Belated Internet Inspiration – March 1, 2015

3.1.2015

I honestly don’t think I’ve ever wondered why mirrors flip things horizontally but not vertically, but if you have, here’s your answer.

8 photographs that showcase beautiful post-baby bodies.

The only story we see is the bounce-back; the mother who went to the gym every day and lost all the weight. But then there’s the rest of us. It’s not that one is bad and one is good. There’s nothing wrong with being able to bounce back; it’s powerful and beautiful. But my experience when I gave birth was very different. I want those women to know they haven’t failed.

Cool infographic on the various ways we can achieve immortality. Which do you prefer?

Beautiful thoughts on the Jewish tradition of Shmita, or letting the land lie fallow every seven years.

To let land lie fallow is to let it rest and replenish, to be left unsown for a period of time in order to restore its fertility.

During this time, all agricultural activity is forbidden by halakha (Jewish law). You can do things like weeding or trimming — clearing out — but only as a necessary preventative measure only, not to improve the growth of trees or other plants.

24 quotes about writing that make you want to write more.

I love everything about this story. A young Seattle girl feeds the crows in her neighborhood and receives presents back.

The crows would clear the feeder of peanuts, and leave shiny trinkets on the empty tray; an earring, a hinge, a polished rock. There wasn’t a pattern. Gifts showed up sporadically – anything shiny and small enough to fit in a crow’s mouth.

One time it was a tiny piece of metal with the word “best” printed on it. “I don’t know if they still have the part that says ‘friend’,” Gabi laughs, amused by the thought of a crow wearing a matching necklace.

It’s CrossFit Open season! Wahooo!!! I’m thinking back to last year and remembering how poignant disappointment can be.

Once we’re ready, we want change and improvement to happen all at once, and it doesn’t. We have a limited capacity for growth.

But when it come to bodies, to abilities, to life, it’s all a series of relationships, as far as I’m concerned.

It’s a relationship, not a technique. And it’s going to be different every damn day. This doesn’t diminish the value of effort and hard work, but this idea of relationship creates space for a little mystery. It makes space for the idea that Earth takes the easy, organic route, and that we can do the same.

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Role-Lock and Role Models

Role-Lock and Role Models

Did you guys see the Saturday Night Live 40th anniversary show? I’m not super into SNL, but I was visiting my brother and they were watching it, and it was pretty funny. I’m linking to a clip of Miley Cyrus performing “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” a Paul Simon song with which I was unfamiliar.

I made a comment about how much I love Miley Cyrus. (I do, and I always have. Hannah Montana The Movie is a treasure.) A friend who was there responded by asking me if I’d had a little girl who looked up to Hannah Montana if I wouldn’t have been disappointed in Miley Cyrus when she went so far in the other direction. Didn’t I think she owed it to her fans to be a good role model?

It was hard for me in the moment to articulate my thoughts, but all I could think of was something author Neil Strauss tweeted a few months ago:

Role-Lock

Haven’t we all been there?

I have a family friend who used to not want to come home during holidays. Her mother was upset by that and didn’t know why, and my mother pointed out that this friend is a grown woman, with a BA and a Masters Degree from elite universities, a successful job, and a healthy romantic relationship, and when she comes home none of that matters; she is the youngest child and gets treated like she’s 12.

That’s why a lot of people get stressed when holidays come around: it’s very easy to fall back into old relationship pattern where all of you fades away and you’re now a supporting role in some family dynamic. You’re someone’s daughter, sister, friend. And those relationships carry all sorts of pressures, expectations, and potential for disappointment.

A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family. – Jesus, Mark 6:4

I have that issue with most of my relationships. The reason I’m most afraid of romantic relationships is that I’m afraid I’ll cease to be myself and I’ll fade away into being someone’s girlfriend.

We all know what to expect from these roles. That’s why they’re so easy to fall into. You know what you have to do to be the perfect ____. You’ve been learning it your whole life.

But if you sweep yourself under a rug in order to be the Stepford wife, daughter, son, girlfriend, friend, husband, boss, employee, parent, you’ll never be able to sustain it. Eventually all these repressed parts of you will want expression. And then you reach the terrifying precipice where you realize that you have all the love and approval you could want, except that all the love and approval is directed at your persona and not at you.

Being not loved by you for who I am is better than being loved by you for who I would pretend to be.   – Nicole Daedone

So when I think of Miley Cyrus and all those parents who think she’s a bad role model, I think they’ve missed a better lesson to teach their children. I think it’s harmful to label someone good or bad just so you can be comfortable. You’ll be amazed at how kids pick up on this lesson.

A better, more loving lesson to learn and teach is that people change and people vary.

