Waking up Through the Looking Glass: A Letter to Friends & Family who Voted for Donald Trump,

Dear Friends & Family who voted for Donald Trump,

heartbroken-quotes-heart-broken-quotes-sad-love-quotes-found-on-polyvoreI know you probably won’t read this. I know you unfollowed me on Facebook a while back. It’s okay. I’m guilty too. I unfollowed you the day after the election. It was a knee-jerk, wholly emotional reaction, I admit. I just wanted to put my fingers in my ears and sing “la-la-la” for a little while. I’m making my return though, and before I click the “follow friend” button again, I have some things that I’d like to say.

First and foremost, I don’t hate you. Yes, I’m angry, hurt, and betrayed. Yes, I’m feeling tremendous fear, but Confucius said, “It is easy to hate, and difficult to love.”, and I’m not afraid of working hard. We’ve gotten away pretty easy up until now, never having had our relationship truly tested. I want you to know, that I think we can get through this. I want you to know that I love you enough to try to make it work. I hope you love me that much too.

Those of you who know me should understand how personal this election was for me. It isn’t like the final score of a World Series, or the final game in the NFL play-offs. I don’t really care about sports much, but you know that. You’ve been watching for months, on Facebook, as I sacrificed weeks of writing to sew Suffragette costumes for my little and I. You know how we learned about the history of women’s rights in this country; how we watched Iron Jawed Angels over, and over again. You know, that for me, this wasn’t just any election. It was history. It was the chance to shatter the highest glass ceiling of all. You know that this is how I feel.

You know the colors that have been cast across my skin, too. You not only know, but some of you share the blood in my veins; have committed your own blood to it. You know about the life I’ve lived. The decisions I’ve made. The scandals. The thing is, I know yours too. I know the pitfalls, and the bad choices, the faults, and the low-times. Whether you’ve asked me to or not, I’ve been there, standing behind you, ready to help in anyway you need.  That’s what it means to be in the same circle. I thought it was safe to be in the same circle with you, because you have my back, and I have yours.

That’s why I’m so upset. Because I really thought being in the same circle meant we agreed on the same fundamental things. I thought it meant I had your back, and you had mine.

But on Wednesday I woke up through the looking glass, only to discover it was all a lie.

 

That Wednesdbroken-heart-quotes-to-share-your-pain15ay I woke up not just to an election result I never in a million years could have predicted, but to you:

 

 

 

  • telling me “you lost get over it”;
  • accusing me of whining;
  • mocking my fear, and that of others;
  • demanding I “give him a chance”.

I woke up to hate crimes that would never have happened in a country that didn’t just elect a man who’d run a campaign of hate. I’ve heard you tell me, with the most meaningful action an American citizen has, that you didn’t think my safety, or my child’s safety, was more important than “bucking a system”.

I’ve heard you cite President Obama’s failures for the last 8 years, but refuse to acknowledge his triumphs. Here’s what I’ve seen:

  • racists calling for Obama to prove his citizenship, Trump, not only among them, but the loudest of the calls;
  • his legalizing stem cell research is directly responsible for us being on the cusp of a cure for Alzheimer’s;
  • a lack of across the aisle cooperation so great that the government literally shut down;
  • a first family in the White House without scandal, without excuse, scrutinized under a microscope, and coming up with more class than any of their predecessors;
  • love in the White House for the first time in my life.

I see people on my side looking within themselves, wondering what we missed, searching for some way to understand it all. What have I seen on the Trump side of the fence? Not one Trump supporter speaking up as to why it was worth it to vote for a man who

  • campaigned under a promise to create Muslim registries;
  • demeaned POWs, and disabled people;
  • exhibited behavior we would ground our own children for;
  • joked about how he would date his daughter
    • This one is pretty hard for me to understand, because I can’t imagine how you could stomach such a statement from your own husband about your own daughter. Your silence about this makes me afraid.  It makes me think this is acceptable to you.  It makes me wonder if you would condone it. That you are willing to help a man who does think this way makes me nauseous.
  • was endorsed by the KKK.
    • I mean, what it is even like to vote for the same guy as David Duke voted for? Does it feel good? Does it make you feel like disinfecting your entire body? Do you realize the KKK comes after race mixing white people? Do you realize that you aren’t safe when they come to town?

Your silence about all of it, except to mock my fears, is most heartbreaking of all. It’s because I love you so much that I am so upset. I thought you’d care enough to see that this was so much more than an election.  This was the shattering–not of a glass ceiling, but of the illusion that this country could ever care about me.

Here’s what I have heard from you:

  • A Trump supporter told me, echoing Breitbart news rhetoric, “Systemic racism does not racism-text-straightexist, except for in the ways it applies to white men.”;
  • At Staples I overheard two women agree, after I’d passed the aisle they were in “I can’t wait until we can get rid of the Mexicans.”;
  • Hate crimes have reached 701 since the election;
  • The media is manipulating my perspective;
    • But when I press you for your sources, you give me ones that operate on a clear bias. When I ask you what liberal news you watch, you scoff at me, as if I am suggesting something I don’t already do. I watch Fox News. I read Breitbart. I compare my answers to CNN and the BBC, and then …only then, do I form an opinion. And yet, I am the one guilty of having my perspective manipulated?
  • Don’t lump me in with the racists, and the sexists.

