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Wonder Woman is the Super Hero I Need

Like so many others, I saw Wonder Woman last week and I loved it. I was fully expecting to like the movie, but even if I didn’t, I was 100% on board with my money going toward a movie starring a female action hero, that was directed by a woman. Which brings me back to my first statement, I was fully expecting to like this movie. After hearing friends talk about it, I had cautiously raised the bar of anticipation. Even so, this movie far exceeded my expectations. What came completely out of the blue though, was how profoundly it affected me. I’m 35 years old, I figured the days of getting pumped up and inspired by a super-hero movie were behind me. But then I sat and watched for two hours as a strong woman lead men and at no point was she referred to as a bitch, or a ball-buster, or was made fun of or told she was manly because of her strength. And amazingly, she was able to do all of this while still retaining her femininity. What?!?!?!?! How is that possible? That must be some Hollywood magic.

Whenever I’m in a group, I usually wind up leading it whether I want to or not. Trust me, there are times that I just want to kick back and go with the flow, but the next thing I know I’ve been nominated to take charge. People who know me, know that if I’m leading the group, shit will get done and it will get done well. I will lead the charge to the finish line and I prefer if you pull your weight, but we all know there will be at least one person per group who just wants to skate by doing nothing. I will drag that person kicking and screaming with me if that’s the only option left to me. This is why people ask me to lead, I pick up the slack of the weaker links.


What sucks, is that those very same people who want me in charge, are also the ones calling me a bitch. I have lost track of how many times I have heard someone whisper to their friend how huge of a bitch I am, and then turn around and ask me to lead them. It blows, but it’s something that I have always accepted as being the way of things. It was my price to pay. For what I don’t know? Having my personality? Who knows? I accepted that it was the way it would always be.

I’m sure what added to the “bitch persona,” is the fact that I am not a petite woman. There is nothing about me that is petite. My shoulders are so broad that I’ve hulked out the seams on more shirts and jackets than I care to admit . . . some of them in fitting rooms. But frankly, if the shirt isn’t actually an extra-large, they shouldn’t label it as an extra-large. That being said, I’m wearing an extra-large shirt right now, and the shoulder seams hit about an inch onto my shoulder. So really an extra-large doesn’t fit either.


My frame does not fit into the criteria of classic femininity. The way that I bulk on muscle, unless I’m excruciatingly careful about how I exercise, makes me look more like a body builder than a curvaceous woman. I can’t wear short sleeve shirts unless the arms are made of a material that can stretch, because my biceps are too big. I easily carried my forty pound dog up and down the stairs several times a day for four months when he tore his ACL. I am tall, I am broad, I am strong, and as if that weren’t enough I have a deep voice. I have been called a dude, butch, manly, one of the guys for so long that it takes me aback when a guy flirts with me. For an emergency, a deadline, hard advice, call Kat. For a good time or a hot date, call someone else.

Entertainment confirms this image. The big and strong girls are the comedic relief, or the ones that help carry the plot so the petite main character can live happily ever after. These are the roles for the non-feminine girls, and don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean ugly. You can be beautiful, but the second you’re the same size as 50% or more of the men in the room, you are no longer feminine enough to be a heroine or a love interest. The second you move from the girl being lifted in dance choreography to the girl doing the lifting because you don’t have enough guys, is the moment you lose the descriptor, feminine.

So imagine my amazement at watching these kick-ass fight scenes with bulked-out, strong AF women who exuded femininity. The Amazons were strong, fierce and had costumes that accentuated their strength more than their sex-appeal. And better yet, instead of being the ‘manly’ women, or the ones who take care of the other more petite women, they were just women. Even Wonder Woman’s classic uniform still paid tribute to its sexy forbearers, but it again shows her strength more than her curves. Compare the necklines and the waist size of the two women.

Old vs New WW

If I lost every ounce of fat on my body, I still couldn’t look like Lynda Carter. Gal Godot, that’s doable. I would still have to lose every ounce of fat on my body, but I could achieve that body shape. Broad shoulders, tall, discernible waist but not an hourglass. And most importantly, strong AF, and not apologizing for it or hiding it. Not apologizing for stepping out to take the lead, and not apologizing for breaking the classic mold of femininity. For the first time in my life, I left a movie loving the fact that I am strong and that I can put on muscle. I left a movie wanting to work out and get that muscle definition back. I left feeling that I can be just as feminine as my more petite counter-parts.

