Archive for May, 2008

Our Daughters’ Voices

Last night, we threw a launch party for Circle de Luz in Huntersville, North Carolina.  Today, we are proud to announce that 22 women have taken on the commitment to radically empower young Latinas to finish high school and pursue further education.  These commitments come from California, Georgia, Oregon, Lousiana, North Carolina, and New York and have already funded three scholarships.  Curious about the call to the Circle?  Check out Our Daughters’ Voices

May 30, 2008 at 11:32 am Leave a comment

Summer Scrapbook

One of my goals for the sabbatical is to get a little more tech savvy including photo savvy.  I thought a fun way to do that might be to periodically share a “scrapbook” as I get photos loaded up onto the computer (which means I have to learn how to scan! and crop! and… who knows what else). 

So, here is scrapbook #1– images from some of my favorite summer experiences.  




The locations of the above adventures?  Trinidad, Brazil, Maine, Oregon, Germany and California.  Feel free to match picture with place.  Now, what have been some of your favorite summer experiences?  And if you’re a blogger, let me know if you put a summer scrapbook on your site– I’d love to check it out.     

May 29, 2008 at 10:09 pm 2 comments


So, I randomly went on today to check out the Hijas page and was so pleasantly surprised to see that the book is having a big sales day– almost a year to the day after it was released (that anniversary is on Sunday– more on that then).  I never know what causes a sales bump.  Sure I was in New York and did several events around the book yesterday, but it seemed like every one who wanted a book bought one at the reading last night.  But, as a writer, it’s always fun to see your book have a surge every now and again (trade secret:  most writers, myself included, will check their Amazon sales rank a time or two each day right after their book comes out–  the best rank I ever saw for Hijas was 8,000 on June 8th last year– the day of the Hijas launch party which I know had nothing to do with the launch party but that’s why the date is stuck in my mind).  So thanks to whoever went out and bought the book today on Amazon.  It’s fun to be ranked in ethnic studies, culture, and women studies!      

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Seal Press 
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580051898
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580051897
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review:

    4.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews (11 customer reviews)

  • Sales Rank: #21,025 in Books (See Bestsellers in Books)

    Popular in these categories: (What’s this?)

    #21 in  Books > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Special Groups > Ethnic Studies
    #70 in  Books > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology > Culture
    #83 in  Books > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Gender Studies > Nonfiction: Women’s Studies: General
    (Publishers and authors: Improve Your Sales)
  • May 29, 2008 at 1:44 pm 1 comment

    Summer Reading

    Here are the books that are on my summer reading list…

    Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott

    Grace Eventually: Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott  

    On Beauty by Zadie Smith

    I am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe

    Enrique’s Journey by  Sonia Nazario

    Insecure at Last by Eve Ensler

    Half-Assed by Jennette Fulda

    Unhooked by Laura Sessions Stepp

    The Impossible Will Take a Little While by Paul Loeb

    Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner

    Have any suggestions? 

    May 28, 2008 at 8:40 pm Leave a comment

    More things to do this summer

    I am teaching a class on body image in the Women’s Studies Department at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte this fall so my plan is to get my syllabus planned and all the readings read by the end of June.  It’s an exciting venture for me– it’ll be nice to be back in the classroom once a week for a seminar without being a full-time employee.  But I do wonder it will be like to be up and  at ‘em early to get to the office for 8 am office hours.  Up’s not a problem.  At ‘em is a whole different thing.  I imagine I’ll have lots to share here as I dive into the latest books and articles on body image. 

    Circle de Luz will really take off this summer.  We’ll be officially creating a partnership with a middle school to select our first group of scholars this fall. We’ll be enrolling women in the circle to support the girls, and we’ll be applying for grants.  I am most excited to see how many women join this effort.  For every ten women in the circle, we create at least one scholarship of at least $5000. 

    May 27, 2008 at 8:47 pm Leave a comment

    What I’ll Do on My Summer Semi-Sabbatical

    * This photo is of Molasses Creek, along the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  It says summer to me and rest. 

    Plant an English Ivy patch around a big ole oak tree we have on the right side of our house.  Our house has four enormous oak trees around it- one on each side- but this particular oak tree is a little island patch of soil that can’t grow much because the oak tree’s roots are massive and it’s fairly shaded.  I’m thinking ivy might work there so that it is not just a sad island of acorns, oak leaves, and ragweed.  I bought BF a little herd of recycled art yard animals and I think they’ll reside in this ivy patch to give it some whimsy. 

    Clean out and organize my office.  My files are busting at the seams.  I am a paper hoarder– no surprise, I guess, for a writer since what I am really hoarding are the words on the paper.  But I don’t want my office to be all file cabinets so I’ve got to prune and recycle. 

