Galentine’s Day

Ya ya Valentines Day is around the corner blah blah blah. But more important than that, February 13th (that’s today!) is the most sacred day of all: Galentine’s Day.

Made popular by the wonderful show Parks and Rec, Galentine’s Day is all about ladies celebrating ladies. And what could be better than that?

In a world where women are constantly being put down, made to feel small and weak, told to be quiet and pretty and polite and to smile more, this day becomes more important with each passing year.

So ladies, let’s celebrate each other. Here are 5 ideas for how best to celebrate each other this Galentine’s Day!

Go On A Date With Your Best Girlfriends
Who said dates are just for romance? Dinner, drinks, a movie, all the classic date ideas are wonderful to enjoy with anyone you love. Share a special night with you best gal pals and celebrate your friendship!

Have A Spa Day
Is it cliche? Yes. Is it also wonderful? Absolutely. Taking care of yourself is important, and the occasional pampering goes a long way. And what makes self care even better? Enjoying the pampering with your best ladies. A mani/pedi, a massage, a facial, all can be a great way to celebrate and love each other.

Watch Movies With Strong Female Leads
Host a movie night for your best lady friends and enjoy a story together that features strong female characters. Legally Blonde, The Hunger Games, Wonder Woman, The Sound of Music, just to name a few. Laugh, cry, sing, and cheer together.

Brunch
Another cliche that lives up to the hype. Mimosas, breakfast food, and friendship is the perfect way to celebrate one another. Catch up on all the happenings in each other’s lives, toast one another’s accomplishments, and shower yourselves with celebration.

Reach Out To Out Of Town Friends
Life moves fast and we all mean to stay in touch more than we do. Use Galentine’s Day as the perfect opportunity to reach out to friends too far to see and celebrate your friendship from afar.

Bonus: Drink Wine
Whatever activity you end up doing, just make sure there is wine.

Friendship is a beautiful thing, and any excuse to celebrate and love one another I love. Bring me as many cliches and hallmark traps as you can find, I am all for it.

Happy Galentine’s Day, to all the ladies near and far!

-Darci

Pixar Gets Feminist

I love Pixar. It’s a well known fact about me amongst my friends. Pixar has always been innovated and unique in their story telling, and their new venture is no exception. SparkShorts is their new platform of short films, which the company’s website explains is a new program designed to feature “new storytellers, explore new storytelling techniques, and experiment with new production workflows,” adding that the shorts will be “unlike anything ever done” at Pixar. This is a platform for new artists to create freely. And it’s fabulous.

SparkShorts first short Purl is all about women in the workplace, and it’s one to pay attention to. It’s clear from this first short that they are looking to discuss a more serious subject matter than usual. I love Pixar shorts, and even find some of the more recent ones quite profound (La Luna and Piper were particularly moving). But SparkShorts is going deeper, digging into the issues facing society today.

In the short, a ball of yarn named Purl tries to get – and keep – a job at a new workplace, but has trouble fitting in because she is literally and metaphorically “soft,” represented by a ball of knitting yarn placed next to human men.

Check out the short here!

The short opens with Purl, the most qualified resume of candidates, landing an entry level job at a prestigious company. Purl has enthusiasm and hope as she decorates her desk in “soft” things, like knitted patterns, and attempts to join in on some water cooler chit chat. Then Purl tries to navigate a meeting by joining in on the conversation and being a team player, but her colleagues insist on an “aggressive” approach to “win”.

So despite being smart and capable, Purl feels out of place and ostracized because she is different from her male dominated work place. So her solution? Conform to the work environment and masculine expectations, literally re-sewing her “clothes” into a suit. There are plenty of metaphors here, but the most obvious one: to thrive at a company, Purl has to lose any semblance of her femininity.

But everything changes when Lacey, another female, joins the team. At this point, the pair seem to recognize that their femininity and unique qualities are actually an asset to the workplace, and they shouldn’t have to conform to succeed.