I was not expecting to get that kind of body-positive affirmations from a comic book super-hero movie. Consider my mind blown. Especially when I logged onto social media and saw this kind of reaction across the board. Petite women felt empowered. Larger women felt empowered. Average size women felt empowered. By treating a female super-hero like they would have treated a male super-hero, women across the country felt empowered. Feminism is not the desire to be treated better than men. It is the desire to be treated on an equal plane with men. The things we can learn from comic books. Go figure.

Saying No to the Dreams of Others, In Order to Build My Own

I have been approached twice in the past month about stepping into a substantial role of an artistic endeavor. I was incredibly flattered by both and they both spoke to an inherent interest of mine. Not something that I am actively pursuing right now, but something that I have in the past and could see myself involved in again in the future. Needless to say, these offers were very tempting carrots dangled in front of me. The first one I went after, interviewed for, but in the end didn’t get the position. What surprised me, was that I was relieved that they had decided to go with someone else.

Deep down, I did not want this great opportunity and at first I couldn’t figure out why. What was wrong with me? True, there was very minimal money up front, but stake in all future earnings and plenty of perks immediately. Which is pretty much par for the course with artistic endeavors, unfortunately. At first I thought it was the money thing. Then I realized that my relief had nothing to do with that. It came from the fact, that while this would be a step up, it wasn’t a step in the direction I am going right now. It would do nothing to fuel and build my current endeavors and reach my current goals and dreams. Progress, but progress in the wrong direction.


I think for the first time, I truly understand that not all forward momentum is good. This great opportunity was to help someone else with their pet project. To help them achieve their dreams. There’s nothing wrong with that, except I would have to put my own dreams on hold to work on theirs. Where’s the sense in that? For a long time I had no idea what I wanted to do, so I worked toward other people’s dreams. I grabbed onto anything that came my way. I thought that any opportunity was a step in the right direction, never realizing that I was running around in circles.

I don’t regret any of it, it gave me something to do and I learned a lot along the way. However, now that I have dreams and projects of my own, I need to stop putting my work on hold to help someone else with theirs. That’s why I was relieved, when I didn’t get the position. Yes, it was a great opportunity, but for me right now, it would have been a step in the wrong direction. So when offer number two came around, I said no. It was a hell of a lot harder to turn that down then I thought it would be, and it took a couple of days for me to wrap my head around turning down work. But now that I have, the relief is here again. No more dedicating myself to other people’s dreams, until I’ve achieved my own.


Sometimes You Get a Reminder

I think it’s good, every so often, to get a reminder of why we do the things we love. I had one last week, and it’s gotten me thinking. There wasn’t a lot of theater around where I grew up. Plenty of nature as we were five miles from the western entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, but cultural things were pretty few and far between. Sometime in middle or high school I became aware, I don’t know how long they had actually been around, of a repertory theater that would put on a few shows every summer. They were pretty good, but that was it. Therefore, it wasn’t until after I had been in a theater production of my own, that I was introduced to Broadway-caliber theater. We had just done a production of “Annie,” and since it was touring through Denver shortly thereafter, we all made the two hour trek to see a matinee.

This production opened my eyes to the fact that the exact same material can be interpreted in multiple ways. My interest was piqued. After this, I somehow, I have no idea how, convinced dad to take us back to see “Les Miserables” and then “Miss Saigon.” My life was irrevocably changed. These pieces blew my mind. They were provocative, and engulfed me into another world, and made me feel as if these people I just met were my best friends and worst foes. I had no idea it was possible to illicit that kind of a reaction from a person, and sitting there in the audience, I knew in my heart of hearts that I had to do that someday. It wasn’t a want, it was a visceral need. I needed to experience the exhilaration of creating a completely different world for people to get lost in. I needed to create, to build and subsequently to grow.


I think anybody that has ever gone into the arts, has a similar experience.  Some moment that was so profound, that they knew there was no other life they could lead. “Les Mis” started me down that road, but when they lowered a helicopter, a frickin’ helicopter, onto the stage, my fate was sealed. I hung on every moment from then to the end. Lea Salonga, as Kim, was mesmerizing, and I cried like a baby at the end. I couldn’t get to my feet fast enough at the curtain call.

