Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown

Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown

I catalog the books I read on Instagram. A picture, a note, and a number. For this particular book I wrote, “…[it] is such an important, timely book. Goodness, if you’re tired of seeing political discussions via memes on the Internet, this book is for you. And, if you’re making, posting, sharing, or even liking those memes (guilty right here!), this book is for you, too.”

In general, this book makes the case for being a better human being and gives concrete steps on how to do just that.

It’s a call to trust ourselves and others and to behave in a trustworthy manner.

It’s a call to stop bullshitting. (Thank you Internet. Again, guilty right here!) And, to call out bullshit.

It’s a call to connect with people on a human level.

It’s a call to stay vulnerable while maintaining the strength to endure the conflicts and criticisms that doing the above 3 things will cause.

I’m paraphrasing, of course. Brown says it simply:

People are hard to hate close up. Move in.

Speak truth to BS. Be civil.

Hold hands. With strangers.

Strong back. Soft front. Wild heart.

Honestly, this book got my mind racing and thinking about all sorts of experiences I’ve had. I wrote down a lot of quotes in my trusty notebook. For now, I’ll share this:

[Harry] Frankfurt explains how the widespread conviction that many of us share about needing to comment or weigh in on every single issue around the globe leads to increased levels of BS.

I think the Internet and self-publishing via social media and blogs have contributed to this. If you’re on any form of social media, you immediately have a megaphone. And, social media isn’t fun unless you’re posting something, anything, and garnering clicks, likes, and shares. There’s also a vast array of quick “articles” that have the sole purpose of getting picked up by Google searches, yet offer superficial information. (I could go on about this, but I’m still researching and thinking.)

I’ll say it a third time, I’m guilty! Here I am writing this on a blog! I’m a fan of memoirs and personal essays. I try to write them, but when I’m guilty of bullshitting, I twist my personal experience into “how-to” pieces that maybe, pretty please will rack up some traffic. But, that’s bullshitting. Why not just write my experience as a personal essay? It just may be more persuasive.

And, that’s all to say, go read this book.


Seen & Noted: Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the United States Course

In September of 2003, I was enrolled in the Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the United States course at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. On September 10th, I wrote in my “Seen and Noted” notebook:

The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus is like the advertisement for the U.S.

A line uttered by the professor. I probably took note because by that time, I was interested in advertising.

Here’s the poem:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
-The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus-
It does advertise. In a good way. It expressions compassion, empathy and hope. But it’s not an ad. It’s a poem. Art. But, isn’t a given that art is more persuasive than any form of advertising?

Fashion Confessional

Confashional? Hmmm. Nope.

I used to write for a fashion flash sale site. Which, maybe when you see me in my “plain and simple*” style seems like a stretch, but it’s not. Because, see, I have a style: plain and simple! I’ve been through, erm, phases body-shape-wise. Read: I gained fifteen pounds in college. Lost twenty pounds when I started running for the heck of it. Then gained it back after having 2 kids. Let me tell you, those kids really changed the shape, not just the weight.

The time has come to sift through my closet and get serious about polishing the plain and simple–you know, sort out the clothes that just don’t fit anymore. I started this week and I’ve already realized a few things. Epiphanies? Maybe. Universal truths? For the sake of solidarity, I hope so!

+I keep a pair of khakis for the sole purpose of reminding myself that I should never, ever wear them. They’re a bad idea. Every time I’ve gotten rid of khakis and the spectrum of my pants only runs from black to jeans, I think, “Hey, I should get a pair of khakis. Those are casual, yet classy, right?” Wrong. Oh, so wrong. Now, I’ve got one pair and every time the thought enters my head, I try them on and cringe.

+That running-in-place thing you do to get a pair of tight jeans over the finish line. What is this? It’s kind of a good workout. Move over CrossFit and however-many-day-challenge is popular right now! I’m going to open up a fitness studio devoted to trying on jeans smaller than a size 8.

+”Slightly curvy.” Thanks a lot, Eddie Bauer. Yeah, don’t think your passive-aggressive tone is lost on me. I know what you’re saying and you’re not un-hurting my feelings by assuring me that I’m only slightly curvy. Guess what? You’re not breaking up with me! I’m breaking up with you! Into the tub of “maybe again one day” clothes you go!

+My best kept shoe advice: discount stores and brands known for comfort. Here’s looking at you Dr. Scholl’s with your stepped-up styles. (See what I did there? That’s why I get paid to wriiiiiite!) No one is looking for a red sole at the bottom of my feet and if you think it’s “Jimmy’s Shoes,” I’m not going to correct you. I might giggle, but I’ll let it slide. So, why not give into comfort? Heck yes!

+Loose woven (non-knit) tops are a mid-section’s best friend.

+I detest the term “muffin top” in reference to anything other than the upper portion of a baked good.

+When that skirt that fit you perfectly 2 years ago is now easier to take off over the head. Is this confirmation that I’m “pear-shaped?” Perhaps.

+The confirmation that I’m “pear-shaped” really is when I try on a shift dress and the top fits beautifully, but it’s tight around my hips. How is that possible? That’s not what it looks like on the model.

+Waistbands: Over, on, or under the pooch? Oh, you don’t have one? Uh, I’m asking for a friend of a friend.

+Speaking of waistband position, have you ever unintentionally created a high-low (or low-high) hemline on a skirt because of your pooch/butt situation? Once again, asking for a friend…of a friend.

+During my smallest adult size (I feel it’s important to have a time reference, because I’m not talking about when I was 12), I bought a pair of jeans and a pencil skirt in the smallest size I’ve ever fit into. They literally fit me for a minute. Like one summer. I think I wore the skirt once. I achieved this size by running. Not that I started running to lose weight. (I honestly didn’t think I had any to lose!) But, then my body plateaued. The weight crept back. Now, you’re darn tootin’ that I keep those jeans and skirt in a case like the trophies that they are. I’ve never won any medals for running, but I’ve got those bitches!

There you have it, folks. Now I have to go buy some clothes that fit-ish so I can present myself to the public for consecutive days. No one is buying my “I pop my clothes into the washer as soon as I get home” story.

Have a great weekend!

*This is legit. My style has been described as such. And, it wasn’t in a mean way. I own it.