Internet Inspiration – October 10, 2014

10.10.2014

I have SO MUCH LOVE for this TED talk calling for a new metaphor for sex.

For some reason, says educator Al Vernacchio, the metaphors for talking about sex in the US all come from baseball — scoring, getting to first base, etc. The problem is, this frames sex as a competition, with a winner and a loser. Instead, he suggests a new metaphor, one that’s more about shared pleasure, discussion and agreement, fulfillment and enjoyment. Let’s talk about … pizza.

AMEN!!

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Last week I really needed this post of Leonie’s top blogging tips. So encouraging.

Speaking of sex, I loved these excerpts from Alain de Botton on How to think more about sex.

Our culture encourages us to acknowledge very little of who we normally are in the act of sex. It seems as if it might be a purely physical process, without any psychological importance. But … what happens in love-making is closely bound up with some of our most central ambitions. The act of sex plays out through the rubbing together of organs, but our excitement is no boorish physiological reaction; rather, it is an ecstasy we feel at encountering someone who may be able to put to rest certain of our greatest fears, and with whom we may hope to build a shared life based upon common values.

Have you guys read about Sweden introducing a gender-neutral pronoun? I’m intrigued, although part of me really resists the idea that we need to ignore differences in order to treat everyone equally.

Thanks, Havi, for working through the difficulty that is not getting what you want and getting instead what you’re supposed to get.

I’ve been binge-watching Gilmore Girls since Netflix put it on instantwatch, and it makes me want to accept the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge.

Yes, thank you, I would like everything in this Etsy shop.

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Feeling Doomed? Try Funny and Lighthearted on for Size

funny and lighthearted as antidotes to doom

Last week my dad and I took a trip, just the two of us, to go fly fishing. I had the most wonderful time. It made me remember how much I adore being outside, hiking, camping, and it turns out I also really love fishing. I’m figuring out how to infuse the fly fishing qualities into my daily life.

But another thing that was interesting was to hear my dad talk about his job. He works for GEICO Insurance, an auto insurance company here in the US.

He says the biggest struggles when it comes to marketing auto insurance are

  • Nobody wants to buy it. Anyone who purchases insurance does so because it’s required by the state or by an employer.
  • Nobody wants to use it once they’ve bought it. Really the only reason to use your insurance is to file a claim (in the event of a car crash or breakdown, for example.)

So how is GEICO such a successful business and advertiser, when they’re selling something nobody wants to buy and nobody wants to use?

They keep their content light, and focus on being funny and likable.

If you’re in the US, you must be familiar with the gecko, the pothole commercial, maxwell the pig, and most of the others. If you’re not familiar, have a look.

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It’s so interesting to me that GEICO’s antidote to being unwanted is to approach it from a seemingly unrelated, lighthearted place. Most insurance companies in the past relied on fear and doom to sell their product.

I think this might be a good tactic to have in your toolbox.

If you wouldn’t buy your body and definitely wouldn’t use it, ouch! Any chance of letting that burden go and lightening up? You don’t have to permanently leave it, maybe just… send it back to bed while you take yourself out on a date!

If you’re trying to lose weight, instead of shaming yourself, or worrying about how your weight is going to kill you prematurely, make you sick, prevent you from finding love and acceptance, could you put those fears on hold and try to lighten up?

Even if your physical weight doesn’t change (or changes in Moss Time), could you lighten up mentally and emotionally and maybe have a little fun with your body NOW?

If you’re dealing with anxiety and perfectionism, it’s like trying to fight Medusa. Looking her straight in the face will turn you to stone.

Make like Perseus and use a mirror to come around the edges. Write about what’s freaking you out. See if you can separate a little bit and find out some more details about what you’re afraid of.

What can you do to separate yourself a little bit from your doom and have just a moment or two (or five!) of lightheartedness and fun?

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I don’t make any of these suggestions to dismiss your pain and the hard stuff you’re working through. But sometimes we get so embroiled in the story we’re telling ourselves about what’s going on, it’s hard to get at the true source of the problem. A little bit of separation can yield a tremendous amount of clarity and energy.

Chances are you’ve had many moments in which your metabolism was transformed by something other than food, drugs, or exercise. Can you recall a time when you were sitting at home feeling low energy and sorry for yourself, a time when if someone asked you “How’s your metabolism?” you would have answered that it was sluggish and stuck? Then quite suddenly the phone rings and it’s a love interest calling or it’s someone calling you with good news about money. Your mod instantly skyrockets. You feel alive and optimistic. And in that moment, if someone asked again, “How’s your metabolism?” you’d say it was humming.

So what happened? You had an enormous energy rush yet you didn’t drink any coffee or take any drugs. It was a shift in your emotional world that ignited your body. That’s how quickly metabolism can change.

- Marc David, The Slow Down Diet

Try it and see.

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Internet Inspiration – October 3, 2014

10.03.2014

I have to lead with this impeccable article on the legacy of Lauryn Hill and the relationship between artists and fans. For all creative types or anyone who produces anything, it’s a must-read.