I wanted to be Lea Salonga. I mean she got to be Eponine and she was Kim, and she was . . . that’s all I knew, but it was enough. I sang her songs constantly and I idolized the way that her voice could transport me. Cameron Mackintosh, Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg were like my gods. Someday my work would be as good as theirs. In a screenplay I wrote, I even named one of my main characters, Claude and the other Michel. It wasn’t until later that I learned Claude-Michel was a French name, which was a problem as my characters were German. In my defense, Michel is spelled the same as my last name, and my family is of German descent. So I think I was totally justified in not recognizing that as a French name.


At any rate, in college I had the opportunity to see “Les Miserables” again. However, this time around I was disappointed. By this point I had seen a lot more theater and so had more to compare it to. I had also done more theater, I had taken classes and like most juniors in college, I of course knew everything. So instead of sitting in the audience blown away, I was re-blocking the scenes in my head to make them more engaging. Due to the contracts, the production had to still use the staging from the original production, which when it opened was innovative. By this point, everybody and their brother were using these conventions so it appeared stale.

I was crushed. One of my absolute best memories from my childhood had just been ruined. So after that, I vowed that I would never see “Miss Saigon” ever again because I didn’t want to ruin that memory too. Fast forward to last week, and I still had not seen another production of “Miss Saigon,” but I was about to break my vow. A friend invited me to go see a screening, at a movie theater, of the 25th Anniversary Performance, and I figured it was about time. After all, I saw a production of “Les Miserables” a couple of years ago, that completely redeemed that memory, so I felt pretty good about it.

Obviously since this was performed with the intent of filming it and making a DVD, there were film aspects to it. It was actually a really nice blending of theater and film. They also tweaked the script in places and straight up swapped out one song for a new one – for the record I like the old one better. But just like the first time I saw it, all of those sweepingly epic songs sent chills running up my arms and down my spine. The love song between Chris and Kim just killed me and pretty much for the entirety of the second act, any time Kim came on the stage I started crying because I knew what was coming at the end.


Then at the end, since it was the 25th anniversary, they brought out the original cast of “Miss Saigon, starting with Lea Salonga who sang several of her old songs. She did a duet with one of the new cast members and then they brought out the original Chris and they sang a song. There was my hero singing the songs that won my heart over and made me want to be a storyteller. I was transported back to the wide-eyed naive kid all over again. I sat there and watched her, knowing in my heart of hearts that the path I chose so many years ago, is still right today.



Onwards and Upwards

Three and a half years ago I started on a journey that has led me to a place I never could have imagined. After pitching my idea to a magazine and being accepted, I wrote my first Heroine of History article. It was a short biographical piece about Mary Elizabeth Bowser, who was arguably the best placed Union spy during the American Civil War. This was my first attempt at biography, and I loved it. It wasn’t easy, but I loved unearthing her story and telling it.

That is largely how I’ve felt about all of the women that I’ve written about. Those biographies are the hardest things that I write. The research alone is daunting. The Internet is amazing in that there are literally millions of resources right at your fingertips. But anybody can post things on the Internet, so who’s to say what is fact and what is fiction. That’s not to say that books are 100% reliable either. I have read many an erroneous account in a book. I would guess that close to two-thirds of all of my research time is spent corroborating or dispelling facts.
I’m researching Shirley Chisholm right now. Two sources say that she was born on November 20, 1924, three sources say that she was born on November 30, 1924, five sources say November 1924, and a handful of sources don’t mention her birthday at all. Now multiply that by almost every relevant fact about the woman. Half the time I feel like I’m taking a poll: “Was Shirley Chisholm the oldest of four children or the oldest of eight children?”

I spend hours weeding through similar yet varied information, and then picking and choosing which “facts” seem to be the most factual. Then comes the daunting task of telling their story in a way that honors their life. I obviously pick these women because I find them inspirational, so I therefore want to do them justice.

And none of this takes into account the content of the stories. Yes, these are amazing, take-charge, get-things-done, and overcome-the-odds, inspirational women. However, in order to overcome something bad must happen first. So these stories are also full of loss, poverty, abuse, racism, sexism, disappointment and the destruction of dreams. It is heavy stuff.


