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Why HeForShe

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Everything you know about gender is socially constructed.

This bears repeating.

Everything you know about gender is socially constructed.

Our favorite colors. How we spend our time. What we feel guilty about. How often we want to have sex. What we watch on TV. What we love. What we read. How often we cry. When we fight. Who becomes the professional football player or the CEO. Who becomes the teacher or the nurse.

That doesn’t mean it’s not true. I don’t like guns or monster trucks. I do like to cook and share my feelings. These are facts. Life as I know it.

And it doesn’t mean there aren’t exceptions. Some girls like blue. Some men become midwives. Some women want to be president. But it’s worth noting that if we hadn’t constructed our gender roles the way we have, these “exceptions” wouldn’t necessarily be notable at all.

Why does this matter? The social constructs are not harmful in themselves, right? I actually do like to dress up and wear tiaras sometimes.

It’s the thing behind the thing. That’s what you have to watch out for.

Sexism is not a new problem. As much as we would like not to know it, girls and women have been abused and misused and enslaved for thousands of years. And for just as long, men and boys have been taught that it’s their job as males to do it. Or that it’s “just what men do.” (That’s not to say that men and boys aren’t enslaved or abused. They are, and it is just as horrible.) It’s dehumanizing on both sides.

This world is not made up of good girls and bad boys. Or whores and players. Or ladies and gentlemen. We are human. The gendered labels that have been placed upon our foreheads do not do us any favors. A few of the parts of our bodies are different. They have different functions, yes. Absolutely. But we do not bleed pink and blue.

That’s why I’m excited about HeForShe. Emma Watson has been inspiring me for solid decade, at least. And she just continues to do more amazing stuff.

HeForShe is about inviting the guys to the party. We can’t change the world if only half of the world is willing to get involved. And, we have to come to terms with the fact that patriarchy and sexism hurt men, too.

I want to be a part of the movement that’s working to build a world that is safer for both our boys and our girls. That’s not just HeForShe, that’s feminism. That’s what we do. At our best, that’s our end game.

We have the opportunity to redefine words like lust and moral. To teach and learn that what is expected from men and women does not have anything to do with their respective body parts. To raise our daughters as well as our sons to lead nations, share meals, build friendships, and even, if they must, drive monster trucks.

But this isn’t going to be an easy road. Because some people are jerks. 

After her speech, in retaliation, hackers threatened to leak “compromising” photos of Emma. And it’s kind of ACTUALLY CRAZY when you think about it. Because this is exactly why she’s doing this!

This is (one of the reasons) why feminism needs more men. Because we live in a world where it really doesn’t matter what you say. If you’re a women, a portion of the population is not going to take you seriously. Especially the moment you start talking about equality.

I hope you’ll watch this speech. And I hope you’ll consider the social constructs you find yourself in. And then, most of all, I hope you’ll use your voice to change the world. Maybe you don’t have the platform Emma has (or maybe you do!), but every voice counts. I believe that. Let’s make it true.

I got the photo at the top of this page here.

Sunday 9/28 is the last day to sign up for The Rebel Diaries! Find your process. Embrace your rhythm. Write what you want.

Seven Questions to Overcome Overwhelm and Find Your Next Right Step

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“Today is wild and it is yours.”

It’s 5pm. You’ve done 1000 things today but it’s not enough. Well, it IS, you keep insisting to your inner jerk, but she’s not listening. And you’re tired. You want this day to be over. But you’d like to end it feeling like to made a little magic and it just doesn’t seem like you did.

So. You take a deep breath. But not the calming kind. It’s the other sort—the one that makes you feel like you’re trying to suck all the air out of the room. Because you are. Because you need it. You need something. Maybe you’ll take a break. Maybe you’ll get a snack! No, you’ve had too much today already. And, besides there’s still so much to do!

I feel you.

I created this exercise for you. You can come back to it whenever you need to. Mama said there’d be days like this, but she didn’t say you have to feel like crap forever. I’m such a believer in turning days around. Sometimes we have to be in the suck. Sometimes that’s exactly what we’re called to do. Those moments, it’s okay. And it’s good.

But there are other times when our job is to step up and kick overwhelm right in the bum! This is for those days. You’ve got this. Hells yeah.

You can journal this out—in audio or paper form, whichever suits you. Or, if you don’t have the bandwidth for that, you can just take a few moments to breathe and answer each question silently, in your head.

Seven Questions to Overcome Overwhelm and Find Your Next Right Step

1. First, check in with yourself. Take the refreshing kind of deep breath. What are you feeling? Where in your body are you feeling it? Why do you think that is?

