What I Want My Words to Do To You

I want my words to move you.
Uplift you, inspire you, free you.
I want you to see things differently.
I want you to cry, to laugh, to be present.

I want you to go tell someone you love them – even a stranger – and mean it.
I want you to realize your divinity.

I want you to recognize yourself. Your struggles, obstacles, your victories. Your truth. Your secrets.

I want you to think, to question, to reconsider all that you knew before.

I want you to say amen.
I want you to nod in silent agreement, and then go do something.
I want to you walk differently in the world because you are different, because of these words.

Attention Please. Small Government? Um, not so much.

I hope you guys have been paying attention. I use the words guys loosely because so much of what’s been going on in government adversely impacts women. In January we had Congress attempting to redefine what counts as rape. Now we have state governments criminalizing women and doctors for legal medical procedures and barring Medicaid recipients from low-cost health care altogether! It’s down right scary.

This ridiculousness comes at a time when legislators all but banned the word uterus from normal political discourse, while a jury acquitted a man of rape, ostensibly due, in part, to a woman bruising her cervix from being too enthusiastic with a washcloth. (No country for basic anatomy. Body parts are dirty words after all).

It’s not all about women’s issues. There’s enough to go around for poor and working class people (many also women) who, without probable cause, now have to submit to drug testing prior to receiving government assistance. Before you get the chance to assert how reasonable this could be, let me help you – it isn’t. It’s discriminatory and disgusting. Period. People don’t deserve to be treated as potential criminals because times are hard. (Rachel Maddow is brilliant as always on much of this. It’s 6 minutes well spent).

The point of this post is to make sure you’re paying attention. The buzzwords are smaller government and taking the country back, but the actual policies are larger, more intrusive, and discriminatory, and they punish women, poor and working class people, and people of color. These laws get written and  passed by legislators. This is an important point.

Who is (supposedly) representing your interests? Do you know what they’re really doing?

Beats Per Minute

So yesterday Erika asked what’s on our running playlists. Now, I’ve had two versions of my playlist (3 mile and 4 mile) for over a year. It’s important to say up front, I spend countless runs skipping through songs and testing sequences to get my playlists just right. Once they are, I tend to use them until I outpace them. Nerd, OCD, whatever. I like the music to be energizing, but I also like to sync my steps with the beat. This means the BPM has to be perfect.

Some of my best songs come from pre-made cardio fitness compilations. They’re the right BPM and are already cross faded to blend nicely from one to another. I then mix in songs from my personal collection and voila!

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective) my pace is quickening, but my playlist (namely the 4 miler) has remained the same. That means it’s time to rearrange, test new songs and the like. I tried mixing things up today for the first time. Catastrophe.

That’ll be a new project, but for now, here’s the answer to the question. I am generally done with my run by the end of track 10, but the other songs are there for cool down, and the occasional 5 mile stretch.

My usual 4 mile playlist. I'm generally done by the end of Track 10.

Moms and May

A friend’s tweet about his mother’s passing triggered memories of my own. It feels selfish to talk about it, but I’m owning my need to write, so I am writing. I’m also challenging my fear of sharing, so I am sharing.

Mother’s Day does not bother me too much. My mom’s birthday does not either. Even Memorial Day weekend, the anniversary of her passing, doesn’t make me feel any kind of way. Rather it’s random things that make me think about her, feel her, miss her. Sometimes it’s a song, a picture, a saying… today it was a tweet.

Ours was an interesting relationship to say the least. By the time she died we had learned to express our love for each other in productive and traditional ways. We made it through the tumultuous years when I was filled with rage toward her most of the time. Genuine rage, even when I wanted desperately to feel otherwise.

These memories – snapshots of our complicated relationship – these are the things I’m exploring these days. When I mention writing as inquiry, or truth-telling, I’m talking about writing to understand why couldn’t we say I love you to each other. Why did I threaten her with bodily harm? Why did I think horrendous thoughts about her in the dead of night and how did we get past it? Why didn’t I hug or kiss her the times I wanted to? And why did distance, space, time, and indeed my writing, bring us closer?

We had a happy ending, but was it luck? Or the lesson I needed to learn in this lifetime? Or?

When the doctor announced she was brain dead, I was immediately grateful for the healing that had taken place between us. I was elated that rather than “stuff” for Mother’s Day just a couple of weeks earlier, I had given her laughter and time and love.

