can move through and past them.
In the moon cycles following this eclipse, I am going to be working toward making real business plans (more on this to come, I promise) and developing my confidence, particularly in professional settings (gotta get those #boss vibes).
So whether you answered a, b, or c in my failed pop quiz way up at the top there, I hope you'll embrace the fiery side of this lunar eclipse and find real power in Leo's full moon. Let me know where these #vibes take you, babes.
GIF by the brilliant Abbey Lossing.
Last year when my life went all haywire (more on that here), a friend sent me a book that I have since dubbed Getting-Over-It-For-Dummies by Sarah Knight.*
In that book, Knight discusses how much time we all spend (*waste*) making the same well-intentioned but personally-destructive decisions over and over again, even when we know we get no pleasure out of them. Basically, we say yes way too often. Examples:
- You go get a latte with your co-worker every morning even though you don't really enjoy the conversation or the coffee.
- I invite all my long-distance friends to visit any time, all the time, even though having visitors stresses me the f*ck out.
On top of that, there are times that we do make the right-for-us decision and manage to say no, but then we spend a lot of time/energy feeling bad about it (or being told we should feel bad about it) after. Examples:
- I always say no when my friend invites me to his open mic gigs, but I also always feel bad that I'm not showing up to support him.
- You never donate to your family members' Kickstarter campaigns to fund their pets/vacations/pets' vacations, but then your mom calls to nag you about it.
What Knight is getting at here is that saying no to people is often really, really hard, even if we're doing for the right reasons. To combat this, she offers a fairly straightforward tool for how to stop putting yourself in these situations:
In a nutshell, a personal policy is a way to make decision once, stick to it indefinitely, and divorce it from all of that messy emotional baggage of ~*feeling bad about it*~.
How do you make personal policies? Well, it's pretty straightforward:
- Come up with a list of things you immediately or always-after-the-fact wish you had said no to every single time you say yes to them.
- Rewrite that list, starting each item with "I have a personal policy against _____________."
Seems too simple, right? Let's try an example:
Every time I agree to schedule a meeting at 8am, even though I normally don't go into the office until 9am, my whole day is a disaster.
Personal policy against meetings before 9am.
Now, I know everyone isn't lucky enough to make decisions like that in their jobs, so here's a personal life example:
Every time you catch up with your bff from college she suggests happy hour at a fancy cocktail bar with $2 off drinks, but you end up spending $60 in two hours and wrecking your budget.
Personal policy against happy hours...
Personal policy against happy hours that don't offer at least 50% off prices...
Personal policy against cocktails that cost more than $10.
The exact personal policy you develop is flexible, what's important is that you use personal policies to set boundaries that (a) eliminate anxiety and (b) help you move toward your goals and happiness in life.
So now that you've got the hang of it, here are a few ideas for things to develop personal policies around:
- 6am cycling classes.
- When you talk to your parents.
- When you respond to work emails.
- Buying co-workers kids' popcorn/cookies/magazine subscriptions.
- Monday night happy hour.
- Potluck dinners.
- Brunch before 10am.
- G-rated movies.
- Buying wedding gifts that cost more than X amount of money.
- Talking work/politics/Game of Thrones on Facebook/Instagram/Slack.
The trick for using personal policies is to develop them in advance and to always say that they're personal policies when you use them, for example "No, thank you. I have a personal policy against ______."
As soon as you say, "No, thank you. I don't like _______," you've lost the battle, because that person is going to want to understand why you don't like the thing they've just asked of you and try to change your mind. For some reason, not liking things brings you under some kind of messy moral judgment that creates more anxiety than you started with. But personal policies incite respect for boundary-setting and strength.
If I could attribute the bulk of my decrease in stress and anxiety last year to one thing, it would be personal policies. At first they can feel selfish, but in the end they are so, so liberating. Declaring your personal policies is simply announcing your boundaries and establishing them in the world. And people appreciate when you tell them what you need and how much you can handle.
So give it a try and let me know how it goes, loves. I'll have Personal Policies 201 up soon.
This week is a tough week. On Friday, our imbecilic president-elect loses the "elect" part of his title and is sworn in to one of the most powerful offices in our nation. It's a harrowing loss for anyone who identifies with a marginalized (or just straight up invisible) sociopolitical location and a scary harbinger of the years to come.
As Inauguration Day approaches, my spirits have been buoyed by the friends, colleagues, and peers I've seen preparing for the Women's March on Washington, Chicago and other cities. So many people I have never seen speak about feminism are now voicing their support for women and feminist consciousness. It feels like we're finally raising our voices, and I love when ladies get LOUD about their wants and needs in the world.