Kristen Lester, the director, said that the inspiration came from Lester’s experience being in the field of animation. “My first job, I was like the only woman in the room, and so in order to do the thing that I loved, I sort of became one of the guys. And then i cam to Pixar, and I started to work on teams with women for the first time, and that actually made me realize how much of the female aspect of myself I had sort of buried and left behind.”

Purl is very relatable for many women in the work force. In a world where masculine qualities are preferred for leadership, but only when they come from men, women are left behind constantly in the work place. As women continue to point out the atrocities in how we are treated, shorts like Purl help communicate our circumstances.

What I love most about this short is the ending.  That by women supporting each other, by women embracing their strengths, by giving women more opportunities in the work place, the experience improves for everyone.

Pixar is set to release two more SparkShorts this month, and I am looking forward to seeing what they do next.

 

-Darci

Fearless February

We all know about New Years Resolutions. Maybe you do them, maybe you don’t. Maybe you’ve lost your steam for #NewYearNewYou goals. January is almost over, and maybe you are feeling great about your progress, or maybe you are feeling like you need a little bit more motivation. Or maybe you just feel like it’s time to take a leap of faith on yourself.

And that is where my good friend Dan Cumberland comes in. He is the creative power behind The Meaning Movement, and he is full of motivation and support. That is why he came up with Fearless February.

Fearless February is a social movement helping you face your fears and take personal, meaningful risks in the month of February. You set your own goal, your own challenge, your own meaning; then you share it with the group and we all help motivate and keep each other accountable towards our goals. You commit to your action on something that is scaring you, or holding you back; you get support from like-minded people; and you share your progress with the group.

These can be big goals, these can be little goals.

The website has some great suggestions:
Take a sabbatical, find a mentor, release a podcast, write every day, find my birth mother, ask for a raise, start a non-profit, learn to bake, pitch my idea to my boss, learn to swim, travel somewhere new, apply to 10 jobs, learn how to code, ask her out on a date, start a business, apply to grad school, learn to dance, talk to strangers.

The list goes on and I think it has some great inspirations. The best part is that you set the rules for yourself. I’ve participated in Fearless February a few times. Last year this blog was my FF. A lot of last year was learning to find my voice. This blog was a big part of that. FF was a good motivator to get started in that.

This year I am going to be a little bit more inwardly focused. I love resolutions, I love self reflection, and this year is the year I am finally deciding to commit to myself better. I want to use Fearless February as a way to focus that resolution and make meaningful steps towards my own health. My goal is to get up one hour early every day and spend some time on myself. I can workout, I can do my hair, I can read, I can cook breakfast. My goal is to learn to make my mornings better for me.

Perhaps this sounds small to you. Maybe it is small. Maybe I should be applying to grad school, or learning a new trade, or pushing my creative boundaries more. But this year, I am trying to be much more intentional about working on myself. Looking inward and taking care of my well being. I’m trying to learn to say No more, I’m prioritizing my mental health, and I’m trying to be as good to myself as I am to my friends.

Right now, my mornings are really under utilized. I am not a morning person, comically so, and I will sleep until the absolute last second that I can and then rush through a bare minimum routine to get out the door. And then I spend a lot of my day feeling like I have fallen behind, or that I have so many things to accomplish in the evening that I just spend all day exhausted. My hope is that by spending one hour of my morning working on my personal goals, I will transform my entire day.

They say it takes three weeks to make a habit. So by the end of February, I should have a new morning routine that will set me up for success. Perhaps it will even transform my entire year.

I would like to invite you to join me in Fearless February. What is something that you have always wanted to do, but feel too scared or overwhelmed to do? Is there a change you want to make, but just haven’t found the right motivation yet? Perhaps you also want to start a new habit to better your well being. Or you just like the accountability to keep you on track. Join in with Fearless February and we can all work together!

So, what fear will you face?