My mother was pretty fabulous in a million ways, but I can’t act as if our past didn’t exist. All of it – the good, the bad, and the truly ugly. On days like today, I swallow the lump in my throat and write, and think, and feel.  And I miss her, and I love her and I wonder…

Relocating the Personal*

This is the title of Kamler’s work on critical writing pedagogy, and it’s perfectly applicable to my feelings at the moment, so I borrowed it.

I wrote a personal blog that would have easily been at home here. I’ve spent the past several weeks, months, keeping my personal and professional lives separate, even though I don’t believe they ought to be. Today’s post, about finding my voice and purpose as a writer, is indeed part of my professional growth. I feel such forced choices, imposed boundaries between the personal and professional are unhelpful at best and detrimental at worst.

I chose to write the entry on the “personal” side because the topic is all about me – my life. My work as a writer these days is to break through the barriers that prevent me from actually doing the writing. In order to break through those barriers, I have to recognize them, and name them.  My process, then, is to write about writing and in so doing, dismantle the blocks that have hindered me thus far.

Artificially, because the writing is all about “me,” it is personal rather than professional. But how I view the world, and my experiences in the world all help to form my theories of the world. These theories shape the way I write, teach, and work. Whether they are tacit or explicit, my theories impact my practice. And there’s how the personal and the professional remain so intimately intertwined.

Rather than post the entry both places, I’ll just link to it here. I do expect I’ll do more of this rebellious personal/professional risk taking. My ideal work environment is one in which I am able to be authentically me, and work with others as we push forward and grow together. In that regard, I’m tired of splitting work me from non-work me. It’s all me.

Here’s to bridging gaps. They Will Find You.

*Note: This post and the one to which it links were originally hosted on two separate blogs. One blog was “professional” and the other “personal.” I have since merged all posts into this blog.

They Will Find You

be still and let them find you/they will come when they are ready ~ruth foreman

So says Ruth in a poem featured in Flat-Footed Truths: Writing Black Women’s Lives. She is talking about your words, your stories. They come to you and through you at the anointed, appointed time. I am finding this to be true in my own life. It has been quite an evolution really – moving from wanting to write my life to becoming ready to actually do it.

The more I read from women who are unabashedly unafraid to narrate their lives, the more I feel the urge to do the same. This has gone through various manifestations over the past two decades:

  • I want to be a writer!
  • I should write, but I have nothing to say. (This one for 10 years).
  • I have things to say, but to whom?
  • I should write, just because…who cares who reads it?
  • I’m afraid to write.
  • I need to write to explore, inquire, and grow. (But I’m still afraid to write…).

This last place is my present positioning. I am beginning to view writing as a tool of understanding and simultaneously as a tool of empowerment. As we write, we have the opportunity to reflect, but also the chance to rewrite our trajectories. As we write the past and the present, we have the opportunity to also write our futures.

We have a say. Writing gives voice to thoughts and makes them visible. In their visibility they become tangible: A memory becomes a guiding light. An amorphous thought becomes a pathway, a next step. It becomes something I can touch and do. Through writing, thoughts can become action.

I found myself reading Audre Lorde, Anaïs Nin, and literally breathing in their words. They refresh me; quench a thirst I wasn’t sure existed. Why? Because they are me, only they are brave. They write about the complexities of their lives, being honest and open about things others of us would rather keep secret. They hold uncomfortable memories up to the light, turn them round and round and draw the truth out, painful (or joyful) though it may be.

When I read their words I always have to journal or jot down the memories I’ve pushed away. The secrets I’ve kept hidden. The lessons I’ve left unlearned or unchallenged. Reading their bravery pushes me closer to my own.

In 2011, I am fearless. And so it goes, one word, one page at a time.

be still and let them find you/they will come when they are ready ~ruth foreman

Adding to the Toolkit

I just completed Seidman’s Interviewing as Qualitative Research. It was everything I didn’t know I needed. I’m grateful.

I am teaching Qualitative Research Design this semester and as a first time prep, I’ve had to review/reread materials I read as a student of the course and investigate new resources. Seidman is someone I’d seen cited often by fellow doctoral students who were conducting in-depth interviews for their research. As I wasn’t, I never thought much about him or his work.

My advisor, Janette, has taught the course previously and she graciously offered to help me with the course design. She shared her readings, and his text was on the list. I’d read Patton’s work as a student, but found it wanting. I went with Seidman and was instantly glad. His words resonated with me again and again. As Louise Hay would say, I felt and heard my “inner ding.”

For the unfamiliar, Seidman discusses in-depth interviewing; specifically phenomenological interviewing. He interviews to understand people’s stories. To get their subjective experience through their own words. It hit home for me as I am seeking to develop a new conceptual framework and clarify my niche. Narrative has been a stable interest of mine, but up until this point, my focus has been on participants (physically) writing their own.