Yet, they are also the most fulfilling. The more I research and the more I delve into these stories, the more I come to realize that these women have something in common. Regardless of race, social status, background, era, etc., all of these women place their focus on something external. Their communities, the disenfranchised, the downtrodden, those who have trouble speaking for themselves. These women served. They lifted up those around them, and in doing so, lifted themselves up too.

One of the most magical things about helping others, is that it is almost impossible to do so without also helping yourself. I can’t think of a single time that I willing offered and gave my help that I didn’t feel better about myself afterwards. Despite the hours of work and the emotional drain that each of these biographies takes, I feel better after having written them. I feel better after telling their story, after doing my part to ensure that their deeds won’t slip into the darkest corners of history to wilt away forgotten.


I also feel better knowing that I have done my part to pass their inspiration on. Every person needs a hero to look up to, and it’s even better if you can relate to that hero. I had one growing up, and it’s her story that started me down this road in the first place, and so it is in her honor and the honor of every other heroine that has lent me their strength that I’ve decided that it is high time to expand beyond the Heroines of History. What started as a simple magazine article, has grown into so much more. The ball is rolling on two new steps – okay, being nudged down the road is a bit more accurate than rolling – but I am excited for these two new ventures: Through Her Eyes and the Heart of a Heroine Alliance. Onwards and upwards, here we go!



Empowerment Mix

I am not what you would call a music connoisseur. I listen to quite a bit of music, but I’ll listen to just about anything that’s on, and I generally don’t know band names. I certainly don’t the names of anybody in the band, and with the exception of the Barenaked Ladies, I don’t go out of my way to see a concert. In other words, I enjoy music while I’m in the moment listening to it, but I’ve never been inspired to dig deeper. It’s not my thing.

Yep. Definitely gotten this mixed up before.

Yep. Definitely gotten this mixed up before.

That being said, I fully recognize the power that music can have. I love a good movie soundtrack or score, because there’s a story told through the music itself. They’re great! The Pirates of the Caribbean score will always pump me up and get me ready to work. Therefore, I made a series of mixes in my iTunes that I can play to match the mood I’m in. Sort of like different soundtracks for my life. There’s the slow mix, the workout mix, the belter’s mix – for when I’m in the mood to sing along! – but, I realized that I didn’t have an empowerment mix. A mix of music that pumps me up and makes me feel like I can take over the world. As I was working on a talk that I’m giving at the beginning of March, I decided that I needed an empowerment mix.

Here’s what I came up with, in no particular order, as I generally listen with it on shuffle.

Respect” – Aretha Franklin

Fighter” – Christina Aguilera

Fight Song” – Rachel Platten

Independent Woman” – Destiny’s Child

Who Says” – Selena Gomez

You Gotta Be” – Des’Ree

I’m Every Woman” – Chaka Khan

Love Myself” – Hailee Steinfeld

Stronger” – Kelly Clarkson

Rhythm Nation” – Janet Jackson

Brave” – Sara Bareilles

Born This Way” – Lady Gaga

Confident” – Demi Lovato

Ready for the Good Times” – Shakira

Hit Me with Your Best Shot” – Pat Benatar

Roar” – Katy Perry

I’m Coming Out” – Diana Ross

Get on Your Feet” – Gloria Estefan

Let’s Get Loud” – Jennifer Lopez

Raise the Roof” – Jennifer Holliday

Powerless” – Nelly Furtado


I would love to hear if you have any additions! What am I missing?

I’ll Stick With Theater

I have seen a lot of live theater in my life. Last year alone I saw over 50 productions. Clearly, this is an art form that speaks to me. Just in case I wasn’t sure about that, I got proof positive over the weekend. On Saturday I went to a highly anticipated and much lauded new contemporary art museum, on Sunday I saw the multi Oscar nominated, “The Revenant,” and on Monday night I saw a recording of the live broadcast of the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company’s production of “A Winter’s Tale.” Anybody want to guess which one was my favorite? No, not the modern art. Modern art is weird.