 

 

Darci

Toxic Masculinity: Should Men Be Better? 

Gillette made an ad suggesting that men could be better. And then the internet exploded.

I watched the ad before diving into articles and comments and opinion pieces. You can watch it here if you haven’t seen it already.

The ad illustrates “Toxic Masculinity” through examples of young boys being bullied, sexual harassment, catcalling, a man speaking over a woman in a meeting, and the “boys will be boys” line. The second half of the ad then goes on to call men to be better, with Terry Crews suggesting, “men to hold other men accountable”. And then the men in the ad go on to break up fights, stop their friends from making women uncomfortable, all while being seemingly pleasant men. The ad implies that men should be behaving better and redefining masculinity, because the boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow.

And oh boy, were some men angry about this ad.

It’s not surprising that this caused controversy. Despite the fact that women have been pointing to the problem of toxic masculinity long before #MeToo, I’m not surprised that in 2019 the majority of people still want to deny that there is a problem, let alone that they might be part of the problem. Self reflection is hard, conflict is hard, and change is even harder. Sure enough there were lots of “Not all men!” cries when this ad came out, lots of comments about how it’s too generalized, or that this doesn’t apply to me specifically so it’s not relevant.

So let’s break it down shall we?

What is Toxic Masculinity?  
Toxic Masculinity is a narrow and repressive description of ideas about the male gender role. Defining masculinity with exaggerated characteristics of violence, sex, status, and aggression. Toxic Masculinity is a result of cultural masculinity taking control; where strength is everything and emotions are weakness, “feminine traits” – which can range from emotional vulnerability to sexuality – can take your “man” status away, when sexual conquests are how a man establishes and reaffirms his manhood.

Here are some defining beliefs of toxic masculinity:
-Interactions between men and women must be competitive, not cooperative.
-Men can never truly understand women, and men and women cannot be just friends.
-That REAL men need to be strong and showing emotions is a sign of weakness, unless the emotion is anger.
-That men can never be victims of abuse, and talking about it is shameful.
-That REAL men always want sex and are ready for it at any time.
-That REAL men solve their problems with violence.
-The idea that any interest in things that are considered “feminine” would be emasculating for a guy.

First of all, not all men have Toxic Masculinity. No one is or has ever suggested that. However, pretty much everyone is impacted by Toxic Masculinity. Men and women alike.

A lot of socializing went into the development of Toxic Masculinity. Men don’t start out toxic, and not all men become toxic. Are these men just a product of their environment? Perhaps. But this socializing has lead to a drastic problem that needs to be addressed. It doesn’t really matter which came first, the toxic man or the toxic environment, because the problem exists in both people and environment and needs to be addressed overall. Maybe you aren’t aware of your behavior, maybe you are just doing what you were taught, but either way there is a Toxic Masculinity problem that is affecting women AND men in a very negative way.

In my mind, I would almost think that defining Toxic Masculinity and pointing out the characteristics and how it hurts MEN would be a relief for men. It’s a growing understanding that societal pressures are just as high and damaging to men as they are to women. Suicide rates are high in men, and that is not a coincidence. Basically what we are saying is Hey, #MeToo wasn’t just about women, this behavior negatively affects you too. Bullying, boys will be boys, swallow your emotions, treating women like objects, that isn’t good for men either. Toxic Masculinity isn’t a woman’s problem, it isn’t a man’s problem, it’s a human problem.

Acknowledging that there is a problem, that men need to be better, is not admission of guilty behavior. Being part of the solution doesn’t mean you need to be a drastic part of the problem. But being complacent in this issue is contributing to the problem. Standing by and watching a problem persist and doing nothing because it doesn’t directly affect you is contributing to the problem.

It’s time for all of us to reflect on how we can be part of the solution. Bullying does not need to be a normal part of society, sexual harassment does not need to be a socially acceptable thing. We could all make little changes that would completely shift the dynamic. And the biggest thing we can all do is lead by example. We need to be allies for each other now.