That said, however, I have also been trying to pay close attention to the many critiques of the Women's March that argue for it's imperialist underpinnings and celebrity culture. You see, the marches being organized are powerful in the way of numbers, but in other ways, they're simply bad organizing. The Women's March lacks demands, and without demands it cannot ask for real change or hold the incoming administration accountable for anything.
You can be sure as hell that I'll be out there on Saturday making my voice heard and my presence felt, but this march can't just be another instance of cool-slogan/pretty-poster feminism. A real feminist movement—a real women's march—requires a platform. We can yell "WE ARE WOMEN! HEAR US ROAR!" all day, but what do we want them to do about it when our voices go hoarse? Why are we really marching? Who and what for?
When I think about #WhyIMarch, I keep coming back to this quote:
Historically, women have been an incredibly hard group to organize, because they more often identify with markers other than their gender (e.g. race or class) and are encouraged to form closer relationships across gender (with fathers/husbands) than within it (with mothers/female friends). What I LOVE about the Women's March is how many women it has brought together. This is a same boat march, all the way.
But what this quote also reminds me, is that we came on different ships, and "came" is really putting the Atlantic slave trade lightly. When we march, we cannot forget that 52% of white women voted for Trump. We may be in the same boat now, but that does not undo centuries of racist politics and a very contemporary racist reality. Our feminism has to be anti-racist and anti-imperialist, if we are ever going to change anything. And that anti-racist/anti-imperialist agenda should be at the forefront of all organizing, marching, and consciousness-raising that we do.
So why am I marching? For myself and for all of the womyn who cannot. I am putting my privilege on the front lines of this fight WITHOUT forgetting that in doing so I must take care not to speak over or silence voices much more marginalized than mine. I am sacrificing some of my comfort, for womyn whose daily lives are already really fucking uncomfortable in ways I have never had to experience—ways that 52% of white women certainly weren't thinking about when they voted for Trump on election day.
So why are you marching, sisters/babes/friends? How can we build a real feminist platform together?
Always your sister in this struggle,
gif by the always lovely Libby Vanderploeg
2016 has been a rough year for me personally and the world politically, but damn has it been an eventful year for Jill Kerouac!
Miami, New York City, San Francisco, Portland, London, Rome, Florence, and Peru in twelve months! With a bit of help from work, family, and friends, I’ve made it to so many beautiful places in the world this year even while my personal life crumbled (boooooo boys) and the American political landscape tanked (boooooo Trump).
I think it’s particularly important to travel when the world seems challenging or violent or just too large to manage.
I’m planning a trip to Berlin in the spring, and after the attack at the Christmas market there yesterday a friend asked me if I was hesitant to go. Without even thinking, I responded, “of course not!” and then I had to pause to think why. What I realized is that I would rather be in Berlin mourning loss with the citizens there and understanding their pain as a global pain than stay home, allowing my fear to trap me within borders, holding on to the false reality that my life here is any safer than it is elsewhere in the world.
Saying this, I also have to recognize that there is a lot of privilege in the fact that I hold a US passport and can travel across so many borders, putting my self/body/identity in so many spaces. I reflect on this often when I think of feminist travel. What role can and should I play as I travel? Should I travel to spaces that were once colonized by my ancestors? What does my presence there entail? I always try to raise these questions of the colonial nature of travel (it’s important!), and I often wonder how feminist travel can really be.
But in my travels this year, I was stunned by the conversations I had, the connections I made, and the spaces I was able to enter when I listened to and cared for the people I encountered. I was blown away by the signs women placed in the central markets in Cusco demanding their freedom and safety, and while their experiences are not and cannot be my experiences, I could certainly draw connections between those signs and the battles I fight against rape culture in the US. I could speak with a young woman in a bar and compare notes on our struggle for equality at work and in relationships.
What feminist travel teaches me over and over again is that while it is important for feminists, especially white feminists, to never universalize our lives or project our experiences onto the places we visit, it is just as important not to brand them as radically different or fail to see the commonalities between people around the world.
I know that next year will likely only be more challenging than this year. But as I travel into 2017, I want to hold on to a quote by another traveler who wrote a book on her road experiences this year: Gloria Steinem.
“It’s true that hope is a form of planning.
It’s true that dreams are a form of planning.”
Travel always allows me to hope and dream again. So here’s to another year full of seeing the world, mad ones!
GIF by the amazing Abbey Lossing
In honor of this week's mantra, I'm working on refocusing my energy on the positive things that have happened in my life this year.