That leaves the movie and the play. Mind you, “Winter’s Tale” is one of Shakespeare’s problem plays. It’s technically a comedy as it ends in marriage, but you have to wait until the second act (In the viewing convention of two acts, not Shakespeare’s second act) to find some levity and even then it’s sparse. Like I said, it’s a problem play and not one of my favorites. Truth be told, with the exception of the best stage direction ever – Exit pursued by bear – I really don’t even like it that much. It gets ranked somewhere down around “Henry VIII.” That being said, I LOVED this production! It wasn’t perfect, no production is, but I left the theater after three and a half hours of Shakespeare energized and inspired. Even the scene changes were beautiful capitalizing on silhouetted choreography. Every aspect of this production had been given thorough attention and it paid off in dividends. It was a fantastic piece of work that still worked through the translation of a camera. Wonderfully done!

“The Revenant,” on the other hand, is another story. The majority of the cinematography was gorgeous and Leonardo DiCaprio certainly delivered a stellar performance. However, I’m pretty sure that my roommate’s favorite part was listening to my rant during the car ride home about how and why I hated it. SPOILER ALERT START Even if you are willing to suspend disbelief and buy that this guy is attacked by a pissed off mother bear – twice! – that he didn’t bleed out, that none of his wounds festered with infection and became gangrenous in the oh-so-clean environment he was in, he would not have survived how long he spent in that river. There was ice on the deeper, slower running parts which means that water’s temperature was in the 40s maybe 50s if we are suspending our disbelief. A man, who is already horribly debilitated from TWO bear attacks, and is fully submerged in water that frigid never would have made it out. Hypothermia would have kicked in, and he would have lost control on his limbs making it harder than hell to swim to shore, and damn near impossible to build and light a fire. Movie is over, our main character is now a popsicle!


Even if you are willing to suspend disbelief for that, later he falls off a god-damned cliff, into a massive tree and splats on the ground. Not only, does he not have any additional scratches on him, but he is fully capable of pulling a Luke Skywalker and climbing inside of his Tauntaun, er horse which is dead because IT FELL OFF A CLIFF. What the actual fuck? Apparently being attacked by the mother fucking bear imbued him with some sort of magical, invincibility. Somebody tag me, I’m out. It was about this time that I took a leisurely restroom break. I’m assuming that while I was gone he was set on fire, shot and beheaded before finally arriving back at the fort. SPOILER ALERT END

Needless to say, I did not feel energized or inspired after the movie. I felt annoyed. Now true, that movie was clearly not my cup of tea, but in all honesty, while I can think of a few movies that left me energized, I can’t think of any that left me inspired in the same way that “Winter’s Tale” did. And that was from a script that I don’t like. I don’t know what the point of all of this is, I just find it interesting. Also, what was up with the bear theme?

Two Steps Forw- Nope! Just Kidding!

Lately I have found myself getting really frustrated by setbacks, or my lack of ability to do certain things. I understand the principles of marketing, but I can’t come up with or implement a successful marketing plan to save my life. I might as well throw my money at a fan and watch it fly away to never be seen again. I can write a thousand words that paint a beautiful picture, but I can’t draw a picture that speaks a thousand words. Which wouldn’t be a big deal, except for the fact that I write children’s books and I can write them one hell of a lot faster than anyone would be able to illustrate them.  Which in the grand scheme of things, these are easy to overcome. Hire a marketing team. Hire a couple of illustrators. Easy.


Except for the fact that I can’t afford a marketing team, or a couple of illustrators. So I get frustrated and determined that I’m going to do it myself and wind up wasting a whole lot of time and money . . . because as previously stated, these things are outside of the realm of my abilities. That’s when the trouble comes in. I can’t do it, I can’t pay someone else to do it, so clearly there must be something lacking with me. I am deficient. Which logically makes absolutely no sense. We can’t all be good at everything, so why should it mean that something is wrong with us when we can’t do something? It shouldn’t and it doesn’t mean that. Yet, that is where my brain inevitably goes. Sometimes it goes so far, that my so-called short-comings over shadow the things that I do well . . . which leaves me in a depressed lump sitting on my couch surrounded my projects that need to get finished and no motivation to do anything other than marathon “Murder She Wrote” and play Yahtzee on my iPad. Theoretically speaking, I definitely haven’t actually done that . . . this past weekend . . . I might have played bowling on my iPad too . . .