2. What do you want most right now? What do you want most in the long run? If those are two very different things, which would be the kindest and most loving? How will you feel when you get the thing you want? How do you want to feel?

3. What would REALLY help? What do you need in this moment?

4. What secret messages has life been sending lately? What themes or patterns or words keep popping up? What might they be trying to tell you?

5. In light of those messages, what intuitively feels like your next right step?

6. If you are completely stumped by any or all of these questions, what’s behind that? How do you feel when you think about trusting yourself? Is there peace? Is there fear? If there’s fear: see it, feel it, trust that it won’t overtake you. And then, let it go. What would it look like to trust yourself today?

7. What are you going to do right now to make this day yours? GO for it!

And now, fun news!

I originally created this exercise to replace The Co-Conniver’s Guide as a gift for the creative healers that join this community by subscribing to my blog. But, a couple of weeks ago, I wrote this blessing that kind of blew up. My best friend said it was her favorite thing I’d ever written. Several people printed it out to post on their wall. And a crapload of people shared it and wrote to tell me how much it meant to them.

Which is amazing! And makes me feel all chocolate chip cookie-y inside.

SO. I had an idea. I asked my amazing graphic designer/husband to make it into a beautiful PDF that you could print out and hang wherever you wanted! He’s working on that now, and as soon as he finishes, I will send it to all of the people who are already subscribed! It’ll go to everyone in the community—those who’ve already signed up and anyone who does in the future.

And I’ll share The Co-Conniver’s Guide here on the blog for every who stops by, with the other free books.

So, yay! I’m really excited about this. He’s a gifted artist. I’m stoked to see what he’s going to do.

Ohh, also! I’m doing this crazy operation that’s tailor-made for creative healers and very specifically the early adaptors. It’s called The Shalom Experiment and I hope you’ll check it out!

All the love, friend. I hope this helped with overwhelm and other things. Take good care!

Monday Memoirs :: The Day After Easter

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I once ate Easter dinner in the mountains of North Carolina at a McDonald’s with a man I could not stand. But we knew it was our last holiday together as a family, so we canceled all our plans, disappointing every parent, and headed out on our own.

It sucked so much. I don’t like McDonald’s on a regular day. I swallowed bites of cheeseburger and cold fries. I broke up bits of God-knows-what-part-of-the-chicken nuggets for a little girl who had seen far too much in her two short years on earth.

We all have our rock bottom moments. This wasn’t mine. It was a low point. Sometimes I wish I’d reached the pit that day. So I could have begun to climb back up. I didn’t know it then, but the bottom of that hole was still a couple hundred feet down. I’d have to fall even harder before I could muster the strength to head in other direction.

The Day After Easter 2013

I don’t know what this will be. I don’t know where it will take me. I don’t even have a strong sense of why I’m doing it. All I know is that this is all I know how to do.

Writing is how I am. It’s part of my being.

And, for that, I am grateful.

I woke up at 4am this morning. Jermaine is off to Pre-Mission Training. I just got back home, and apparently the house, with my parents and my babies, is still sleeping, so I decided to seize the paper and try to actually do this Camp NaNoWriMo thing. I am a little bit heartbroken. I didn’t get to tell him I’d be okay. Right before he left, he ran up to the car and said, “I guess now they’re saying I can’t have my phone after all.” He pushed it into my hands and I was dumbstruck by the fact that for the next two weeks I’ll have no contact with him. I pray they take care of him. That they’re not jerks for jerks sake. It sucks, all this stuff that he has to do. And he does it for us. For our family. For food and shelter and love and words.

So I can pursue these great big dreams.

And, for that, I am grateful.

Emergency Breakthrough. That was the original title of this memoir. My life has seemed like one emergency after another. From conception onward. I have a flair for the dramatic, though, and I relish the intrigue.

Drama looks good on me.

When I was young, honestly, nothing too terribly exciting happened, so I made the bulk of it up.

When I was lost, like, really lost, the drama made me old and ugly, eating stale McDonald’s fries and brushing tears out of my eyes because of a relationship that should have died well before it did.

If I had continued down that path . . . the person I would have become makes me shutter. I know her. I met her. She’s awful.

But still, after the long journey home to myself and to my God, the theatre filled back up.  It’s been a difficult road, but at least it’s been an interesting one.

And, for that, I am grateful.

Every Monday, I share an excerpt from my memoir. Working diligently behind the scenes to put it all together by the end of this year. My prayer is that it all sets up like some kind of gorgeous word soufflé. Sign up here for my newsletter, Voice Lessons and get all the #mondaymemoirs updates!