And how am I doing that? you may ask—why, a listicle of course! With GIFs! A gifsticle!
So, in no particular order (because hierarchies are for patriarchy, duh!), here are 16 good things that happened in my world in 2016 and gifs to go with them.
1) I hired a personal trainer and got a lot stronger without it being about losing weight or counting calories or any comparative #fitspo energy.
2) I traveled to Rome, London, and Peru and got to see the Colosseum, Big Ben, and Machu Picchu.
3) I listened to a ton of girl power pop. New music from Rihanna, Beyoncé, Ariana Grande, and Solange ruled the airwaves this year and helped bring female perspectives (especially woc!) to the front and center of pop culture.
4) I gave up my reliance on take-out and learned how to cook; I started an amazing Sunday Dinner tradition with my best friend that I look forward to every week.
5) I launched this blog and began writing regularly. I remembered how important it is to listen to that voice inside of me that loves words more than most other things.
6) I spent a lot of time in bed with the coolest cat around, and I didn't feel bad about a second of it.
7) I interviewed a ton of rad bands for CHIRP Radio.
8) I spent a week in Miami with one of my fave babes and another week in California with two of my mains.
9) I met a few amazing women who are helping me expand my circles and find my place in Chicago.
10) As a result of those women (and a few long-term pals here), Chicago has finally started to feel like home.
11) I watched all of Grey's Anatomy and channeled as much Christina Yang energy as I could muster.
12) I took a last-minute trip to Portland to visit my college roommate, and she inspired me to get my finances together and work on a new business venture.
13) I paid off $3000 in credit card debt and got myself back to a debt-free existence!
14) I met a cute boy with a nice beard and a cool bike who likes to cook food and go to shows with me.
15) I learned to see all the good around me.
16) I started learning to let go of everything else.
What's one good thing (or sixteen good things) that happened in your life in 2016, friends?
I want to hear all about them.
How are you babes feeling lately? Still in your post-election slump? Slide back there every time you think you're doing better and then realize what's to come in 2017? Feeling weird about other things entirely? Or maybe you're feeling great? Are people still feeling great out there?
This year I've learned a lot about betrayal and heartbreak and failure and just as much about forgiveness, healing, and love. Through it all, I feel like I have grown stronger, but then on days like today I wake up from another anxiety nightmare about ex- boyfriends/friends/dreams, and I wonder if I've grown at all.
I've been mulling over this question of growth in the face of shitty-life-events a lot lately, and three paths forward seem to have emerged: accept, forgive, and approve.
This morning (post-nightmare) I opened my computer and read the new Modern Love column. One line particularly resonated with me:
I had always prided myself on being strong, on being able to bounce back, but here I was, months later, wrestling with questions without answers at night and awakening to a frightening bleakness.
Damn. How many of us pride ourselves on being so, so strong but still struggle with intense anxiety that keeps us up at night? (*girl raising hand emoji*)
This line reminded me a) that I'm not the only one this happens to, and b) that there's a lot of hubris involved in believing that you're always strong and always growing. Life is not linear or progressive in this sense, and that's okay. You're not always in control, and sometimes you're going to get knocked down and stay down for a little while. That doesn't mean it's forever or always, just for a while.
Learning to accept this has been tough for my inner critic — that badass, kickass, always fighting feminist inside of me. But it's also been crucial for my survival this year. It's been so, so necessary that I swallow my pride and accept that shit has happened. I also have had to accept that it might take me some time to get over it, and that's okay. I accept it.
Thinking about pride and acceptance reminded me of something else I'd read recently. One of the friends wrapped up in the betrayal of this year came to town before Thanksgiving, and she gave me a book (or a book suggestion, rather) — Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed aka Dear Sugar aka the goddess herself. In the book, I found a lesson about the difference between acceptance and forgiveness:
You asked for help with forgiveness, but I don't think that's what you need to reach for just yet. You know how alcoholics who go to AA are always using the phrase "one day at a time"? They say that because to say "I will never drink again" is just too damn big. It's big and hard and bound to fail ... I suggest you forget about forgiveness for now and strive for acceptance instead.
Real forgiveness for real betrayal is big and hard and often bound to fail, the same way believing you are always strong and in control and growing stronger is big and hard and bound to fail.
In order to forgive, we first have to accept what has happened and accept ourselves in that process. We have to accept our weakness/sadness/confusion in order to take that next step. Because only after accepting reality and our lack of control over it sometimes, can we move forward from pain and fully let go of what caused it in order to truly forgive.