I want to be very clear. I don’t want to lump you in with the loudest voices of Trump supporters. I don’t want to think of you as someone who thought the things he said were “no big deal”. I really don’t, but it’s not about what I want. It’s about what you want. If you don’t want to be confused with the hateful messages that were spread, you have to say that. If you don’t want to be collected with a group of people who threaten to legislate my body, you have to say that. If you don’t want to be represented by a hate group hiding behind the code name “alt-right”, then you have to say that…and it’s not enough to just say it to me. You have to say it to other supporters. You have to say it to our state representatives, because if you’re not speaking up and adding your voice to the conversation, then you are tacitly implicit in the decisions made as a consequence of your vote.

If you are one of those people who say, “I don’t really pay attention to politics, but…” and also voted for Trump, then, I’m sorry, but you have even more work to do, because what you’ve done is allowed yourself to be willfully ignorant, and then acted upon that ignorance in a way that puts me, mine, and yours in jeopardy.

I really do love you, and I want you to know that I am not going to be the first to bring this conversation up with you. I am going to respect your need for a safe space in all of this, but make no mistake– I do not intend to be quiet. I will fight for my rights, for the rights of my children, and for yours, because even if you do not understand me, or want to understand me, I still believe you are a valid, worthy, incredible human being who is entitled to feel safe and respected everywhere you go. I hope you feel the same for me.

 

Love,

T.R.

 

Waking up Through the Looking Glass : A Story of Post-Election Betrayal

Has it been only two weeks since America disappeared through the looking glass? Forgive me. I’m still getting my bearings. Wonderland is so surreal. I’ve been walking through Dali’s paintings, and my clocks have been melted into the 1930s.

Halloween was only three weeks ago. It feels like a lifetime. It was a Monday that my daughter and I suffragette halloween costumewalked the parade at her Elementary School.  She did not let go of my hand one time. She was so proud to walk side by side. We were not just Mother and Daughter. We were best friend Suffragettes, Alice Paul and Lucy Burns. We’d watched Iron Jawed Angels three or four times a week that month. She beamed her toothless jack’o’lantern grin as she was cheered by the parents, grandparents, and family gathered for glimpses of Iron Man and Elsa.  The skirt I’d spent weeks sewing was juuuust too long, and the “Votes for Women” sash was slipping off her shoulder.  She didn’t care.  That day she soared on clouds of pride.  Pride in being a woman.  When I asked her what her favorite part of dressing like a Suffragette was, she replied without hesitation, “Inspiring other girls.”

Was it only two weeks ago? The sun was shining so brightly.  I waited on pins and needles for my 7 year old to be released from school.  Filled with glee we raced home to quick change back to Alice and Lucy. We piled into the car with my parents, and my 15 year old son, for a short drive to the polling place. I did not let go of her hand one time. My fore-mothers whispered in my ear as I signed my ballot, “Go. Be counted. Your voice, and your vote matter.” We were not alone, my daughter and I, in the voting booth. We stood together with centuries of women: Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Susan B. Anthony. Hand in hand we cast our ballot, for the first time in my life, for a woman President. Tears of joy and pride could not be held back, and I didn’t want to hold them back.

How could I ever anticipate the red plague that would paint my beloved country? How could I anticipate the despair?

The betrayal smiled smugly, “I told you so.” It taunted behind porcelain veneers and a comb-over.

“I thought you loved me.” I wailed. “I thought you saw what he did! I thought we were opposed to bullies, and believed a man who’d admitted to sexual assault was not Presidential material. I thought you were with me, fighting racism, xenophobia, bigotry, side by side. I thought you understood how fragile our progress has been, and quickly it could all be lost.”

The betrayal only pursed its lips, and crooned. “Don’t be a sore loser. It’s going to be okay. Just give him a chance.”

I spent the day in fits of tears, reaching out to my family, my friends of color, my marginalized community to make sure they were safe, meanwhile:hatecrime_m

Teenagers in carried Trump signs in hallways, yelling “White Power.”;

Latinx students were bullied with chants of “build the wall”;

A woman in a gas station was assaulted by three men who threatened to shoot her.

“But Alice Paul and Martin Luther King Jr.! The tubes down their throats, the fire hoses turned on demonstrators? Japanese internment camps? I thought you remembered! I thought you would protect me from ever having to be afraid again?” I sobbed.

hatecrime_n“You’re being paranoid.” The betrayal scoffed. Meanwhile:

Students took photos in black face;

Hijabs were torn from women’s heads;

Black figures were hung in effigy;

A Latino boy was beaten;

A Saudi Man was beaten to death;

Has it been only one week? It feels like an eternity has passed under this cloud of hatred and fear. I have not seen one safety pin in my town. Am I a danger to my children in public? Should I straighten my hair? Should I train the Spanglish out of my vocabulary?

“You just have to wait and see what he does?” Betrayal rolled its eyes at me.