Six Videos to Inspire You When You’re Feeling Like Crap (Links + Thinks Vol. 2)

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These last 12 months have burned like fire.

For a long time, as a blogger/writer/creative, I was sort of in this weird space where I scared off Christians because I was too progressive and I scared off non-Christians because I was too Jesus-y. And I thought I had to pick one or I was going to fail.

This time last year, I was in seminary. Whoa.

Then I dropped out. I started to wonder if I was even a Christian at all. How on earth was I going to pursue this calling I felt to be a pastor when I didn’t even know if I believed in God?

I play around with words like Voice and Prophet and Shalom. Those are scary words. Ones I can probably never live up to.

But I think I’m still supposed to try.

My sweet spot is right there in the middle. My job is about integration and healing, from what I hope is a grounded spiritual place. I want to make woo-woo things (like chakras and energy) less scary for the Christians in my tribe because I think these things hold wisdom. And I want this place to be a safe space for folks who don’t identify as a Christian to explore Christianity and other spiritual things.

I feel like one of the problems I’m helpful at solving is burn out. You know, when you’re trying to save the world and the world is kind of being an asshole? The keeping going and not losing hope parts. That’s where I come in.

It’s Friday! Thank God. I’ve put together two lists for you today. First, things that inspired me this week—or are happening soon—that I felt compelled to share with you. And second, six videos that got me through some hard stuff.

Enjoy!

Stuff That Inspires the Crap Out of Me

1. My friend Jenipher is teaching a Doodle Journaling class in a couple of weeks (Oct 1st) in New York City. If you live in that area, you should check it out!

2. My friend Elora published her second novel yesterday! It’s called Somewhere Between Water and Sky and it’s the second book in the Shattered Things series. Cannot wait to dive in!

3. A couple of days ago, I found my way to a Facebook group called #fireworkpeople. It’s a tribe of creative people doing amazing things in the world and it was created by Ashley Beaudin. I have met so many inspiring people in just these last two days. Sometimes I have to pinch myself that this is really my life.

4. I’m rewatching Newsroom with Jermaine and a good friend of ours. The other night, she came over and we drank Midas Touch (my favorite beer of all time) and ended up in this conversation that Jermaine dubbed “Exploding Nostalgia.” We talked about some of the crazy fundamentalist “truths” we used to take for granted as law. We reminisced about Hanson and that weird mail order CD club where you paid a penny and they sent you 15 CDs. I relived Seven Mary Three’s song, “Water’s Edge”. Whew! When I was 16, I listened to that song on repeat. I crammed ALL of my teenage angst, all the blood and guts and pain and life I felt, into the four minutes of that song. Reliving it reminded me that I’m okay. Then. And now. Sometimes time travel has healing properties.

5. In October, I’ll be teaching two classes. There are still a couple of spots left in both. If you’re a writer needing to get unstuck and find your sweet rhythm, please join us for The Rebel Diaries. We have some amazing sponsors like Hannah Brencher, Hillary Rain, and Rachel Haas. ALSO, I’m doing this crazy thing called The Shalom Experiment. Trying to create a kind of respite to help service-based entrepreneurs and creatives get inspired and deal with burn out. I feel like the spots might be gone soon, so if it sounds like something you’d like to be a part of, you may want to jump on in!

Six Videos to Inspire You When You’re Feeling Like Crap

 

“I Haven’t Either” by Andy Gullahorn

Not many songs can make you laugh AND cry in the span of three minutes. Good God, I love this song.

Quote of the video: “Have you ever been so selfish that you let your baby cry while you finished up a video game? . . . I haven’t either. That’s pretty bad.”

 

Good Life Project Interview with Sara Gottfried

I’ve been reading and watching a lot from Sara Gottfried. I feel like she offers some really solid help for those of us struggling to get healthy that is based in science and filled with self-compassion.

 

“Washed by the Water” by NEEDTOBREATHE

Quote of the Video: “Just trying to make the world a little better, you know, shine a light.”

 

The Best Business Advice You’ll Ever Hear—An Interview with Seth Godin by Behind the Brand’s Brian Elliott

Quote of the video: “I don’t have a job, I have an opportunity.”

 

“Somebody’s Baby” by Jon Foreman

This is a sad song. Maybe it doesn’t fit the traditional definition of inspiring. But it inspires compassion in me. So I feel like it fits.

Quote of the video: the whole daggone thing.