Eventually I come to my senses – or the internet stops working and I can’t watch “Murder She Wrote” any more – get off my butt and start doing things. It is in the doing that I remember that setbacks are not deficiencies in myself. They are hurdles to be jumped over and left behind. Yes, I’m going to trip on some of them, but I’ll figure out why I tripped so that I won’t trip the next time that hurdle comes up. I used to tell employees that I trained, that I didn’t mind or get upset over questions or over someone not knowing how to do something. I got upset over people asking the same questions or making the same mistakes without ever learning from them. Setbacks are not deficiencies, they are opportunities for learning. Wow, how cornball is that? I feel like I need to make a motivational poster now.

You didn't expect me to make a real motivational poster did you?

You didn’t expect me to make a real motivational poster did you?

At any rate, that is where my headspace has been lately. Then I had lunch with a friend and lo and behold, she is having the same issue with feeling inadequate over the things that she finds herself unable to do. Crazy! It’s not just me. Once more life provides me with a flashing-neon-lights example of how my problems are not special. They are not unique. People not only know my pain, they feel my pain because they have the same damn pain. I’m starting to feel like emotions are like stories. They’ve all been told a million times, we’re simply slapping new titles on them. That is a good thing though, because it means that whatever issue, whatever problem you are having, somebody, probably thousands of somebodies, have had the same thing and gotten through it. If they can get through it, so can you. There’s comfort in not being alone. So to me, and to everybody else dealing with the same issue – An inability to do one thing, does not make you deficient as a person, or detract from the things that you do well.

Now to say that a million times until I actually believe what I’m saying.

Okay fine, here's something that's actually motivational.

Okay fine, here’s something that’s actually motivational.

What is Your Mantra?

For years I was one of those people that would scoff at the thought of having a mantra. I guess to some extent I considered the practice to be too new-age, mumbo-jumbo-y for me. Or maybe I thought it was silly and felt embarrassed at the thought of repeating self-affirmations to myself. Who knows? Even after going through two different therapists and seeing great results, both of whom had me primarily focus on retraining my inner monologue, I still found myself looking down my nose at the thought of having a mantra. Perhaps I watched Stuart Smalley on SNL a little bit too much. At any rate, I was anti-mantra for no discernable good reason.

Then a couple of years ago, a friend and I started to get together for “Goal Nights.” We each came up with our own list of goals (both personal and professional), then got together for dinner and discussed the goals and how they could be achieved. It was empowering, liberating and scary all at the same time to see what I wanted to achieve written down in black and white. Okay, truth be told it wasn’t black and white, I used colorful markers, but you get the idea. Then every month or two we would get together to discuss how we were doing, and after about a year we reevaluated. Lo and behold, we had each achieved a goal or two, made strides toward achieving others and come to realize that some weren’t important to us after all.

Holding On

So the goals were revamped, using our new found knowledge of what we wanted. This is when I stalled out. It wasn’t that I didn’t know what needed to be done, that was right there in front of me. My problem stemmed from the fact that I was getting in my own way. My self-doubts and emotional hook-ups were preventing me from taking the strides forward that I wanted to take. After much soul-searching I came to realize that I had three main issues that were holding me back.

  1. I had no faith in my writing ability. Every time I wrote something and worked up the courage to share it, I just KNEW that it was horrible and whoever was reading it would say so. If I happened to get a compliment back, I assumed that they were simply being nice. It’s really hard to achieve goals that involve large amounts of writing when you believe that you suck at writing.
  2. I believed that the only reason anybody would want me around is because I could provide them with something. Some skill, some service, some knowledge, something more than the pleasure of my company.
  3. Then to compound the above belief, I felt the need to prove myself. It wasn’t just that I had to be able to provide something for a person, I also had to prove to them that I could be helpful. Prove that I was good enough.

I realized that until I got over this, I would remain stalled out on my goals. I then did the heretofore unthinkable; I turned each of those hurdles into a mantra.