A White Supremacist has been named Chief White House strategist. “David Duke, former imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, called the choice ‘excellent’ and said Mr. Bannon was ‘basically creating the ideological aspects of where we’re going.'” according to the NY Times.

“But this is not where I want to go!” I cry. “This is not the ideology I thought we all agreed on. I thought we all thought racism was bad, and that David Duke and his friends are the essence of evil!”

Betrayal doesn’t listen. It only crosses it arms, sticks out its tongue, and tells me “Too late now.”

My body now faces legislation. Men will pass laws. Different ones in different states. Ones that tell me what I can and cannot do with it. Someone else will impose their beliefs on my body. I have become sub-human.

“You don’t need those rights anymore.” Betrayal sneered. “Teach your daughter about birth control and you won’t have to worry.”

“But why?” I begged. “I AM A PERSON!”

Betrayal stood up, looming tall over me, its face visible for the first time. It was like nothing I’d ever seen. Faces of voters who gambled my safety on a sexual predator; of non-voters who were too busy to save us; of apathetic voters who chose to use their voice to protest; friends; strangers; family. “Because they chose not to engage. They chose to see only what they wanted. They un-followed instead of hearing the pleas from the marginalized. They looked away, because they thought bucking the system was worth your rights. They didn’t care that the push of the voting button, the tick of a box, was enough to put you in danger.” Returning to the spot Betrayal still sits in to this day, its voice came in a low raspy whisper. “Face it. The world you thought you lived in is a fantasy.”

You’ll have to forgive me, because Wonderland is a terrifying place, and I’m still hoping it is all a dream. Day by day the hate crime toll rises. At the time I’m writing this, Southern Poverty Law Center is reporting 701 since the election. I know now that the only weapon I have is my voice. My gift. The only way home is to join it with the conversation we all need to have. So forgive me for my silence, and for the fury with which my voice returns. Consider me informed and dangerous.

For now, I will leave you with what I told my daughter the day after the election,

“Yesterday we dressed as Alice Paul. It wasn’t enough. Tomorrow we have to be Alice Paul.”

 

 

TR Patmore’s Playwright Debut with Colors of Community

colorscommuinity

I’ve been holding onto this news for almost a year. For the first time anywhere I, T.R. Patmore, will debut a ten minute excerpt of my play, Sisters Fight,  at the third series of Colors of Community on November 11, 2016 at the Harlem School of Arts!

Colors of Community is a socially conscious non-profit, sponsored, organization that “produces events which feature short plays that consider diverse viewpoints on current issues and their impact within communities.” Previous events include themes of Civil Rights, Classism, Education, Gender equality, and The Residue of Imperialism, and the intensifying climate of distrust between law enforcement and community. Each event includes a post-performance open discussion led by a panel of representatives for each panel.
The November 11th series of Colors of the Community will discuss women’s issues, female empowerment, the role women play, and are struggling to play within our society. The featured plays were all written by women, and will be directed by women! They include: Jazelle the Gazelle, by Dominque Morisseau;  The Orphan Classifieds, by Ninan Tan; and Sisters Fight, by yours truly, T.R. Patmore! Doors open at 7:00 PM. Seating is limited. Tickets : $15 Follow Colors of the Community on Facebook, or Twitter @ColorsofUnity for more information, or my Facebook page @TRPatmore for updates and news.

I’m super humbled by the response Sisters Fight has already received. That I will get to witness the transformation of the words I put on paper into a real life production is beyond thrilling. To think, in a few weeks I’ll get to meet the characters I dreamed up leaves me marveling. That I get to do this in a forum that so precisely speaks to my very mission as a writer–women’s empowerment and diversity–feels like the universe is hugging me.

Is this my life?

More details to come, so stay tuned!

 

 

Forgive me, Daughter-


Forgive me, 
for the time I borrowed, when you wanted to play. 

A woman’s curse

is not her period 

(Although they really can suck, but we all have gotten excited to see it at least once),

it’s that we have trouble remembering 

who we were

before we got promoted 

to Mom.

The time I borrow

is to show you 

being a woman 

doesn’t mean 

you have to choose. 

Ten Lifehacks to Balance Life, Depression, and Writing

My creative journey has been really taking off lately. I’m about to reach a milestone in my draft. A ten-minute version of a play I wrote, Sisters Fight, is about to get staged in New York City! (more details forthcoming. Follow me on Facebook or Twitter @TRPatmore for the most up to date info). I’m really feeling connected to my craft in a way I haven’t felt in years.

What’s the change? So many things! The biggest one, however, is going to sound oh-so-familiar, but here it is–I’m making time to write, and developing a habit. I’m setting goals. More importantly– I’m achieving them!

