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Review: How to Love the Empty Air

07 January 2019

She'll do all of this....and She'll do none of this

I'll teach my daughter / To bang on anything that makes a beat / She'll shake-a-boom, she'll quake a room / She'll ... She'll do all of this. And she'll do none of this. And it's funny how we hide behind these daughters, Hide ahead of our own herstories. Scared of ourselves.

Today is my mom's 15th birthday since her death. It is the last of the 15-year milestones (15 years since her death, Ella's 15th birthday, 15th Christmas, 15th of my birthday). The woman who instilled in me how special I was, how important I am to the world, and who held me to high standards, should be indulging in a tiny slice of turtle cheesecake for her day. Instead a bit of her ashes sit in a tiny urn on my altar.  She hovers over my life as a sage and cautionary tale. 

Dear reader, you may be shocked at how I can hold anger in my heart over her death. Well, I do. I am mostly angry at all the wonderful things she has missed out on, including resolving our relationship. Before you stop reading, I should tell you that I am far more heartbroken than angry. At the start of my relationship with grief, I thought I needed to pass through phases, that you did not hold each at the same time. Thanks to the Refuge in Grief newsletter and splurging on the 30-Day writing group, I know that it is quite common to feel both. So much of the pain in the first few years of grief was actually pain caused by the world, including some close to me, telling me to "get over it," to push through the anger to heartbreak to acceptance. As if accepting the loss of someone who meant everything to you, who literally made you, would end the grief. 

Mom looms large in my life. She was the more vocal of my parents on how I should live my life. She prescribed a lot of my choices, sometimes not always in my best interest. I have reflected on her bad advice with my therapist. How life always seemed to bulldoze her and how that may have impacted how she guided me. She raised me to kick ass, but also to be cautious of deals that sounded too good to be true. I have come to the realization that she was so scared of me getting bulldozed by life that she steered me away from too big of risks least I fell on my face. 

I shared the gory details with my daughter on my mom's birthday last year (when I wrote the bulk of this post). Not to disparage her grandmother, but to share with her why I am so determined to support her dreams, no matter how large and out-of-reach they may seem to others. I try to be rational in my support, telling her that is she wants X, she better start doing Y to get there. It is hard not to want to live out my dreams in my daughter. She looks so much like me, she is very much like me. But she is not me. And I am not my mother. 

I am not my mother. 

That sounds awful to say on her birthday, but it is the truth. My dad and her worked hard so I could be offered opportunities they did not have. Now my daughter has opportunities I dared not to ask for growing up because I knew we could not afford them. I know the world is what it is. It can be cruel, but it can also be loving. Sometimes at the same time. I have had my share of joys and also life kicking me in the gut as I lay on the ground crying. I work hard to not let the challenges life presents instill fear in my daughter or to try to control her life so she easily overcomes them. And it is freaking hard. 

One day last year Alix Olson's Daughter came over my earbuds as I was at the climbing gym. I remember the first time I heard it thinking, "Yes! This is how my daughter will be!" Then getting to the end of the piece and thinking, "Shhiiiiit...." With Daughter raging in my ears as I willed myself up a wall, I flashed back to me explaining at Christmas 2017 that we are born with all the eggs we will produce. Meaning that as I floated in my mother's uterus I already had my daughter in me. Three generations together in a tiny moment of time. 

Life beat my mom into fearing my dreams. That has left me with the challenge to show my daughter that no matter how hard life punches me, to stand back up and punch back harder. That we will fail, but we don't stop dreaming. That is the fear Alix sings about. That is the fear I fight. 

My mom was and still is my everything. I am angry that she died before she could experience the joys of being a grandmother to the most amazing girl ever. I am crushed she missed me hitting my stride as the woman she raised me to be. Her memory is not just a blessing, but what keeps me moving.





01 January 2019

Happy New Year!

Yup! It's a hopeful New Year's blog post! All full of spunk and aspirations to write more in the new year.

Year 6 of #365feministselfie!  And me trying to get back with Flickr.It is also a post to acknowledge that #365FeministSelfie is still a thing and at the start of our sixth year. SIX YEARS!  Part of me can't believe that this is still going strong. Part of me sees all the posts and knows why it is still going strong. I've said it before and I need to say it again, but what started as a silly project ended up creating a conversation and community around feminism and how the media depicts feminists.