In the instance of betrayal, forgiveness seems like the right eventual conclusion, but when you're considering your own weaknesses, it's not forgiveness you need (there's nothing wrong with your weakness, you don't need to forgive yourself for it) so much as approval, self-approval. You need to say, I approve of me.
A friend of mine (*hi, Rose!*) recently wrote something wise and wonderful about this:
I accept all sorts of things I'm not wild about ... But approval is different. Approval implies that you accept and condone the thing in question. And when it comes to self approval... it's easy to argue with the statement "I approve of myself." Bullshit, right? ... The answer is this: you approve of your questionable decisions and their results because you know in your beautiful gut that everything, all of it, is part of your becoming, and that in some way you don't yet understand, it all serves your highest good.
Acceptance is about taking that deep breath and getting to the next moment, the next day, the next week of your life. It's about learning to live with whatever has knocked you down. But approval is different. Approval is getting back up and really believing that what happened is for the best. The same way forgiveness is about really letting go of however you've been wronged.
So the big lesson here is that you can't have approval or forgiveness without acceptance. Acceptance is a necessary step; it can't be skipped, or neglected, or forgotten. If you don't work on it, you'll be that girl believing she's super strong (and she is! you are!) who is also lying awake anxious at night unable to do anything about it or figure out why. (oh hey, there's me again *another girl raising hand emoji*)
That said, acceptance is not the ultimate goal. For yourself, it's approval. For others, it's forgiveness. And these, it seems to me, are really on the path to love. Self-love. Love for others. That's where we're all trying to get, isn't it?
What do you think, babes? What have you learned to accept this year? Anyone you've forgiven? Things you've come to approve of? I'd love to hear your wisdom.
GIF by the kick-ass, badass, all-accepting/forgiving/approving Cécile Dormeau
In 2016, I started building a tarot practice, and the hermit is the card I've drawn most often this year.
At first I was afraid she was a card of eternal loneliness, but I've come to see the ways in which she represents strength in solitude, love that nourishes self in nurturing others, and communities that embrace the search for wisdom and joy rather than money or status.
This Thanksgiving her guidance is helpful in confronting any ignorance that may surround us. She lends patience to those who are working to shine light in the darkness.
Draw on her strength to open dialogues where you may otherwise allow minds to remain closed. But be sure to preserve space for yourself, as well. Allow others to come to you in search of joy.
How do you seek your Self, loves? What makes you feel grounded and balanced? How do you share those lessons?
On Wednesday morning, most of the people I know and love (myself included) woke up feeling like their world was upside down. How could Trump have been elected? We finally had a female candidate for president. And she was so much more experienced, poised, and presidential than the other candidate. Hillary's win was so obvious; her loss was unimaginable. So with her defeat, the blue bubble we were living in burst. We suddenly saw the red, red world around us.
But as sad as I am about the election results, I can't help but feel like it is a privilege to be shocked by the outcome. For so many, today is yet another instance of oppression in a lifelong series of moments of being beaten down by those in power. But for some of us (like me), today is the first political loss that we really feel. The first time we have lost faith in our leaders and our fellow citizens. That is a privilege, and it means that this is an opportunity for self-reflection, growth, and political action.
We can all do better. We can all stop looking away and opting out and performing our politics through pretty graphics and Facebook statuses.
We have to talk to each other -- particularly to people that disagree with us -- and embrace the challenge in those conversations.
I, personally, hold myself accountable for not having hard conversations with my friends and family members that support Trump. Maybe it wouldn't have changed their minds, but it would have helped me understand their logic and learn to fight it in new, more loving ways.
If you don't know where to begin, first, try calling a friend or family member and just talking to them. Ask how they are. Tell them how you're doing. Mend any relationships this election may have harmed.
Then, figure out who's serving in the offices that represent you. Do you support their ideas? If you do, say so. Contact them and ask how you can help. If not, find the resistance, and begin organizing for change.
Right now, it is important that we all practice self-care and care for each other. We need to make sure we're getting the nourishment our bodies, minds, and souls need. We also have to support and create safe spaces for the individuals that need allies in this much scarier-than-yesterday world.
More than anything, I hope this election gives birth to tens of thousands of anti-racist, feminist activists that change the world not only in 2018 or 2020, but tomorrow.
Hillary's campaign was not a victory lap for feminism. It was a major fight in a battle that's been going on for centuries. And we may have lost this one, but we have come so far.
If we want to live in the blue bubble we thought we were in just a few days ago -- that beautiful, cerulean bubble of equity and love and joy -- then we have to do the work of creating it.
So, use your brain. Use your voice. We can all produce the world we want to live in. Together.
Image by the amazing Laura Berger.