None of it is easy. Balancing domestic responsibilities, with the needs of my kids, the support role we wives play in our husband’s careers, along with writing is a tricky thing. You know what kind of thing it isn’t? An impossible one.  Here are a few hacks  I’ve discovered that are really helping me succeed. Hopefully, you might find a couple that help you too!bukowski

  1. Be desperate to write. Charles Bukowski said, “writers are desperate people and when they stop being desperate they stop being writers.”  I saw this while mindless scrolling through Instagram, and it hit me like a punch in the chest. I admit, I lost my desperation at some point along the way. I approached becoming a writer with too much skepticism in the past. I’m not sure I was convinced that I could actually do this thing. It was when I stopped to consider what would happen if I had to stop writing that I discovered how desperate I really was. What if all I could do was wait until my children went to bed and squeeze whatever words I had in? What would I do if I only had one hour to write? This one idea changed everything.
  2. Acknowledge weaknesses. There is this group of people in my life whose biggest criticism of me is that I’m “too perfect”. It’s probably one of the most ridiculous statements that I’d ever heard, but they’ve never seen the laundry area of my basement. The fact of the matter is that I am nowhere near perfect. I stink at repetitious tasks; I hate having to make creative decisions on the spot (like what to make for dinner); and I’m also dealing with depression–which makes having the energy to begin tasks damn near impossible. These are the things that make me who I am. Ignoring them doesn’t help me. Acknowledging my weaknesses, however, allows me to work with and around them.
  3. Find a writing partner, group, or creative tribe. I understand if this sounds insurmountable. It can sometimes be tricky to discover like minds. Just try to be open, and take a chance. NaNoWriMo is coming up, and they have great groups which meet-up both virtually, and locally. Reach out to your artist friend. I am extremely lucky to have a writing soulmate,  fellow writer, Erica Deel. We do our best to see each other whenever life allows, but we make sure to take advantage of phone calls, and even have our very own personal writing support group page on Facebook just for the two of us. It helps to have someone to be accountable to, but even more than that, it helps to have a person understand your plight. My creative tribe also includes my cousin, an actress (just one of a million other talents she has) and fellow creative. Together we have been able to create a support structure for our creative passions that is almost spiritual. It’s hard to describe. The point is that when my creative energy is lagging, or when I’m feeling stuck, the women in my tribe help to lift me up and get me back on track, as well as motivate me to succeed so I can return the favor in my own way.
  4. Take control of time. There are only 24 hours in a day. It’s true. There’s nothing you can change about that. Find a way to make a visual representation of the time you spend on various tasks throughout the day. All it takes is a two day commitment to catalogue your activities to see that there is a lot of time wasted (I’m looking at you social media) that could be used to write. Trying to decide what to make for dinner each night, was a huge struggle. Trips to the grocery store were horrendous time sucks. I tried making lists, but even that took forever, because I wasn’t really sure what I needed to buy. The same held true for tedious repetitive tasks, which I have serious issues accomplishing. I wasted all kinds of time just trying to get up the energy to clean something, fold something, dust or vacuum something. Laundry is the absolute worst for me. Usually it takes one of the kids running out of socks to get it going, and I’m not going to pretend that hbujoas really been solved totally. I’m getting there.
  5. Find and commit to a method. There’s all kinds of organization methods out there just a Pinterest away. Pick one you like. Commit to it for two months. I chose Bullet Journeling (check out the post I wrote about it here), and I find that it is a really effective way to help me focus all of my thoughts, tasks, and to-dos in one place.
  6. Plan Ahead. The BuJo method is great for helping you to plan your time. The biggest change I made was weekly meal planning, and marathon meal prepping.  Because deciding what to cook for dinner often lead to take-out, I decided that the only way to ensure I was providing a healthier lifestyle for my kids was to decide what to cook ahead of time. This is where BuJo comes in handy. I have a few different notebooks with different functions that I’ve put into regular use in my life. My daily BuJo is the size of a pocket-sized Moleskine (it actually is one, right now), and is where I put both monthly and weekly calendars. I have a creative journal where more permanent things go, like my master meal list, and recipe cards, along with notes about my novel, and other creative expressions about my life. BuJo’s indexing makes it easy to find what I need, pretty quickly.    I use them both every Sunday to plan the meals I’ll cook for the week, and create a grocery list. I also tend to prepare double batches of things like lasagna, or meatloaf, that I freeze for use in upcoming weeks. This Fall I decided to stop letting my kids buy lunch at school, which was made so much easier since I’d already developed the meal planning habit. It just gets added onto prep day.
  7. Play to strengths. Since I’m much better at getting tasks I hate completing done in bursts I’ll buy all the groceries I need from the list I’ve made in one day, and then I meal prep all at once. What that means is that I do all the chopping, dicing, and spicing done at once. I separate things into ziplocks, and plastic containers (I’ve amassed quite the collection from the take-out days), and store according to when I’ll need them. Having everything pre-portioned, and prepped makes it super easy to throw dinner together, and cuts actual cooking time. By the time I’m finished I’ve got ready-to-eat breakfasts for my son (he gets up earlier in the morning than the rest of us), four days worth of lunches for both kids, and snacks for the little one too. Every dinner I’ll make that week will be broken down into easy to cook parts. This leaves me with more time in the school day to complete other difficult domestic tasks that would get pushed aside in favor of grocery store trips, and figuring out what to make for dinner.
  8. Set goals. This is another thing BuJo is great for. Creating trackers to help you meet your goals is an easy thing to do, and something you can get pretty creative with (yet another Pinterest away). My life can be unpredictable, between religious holidays, and whether or not my hubby is working from home, so instead of scheduling the bathroom to be cleaned on Wednesday, I’ll write it on a to-do list: bathroom, and floors; or dusting, and de-cluttering. I haven’t really found a way to make laundry work this way, but I’ll keep you posted when I do. This is where your writing life can get a chance to make your to-do list. With the domestic stuff scheduled, you’re free to put the writing time back into your life. Set goals. Some writers like to set word count goals, others prefer to track the time they spend. I like to set two scenes per week: one that I’ll definitely finish, the other that I will start if I finish the first one quickly. This gives me a way to structure my thinking ahead of time, the same way I make a grocery list for the meals I’m prepping for the week.  To keep myself focused I use this adorable iOS app called Forest, which lets me time 20 minute bursts of writing, and lets me earn adorable plants and trees for my daily focus forests. Don’t forget to set time to read! This is just as important as your writing habit.
  9. Reward yourself. In every other job you get rewarded for your work on a regular basis, in the form of a paycheck. Mom doesn’t come with that kind of validation, nor does domestic engineer, and guess what, writing doesn’t do it with any kind of regularity either. BuJo makes it easy to see the accomplishments you’re achieving from week to week, and crossing things off a list feels great! It’s important to acknowledge this success too. Reward yourself for your wins. Didn’t order take-out the entire week? Sweet, order a pizza on Saturday!  Met your writing goals for the week? Get some ice cream, take a bath, paint your nails. You know what your weaknesses are, indulge them when you’ve had a good run.
  10. Don’t give up. There’s going to be bad days. You’re going to catch colds. For me there is an acceptance that some days I’ll beat my depression back, and some days when I’m too paralyzed to move. I have accepted this, and know that the pile of laundry in my living room doesn’t make me a bad person, or a bad mom. Life obstacles are going to occur. You’ve got to roll with them, get through them, and get back to what is important. The habit that has been developed is going to be there when you’re ready for it. And when all else fails, remember number 1.