  1. I am a brilliant writer.
  2. People love me for me.
  3. I have nothing to prove.

Now, I would be lying if I said that I felt like anything but an utter and complete fraud when I wrote down those three sentences. There were laughable and egotistical and so far from the way I felt I was writing pure fiction. But I wrote them down anyway. I wrote them down on 5” x 7” cards in bright, impossible to ignore, colored markers. I made three of these cards then posted them all in my bedroom. At first I made a concerted effort to read through them at least twice a day – morning and night. Then that slacked off to once a day, then only whenever I found myself standing in front of one. However, as my room is not that big and I had made three cards, it was impossible to enter my room without seeing and at least subconsciously recalling what they said. “I am a brilliant writer. People love me for me. I have nothing to prove,” became as much a daily part of my brain as saying, “Zoey don’t eat that!” (For those of you who don’t know my dogs, I say that particular phrase a lot.)

body achieves

I have had those cards up for probably close to two years now, I don’t know for sure, and I realized this morning, as I stood in front of my vanity and read them, that I don’t need them anymore. I believe what they say. They worked. Don’t get me wrong, there was a whole lot more work involved than simply repeating a mantra over and over again, but I feel that by repeating the mantras I tricked myself into believing that they were true. By believing that they were true, I started to act as if they were true, and by acting as if they were true, they actually became true.

Which I guess means that I am now a believer in the power of mantras and I would like to apologize to anybody that I openly, or secretly, scoffed at or made fun of for having mantras. I was an idiot, and failed to recognize the profound wisdom of your ways. But I see the light now, and find myself in need of some new mantras. I’ll have to do some soul-searching.

What’s your mantra?


My Work Has Yet to Live Up to My Standards

I ran across this phrase – My work has yet to live up to my standards – and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. On the one hand, I think it is very good to have standards, especially high standards, for your work. It helps to push you to always be better, and to strive for more. If I had been content with mediocre, had set my standards lower than I have, I never would have accomplished what I have so far. Not to mention that I wouldn’t be as happy as I am with the work that I have done and am doing. That being said, in the last couple of years, I have definitely lowered my standards.


I feel that amongst artistic people* there is an excruciatingly high prevalence of perfectionism. I think to a certain degree, it is that very perfectionism that makes a master stand out from an amateur. It is that perfectionism that drives them to keep working on their craft until it is just right. I would wager that even DaVinci winced at an imperfection or two on the Mona Lisa that he couldn’t get quite right. However, I also think one of the main differences between a master and an amateur, is that the master has learned to let go of a piece before its perfect, because they have learned that perfection is impossible.

I am surrounded by incredibly talented people. Being artistic/creative I tend to be drawn to that type. But it breaks my heart at how many of them don’t share their work, or don’t value their work. And inevitably, the reason that they don’t share it, or value it, is because it’s not good enough, or they didn’t get it quite right. Trust me, I can sympathize with that feeling. I definitely know the horror of letting something out into the world when it isn’t perfect yet. This is why it took me until I was 25 to start sharing my writing with people. So I know how that feels! What I never realized though, is how much I would grown as a writer and how much my writing would improve, by the simple act of lowering my standards and letting it go before it was perfect.


Is it still hard? Absolutely. Do I still cringe when I read something and realize that it could have been phrased better or more eloquently? All the damn time. But the flip side is that I am much happier with my work, and quite frankly, happier in general as well. I have also learned to be much more gracious with myself when I do make a glaring error. I was supposed to release my second children’s book last week, but within an hour of turning on my online store and announcing that copies were available for sale, a co-worker pointed out to me that there was a misspelled word. And not just any word, one of the vocab words, which means that it appears twice . . . misspelled. FUCK!!!

I immediately turned off sales, announced an apology that it wasn’t available and began beating myself up. How in the world did I miss that? I was the one who did the final proof, and I thought that I had gone over the entire thing with a fine-tooth comb so that it was perfect before sending it off to the printer. I had even spent 10 minutes on one of the pages with the misspelling, deciding if I had the rhythm of the phrasing correct. How in the world could I have possibly missed that?!?!? Easy. I’m not perfect, and neither is my work. It never will be, and quite frankly I’ve lost track of how many professionally published books, by famous authors I have read that have misspellings in them. So as far as errors go, I’m in good company. But here’s the real kicker. The issue was discovered before I had sent a single book out. That’s when I stopped beating myself up.

That error had become a non-issue. Yes, I now have books that I won’t sell on the open-market and have had to get creative in an attempt to recoup some of the cost – Speaking of which, if anybody is interested in a limited run “White-Out” edition of 10 Cheeky Monkeys, at a highly discounted price, let me know. Seriously, I’ll even sign it. – but, I was easily able to make the needed correction, as well as a few other tweaks, and get a new run of books started. In the grand scheme of things, that mistake is pretty damn minor. But 5-6 years ago, it would have crippled me. I don’t know that I would have been able to bounce back from something like that anytime soon. It is amazing what a remarkable difference has been made in my work/life/psyche since I decided to lower my standards. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still really damn high, just not as unrealistically high as they once were.


