Ten Ways to Rethink Feminism

Perhaps you know of her as the brilliant author of works like Americanah or Half of a Yellow Sun. Perhaps you were hungrily following the barrage of media surrounding Yoncé’s new album. Either way, you should know about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, an influential woman and a feminist. Why? Because her TED Talk on feminism doesn’t just outline what the circumstances of gender equality are like today. It proves how distorted the concept of feminism has become.

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13 Lessons Learned in 2013

13 Lessons Learned in 2013

The speed with which 2013 has traveled has been uncanny. There have been agonizing days of sluggish pain and then months that have flown by in a blink. For me, 2013 has been the most eventful year of my life. There has been more change and adventure in this year than any other. With New Year’s Eve upon us, I’ve been trying to think of my resolutions but I keep thinking back to all that has happened this year. It’s made me realize that before I can come up with resolutions, I need to gather my thoughts in terms of what I’ve learned this past year. And so, in no particular order, here we go.

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Girl Power; Less Than a Half Hour!

Tired of doing the same old exercises? Not really feeling a trip to the gym? Bored of workout videos? We’ve all been there.

Sometimes it’s hard to motivate yourself to exercise when you’re following the same old boring routine or just running to nowhere on a treadmill. It just so happened that I was in one of my   ‘I don’t want to work out because it’s boring’ moods one morning and decided to clean my house instead. But when I started blasting Spice Girls to pump myself up into productivity, my endorphins charged and all I wanted to do was get down and sweaty to the music. What started off as crazy dancing and lip syncing turned into a impromptu workout. I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I did!

Remember THIS?

Remember THIS?

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Seriously Though, Why Books?

I just moved. To a different city in a different country.

I left my job, my family, my friends, my dog, and my obscenely large collection of Harry Potter books.

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My dog

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It should be noted that this is only part of my collection

I now live in what is considered a really dangerous part of town in Chicago (when in reality it’s gorgeous and totally safe) in an apartment that has no air conditioning. It is over 90 degrees outside. It is past 9pm.

I’ve sat in a lot of different places the last couple of months wondering what the hell I’m doing. Taking out loans that I am already having nightmares about paying back to move away from all the comforts of home and a fairly adjusted life to go back to school to do WHAT NOW? To write. Write a freaking novel. NBD, guys.

And once I’m done? Go back into publishing of course.

Sometimes it’s hard to watch my friends finishing their third year of law school (something I would be doing as well if I hadn’t walked away from my acceptance letters) or climbing up a very well-paid corporate ladder, living in stunning apartments (at this point, anything that has air conditioning is pretty damned amazing to me) and living the 20-something dream. Doing “important” things and providing what people need most while bookstores shut down and the printed word gets devalued by the minute. More often than not, I get the question, “Seriously though, why books?”. I do have to take a moment here to thank my amazing parents who have never once asked me this question.

Sometimes there are moments when I’m sitting on my rented couch (because owning furniture is too much of a commitment right now), melting as my fan rotates oppressively hot air around the room, reciting the lines to my Friends dvd because that’s the only way I’ll use my voice that day, and thinking “Why the hell am I doing this?” Then, as I listlessly scan my Twitter feed, I see this post: http://thesavvyreader.ca/2013/happy-100th-birthday-mary/

Say what you want about the future of books, the plight of the bookstore, the horrific pay that authors get, the pros and cons of self-publishing. Say it all. At the end of the day, although this may not necessarily apply to you, books are a saving grace. They get you through pain and loneliness. They inspire and excite you. They unite you with like-minded individuals, even though you may not know it. They can be your best friends and sometimes the only reason to get out of bed (gotta recharge that Kindle sometimes, right?). They’ve done all of that and more for me, so really my question should always be “Why the hell would I not be doing this?”.

Thank you Mary. We’ve never met but you gently reminded me what I’m working for. Thanks Cory. We have met and it’s always enriching and inspiring to hear stories like this one.