Dear Writer

IMG_4994Dear Writer,

I see you there, hovering by the door, uncertain if this letter is for you.  If you heard your name, even if it’s only in the smallest corner of your secrets; come in, make yourself comfortable.  You are welcome here.

There, now. That’s better.  Take a load off.  You don’t have to carry all the baggage here.

I know you may not feel like it right now, but I want to tell you something very important, and I need you to pay very close attention. Are you ready?

I believe in you.

You are divine.

You are worthy.

If there is something inside you. A story. A script. A poem. A novel. Please share it. I so want to read it. If it is your soul on a page– it is everything I’ve ever wanted.

I know this journey is hard. I know it is confusing. I know that you battle your self-doubt and the doubt of those around you. It isn’t easy when the people you love the most dismiss your goals as pipe dreams, delusions, fantasies. It isn’t easy getting rejection after rejection. It isn’t easy when you’re curled on the bathroom floor wondering who you would be without your pen. I know.

Don’t give up.

If you have to come back here, every time you doubt yourself, so you can be reminded of how amazing you are–do that. If you have to stand in the mirror and repeat “I am divine. I am worthy. I am a writer.”–do that. If you have to cry, or yell, or scream–do that. Do whatever it takes.

But do not give up.

Because you are a creator. A world depends on you. A universe of your imagination is waiting to be shared, and I am waiting to discover it.

At the end of the day, you are the one who decides whether or not you are a writer…and I think you’ve already chosen.

So, write, dear Writer. Answer the call of your soul.

I will be waiting to discover you.

Love,

T.R. Patmore

Just My Inkblot– NOW ON ETSY!

This has been a tumultuous year, despite how optimistic I was when 2015 ended. I’ve experienced the shock, and sudden punch in the soul that is an unexpected death of a person too young to leave; and the long drawn out anxious, prolonged pain that taught me the cruelty of a society who treats animals with more compassion than the elderly. The loss of my Grandmother was a tremendous blow, and despite the months of hurry up and wait (in the midst of a bout of unemployment), I could never have anticipated the depression that would follow.

There have been beautiful things too; moments that could have only been born from tragedy; validations of love after long separations; revisiting the joys of my childhood in the visions of the future generations embracing life the way only children can do. In the aftermath of the sadness, in the still quiet times that followed, there was a particular moment of beauty–a blessing of inspiration.

My Grandmother was a writer–a poetess–a lyricist. When I was little I could hear one of her songs play on the Spanish radio stations. For one of her birthdays, her eleven children published her collected works, and even held a book signing for all of her loved ones (and there are so many: at last count 11 children living, 26 grandchildren, 30 great-grandchildren, and there is one on the way!). Looking for ideas on a tattoo to commemorate her, I searched through this book. The poems are all in Spanish, so I hadn’t really paid them much attention before. I’m glad I waited, because that day I could feel her in the pages, hear her love in the words. There were so many things she never said to us, she was a stoic woman, not given easily to emotion, but there on the pages were the tender adorations, admirations, and wishes of a Mother, a Grandmother, a lover, a friend.  That’s when I realized that these were the gifts she’d left me.