Maybe Miley Cyrus as Hannah Montana was the right role model for your kid, and now Miley Cyrus and the Bangerz tour is not right for your kid at this time.

It doesn’t make Miley Cyrus bad; it doesn’t make you good. There are no karmic brownie points for self-expression.

Either way, it’s worth exploring where you’re putting expectations on other people, be they personal relationships or with public figures.

It’s worth exploring where you’re pushing yourself aside because you feel the pressure from people in your life.

How would you change if everyone in your life would respond to your choices with unwavering respect for you and your sovereignty?

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Internet Inspiration – February 13, 2014

2.13.2015

Happy Galentine’s Day!!

How to draw anything. This is adorable. And easy!

Mount Holyoke has cancelled its annual performance of The Vagina Monologues this year because they believe it presents a narrow view of womanhood. I’ll be honest: I never liked the Vagina Monologues and the best thing my university ever did was add The Vagina Dialogues to their performance so that our students could write their own acts about sexuality, identity, orientation, relationships. The Vagina Dialogues remain some of the most compelling performances I’ve ever seen.

I know I have a lot of books to read, but it doesn’t stop me from wanting the top poetry books of 2014.

And here is a list of the Best Books of 2014. I really want to read Station Eleven. Let me swiftly read all the other books on my list!

Also, here are some great resolutions ideas if you’re still looking for your 2015 focus.

My current favorite eye makeup routine. Actually, though, I’m seeing a pattern here. This look is the one I might want to try this weekend for a bachelorette party (also, if you’re only following one makeup channel on youtube, make it Lisa Eldridge) , and I’m also kind of intrigued by these two where the color is between the eyes.

This is the first time I’ve heard of the Adipositivity Project, where photographer Substantia Jones takes pictures of fat people and their partners. Love. [This post does contain nudity and is probably NSFW.]

If you’re wanting some plants for your home, here are some magical plant meanings. You can buy me fuschia roses for a gift if you want. I love roses, and I wouldn’t mind something that reinforces, “A lust for life, radical self love, deep love and acceptance of your physical body.” Warning, if you have any sort of black thumb, the hilariously nicknamed “Mother In Law Plant” is the longest living plant I have.

This is so random, but I do want the life I’d have if Stanley Tucci were my boyfriend. Who the hell writes this stuff?

If Stanley Tucci were your boyfriend, you would own a good cheese knife. Nothing pretentious. You wouldn’t need a whole set. Just one. But it would be perfect, and you would never have trouble sliding Camembert pieces off of it. You would be the kind of person who invests in small, good, useful things. You would treat yourself with compassion, and you would never eat Cheetos in the shower.

.

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Spring and the Cherry Trees

Spring and Cherry Trees

I’ve been having writer’s block. I have stuff I’m trying to unravel, but it’s hard to write about. I thought I had this one pattern around romantic relationships, and then it turned out that this pattern is more like the invisible tattoo on my skin, the water I swim in. It’s the lens through which I see the world, and so when I start trying to look at it, there’s no safe place, you know? At least if it was only about food, my relationships would be safe. Or if it was only about romantic relationships, my platonic relationships would be safe. But I get triggered at every corner. It’s very frustrating.

And then I sit down to write something for this site, and the voice in my head (Bitch Boss, is it you?) says that if I’m not writing about this Very Important Pattern I might as well not be writing at all. And that’s how it’s been a month since I last wrote.

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Then I remember this poem from Pablo Neruda,

I want to do with you
what spring does with the cherry trees.

- “Every Day You Play”

What an image. It’s so sensual, intimate. Wanting to watch someone flourish, helping them bloom. The idea that you don’t have to bloom on your own.

But there’s more to spring and cherry trees than the blooming.

Right now in the States we’re pretty well in the middle of our winter season; just a few days ago we got a dusting of snow. But yesterday was sunny and 50 degrees, not exactly winter weather. That’s the part I forget about when I think of spring: the dancing, the drama, the tension, the invitation.

Spring doesn’t come like a set change of a play; it’s not winter winter winter winter winter SPRING! BLOOM NOW EVERYONE!

Winter gives the perennials some time to retreat, to hibernate, to rest. But a few weeks before spring officially begins, Winter begins inviting everyone into the new season. There’s a blanket of snow insulating the ground, and then it warms up and melts a little, delivering water to the hibernating roots underneath. Sun shines, encouraging growth. And then it snows again; everything comes back to itself and rests some more, integrating changes.

It’s a patient, gentle seduction.

It’s not time yet for spring, but winter yields a little just to give us a taste. We can remember the delight that comes with spring, start to dream of the new possibilities, and then come back to ourselves and rest a little more.