So what can you do to be part of the solution?

 

-Darci

4 Healthy Habits for the New Year: Feminist Edition

You know the saying: New Year New You! Your social media is probably flooded with New Years resolution articles and goal making ideas and new ways to do this and that and more! And I thought I should add my voice to the noise. But of course over here, it’s not just about dieting or financial planning or hitting your gains goals, it’s about empowering women. So here are four new habits to consider for the new year to make your life more positive AND more feminist!

Tidy Up Together
Have you watched Tidy Up on Netflix yet? Or maybe you read Marie Kondo’s book when it came out a few years ago. I’m obsessed with her. As a Type A over thinker with anxiety, she is like candy to me. I’ve watched each episode and teared up each time. What stands out to me most is how the dynamics of the relationships evolve through each episode. I’ve talked about emotional labor before and how it is drastically imbalanced in relationships. And what I love about this show is how it helps each family discover that together. By tidying up together each family member discovers they can be doing more to create a healthy dynamic. For the women of the household, they realize what a disservice they do for their families by trying to do everything for everyone. And for the men and children, they realize how stepping up and taking responsibility in their home completely transforms your environment. I love cleaning and organizing, it’s my happy place. And I love seeing her tips and tricks at work in real homes. But what I am loving most is how Marie Kondo helps each home so graciously come together. Don’t just purge your wardrobe and make a quick run to Goodwill, find ways to tidy up the emotional labor balance at home.

Stop Saying Sorry So Often
Many women apologize profusely. Society has conditioned women to remain small, quiet, and unobtrusive. And so we apologize when we ask for what we want, we apologize when we stand up for ourselves, and we apologize for what other people do. And we need to stop. Just because society wants us to be small, quiet, and unobtrusive doesn’t mean we should be. Start noting when you are apologizing for things that are beyond your control or not your fault or not actually bothersome and find new ways to respond that don’t involve apologizing. Things like, “Thank you for bringing this to my attention” or “unfortunately I will not be able to attend” or “If I may say…” are all polite ways of communicating without implying that you’ve done anything wrong.

Affirm Things Other Than Beauty
My cousin had her son just over a year ago. And he is the most adorable child I have ever met. He has a belly laugh that will make your heart skip a beat, a smile that will make you melt, and a personality that will have you swooning. It’s hard not to gush over him. But it’s very important to my cousin that she affirms things other than his looks. Every time she catches herself or others (like me) calling him cute or handsome or adorable she starts affirming him in other ways immediately. You are smart, you are kind, you are brave, you are thoughtful. And it’s so powerful. We should all be doing this, because wouldn’t it be wonderful to have your other attributes acknowledged and affirmed? I don’t think there is anything wrong with complimenting an outfit, or hair style, or what not. But it’s so easy to compliment a physical appearance. It’s time to go deeper and affirm each other’s character.

Stop Being So Polite
When you really stop to take stock of it all, women really have been socialized to be societies doormats. And quite frankly it’s not doing society any good. I know I struggle with saying No to people all the time, and I know plenty of other women who feel the same. I have several friends who struggle to turn men down for a date, and I’m constantly asking why (I know why)? You didn’t like him, you aren’t attracted to him, and he annoys you. So why do you feel obligated to continue seeing him? Just say No! But here’s the real quicker, my friend finally does say No and the guy loses his shit. Abusive text messages and bullying, until I finally convince my friend to stop responding and block the guy already, so he goes and finds her on Instagram and continues the charade. All because after one silly coffee date he can’t handle being told No. Society has conditioned girls to be nice to boys, but we never conditioned boys to be nice to girls. So we grow up into women who fear hurting strangers feelings, and men who feel entitled to everyone and everything they come in contact with. So it’s time to break the cycle. It will be ugly at first. But after a while maybe men will realize that it doesn’t kill them to be told No and life really does go on.