My creativity, my comfort with words, these are things that come from her. The ability to craft words, and craft with words, these are as much her legacy as they are my gifts. I remembered in those moments that my Grandmother did these things in age before a computer processor. She poured her emotions into a typewriter–an unforgiving machine. She had to combat technology in order to share her love. So I did something crazy. I bought a typewriter!

This is Audrey. She is a 1940’s Royal De Luxe manual, portable typewriter with authentic glass keys (except for the “s” it was factory replaced by Audrey’s original owner).

royal quiet deluxe

Another beautiful moment that came throughout the ordeal of this year was during the moments of familial bonding that occur when a matriarch is claimed by the universe. Some of us hadn’t seen one another in years, and we had certainly never been together en masse in several decades. As we caught up with one another’s lives we discovered passions and talents. My family began to echo the calls of some of my friends– “Use your talents.” They said. “Share your gifts with the world.”

Maybe it’s because when Audrey arrived I realized that words are the things we leave behind, and are the method we can fearlessly use to share our emotions; maybe because there is a romance in the written word; or because the mystery of a typed note seems to be a fleeting whisper of memory; there are a million reasons I heeded this call.

I am proud to announce to my wonderful readers, that I have officially opened an Etsy shop where I can share my love of words with the world.

What can you find in my shop?

Words. Words craft. Wordcraft. Word crafts.

That is to say I plan to manipulate words in their physical form. Starting with beautiful hand typed quotes in various colors of ink: black, purple, pink have already been added. Green and blue are coming soon! Just click the link to see what I have in stock.

Hand Typed Quotes

Shakespeare in pink!

Shakespeare in pink!

I’m also releasing limited runs of word manipulated art. The first of which are a series of frames layered in actual book pages from books I’ve rescued from the library garbage box.

Frames for Book Lovers & Writers

pink and blue fairy

I’m so grateful to everyone who has encouraged this endeavor. I’m already feeling the energies of the universe changing. I’m already feeling the beauty of my dreams manifesting. The creative spirit in me is inspiring me to return to my novel, and finally get that draft written. This above all I owe to all of you.

Thank you.

My Bullet Journal Journey

It happened one insomniac night, as I was browsing Pinterest absently searching for nothing. You guys, those of you who knew about this, have totally been holding out on me. Bullet Journals are the analog answer to all of those organizational apps I’ve downloaded and used for five minutes. The giant bonus is that I finally get to use all my absent doodling in a way that actually helps me get things done.

What the heck is a Bullet Journal?

“Bullet Journal was developed by Ryder Carroll, a digital product designer living in Brooklyn, NY. Through many years of trial and error, the system has evolved into the ideas presented here. He sees this as an evolving, adaptable platform meant to be shared and self curated as you determine what works best for you.” – Bulletjournal.com/about

The Bullet Journal is a notebook. Plain and simple. It’s a technique to use a notebook as an accounting of your life, be it a to-do list, a task list, a dream board, or a note taking system. You can use any notebook you wanbujot, and all the colors of the rainbow. It’s a completely customized DIY journal system, and all you really need is a notebook and pen.

I recommend it to almost anyone, but especially hands-on creatives, non-linear thinkers, and people who are interested in keeping themselves steeped in creativity. Students could definitely benefit from using this in place of the school supplied agenda, which is usually full of pages they never look at.

How does it work?index

The first thing you’re going to do is create an Index page. This is how you’ll keep track of important notes you’ve taken, lists you’ve made, pages that are different then your regular daily entries. As you can see I messed up with my index by adding my daily pages. Don’t do that. It’s redundant. Unless you want to. It’s your book. In my first Bullet Journal I left far too many pages blank for the index, the recommended amount is 4 pages. If you need more you can use the back. That’s the beauty of this system. It’s whatever you need it to be.

The main benefit of the BuJo technique is the organization of your writing through the use of signifier bullets. For the first few BuJos you might want to create a Legend of these symbols. I used a library card insert and pocket I’d had left from some crafting I’d done a while back, and glued it into the front cover. In the future BuJos I can just glue in a new pocket, and move the card.

A portable BuJo Legend makes it easy to migrate to new notebooks

A portable BuJo Legend makes it easy to migrate to new notebooks

I also like to leave a few pages in the front of every journal I use to add a few quotes I love. Warning, my doodling is amateur level at best.

quotes

 

 

 

 

 

As for the ensuing pages…well that’s up to you. I find layouts while browsing the web, and especially Pinterest. There is a universe of avid Bullet Journal Junkies, or BuJo-holics who love to share their new interesting layouts, and applications of the BuJo technique.  These usually fall into three categories:

  • Planner Pages:
    • monthly calendar

      favesongs

      A list page of favorite songs…can you pick your top five songs? That’s the hardest part for me.

    • weekly calendar
    • meal planner
    • workout planner
    • garden planner
  • Tracker Pages:
    • water consumption
    • mood
    • spending
    • saving
    • baby milestones
    • new habits
    • gratitude
    • holiday gift ideas
  • List Pages
    • recipes to try
    • movies to watch
    • favorite songs
    • books to read
    • books I read
    • birthdays
    • funny things my toddler said

I’ve been using this method since this beginning of the year, and it’s really working for me. In fact, I now use 3 different Bullet Journals. One for my writing/inspiration,

Just write the names of the books on their spines.

one for daily personal home/life/kids planning, and a small budget BuJo, to track expenses, spending, etc.