 

How to Mainfest FAST with Flora Sage

This might be too woo-woo for some. I am all about the idea of manifestation. But not all methods and thoughts about it. This was helpful for me. And, if you’re curious but cautious, this might be a good introduction.

Quote of the video: “Now, if you are feeling some type of void—some type of dissonance and you can’t really put your finger on it—I challenge you this week to just sit and really ask yourself, “What do I feel like I’m missing in my life?”

 

 “Burn” by Ellie Goulding

And, last but not least, if all else fails, this song is just a damn good way to end your work week.

Quote of the video: “They, they’re gonna see us from outer space. Light it up, like we the stars of the human race.”

Yay! I hope you feel rejuvenated. If you want to get more inspiration, sign up for my newsletter here. Happy weekend!

Week Three :: With a Limp

Brandy Blogs the Bible

Trigger Warning: Abuse and Rape.

 

The Paraphrase (Genesis 29-40)

Chapter 29—Jacob, still running away from his brother, finds himself with the people of the east in a conversation a well and the shepherds that he’s chatting with turn out to be his relatives! Laban’s daughter, Rachel (a shepherdess) shows up and Jacob is so thankful see family that he kisses her and starts weeping. Jacob ends up staying with Laban (Abraham’s brother’s grandson) and they cut a deal. Jacob will work for Laban for seven years and then he can marry Rachel. So, seven years later, there’s a marriage, but Laban somehow does the old switcheroo and gives Jacob his oldest daughter Leah to sleep with instead. The text exclaims, “When morning came, there was Leah!” (29:25a) Jacob is upset, but stays married to her and Laban decides Jacob can marry Rachel, too, if he works for another seven years. We are told that Leah’s maidservant is Zilpah and Rachel’s maidservant is Bilhah. We find out that Rachel is barren. Leah starts having babies—all boys: Reuben (sounds like Hebrew for he has seen my misery); Simeon (one who hears); Levi (attached); and Judah (praise). She hopes that these babies will make her husband love her. Chapter 30—Rachel sees her sister having all these kids and announces to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” She has her maidservant marry him and Bilhah gives birth to Dan (he has vindicated) and Naphtali (my struggle). Leah has stopped having kids, and begins to panic, so she also has her maidservant bear him some children. Zilpah gives birth to Gad (good fortune or a troop) and Asher (happy). Then the sisters get in a strange argument. In the end, Rachel gets some of Reuben’s mandrakes and Leah gets to sleep with Jacob. Leah gets pregnant three more times: Issachar (reward), Zebulun (honor) and Dinah (the only girl mentioned in the family). Finally Rachel conceives! She has Joseph (may he add). The scene shifts: Jacob tries to leave but Laban doesn’t want him to, so Jacob cooks up a science experiment: selective breeding for livestock. He ends up with the healthiest strongest animals in the flock. Chapter 31—There’s a final falling out between Laban and Jacob. So , without Laban’s knowledge, Jacob gathers up all his people and they set out on their own. In the process, Rachel sneaks off father’s household gods. Laban catches up to them and God tells him in a dream,”Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, good or bad.” There’s a confrontation and Laban (careful not to say anything good or bad) simply searches for the gods. Rachel pretends that she can’t get up because it’s that time of the month, sits on them and successfully hides them. Jacob and Laban make a covenant and all is well. Chapter 32—Right at the beginning, Jacob meets some angels and exclaims “This is the camp of God!” He decides to go and try to reconcile with his brother, but he’s majorly freaking out about it. He divides his family into two groups so that if Esau attacks, some may escape. Next there is this awesome scene where Jacob is alone and a man wrestles with him all night. The man could not overpower Jacob so he touches the socket of Jacob’s hip, leaving him limping—but still fighting! The man tries to end the fight because it is daylight. Jacob says he will not let him go until he gets the man’s blessing. The man changes Jacob’s name to Israel (he struggles with God) because he “wrestled with God and with men and has overcome.” Chapter 33—A touching scene where the brothers meet at last after 20 years of being at odds. Esau has no hard feelings toward his brother. Chapter 34—Dinah is raped by Shechem, the Hivite prince. Afterward, the text says “he loved her and spoke tenderly to her.” Dinah’s brothers are hopping mad at Shechem—because the two weren’t married and he’s not one of them. He wants to marry her. Her brothers tell him that must get all the men in his family circumcised. But then they attack his unsuspecting city and kill all the men—taking the women and children for themselves. Chapter 35—God tells Jacob to go to Bethel and again announces that Jacob is to be called Israel. At this point, the narrator begins to use the name. Rachel has a 2nd son, but dies in childbirth. She names him Ben-Oni [son of my trouble] but Jacob calls him Benjamin (son of my right hand). Out of nowhere we find out that Reuben has slept with Bilhah and that Israel knows. The text shifts gears and lists the twelve sons. The chapter ends with the death of Isaac at 180 years. Chapter 36—(I forgot to mention in the last entry—at the beginning of Chapter 28 Esau realizes that his mom and dad would flip if he married a Canaanite woman. So, in addition to his other wives, he does.) This chapter is all about Esau’s descendants and the tribes they’ve become. Chapter 37—Now we begin the story of Joseph. His brothers hate him because he’s his dad’s favorite. Jacob gives him a really nice robe. Joseph has a couple dreams that apparently mean his family is going to bow down to him. This makes his brothers so mad that they plot to kill him. Except Reuben, he tries to save Joseph. The other brothers then decide they won’t kill him; they’ll just sell him into slavery. They take his robe, put some animal blood on it and take it back to their father, saying that Joseph was killed by a ferocious animal. Meanwhile, the Midianites who bought Joseph sell him to Potiphar, an Eunuch (a castrated man) and Captain of the guard in Egypt. Chapter 38—Tamar is Judah’s son’s widow (Judah’s son, Er, was wicked in the Lord’s sight, the text tells us, and so God put him to death). As was custom, Judah had his other son, Onan, sleep with Er’s widow to carry on the family line. But every time he did he, no joke, “spilled his semen on the ground” so she couldn’t get pregnant. God thought this was evil, too, and had him killed also. Judah promises her to Shelah, his younger son when he grows up. Judah’s wife passes away. Shelah grows up but Tamar is still not with him, so she pretends to be a prostitute and Judah, not knowing it was her, sleeps with her. She takes his seal and cord as pledge for payment. Later, he tries to pay, but he can’t find her. He eventually stops looking because he doesn’t want to become a “laughingstock.” Then he finds out that Tamar has been a prostitute and is pregnant. He demands she be put to death! She, of course, shows him his own cord and seal. He ends up feeling like a fool. She has twins, Perez and Zerah. Chapter 39—Joseph prospers and Potiphar puts him in charge of his entire household. Potiphar’s wife wants to sleep with Joseph but he won’t do it, because he feels it’s a sin against God. So she accuses him of trying to rape her and her husband throws him in jail. He prospers in jail and the warden puts him in charge of all the prisoners. Chapter 40—Potiphar’s Cupbearer and Baker end up in jail, too. They each have a dream and Joseph interprets: the Cupbearer will be restored to his position in three days. The baker will be hung on a tree in three days. Joseph asks the Cupbearer to remember him when he is restored, but he forgets.