Resolutions can be very self involved. In fact they are mostly meant to be self involved. And self involvement can be good, until it turns into self absorption. So while you focus on New Year New You, maybe fine one way to be better to the people you interact with each day. Don’t just put effort into yourself, put effort into your community.

-Darci

Why Can’t I Say No?

I can’t say no to things. I’ve always been that way. There are lots of things I want to do. I want to go to all of my friends social events, I want to host my own, I want to help with projects, I want to take on more responsibility at work, I want to help my coworkers succeed, I want to travel near and far, I want to see movies and plays and read books and take a class. But most importantly, I just want to be there for everyone.

I used to think people that struggled with going out and doing things were introverts, and since I am an extrovert I will never struggle with keeping up with everything. I would be fueled by it. But about two years ago I started feeling, to put it simply, tired. I had been seeing my partner for several months at this point, and I was trying to see him as often as I could and go have as much fun with him as possible. I was also trying to keep up with my single girl social life and give everything I was giving before to my girl friends. I started a new job that was much more fast paced than anything I had experienced before and had a steep learning curve. I was burning out and I didn’t even realize it.

It was a weekend in Vegas that did me in. Two nights in Vegas doing the Vegas thing, and a few days later I am sitting on my partners bed crying. And I have no idea why I am crying. I just know that I am crying and I don’t know how to stop it. My partner very tenderly looked me in the eye and said, very simply, “You’re tired”. And it all just clicked.

I was trying to do everything and be everything for every one. Turns out I can do that for six months before a mental breakdown. And I have spent the last two years trying to figure out how to say no to things more often. I plan nothing weekends. Literally plan. It goes on the calendar. No plans are allowed this weekend. And I do my best to not even leave my home the whole weekend. I try to keep at least one evening during the week where I come home and do nothing. No gym, no social events, no counseling. Just come home. I do my best to keep these nothing plans, but to be honest, more often than not, I cave and say yes to something.

It’s been a hard balance to strike. One that I am still working hard to figure out. I feel very fortunate to have a very supportive partner and very supportive friends. When I start to double book myself, my partner will remind me that is our nothing evening, and encourage me to honor that plan. Others in my life haven’t been as gracious in supporting my need to say no from time to time, making that balance harder to find. I realized I tend to give soft No’s, rather than hard No’s. And there are definitely people in my life who challenge my soft No’s, and once challenged I usually end up saying an unenthusiastic yes.

For such a tiny word, No looms larger in our consciousness. We don’t like saying it, we don’t like hearing it. But it is such an important boundary we must learn to wield.

So why don’t we say no? 

We have plenty of reasons not to say No. We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, we don’t like confrontation, we want to be polite and helpful, we actually want to be able to say yes. And so we say yes, and almost instantly we regret it.

So why do we keep saying Yes when we really want to say No?

-You follow the Golden Rule: Do unto others. You give and give and give, and agree to everything, because if the situation were reversed you would want them to do the same.

-You’re a person of your word. You said yes, so you’re going to do it. You’d rather put yourself out than be flaky.

-You’re a caregiver-type. People always come to you with their fires, and you want to take care of them.

-You fear the conflict it will create. You don’t want to upset the people you care about, you don’t want to face a guilt trip, you don’t want to deal with an argument.

-You fear that you will lose that person if you say No. You don’t want to face their wrath or abandonment.

Do any of these sound familiar? Do all of these sound familiar? 

When we are in a vulnerable position, put on the spot, face to face with someone else, we often fail to be straightforward about our personal boundaries. We jump into fix-it mode, we do everything we can to appease the person and smooth things over. We often don’t set boundaries and let people do things that are not okay and then we become resentful. We associate boundaries with being rude or pushy. But being compassionate doesn’t mean being a pushover or a doormat for other people.