So I guess what I want to say to all of my artistic/creative people out there, and anyone else who needs to hear it, if your work, after years of working and practicing, has never lived up to your standards, maybe the problem is with your standards, not your work. Let the world see your gifts my friends. Life can be an ugly place without art.


*I’m sure this is true in any field, but as I have the most experience with those of the artistic persuasion, that’s what I’m focusing on.

My Ideal Body Image

In part because it is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, but also because it has really been on mind lately, I’ve dedicated this week’s blog posts to body image. On Tuesday, I talked about Why Do We Hate Ourselves, and in that blog I talk quite a bit about how much it truly matters what words we use to describe ourselves. But really, I think it also matters what words we use to describe each other, and what words we use to describe our ideal. I don’t care how liberated, or free-thinking you are, I’m sure you have an image or a concept of what an ideal female body looks like. That could be skinny, fit, lean, curvy, flexible, resilient or any other number of adjectives. To be completely honest with you, none of those words hold any sway with me. I couldn’t care less which of those words would be best to describe my body. The only description that I care about, my ideal, comes down to one word – healthy.

Female Body Shapes

For almost a year now, I have hop-scotched from one minor illness to another, never quite getting back to 100% in between. I’m still not at 100% and have appointments with four specialists over the next two weeks. At this point, I don’t know how much longer my journey will be until I am at 100%, but through the journey thus far, I have learned two things to be absolutely true:

  1. You’re not a hypochondriac if there’s actually something wrong. Don’t ignore persistent symptoms, get them checked out. Better to be told that you’re fine and all is well, than let something minor build into something serious.
  2. I would choose to be healthy (whatever that happens to look like) over any other physical attribute every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Without a second’s hesitation.

Instead of focusing on being super-skinny, or applauding all of the curvy ladies or that thigh gap that was all the rage (have people finally figured out that that’s a genetic thing, and no amount of adductor exercises will give you one?) I say that we all start focusing on whether or not we are healthy. Instead of obsessing over the number on the scale, how about we obsess over our cholesterol levels or blood pressure. After having a baby, why don’t we strive to get back to our pre-baby 5K time instead of striving to get back into our pre-baby jeans? Instead of focusing on how we look in the mirror, let’s start focusing on how we look throughout the day.

Do you have enough energy and stamina for a full day of activities? Can you run around and play with kids, or easily take a flight or two of stairs if the elevator is out? In an emergency situation are you be able to run away from danger, or walk a mile or two if your car runs out of gas? Can you be on your feet for more than an hour or two (in good shoes) without joints hurting or getting a headache? Can you splurge at someone’s birthday party without worrying about your cholesterol, blood pressure or blood sugar spiking? (Or if the answer to that is no, are you taking active measures to regulate the issue?) Can you splurge and be happy at a birthday party without beating yourself up for the calorie intake? These are the questions that I care about. These are the questions that we should all care about. If you are healthy and happy, why should it matter what your butt looks like in a pair of yoga pants? Why should it matter if you have a “mom pooch,” stretch marks or a few extra pounds?


The smallest size that I have ever been in my life is a size 8, which for my 5’9”, very broad frame, was tiny. And I can tell you right now, both times that I reached that size I was far from healthy. Yes, I looked kickin’ in a mini-skirt, but internally my body was not functioning at its prime. My blood pressure was so low that more often than not I blacked out if I stood up too fast, I was anemic and from my limited food intake, was not getting all of the essential nutrients that I needed. I was also so stressed out I couldn’t see straight. That is most definitely not my ideal.

Right now, at a size 14-16, I’m not at my ideal either. I am however actively working to get there, and none of those actions involve extreme dieting, weighing myself on a regular basis, or constantly exercising. My focus is 100% on getting healthy. Which includes eating foods that are good for me, exercising, taking recommended supplements, and seeking out/following the advice of my healthcare professionals. I want to be healthy, and when I achieve that I figure everything else will have worked itself out to where it needs to be. Maybe it’s because it has been a while since I’ve been healthy, but when push comes to shove, I can’t think of anything else that is more important. So shouldn’t our ideal body type be healthy?