Oh, wowsers. Those were some detailed chapters. Let’s get right into the wonderment.

I don’t know how Laban switched Rachel with Leah. Was Jacob drunk? Was it that dark? Were they twins? Even so, interesting that Jacob got a taste of his own medicine.

When I first started this project five years ago, I was just coming into a more progressive way of living and loving as a Christian. And I was shook by the oppression of women in these pages. Five years later, it’s still not an easy read. In fact, this time around, I felt like it was necessary to put a trigger warning up at the beginning of the post. This stuff is hard. And it’s not right. And there are days I don’t know how to make sense of it.

Esau’s forgiveness really touched me. I got a little teary-eyed. Jacob is one of the Bible characters that I identify the most with. I think he’s a Three in the Enneagram. When he was younger, he was always trying to be something he wasn’t. He was kind of a mess, but ultimately, he wrestled with God until God blessed him. And he kept going after reconciliation.

What a story! I love how messy it all is. I love that they left in the embarrassing parts. The other day, on The Daily Show, Ken Burns, who just made a documentary on the Roosevelts, said this:

“I think we’ve forgotten that heroism is actually this negotiation—sometimes even a war—between a person’s very obvious strengths and their maybe not so obvious weaknesses.”

He said the problem with politics today was that we build up these amazing leaders and then we’re ready to stone them to the ground the first mistake they make—the first sign that they are human beings.

That’s where I am right now. Painfully aware of my own shortcomings. But refusing to let them disqualify me from being a healer in this world.

So, here’s to the messy. Here’s to being whole and broken at the same time. Here’s to being blessed, and walking away with a limp.

If you found this interesting and helpful and you’d like to continue to follow along as I go through the WHOLE BIBLE (you may want to read the intro to this project, and week one, and week two), you can do that by signing up to my weekly newsletter here! We’ll tackle Chapter 41 through the end of Genesis next Thursday. Much love!

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