Artists make art for themselves. Art is an honest expression. Artists who pander to their fans by trying to make music “for” their fans make empty, transparent art. The true fan does not want you to make music for them, they want you to make music for you, because that’s the whole reason they fell in love with you in the first place.

I wrote my first rap when I was 12 years old. I had no fans. I didn’t write it for the fans, I wrote it because I had something I desperately needed to express. When Black Star came out, Yasiin and I did not have a huge fan base. We did that album for us. It is that honest personal, expression that fans crave.

We love you, Anne Lamott. Indeed.

How to travel America for free.

This experience is about much more than just not spending money. It’s about showing that you and I can be contributing members to society whether we have money or not. It’s about showing that there are much more rewarding ways to live than just throwing money at every situation. It’s about living a life that is truly beneficial to the earth my community, and myself. It’s about being more involved in our communities and treating each other and respect.  And it’s also about teaching you how to live with less money so that you can follow your dreams and live independently of corrupted systems that don’t serve your best interest.

I think the title of this piece is a little misleading, but the actual article is excellent. I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while, how the reason criticism stings and stays with you is usually because you suspect it might be true and you don’t want it to be. If someone calls you a bitch, or selfish, that hurts more than if they told you they think your third arm is ugly. Also, the author does a really great job of articulating specific challenges for women.

There’s another, deeper factor that informs women’s relationship to criticism and praise. For centuries, women couldn’t protect their own safety through physical, legal or financial means. We couldn’t rely on the law if our safety was threatened. We couldn’t use our own money to escape or safeguard ourselves and our children, because we could not own property. Being likable, or at least acceptable to stronger, more powerful others, was one of our primary available survival strategies. For many women around the world, this is still the reality, but all women inherit the psychological legacy of that history. Disapproval, criticism and the withdrawal of others’ approval can feel so petrifying for us at times — life-threatening even — because for millenniums, it was.

In case you need a laugh, here is a hilarious way to respond to spam texts.

Susannah Conway on choosing our adornments.

Such a fresh take on the benefits of cooking at home.

All homes have smells, domestic pheromones I call them, and good homes smell like good cooking, clean sheets and fresh flowers and draw you in. When I cook tasty, rich, clean food everything feels good in my home. When I cook bacon, the kids from next door come over (but I do use the exhaust fan!). Good cooking smells will season a home and sink into its pores. This attracts people.

Internet Inspiration – September 26, 2014

9.26.2014

It took me days to watch Emma Watson’s #HeForShe speech, and I’m sorry for that. I had tears in my eyes the whole time. Go ahead and watch it now, at least, and recognize that patriarchy is as damaging to men as it is to women. We all have a stake in this.

Since that speech, Emma has been the recipient of sexual threats. Someone has started a countdown to publish stolen nude images. I’m not even sure where to begin except to direct you to this eloquent article on the topic.

“Understand,” [Nora Ephron] said, “every attack on Hillary Clinton for not knowing her place is an attack on you.” We must all take such attacks personally, she argued: “Underneath almost all those attacks are the words: Get back, get back to where you once belonged.”

Related: Nicki Minaj’s feminism is not about your comfort zone.

Minaj’s perspective has always been multi-dimensional; she comes forward as an immigrant, as a black woman, as a female rapper, as a sexual being, as an artist, as a storyteller, as a survivor, as a bad bitch. She comes forward in order to tell her own story, be it one of domination or declaration. Minaj has even come forward as a feminist. She’s actually done it over and over again. And yet, instead of simply embracing her own discourse on the topic, feminists often can’t wrap their heads around it.

Scientists and Philosophers answer kids’ questions. Love.

“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch,” Carl Sagan famously observed in Cosmos, “you must first invent the universe.”

Loved this essay on children who shine from within and how we can encourage that.

10 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Porn. So necessary and so accurate. I remember lamenting to a personal coach I worked with that my entire sexual education came from the scare tactics of Abstinence Only and the non-reality of pornography.

I really appreciated this objective look at the probability of people having only one soulmate. I personally believe that we all have many soulmates: sometimes they’re parents, friends, lovers, bosses, children, or something else. It’s actually a really interesting and affirming exercise to start to consider the soulmates you have in your life.

Related to absolutely nothing, I adore this sweatshirt. I can’t help it; I LOVE PUNS!

The Velveteen Rabbit School of Body Love

Velveteen Rabbit School of Body Love

When I ran away to Portland a few weeks ago, I got a tattoo. In fact, once I decided to go to Portland, the first research I did and reservation I made was for my tattoo (and not, say, for my flights or lodging).

And the tattoo came out beautifully, as you’ll see. I’m crazy about it. Everyone who’s seen it in pictures or in person loves it too (at least to my face :) ).

My friend asked me about its meaning, and the truth is: it has none. I gave my artist a style of tattoo that I really liked and told her I wanted it to drape and hug and curve around my body, and she delivered.

The act of getting a tattoo was symbolic and significant; the image wasn’t.

Because the reason I’ve always wanted tattoos and piercings, and to wear 5 necklaces, 10 bracelets, makeup, and do my hair up in Lagertha braids, is because these are all ways for me to claim my body.

