Archive for March, 2009
I mentioned last week that I had been asked to share some reading suggestions with Writers Read. Here’s the post.
So one of the fun things about my job is that I get to meet interesting people and learn new things. Recently, I put together a round up for the Charlotte Observer’s style page on homegrown style makers– local people who are style entreprenuers. One of those people is Katie Stein, a jewelry artist whose work belongs on the pages of the Sundance Catalog. Seriously, it’s exquisite. Anyway, I always have to ask people for head shots– something I hate asking as I know that I personally hate providing them and so I get a little knot in my stomach asking someone to do something I hate. Anyway, I, mostly figure that the hating to ask is mostly my issue and so I barrel through and ask anyway. Well, Katie, who has a really cool studio diary that I love, obviously feels the same way I do about pictures and wrote the funniest blog post about having to give me a picture. I thought I’d share the dark or funny side of the job here. Katie also has a hysterical blog post about her cat that is the funniest thing I’ve read in awhile.
I’ve done a few workshops this month in addition to my regular Friday morning seminar on body image and so I’ve been thinking about body image even more than I do normally. I’ve been thinking about whether or not the recession will have a positive effect on body image. I read in a recent articel that 59% of people who had been considering plastic surgery say the recession has put a hold on their plans. I also read that the price paid for shots of celebs out doing their thing is way down. I can’t but wonder if we will stop investing in media that puts women’s lives up for grabs as we try to mind our dollars. Could it be that because these are more serious times, it seems frivilous to spend so much time dissecting our appearance and the apperance of others? And if those things happen, could it be that more of us will move to an understanding that beauty– and what we understand it to be– should be an individual construct (we should each be defining beauty uniquely for ourselves) and give up any notion that a cultural construct, a pop culture construct of beauty has any value whatsoever? What do you think?
And one more thing. I have my students write their own body image autobiographies at the beginning of each semester. I also have them conduct body image interviews with two people in their lives and then write a reaction paper. One of my students interviewed her mom and when she asked her mom what advice she had for those struggling with their body image, her mom said, “It is better to be happy with yourself than to be happy that others are happy with you.” I just loved that advice.
I loathe flying. Seriously loathe it. There’s a moment of sheer panic for me in every flight (if not multiple moments). So it comes as no surprise that psyching myself up for the flight to Ethiopia took some work. But it might surprise those that know BF to know that he had his own trepidation. My anxiety was flight TO Ethiopia related. Could I sit for hour after hour in my fear and come out on the other side in Africa and not jail (whenever we hear those news stories about the passenger who dove for the emergency exit midflight and had to get restrained and sedated, I think, “there but for the grace of God go I.”)? But I had no anxiety about the flight home. I knew that tending to baby would keep me busy and engaged in something far more important than myself and my fears. The hours, I figured, would fly by. BF, on the other hand, was paralyzed by the idea of the flight home. He was scared that baby would cry the entire time and that every passenger on the plane would hate us. I figured that most people would give us grace, but I also knew that if baby cried, BF would spend the entire flight going up and down the aisles apologizing. But then one of our dear friends, a physician, gave us the best possible advice for the flight. She said, “Think about those flights as your labor. Every family suffers a little bit to bring a new loved one into the world. Your labor is the flight– it’s a little too long, impossible to ever get fully comfortable with it, seems like it won’t end, you don’t know what’s coming next, and, yet, the entire time excitement, anticipation, and possiblity lick at your stomach.” It was the perfect metaphor– one that helped both of us handle with grace the part of the journey that really challenged us.
If your journey to a new family member is still ahead of you, I hope that metaphor serves you well, too.
For years, I have signed my letters to loved ones in just one way: you are loved.
When I saw this onesie, I had to get it for my boy.
We’re celebrating 2 months of being a family today, of all of us being loved and in love.
I had a lovely invitation last week from Writers Read to share with their readers what I’ve been reading. The invitation came after Dr. Cynthia M. Bulik, an author they featured on the blog earlier in the month, revealed that she had just finished Hijas. I am putting together my post for them but thought I’d share a few other thoughts about what I’ve been reading here…
For a while, I was reading parenting books out the wazoo because I felt like I knew so little about parenting and had a lot to learn. The books were helpful but then it dawned on me a few weeks ago that I just needed to turn my parenting brain off some. So, I went to Barnes and Noble and promptly bought some fiction. The two books I picked up were Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld and Joe College by Tom Perrotta.
Prep is Sittenfeld’s debut novel and tells the coming of age story of Lee, a girl trying to fit in and find herself at a boarding school where she constantly feels the other. Joe College is the story of Danny, a college junior who spends the two weeks of his spring break driving a Roach Coach. As you might imagine, I was looking to get as far away from parenting as I could with my choices but I also love coming of age lit of any kind.
The next book I’ll tackle after those two is John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederancy of Dunces, the 1981 Pulitzer Prize winner. I read it years ago and loved it, but it’s the April pick for my bookclub so I need to crack that spine back open. Speaking of book club, my book club will soon pick its next six books. What do you recommend from what you are reading– we read fiction or non-fiction and are fairly game for anything?
So Mondays on Hijas Americanas are dedicated to reflection, self-awareness, self-esteem, identity (because all those things play into becoming our fully realized best selves; beautiful ‘us’es if you will). I periodically like to share journaling prompts with you that I am using with my workshops or on my own and thought I would share this series of 10 questions with you that I put together for a workshop I do on writing This I Believe statements (from the popular NPR series). If you are a journaler, perhaps you’ll print these out and do them on your own. Or perhaps– even if you aren’t a journaler- you’ll share an answer or two of yours here. A few of mine are below.