    Clean out our attic.  BF and I are light on clutter.  Neither of us are really that into things and we aren’t all that sentimental about stuff (as opposed to relationships or people where we are sentimental).  Still, when we moved to the little cottage a couple years ago there were things we couldn’t bare to get rid of yet and they are up in the attic.  For example, I just couldn’t get rid of any of my lesson plans from teaching high school history— something I know I am not going to do again (and if I do, would I really need my overhead projection sheets?).  This summer, I am going up there and battling the boxes.  Here’s hoping that my lesson plans on the Stamp Act see their way to a recycling bin.  Now, my notes from high school (and by notes I mean the ones that you passed to one another in the hallway between classes) may have to live on for a few more years. 

    Book work.  Oh, I have all sorts of book work brewing (in my head).  I have a book proposal that I am beside myself to write and I’d like to find a home for it.  I also have a good portion of it already organized on notecards and then in chapter order, but I’d like to finish organizing those notes and get started writing.  I have another book idea filling up my mind and it needs to find its way into a book proposal so that’s another big To Do.  Finally, I started a novel with NaNoWriMo last year, and I’d like to play with it some more.  Even if it never sees the light of day, it will be satisfying to me and my creativity to write. 

    Read a whole lot.  One of my birthday list goals is to read 34 books by my birthday in November.  I am on # 10.  I want this summer to be a power reading summer– both because I miss reading for pleasure and because it fills my creative well. 

    Watch a whole lot of television that I’ve missed.  We didn’t have HBO at the height of the Sex and the City craze so I am planning on knocking out that box set as well as West Wing, The Office, Scrubs, and Seinfeld. 






    May 26, 2008 at 8:00 pm Leave a comment

    Give it a rest

    Sabbatical.  It’s from the Hebrew word shabbāth, which means (according to Webster’s) literally, rest (Jill, if you are reading this, I want you to know that Webster’s had “literally” in the definition.  Jill is a friend of mine who figures largely into my thoughts on Sabbath but, first, I need to say that she loathes when someone says something like “I was literally about to kill her.”  “Literally,” she’ll ask, her eyebrow raised in question of the hyberbole of it all.  So, Jill, it was Webster’s that put literally into that first sentence.). 

    Probably six years ago or so, Jill and I teamed up in our job as college administrators to offer a summer internship to students that paired community engagement with deliberate reflection on the concepts of vocation and Sabbath.  The idea of Sabbath wasn’t nearly as hard for our students as the idea of taking a Sabbath.  We worked at a Presbyterian school with some bright, achieving students.  Rest seemed counter-intuitive for them.  Jill handled these discussions with the students expertly, and we often talked on our own about our personal challenges in taking Sabbath– in considering a time of rest as necessary.     

    Four years ago, I taught a seminar in the college’s department of interdisciplinary studies.  The course was called Exploring the Creative Process.  The introduction I wrote for the syllabus read: 

    This course is designed to introduce students to the principles of the creative process while encouraging individual exploration.  Students will understand the psychology of creativity and will practice the methodological techniques available for enhancing one’s creativity.   This is a course grounded in risk-taking, in exploring arts, experiences, and attitudes that are different from what you commonly explore.  The success of this course rests in what one gives to the experience: the risks that one is willing to take intellectually and creatively and the energy, motivation, and commitment one is willing to put into the experience directly affect how much is gained from this course.  Various in-class exercises, small projects, and readings will develop each student’s creativity, and the final portfolio project will provide an opportunity for each student to showcase his or her creative growth over the course of the semester. 

    Lately I’ve noticed that I’ve been getting on the production bike and just pedaling away.  By this I mean that I don’t write just for pleasure– I write for a living.  And I don’t take the time to fill my creative well with the things that I intellectually and instinctively know that I need.  Another truth is that for all but 8 years of my life (and five of those were before I was 5), time has existed for me on a school calendar.  I am used to (and love) the flurry of the school year calendar and then the exhale of the summer.  But the frenetic school year pace is the one that I have been operating on since I went to contract with Hijas in the fall of 2005.  So, I’ve decided to exhale a little bit this summer, take a semi-sabbatical that allows me to play with my creative process, my rhythms, and processes.  The semi-sabbatical is partially possible because I won’t do much traveling for Hijas this summer (after this week’s trip to New York, I have just one trip planned in July for a keynote at a conference) and also aided by the fact that I won’t be as frenetic in my pitching for freelance stories (in the height of my pitching frenzy, I try to get at least 3 ideas out to editors a week).  I’ve got some various plans for my sabbatical– house plans, creativity plans, personal plans, Circle de Luz plans, professional plans– that I’ll share with you over the course of this week as I prepare for the semi-sabbatical that officially starts June 2.  My work on overcoming resistance really put the roots of this process in place.  Now I am LITERALLY ready to rest.              