Yes, we still have articles popping up saying that selfies are dumb, narcissistic, and all that jazz, but selfies are just a medium. Not all selfies are dumb, but not all of them are feminist either. Some are cries for help, but not in the manner that set off this project. I have seen people post selfies asking for support in many different ways for many different scenarios. I am not good at asking for help, especially from those closest to me, so to think I had a hand in creating space where people feel safe to be vulnerable is pretty jarring. Jarring in that I am inspired to be more vulnerable. But I also know that my emotions get the best of me. When I want to voice something, I can feel all the tears start to well up and it takes all my energy to tap them down. There are just some things where I feel like I either shut myself up or drown in tears. Neither is helpful. I guess we'll see what my therapist says about that.

I have a lot of ideas in my brain - shocking, eh? - and I really want to make time for all of them. Of course I won't, but I know I'll come close. So watch this space for updates. This space might just be for mulling over ideas. It might be for me to meet my daily 20 minutes writing goal. It might be for testing out stories I want to tell on a stage this year. I feel better when I share my story, so here's to feeling better in 2019.

27 October 2018

Review: Judy Moody and the Right Royal Tea Party

Judy Moody and the Right Royal Tea Party Judy Moody and the Right Royal Tea Party by Megan McDonald
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Judy Moody was one of my daughter's favorites. It was weird and sweet to read Judy's return as my daughter is in high school. It actually made me wonder what Judy would be like as a high schooler.

In this new tale Judy is just as we left her - impulsive, self-centered, and hilarious.

Judy gets the notion that she may be part of the English monarchy. She writes to the Queen (and receives a response!) and begins to align her life with what she imagines royalty would do. It isn't a Judy Moody tale without conflict that forces Judy to apologize to someone. She realizes that her relatives may not quite be royalty.

What I like the best about Judy is that she often does something that requires an apology, even if it is to herself. Since these books are meant for kids ages 6-8, it is great to have a beloved character who loves with full passion, sometimes gets carried away, but does end up handling things with grace.

Welcome back, Judy!

Disclaimer: I received this book from a publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Power to the Princess: 15 Favorite Fairytales Retold with Girl Power

Power to the Princess: 15 Favorite Fairytales Retold with Girl Power Power to the Princess: 15 Favorite Fairytales Retold with Girl Power by Vita Weinstein Murrow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This beautiful looking book holds some radical retelling of beloved fairy tales.

Since my favorite fairy tale and princess is the Little Mermaid, Vita Murrow's retelling hit me the hardest. First of all the Little Mermaid is now a young woman of color. Then her adventures finds her meeting what they call a land princess. No prince in this story! Their cross-cultural exchange is sweet, including how they get the Little Mermaid's grandmother involved.

My next favorite is Beauty and the Beast. This retelling does not eliminate the love story between the two, but it does reframe it in a manner that is more feminist than anything Disney has offered us. It also amplifies the strength of Belle that we see in other versions of the tale.

And seriously, this book is beautiful. The cover is red cloth with gold embossing. It feels so nice and will look great on your bookcase.

Disclaimer: I received this book from a publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Princesses Save the World

Princesses Save the World Princesses Save the World by Savannah Guthrie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a great book if your kids are princesses obsessed and you are tired of the usual princess stories. What starts off as a not-so-spectacular storybook turns into a lesson on the importance of bees, girls working together, and even chemistry. The racial diversity of the princesses gathered to save the world is lovely.

Parents often ask me what they can do to sustain their daugther's interest in science. This book might do just that! In order to relocate bees to a land where there are none, the princesses must create an alluring smell. This is when one of them hits the princess lab to create a perfume to lure bees. This is a great subplot to talk about the importance of science, but not in a heavy handed way! Maybe just reinforce that the princess is in a chemistry lab. Maybe a good time to buy your daughter a chemistry kit too?

Overall "Princesses Save the World" is a safe book about girls banding together to solve a problem. There is nothing radical or revolutionary in it. A great book to get for a birthday party when you know their parents are not hip to some of your feminist ways.

Disclaimer: I received this book from a publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Disclaimer

This blog is my personal blog and is not reflective of my employer or what I do for them.

What I'm Currently Reading

I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame
The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces


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