It boils down to setting a personal policy, implementing it, and communicating it to others. Setting boundaries that uphold your values and allow you to practice self-care is a self-compassionate act. The alternative is resentment and unstable relationships. When we have poor boundaries we overextend ourselves and allow people to keep taking from us with no respect for our own well being. Poor boundaries teaches others to disrespect you. Love and respect begin with self-love and self-respect.

A big lesson I have learned is that if telling someone No creates conflict, that is not my problem but theirs. If setting a simple and reasonable boundary leads to tension and escalation, I have found all the more reason to say No. I’m realizing I have spent most of my life feeling like I couldn’t say No without conflict, and how harmful that has been to my well being for decades now.

But more so than that, I have learned that the people who value and respect me, encourage my No. If I need to change plans or say No altogether, I am met with kindness and understanding. And the more intentional I am about my relationships, the more fulfilling they are. When I focus on people who treat me the way I want to be treated, I find I am less drained and that there is a lot less conflict in my life.

My theme for 2019 is Love Better. And part of that is going to be saying No more often.

 

-Darci

2019: What Comes Next?

Happy New Year! We have all managed to make it through another year, and before us stands a brand new one. I like the new year. I like getting reflective and hopeful. I feel like twice a year I really take the time to contemplate, observe, and consider intentionally: New Years, and my birthday. I know lots of people frown on resolutions, I know that statistically we will all fail in our resolutions, but for me that’s not the point. For me, it’s about taking the time to slow down and be intentional, even if it’s just for one day.

And so I have been thinking a lot about 2019. What do I want to accomplish this year, who do I hope to be, what comes next (#HamiltonReference)?

Last year I wrote a blog ever Wednesday and that helped me really find my voice, it helped me feel more eloquent, and it helped me sort out my anger. Last year I voted in a midterm election. Last year I spent a lot of time focusing on my female community and found a family like I have never had before. Last year I fell even deeper in love than I thought I could. Last year I went back to counseling and got to know myself in an entirely new way.

I’m still angry. I’m starting to wonder if I will ever not be angry. And I still have plenty to say. And I want to be fearless in my anger. Stop worrying about being too shrill, too controversial, too difficult. And start worrying about being as honest as I can be, even if it’s unpleasant.

So what do I want this year?

Every time I have asked myself this question I keep finding the same answer: Love Better. Love myself better, love those I love better, and guard my love better.

I am not good at loving myself. I have this voice in my head that is constantly telling me I am not enough and I will never be enough and I don’t deserve to be enough anyway. And I want to quiet that voice. If anyone spoke to one of my loved ones the way I speak to myself I would shut that down before they knew what hit them, so why can’t I do that for myself? I hope to find a way to quiet that voice this year.

I feel so fortunate to be surrounded by a community of people who love me, who listen to me, and who affirm me. To be honest, more often than not it’s overwhelming. And I want to be as good to them as they are to me. I want to continue to learn from them, continue to be fueled by them, and continue to be inspired by them. And I hope I can be that source for them as well.

The older I get, the more I realize I love all the way. I don’t have levels, I give all I have to everyone. And more than once I have loved with everything I have and found nothing in return. Friends, family, romance, I give it all. And when you give it all, you have nothing left for yourself. And so I have learned to be cautious about who I love, and I am continuing to learn that. Over the years I have learned to surround myself with people who see me, who care about me, and who listen to me, and those are the people I give myself to. An important life lesson for me throughout life has been loving the wrong people and realizing it didn’t kill me. My hope is to continue to learn to who to love wholly and who to love cautiously.

I have a lot of hopes and goals for 2019. Maybe they will last three weeks, maybe by June I will have forgotten all about it all. But honestly, I think this year will be transformative. Because every year is. Goals or not, hopes or not, we all change over the course of a year. Each day may feel mostly the same, but when you stop to take a look you realize you aren’t the same person today that you were 365 days ago. And thank god.

So here is to more love in 2019, more anger in 2019, and more baths.

 

Cheers,

-Darci