My writing journal is part scrapbook, part diary, and part journal. I save mementos using adhesive pockets I’ve gotten at the craft store, journaling cards, washi tape, and stickers. I’ve even got a Fuji Instax to capture moments I want in my BuJo. It’s a bit of an addiction now, to tell you the truth. What I love, however, is how I’m wasting a lot less time endless scrolling social media–which is one of my biggest time sucks. I’ve got more lists in this one too, since I use list making, as a lead into writing, because it stimulates my memory recall. I like to put recipes in this journal, because my daily one is smaller in size, and I use them up faster. My master meal list won’t be too hard to migrate, as I write individual recipes on library cards. I use a monthly calendar layout in this journal, although my goal is to add weekly spreads soon. The idea is to track my writing, set goals, and have the ability to review what I’ve accomplished.

My daily BuJo is where I plan meals, keep track of events & activities, track my daily mood, and keep lists of books I want to read, as well as the ones I’ve finally gotten to. Shopping lists, appointments, and to-do lists are what makes up each individual day’s entry. I don’t always write in it each day, but I’m not losing out on pages because of it. Sometimes all I do is scribble the date along the top, and scratch out washipagessome bullets, but other days I’m inspired to get a little more creative.

One of my favorite BuJo hacks is to run a long slice of washi tape on the edge of the pages that are important to me. When I do this with different color washis, I can’t find the page more easily. Some people go as far as to index the color/pattern washi they use, which makes tons of sense, but I’m too lazy for that.

 

Drawbacks of BuJo

There are some cons, of course. For example, set-up is time consuming, and at the outset that seems pretty daunting, but I’ll confess that the more I see the awesome BuJos other people on social media are making, the more I enjoy the time I spend. In fact, just setting up my daily header has become part of my daily routine. I find that forcing myself into a creative endeavor, that is justifiably useful, helps warm up my brain. The more time I invest in the journal, the more committed I am to using it. So much so, that because I’m using a daily tracker for my reading, writing, an

IMG_4259

My daily header for May the Fourth…getting creative is fun.

d cooking I’ve tripled the amount of time I used to spend on each. I also like that the journal is always new, because I have a lot of trouble getting bored with a novelty. There’s also an issue of what to do with a notebook once it’s full. For me, my journalling, my writing, my notebooks are part of my identity. I keep a giant plastic storage container just for my old notebooks, and I’m not joking when I tell you that they are willed to my daughter. When I’m gone, they will be my legacy to her.

Another con is that it can become consumptive. I’ve definitely increased my store of washi tape and stencils since I’ve been doing this. I guess this is a balance you’ll need to find too. The way I see it, just the fact that it’s making me more effective, makes it worth a few bucks in washi tape.

I’ve got lots of plans for new Bullet Journals too. My next one will be filled with words of wisdom, memories, and lists to give my daughter when she moves out.

Do you Bullet Journal? Share your favorite BuJo hacks, tips, and tricks here!

 

 

Please stop comparing vacation time to Maternity Leave

toon877I heard about the Rachel Foyes interview before I read it. I’m not sure if I would have even cared if it hadn’t been for the fact that she didn’t even show up to plug her new book Me-ternity, a fictional tale about a woman who fakes a pregnancy in order to experience the “perks” of maternity leave, on Good Morning America.  I might have even been interested in the story if it hadn’t been for the New York Post article by Anna Davies.

In the article, Foyes tells Davies about why she took a year and a half me-ternity leave, which, to be fair was really a click-baitey way to describe a self-imposed sabbatical. According to Foyes, a Me-ternity leave is a “sabbatical-like break that allows women, and to a lesser degree men, to shift their focus to the part of their lives that doesn’t revolve around their jobs”. The female specificity is because Foyes claims women experience higher rates of burnout due to their home-based roles (i.e. wife, mother, domestic goddess etc.). While I resisted giving this any more attention than it already has been given, I simply see far too many problems with her assertions that are, in fact, damaging to working women, and working parents.

First of all, Rachel Foyes’ job sounds awesome! Not only does she get to “work on big stories, attend cool events, and meet famous celebs ALL THE TIME,” (emphasis mine), but she also seems to have an employer who encourages, as opposed to punishes, families to attend to their obligations, and won’t fire someone for taking 3 MONTHS of leave. Most places get a little twitchy after 3 weeks. Yes, I realize their are some legalities involved, but most of us know there’s plenty of leeway for employers to “let you go” for reasons technically not involved in maternity leave. That envy she claims, is all her, and believe me when I say that most of us would far rather be enjoying a margarita with her best friend than deal with the playground moms. Oh yeah, and the reason it sounds like picking up your child has more gravitas than meeting that friend for a post-ghost margarita, is because it does. Your friend is not a child. Getting stood up on a date is nothing like get abandoned at school by your Mother. Both sides are not valid. What is valid is that you’re talking about parents who are leaving “on time”, not early, and what other people do is really none of your business.

