Archive for March, 2009

A potpourri of blog posts

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.

March 31, 2009 at 8:47 pm Leave a comment

Hunger for Justice

One of my students recently shared this prayer with me.  She learned it in Nicaraqua, and thought I’d like it.  It broke my heart open when I read it; it’s such a simple yet powerful prayer. 

Gracias Señor por el pan
da pan al que tiene hambre
y hambre de justicia al los que tienen pan.
Gracias Señor por el pan

Thank you, Lord, for bread.
Give bread to those who are hungry
And hunger for justice to those who have bread.
Thank you, Lord, for bread.

March 30, 2009 at 8:21 pm Leave a comment

The recession and body image


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.

March 29, 2009 at 7:17 pm Leave a comment

Air travel as baby labor

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.

March 26, 2009 at 6:20 pm 2 comments

7 months old and 2 months with us


 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. 


March 25, 2009 at 7:55 pm 3 comments

What writers read


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?

March 24, 2009 at 10:35 pm Leave a comment




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.      

March 23, 2009 at 10:08 am 1 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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