I live in a world where…
Sometimes I feel like…
I believe I have to…
I’ve always been…
I’m excited by…
When I’m feeling good, I … find that it’s because I am making good choices about what I’m eating. Food, it seems for me, is medicine. Knowing this, however, doesn’t make it any easier to make the choices that my body responds well to all of the time.
When I’m feeling bad, I…
What worries you?
What do you like to do? My favorite thing of all time to do? Sit in the midst of a lapping wave at the beach reading.
What do you do best? Probably believing in myself that I’ll be okay and that I can tackle what’s before me even if the way I tackle it isn’t the most perfect or brilliant way ever.
* Photo courtesy of Jill Williams.
Schedule? Hmmm, here is how it sort of goes in picture journal form.
Somewhere between 5:50-7am, baby wakes for the day. We bring to our bed and just let him chatter, shriek, and thrust his arms in the air. Good times are had by all.
7 am- Baby’s changed out of his pjs and into his clothes for the day. He has some of his bottle and then plays on the floor with his Ema (including tummy time which is not a huge hit around here).
8 am- Baby food.
9 amish- Swaddled, Bottled, and down for his morning nap.
11amish- Up and then it’s indoor/ outdoor playtime. Maybe a walk, maybe some Johnny Jump Up time (must get a picture of this to post!), maybe driving in his little car.
2:30pmish- Swaddled, Bottled, and down for his afternoon nap.
4:30pmish- Up and at ‘em. More indoor/outdoor playtime.
6 pm- Baby food. Floor time while the big people eat their dinner.
7 pm- Bath (highlight of the day)
7:30ish- Swaddled, Bottled, and Down.
His wakes up start around 9 am and go until 5 am. This week’s pattern– with our wake-ups numbering about 8, down from 15– there are usually 2-3 wake ups before midnight and 5-6 wake-ups after midnight.
So, you have a new baby or a child on the way. Waiting is hard, absolutely, and finding time to be able to feed your family a nutritious meal once you are home is just as hard. So, here are three recipes that are low fuss, make a fair amount of food, freeze well, taste good on the other side, and give you something to do while you wait!
Taco Soup Brown 2 pounds of ground beef, one small (chopped) onion, and a 4 oz. can of chopped green chilis. Then add 1.5 packages of taco seasoning, 1 package of ranch dressing, 1 large can of undrained hominy, 1 can of undrained pinto beans, 1 can of undrained kidney beans, 1 can of undrained niblets corn, 2 cans of undrained petite diced tomatoes, and 1.5 cups of water and heat through. Serve (when the time comes) with corn or tortilla chips, shredded cheese of your choice, and sour cream.
White Bean Tortellini Soup
Boil 5 cups of chicken broth. Stir in 1 9 oz. package of cheese tortellini. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 4 minutes. Stit in 1 can of undrained Great Northern beans, 1 can undrained Italian diced tomatoes, and 2 teaspoons of dried basil. Simmer for 6 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar. Freeze. When it comes time to serve later, sprinkle the soup with Parmesan cheese.
Spinach Ravioli Casserole Boil a family sized pack of skim cheese ravioli (or the flavor of your choice) for three minutes. Add 6-9 ounces of fresh spinach to the boiling water (and pasta) and let the spinach wilt (about 1 minute). Pull the pasta/ spinach mixture off the stove, drain and rinse with cold water. In a casserole dish, pour one layer of the pasta sauce of your choice onto the bottom of the casserole dish. Lightly sprinkle (if you like a little bit of heat) crushed red pepper on top of the pasta sauce. Then place one layer of the pasta/spinach mixture on top of the pasta sauce. Top the pasta/spinach mixture with 1/2-3/4 cup of mozzarella cheese. Then top the cheese with the rest of the pasta/spinach mixture. Finally, cover the cheese with the remaining pasta sauce and add a sprinkling of crushed red pepper. Freeze. When the time comes, bake the defrosted casserole for 25 minutes at 350 degrees and then add a top layer of mozzarella and let it bake for five more minutes.
Are you in the greater Charlotte area?
If so, I hope you’ll consider signing up for one of my upcoming workshops.
Writing Your Life
April 14, 2009
7:30 pm – 9 pm
Self-reflection gives us a much needed pause. It allows us a moment of inquiry, a moment to identify desire and potential. Generating awareness and then moving to personal solutions takes time and thought, brainstorming and checking in, enough repetition to want to change our choices and build a new habit, and the knowledge of why this habit will be good for us when we want to revert. Journaling predisposes us to a more successful embrace of our self and our choices. In this workshop, participants will discuss the importance of journaling and will actively engage in a range of journaling tools and practices.
Wednesdays, April 15-May 6
11 am – 12 pm
This four week workshop immerse the participant in building his or her reflection and journaling practice through in class exercises.
Crash Course in the Creative Process
Tuesdays, May 12-June 2
10:30 am -12 pm
This four week workshop immerses the participant in building his or her creativity through in class experiences, consideration of creative theory, and out of class exercises.
The Art of the Personal Essay
Wednesdays, May 20 – June 10
10:30 am -12 pm
The Art of the Personal Essay is a four week workshop that allows the
participant to discuss the art of personal essay writing, explore memoir
writing elements, complete several essays, receive feedback on their
writing, and begin revising their pieces.
All of these workshops will be held at The Warehouse Performing Arts Center.
To sign up, email me or call (704) 859-5930.