This will be a nice addition to my toolkit. Although not everyone is suited to interviewing, I have a hunch it may be a good methodology for me.  When I get the chance to try out my first series of phenomenological interviews, I’ll let you know if this is indeed a good fit. Fingers crossed.


Steamed Fish & Veggies

Fresh ginger. Who knew?

I decided to do more cooking this year – especially trying out new recipes, new spices, and new methods. I’ve tried a few things thus far, but just haven’t taken the time to share them with you.

I’m working from two cookbooks right now – The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, and the Grit Vegetarian Cookbook. There are limitations to both of these, but they are good places to start I think. Sojo recommended I purchase the All Vegetarian Cookbook, so I’ll be getting that one soon.


This dish comes from BH&G. It’s a recipe for steamed fish and veggies. It called for ginger (of which I’m not a huge fan) and basil as its signature items. I was to find and purchase fresh ginger (which I’d never seen), peel it, and then grate it. I had to make do with a parer. I’m still low on serious cooking utensils until I A) get a bigger kitchen and B) show myself I’m serious about cooking things that need more than the basics I do own.

Salmon with fresh basil.

Anyway, ginger scraped, or whatever, I made bias slices across my filets (I chose salmon, my favorite!), and stuffed each slit with fresh basil.

The next step was to rub the ginger atop the fish. So far so good, but that’s all there was to it! As in, there was nothing else to add. No salt, no pepper, no garlic, no butter. Nothing. Basil and ginger. The end.

Having never cooked with ginger or basil I didn’t know what to expect from them. BH&G seemed pretty sure they were enough to carry this whole meal. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to not add anything, so I did sprinkle a bit of sea salt atop (thank goodness). Basil and ginger are known to be dominant tastes. But ginger and basil aside, barely seasoned fish and veggies are still barely seasoned; and they taste that way.

Thank goodness for post-cooking flavoring!

In addition to the fish, this recipe also called for asparagus and sweet pepers. The veggies on the bottom, the fish on the top, everything went into a steamer basket. I haven’t steamed much – usually preferring to bake or sauté. I have to admit I was shocked it only took 8 minutes (and that was about a minute too long for my tastes).

Asparagus and sweet peppers on the bottom.
Preparing to steam everything.

Will I make it again?

Now that I’ve made a few things from this cookbook, I know they rely on supposedly strong flavorings to carry through. I have learned (finally) to be very heavy handed with my spices. Will I make this recipe again? Not as is, no. I will definitely mix and match parts of this recipe (minus the ginger, plus MORE seasoning for instance). But it was quick and healthful, and with the right flavoring, it’ll be delicious too.

A New Conceptual Framework

SGI young women’s study group bon voyage gathering.

It’s time for me to go back to the literature again. It’s not for a class paper (yay) or my dissertation (done); rather, it’s for me.

I have many ideas swirling around for research and teaching, and (no surprise) most of them are not directly connected to what I’ve spent the past three years reading/writing/thinking about.

I’ve never taken a women’s studies class, but I’m feeling as though it may be time to audit one. I’d like to read, write and teach at the intersection of women (18-35), literacy, narrative/story, and human revolution.

I wonder how good UGA’s digital library collection is…

Waiting In Between

It’s often hard for those of us who are “doers” to be in a holding pattern. But the Universe is getting ready for you.

So said @ChrisMacDen in consolation to me and another tweep, @MeaggiePie. We were discussing our lack of serious contribution to the global discussion board known as Twitter. I lamented feeling “in between” and having nothing much of value to say as of late.

I’m in between because I lack clarity on next steps about my career. At best, I have a vague and fuzzy sense about the work I should take up. I have one part-time job and two verbal offers for others. But I’m waiting on them to begin. In the interim, I know neither of the three jobs are long term strategies. They are ways to earn money and valuable experience while I wait design and develop my ideal career path.

I don’t like this feeling of stagnation, but on reflection, I don’t think the universe is really getting ready for me. I think it’s waiting on me to get ready. Rightly or wrongly, I believe that the universe conspires for my success. But at the very least, I must present it with a plan or a vision of what that might mean. You can always be redirected if you find yourself going down the wrong path, but I’m not sure how much meaningful progress you make doing nothing.

Sure, standing still, listening, regrouping, they are all valuable things to do, but at some point you have to start moving if you ever plan to arrive at your destination. I guess I need to figure out what that is…

I have a few ideas. I’m giving myself until my birthday to flesh them out.