Rachel asserts that maternity leave offers the opportunity for self-reflection, which she claims is evident in the way women post-maternity leave are able to self-advocate more, are more confident, and even make life altering decisions. She cites friends of hers, one who started her own business, and another who changed industries, as examples of the benefit of maternity leave’s self-reflective nature. The reality is that maternity leave is about as self-reflective as boot camp, and any changes you’re seeing in your friends are as a result of a shift of priorities, not some crazy epiphany during a pedicure.

Second of all, while maternity leave has elements of self-reflection, it is nowhere near as zen as Rachel Foyes seems to believe it is. It’s much more about pushing your mental, physical, and emotional boundaries beyond what your previous conception of what those limits were. For example:

  1. Remember when pulling an all nighter involved booze, hallucinogens, deep conversations, or a paper due in the morning? Imagine writing that paper on the most boring subject imaginable without the use of any product designed to keep you awake, and you still don’t even remotely have an idea of what the first days home with a newborn are. Oh, and if you’ve had a c-section, you can add doing all this while recovering from having your abdominal muscles sliced open, when a sneeze makes you feel like your stitches will explode your guts all over the couch. Having a newborn pretty much assures you will forget what restful sleep feels like because those puny three hours you may get will be spent twilighting in something that seems like it could become sleep, and waking at least once to poke your child to make sure he/she is still alive.
  2. Bleeding nipples. I’m not sure what Rachel’s into in her private life, but I can bet that her Me-Ternity leave didn’t involve cracked bleeding nipples on the end of breasts that have gained ten pounds, spurt milk at inopportune moments, and feel like they have been invaded by a society of rock people.
  3. Maternity leave means diaper changes while battling self-doubt, usually in the form of “What the fuck did I just do to my life?”, the realization that the world is nowhere near as safe as you’d previously thought it was, and wondering what crazy hormonal imbalance made you do something like this to begin with.
  4. Bodily fluids…everywhere, and not the fun kind.CP_midyear_report

The truth is that the article, and ensuing justifications are harmful. So many people want to pretend that much ado is being made of nothing more than a simple play on words, and I, for one, wish that was true. Unfortunately, it just is not. The truth is that most jobs aren’t as accommodating as Rachel Foyes’, and most families can’t afford the unpaid leave they are legally entitled to. The truth is, we have laws that protect newborn puppies more than newborn humans, and women like Rachel Foyes who think it’s cute to draw comparisons between maternity leave and vacation time are simply adding fuel to the already out of control blaze of ignorance which forces women to make a choice between career and family. Yes, there is a need for more time away from the job, and, perhaps, our country needs to follow the lead of other countries who recognize that there is just as much need for mental health breaks, as there is for bonding between families. I just wish Rachel Foyes hadn’t taken the obvious jab, and had been a bit more creative in the way she decided to ask for, demand, or simply just take it. Her little play on words is destructive, and invalidates all of the parents, both male and female, who are struggling to make it in a world that puts so much emphasis on helping create childhoods children shouldn’t have to recover from without offering the support to achieve them.

Write on…through the pain

“2016 is going to be a good year.” I said it in the last hours of last year. So many awful things happened in 2015, that I just knew this coming year would be amazing. I imagined all the good that would happen. I wold finish my novel, we would save tons of money, and maybe we’d take another awesome family vacation–this time somewhere more relaxing.

keepwritingI couldn’t have been more wrong. Almost immediately 2016 issued forth a wave of worse case scenarios, and the hits just keep on coming. This has been the year of endurance. Like a marathon runner I simply try to keep my pace steady, breathe, and have faith that I’m going to feel that sense of relief when the finish line crosses under my feet.

It isn’t all bad though. I have an amazing family whose first instinct is to pull in close like a crochet stitch when the string of urgency is tugged. Some of the worst moments, have yielded some of the most beautiful too, reminding me, like a Pixar movie, that not all darkness is sad.

My pen, too, has been on a roll. Thankfully writing is a helpful tool to manage anxiety, which seems to rear its ugly head more often lately. Just putting words on paper, even if its to make a list of all the ways I feel awful, is the only thing to relieve the stress. Other times, magic happens.

Last week, in a moment of desperation I resolved to finish a scene I’ve been struggling with. I fought the resolution for most of the day, finding all kinds of distractions. The house got cleaner. The laundry got folded. Social media sunk tentacles into me. Finally I stared down the clock, and offered myself twenty minutes of writing, as an alternative compromise to quitting for the day. Twenty minutes turned into two hours, and at the end of it, my scene was complete. It was a tortured victory, but it worked.

Being a writer means having to fight your demons, and embrace them all at the same time. We have no one but ourselves to overcome, and only a finite amount of time in which to accomplish it. While it might seem like we should give ourselves time to deal with the obstacles life deals us; the truth is that we are writers. The way we deal with things is to write.dory

So the next time the mountain seems too high, or your world seems to be collapsing all around you, instead of pushing it away. Pick up your pen, and write on through the pain. The worst that could happen is that you write a bit of drivel. On the other hand, what you write could be exactly what you’d be missing.