Desire is the proper atmosphere of the sexual kingdom. It keeps us alive and moving along. It keeps us in touch with memories, warm and sad, and it allows us entry to the world of imagination when all around us practicality is insistent.

- Thomas Moore, “Original Self”

So I continue inviting myself to look at these patterns in my mind, to explore what I think is true, to excavate my desires and just let them be expressed, even if I’m not ready yet to post it here. And I’ll try very hard to remember that things change when they’re ready, no matter how frustrating that is to me.

Spring is possible because of the dance that came before.

Talk soon. Love, Kathryn

PS – The poems that best illustrate the somewhat abusive nature with which we regard change vs the patient, gentle, loving change of nature are by Mary Oliver and Hafiz, respectively. Read here.

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The Owl of Minerva

the owl of minerva

So it turns out it’s been over a month since my last post that wasn’t Internet Inspiration, which both surprises and doesn’t surprise me. I’ve had the same article staring me in the face every time I sit down to write, and it goes nowhere. And then I try to write something new, and I end up in the same situation.

A few months ago I gave a talk on eating psychology at a company, and someone asked me if I recommended vitamins, because she had a friend that would eat junk food, and then take vitamins to counterattack the bad food.

It seems like a simple question, and I was almost distracted because I wanted to ask her more about her friend, this elusive white elephant that has such an extreme habit. I thought I’d never met anyone in real life that does anything like that.

But that’s not quite true. Even if the example is extreme, the pattern is not. You might:

  • have started a new diet last Monday to undo the “damage” from the holidays.
  • exercise specifically to undo a big meal you ate.
  • precede your sentences with “sorry” or end them with, “just saying,” as though that might neutralize a nasty comment.

And it’s usually never about undoing one choice; the decisions, the mistakes, they all compound in your mind. You’re fighting with your own nature.

It is commonly thought that contemporary man has swung from Puritanism to hedonism — to the pursuit of pleasure rather than the denial of pleasure. But these are two sides of one coin. Both these are two sides of one coin. Both the hedonist and the puritan face the body in the condition of fear; the puritan fears gratification while the hedonist fears the absence of gratification. Both derive their sense of identity through conflict with the natural rhythms of the organism; both are manipulators, at war with what is.

- Jacob Needleham, A Sense of the Cosmos [via Marion Woodman, Dancing in the Flames]

Notice if any of this is true for you.

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To return to the original example, I think choosing vitamins can be a really powerful practice. You are giving your body an abundance of what it needs. It can be a deliberate act of self care.

But if you’re choosing vitamins as a defense, or a punishment, or as a hail mary attempt to save you from your other habits, then it’s not about giving yourself what you need at all. It’s about shoulds, about punishments, about shame for your previous choices.

Remember: your actions are authentic. Always, no matter how unconsciously.

Maybe the person in the example really loves fast food, and it’s her version of Bitch Boss that shames her into repenting for that choice. Maybe this food is the only pleasurable part of her life, and she’d do better to up her pleasure factor. Perhaps food is the last frontier of personal choice for her, and she’s choosing something extreme to prove that it’s her choice to make. It’s possible that her friend is misunderstanding and she’s choosing both fast food and vitamins out of desire. These are all valid, understandable reasons for making this food choice.

Know that your patterns are here for a reason. Going for the immediate fix without understanding some of the deeper impulses is a distraction. Start excavating without the intent to solve your issue. Stay with yourself for a little while.

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The Owl of Minerva or the Owl of Athena is a philosophical concept that I really appreciated while I was struggling (read: avoiding) my writer’s block.

I got held up because I had no plan of action regarding this pattern. All I could do was point it out, explore some variations and possible underlying explanations, but that there wasn’t anything for me to solve or fix. I worried that this would be unhelpful for you, and that halted my writing.

Minerva’s owl is constantly by her side, a symbol of wisdom and intelligence. But it only ever flies at dusk.

One more word about giving instruction as to what the world ought to be. Philosophy in any case always comes on the scene too late to give it… When philosophy paints its gloomy picture then a form of life has grown old. It cannot be rejuvenated by the gloomy picture, but only understood. Only when the dusk starts to fall does the owl of Minerva spread its wings and fly.

- Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Philosophy of Right

In the moment, while you’re in your pattern, the only thing to do is to take notes. You can’t fix it while you’re in it. The pattern will be around until it’s no longer needed. You’ll need the pattern until you don’t. And then all of a sudden you’ll understand why it lingered for so long.

It’s paradoxical and incredibly frustrating. But give yourself the gift of discovery. Go deeper, get to know yourself.

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