Time for me to get my hands on a copy of The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared. Screw my well-crafted Excel sheet budget…I’ll just call it a housewarming present to myself.

It’s All About the Attitude

About seven months ago a rather drastic change occurred in my life. To some it may seem really trivial. What it was, was a break up. I won’t go into the details of how or why I consider it to be a drastic change; safe to say it felt like one. I was stuck in a rut for several reasons that were triggered both during and after the parting of ways and I was at a loss on how to turn anything around. I adopted the Fake It Till You Make It method, but that was unsatisfying and counter-productive to actually moving on.

In January 2013, a week or two after the new year had rung in, it dawned on me how incredibly lethargic I felt. My body felt mistreated and my mind was weary from running in circles. I decided to go for a long walk. Later that night I resolved to wake up an hour early, for a change, and do a bit of light exercising. The next morning gave me one of the best hours I had spent in months. My chest felt lighter and my mind felt alert and excited. I heard a chirpy blonde voice in my head exclaim, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. (Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t.)”. I looked forward to having that time to myself again the next day. And the next. Each bead of sweat felt like a victory. With each minute shaved off of the last workout, my body felt stronger. I actually caught myself grinning like a lunatic on the treadclimber! After what seemed like years I was finally doing something entirely for me. I wasn’t out to impress anyone, challenge anyone, or reach a particular goal. It was not pressure to lose weight or a forced New Year’s resolution. I was just spending time with myself in a new, productive way.

The exercise led me to become more conscious about what I ate. I don’t believe in quick-fix diets, cleanses, starvation tips and tricks, or deprivation. I tried one or two of those things once and let’s just say I became a very angry panda. It’s a bad scene for all involved, including the poor bag of Cheetos that I savagely attack with indecent greed once the “diet” is over.  What I learned to believe in is moderation. I realized it was important to listen to my body and agree to stop when it says, “Hey lady, I’m full. Quit sending delectable treats down here!”. I became more actively involved in my eating–not only was I enjoying what I ate, but I understood what I was putting into my body. I started paying attention to conversations about exercise and wellness and stumbled across a hashtag, #sweatpink. It taught me an important lesson–It’s all about the attitude.

Following along with #sweatpink and #sweatpossible conversations on Twitter led me to discover amazing women who balanced careers, families, educations, goals, and their bodies. I learned that if there’s a will, there will always be a way. If not, there will always be an excuse. Even better were the conversations sparked among those who #sweatpink and the support I got every time I shared some progress. These regular women proved to be extraordinary role models. I started to shed my misconceptions and misgivings and just encouraged myself to be the best I can be. It extended from my workouts and my eating habits all the way to my train of thought. Instead of only seeing things in a negative light, I found ways to extract that little ray of sunshine. There was now a choice available to take a step back from an unpleasant situation and redefine it in a more mature, understanding manner.

My biggest milestone was when I looked at the (rather large) collection of baggage I have been carrying around for months and declared “Well you’re here. We can walk together, sure. But I refuse to let you weigh me down”.

And then I ran 7 miles.

For the first time in my bronchial-asthmatic, shin-splint, picked-last-in-gym-class life.

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Today I became a #SweatPink ambassador, which means a lot because I hope to be the same source of inspiration that these wonderful strangers and friends are to me every day. Most importantly, I’ve discovered that the first step to Believing in Yourself is to BE the best YOU. I know, that sounds corny. But really. Once you start treating your body right and believing in your own strength, you’ll surprise yourself every single day. And you’ll smile a whole lot more! It’s all about the attitude, ladies and gents. It’s not about running 40 miles or reading every label on the box. It’s about treating yourself right, mentally and physically. Once you start, you’ll expect better from yourself and from those around you. It’s never too late. Be kind to yourself (and others) and have faith that you’ll slowly find the things that define you and make you truly happy.

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What are you waiting for? Get after it.