    May 25, 2008 at 8:00 pm 1 comment

    I’m going to New York!

    If you’re in the city, please join me


    Wednesday, May 28th, 7:00 p.m.

    Barnes and Noble

    290 Baychester Ave

    Bay Plaza Mall in the Bronx

    May 22, 2008 at 8:18 pm Leave a comment

    Fill in the blank


    So I lead a lot of journaling workshops—mainly because I really believe in writing’s ability to help someone find her voice.  People are initially resistant to journaling because they see it as just a Dear Diary type form where you fill up the page with your rambling on what happened today and how you feel about it.  That is certainly one type of journaling but not the only tool that one can use in journaling.   I call one of my favorite journaling tools “Sentence Stems.”  I basically give people in my workshop (and in a workbook that they take home from the workshop) the start of the sentence and ask them to complete it.  Sentence stems are short, direct, and insightful— you get a lot of bang out of your writing buck.  Here are some recent sentence stems that I completed.  Feel free to share a completed sentence or two of your own!



    The best part of being a 30-something is… having realized some answers for myself and being able to live from that place of experience and knowledge. 


    I deal with day to day stress by… working out, eliminating the voluntary stresses in my life, and calling my sister with a request of “can I just vent?” 


    My top priorities right now are… (professionally) to restock my creative well this summer with lots of reading, painting, and movie watching and to find a publisher for a book that I am dying to write and to finish a book proposal on another idea that has me excited. 


    If I had more time… I would play more—go enjoy the outdoors, see more movies, read. 


    I can’t get this thought out of my head right now… Lola sure is stinky.  She loves to swim come springtime and girlfriend took a dip yesterday.  May have made her happy, but she’s choking up her girl right now.  Must. Go. Remedy.  

    May 22, 2008 at 8:10 pm 2 comments

    Penelope: A Love Your Body Fairytale

    Nancy, a student in El Paso, Texas, shares this review of Penelope, a movie starring Christina Ricci. 


    In a society that places excessive emphasis on a certain standard of beauty; young girls begin to develop a negative body image when they fail to fit that particular mold. Many movies, television shows, and magazines, to which our youth are exposed to on a daily basis, reinforce the ridiculous and commonly unreachable standard of beauty. Girls perceive the message that in order to be beautiful they must be thin and tall with perfect delicate features and perfect skin. Penelope is a fairytale movie that indirectly and cleverly addresses issues of body image and self appreciation; it is a beautiful movie with an even more beautiful message. It is the “anti-barbie” movie, as Scott Steindorff, Stone Village founder, cleverly puts it.

    Because of her ancestor’s wrongdoings, Penelope, played by Christina Ricci, is cursed to be born with the face of a pig. The curse will only be broken when “someone of her own kind” accepts her for how she is. Penelope’s mother fakes her daughter’s death in order to keep the press away and secludes her daughter in their wealthy home. As soon as Penelope becomes old enough to date, her mother begins her search of wealthy, blue blooded men to marry her daughter, one of her own kind.  Years pass, and man after man runs away at the sight of Penelope’s pig-like features. Penelope then meets Max, a gambler who is hired to take a picture of the “pig-woman”, and develops a friendship and possible romance with him. After Max’s intentions are discovered, Penelope runs away from her parent’s house and with a scarf around her face sets out alone, for the first time in her life, to a world new to her.

    Penelope shows us that you do not have to be beautiful (according to society’s standards) to be a loved and valuable person and that it does not matter what people think about you, as long as you love and accept yourself.  I believe the audience will love this story because everyone can relate to the suffering of Penelope. We have all felt that if only we looked different, we would be happier. Whether it is losing weight, gaining weight, having a smaller nose, having less acne, being taller or being shorter, being darker or being lighter…we have all been there, and Penelope reminds us that we are beautiful just the way we are.


    May 21, 2008 at 7:40 pm Leave a comment

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    In a Bookstore Near You

    What does it mean to be beautiful in America? For years, pop culture has insisted that beautiful women are tall, thin, and blonde. So what do you do if your mirror reflects olive skin, raven hair, and a short build? Hijas Americanas: Beauty, Body Image, and Growing Up Latina offers a provocative account of the struggles and triumphs of Latina forced to reconcile these conflicting realities. Rosie Molinary combines her own experience with the voices of hundreds of Latinas who grew up in the US navigating issues of gender, image, and sexuality. This empathetic ethnography exemplifies the ways in which our experiences are both profoundly individualistic and comfortingly universal.
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