For me, this is an extension of how I express love. When I read books, I annotate the heck out of them. I highlight, I underline, I write notes in the margins. Now I have little sticky notes so I can more easily find passages that matter. For well-loved books even those are unnecessary; the spine shows me the important sections. As Elizabeth Gilbert says

I adore books too passionately to treat them gently.

When I decorate my apartment, I don’t care if it’s a rental; I have colorful artwork covering the walls at the very least. I paint the walls if I’m allowed.

When I wear clothes, if something works I buy it in every color and wear it until it falls apart. I had no interest in collectible dolls I couldn’t play with. I still am amazed that anyone would buy something with the intention of keeping the original packaging on.

This is how I demonstrate love. It’s how I inhabit a place. It’s how I express what’s inside me.

There’s a passage from one of my favorite books that I’ve always remembered:

Moved by a mixture of habit and compulsion, I pushed open the door to her room and clicked on the light. Some people have the knack of objects, and others haven’t. Bree had it; scarcely an inch of wall space showed between the posters, photographs, dried flowers, scraps of tie-dyed fabric, framed certificates and other impedimenta on the walls.

Some people have a way of arranging everything about them, so the objects take on not only their own meaning, and a relation to the other things displayed with them, but something more besides—an indefinable aura that belongs as much to their invisible owner as to the objects themselves. I am here because Brianna placed me here, the things in the room seemed to say. I am here because she is who she is.

It was odd that she should have that, really, I thought. Frank had had it; when I had gone to empty his university office after his death, I had thought it like the fossilized cast of some extinct animal; books and papers and bits of rubbish holding exactly the shape and texture and vanished weight of the mind that had inhabited the space.

For some of Brianna’s objects, the relation to her was obvious—pictures of me, of Frank, of Bozo, of friends. The scraps of fabric were ones she had made, her chosen patterns, the colors she liked—a brilliant turquoise, deep indigo, magenta, and clear yellow. But other things—why should the scatter of dried freshwater snail shells on the bureau say to me “Brianna”? Why that one lump of rounded pumice, taken from the beach at Truro, indistinguishable from a hundred thousand others—except for the fact that she had taken it?

I didn’t have a way with objects. I had no impulse either to acquire or to decorate—Frank had often complained of the Spartan furnishings at home, until Brianna grew old enough to take a hand. Whether it was the fault of my nomadic upbringing, or only the way I was, I lived mostly inside my skin, with no impulse to alter my surroundings to reflect me.

Jamie was the same. He had had the few small objects, always carried in his sporran for utility or as talismans, and beyond that, had neither owned nor cared for things. Even during the short period when we had lived luxuriously in Paris, and the longer time of tranquillity at Lallybroch, he had never shown any disposition to acquire objects.

For him as well, it might have been the circumstances of his early manhood, when he had lived like a hunted animal, never owning anything beyond the weapons he depended on for survival. But perhaps it was natural to him also, this isolation from the world of things, this sense of self-sufficiency—one of the things that had made us seek completion in each other.

Odd all the same, that Brianna should have so much resembled both her fathers, in their very different ways. I said a silent good night to the ghost of my absent daughter, and put out the light.

- Diana Gabaldon, Voyager

I love the idea that the things I carry, keep, and store, are a reflection of who I am. Manipulating and changing my body are authentic ways for me to tell the world who I am.

But that’s not true for other people. Some people demonstrate love by keeping things pristine, by caring for them so much that they are always preserved in their new, untampered-with state.

This was a beautiful essay by a Sikh woman on how, by accepting and living in the body she was given, with no alterations, she honored the Divine.

Yes, I’m a baptized Sikh woman with facial hair. Yes, I realize that my gender is often confused and I look different than most women. However, baptized Sikhs believe in the sacredness of this body – it is a gift that has been given to us by the Divine Being [which is genderless, actually] and, must keep it intact as a submission to the divine will. Just as a child doesn’t reject the gift of his/her parents, Sikhs do not reject the body that has been given to us. By crying ‘mine, mine’ and changing this body-tool, we are essentially living in ego and creating a seperateness [sic] between ourselves and the divinity within us. By transcending societal views of beauty, I believe that I can focus more on my actions.

I wonder which category you’d put yourself in. When it comes to your body, do you create the image you want, accumulate the things you need, claim your space, and let that radiate out into your actions? Or do you prefer to accept the vessel and focus on your actions? Or both? Or neither?

As I’ve been considering this question over the past two weeks, I couldn’t help thinking of the children’s story The Velveteen Rabbit, where toys become real through the fierce, constant love from their children.

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

“I suppose you are real?” said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.

“The Boy’s Uncle made me Real,” he said. “That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”

So what about you, my friend? How are you becoming? If you’ve ever felt real before, what made you get there? Love through protection and keeping pristine care? Love through self-expression? Love through passionate, ungentle utility? Or something else?

Tell me.

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And here’s a picture of my tattoo just after we finished it. Only the flowers are colored; any other red is just some inflammation.

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