Treasures of the Internet

Treasure Chest

Photo By Timitrius @ flickr

Did you know that the Daily Post at WordPress.com has daily writing prompts? True story. I read them all, hoping they will ring a thousand bells in my head and then I’ll write a thousand brilliant blog posts, be offered a blushingly generous advance for my soon-to-be best seller, then get a private jet to take me to Switzerland where I’ll paraglide down to a quaint grassy spot in the Alps. Mostly I read the prompts, make some kind of groaning sound, and decide I don’t have the gumption to respond. Maybe next one? Or the next?

But today’s prompt was much easier, because I’m not asked to rattle something fascinating out of my brain, but rather point you to things that other people have rattled out of their brains. I can point like I champ. I’m pointing right now. At a chair. If someone walked into my apartment and asked, “Which chair did you accidentally push over and not bother to pick up?” I’d say, “That one,” and the asker would follow my expertly pointed finger to the office chair and not be confused in the slightest. Pro.

Ahem.

Anyway, here are a few gems from my jam-packed RSS feed, for your reading pleasure.

Bailey | Never Had One Lesson | Jerrod Crouch

Okay, this is suuuper sad. Sorry to hit you with that right off the bat, but some stuff on the internet is sad and you should probably get used to it. But this piece that Jerrod wrote about the loss of his wife’s dog is just beautiful and honest and it’s worth a read. Just be ready to cry a bunch.

I knelt down and kissed Bailey on the forehead and whispered in her ear, “Thank you for the best spot on the couch and I will love Court for the rest of my life”.  I know Bailey didn’t hear it, but I also know that she already knew it.

See? So sad. But worth it. Go give it a read.

Crucifixion and Liberation | Sarah Over the Moon | Sarah Moon

Okay, so I didn’t technically read this piece in the last week, but I don’t think the fine folks at the Daily Post are going to come taze me over it. (I hope not, Daily Post peeps, because that’s super weird. And probably really uncomfortable. I’m not going to offer you coffee if you taze me. Just so we’re clear.)

I came across Ms. Moon’s writing when she was featured on Freshly Pressed a while back, and I’ve been a loyal reader ever since. Her blog mostly focuses on her journey making sense of her Christian roots as she ages and her perspectives change, which is something I (and many, many people I know) can relate to.

This particular piece reflects on what the death of Jesus, Christianity’s savior, meant at the time and what it means now. It might be a little overwhelming if you have no familiarity with the theology of Christianity, but it also might be a take on America’s most outspoken religion that you haven’t heard before. Here’s a favorite quote of mine:

Jesus stood with the oppressed. He healed on the Sabbath. He advocated for the poor. He spoke out against the abuse of women.

And those in power killed him for it. They silenced his message (but it couldn’t quite stay dead, could it?).

Maybe this is the real message of the cross. That the God of all creation loved the oppressed enough to become one with them, even in death–the ultimate tool of oppressive forces.

Why the Mantis Shrimp is My New Favorite Animal | The Oatmeal

You may have seen this piece running around the internet like crazy, because that’s what it’s doing. And rightly so, because it is funny and informative, with colorful pictures. What else could you want? Hmm? You want more, you say? Well, it also happens to be inspired by one of my other favorite things that the internet—nay, modern civilization—has to offer: Radio Lab. They did an episode on colors, and the Oatmeal ran with it. Perfecto. So now you have TWO fabulous things to go check out in this ONE bullet point. Ab fab.

The rainbow we see stems from just THREE colors, so try to imagine a mantis’ rainbow created from SIXTEEN colors. Where we see a rainbow, the mantis shrimp sees a thermonuclear bomb of light and beauty.

So there you go! Three fabulous things to check out on the internet. Wasn’t that fun? Maybe I’ll do it more often. Then I won’t feel like such a slouch for reading stuff on the internet like it’s my job. Everyone wins.

Lemme know what you think of these great posts/writers. And if you’ve read something amazing lately, feel free to share.

p.s. Bonus link! After my post last week about how terrible pregnancy is, my friend Amy sent me this bit on Jezebel about pregnancy. It is hilarious and true and awful all at once. I’m not at all jealous that I didn’t write it (I’m totally jealous that I didn’t write it.).

Make This and Put it in Your Face

Of course you want to eat this Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast Waffle. Why wouldn't you?

Of course you want to eat this Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast Waffle. Why wouldn’t you?

Look everyone! I’m a food blogger!

Well, not really, but what am I anyway? I’m a lazy person in the throes of an existential blogging crisis of some kind, wherein I immediately convince myself not to write whatever I’m thinking of writing. It’s a jolly good time, I tell you.

So what should one do in this case? One should make this Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast Waffle and put it promptly in her face. And then one should tell you, dear reader, how to do the same thing because, in the words of Jean-Ralphio, “that shiz is straight up del-oy-cious.”

Also, one of my faves (Eden Kennedy) isn’t a food blogger either, but she managed to whip up this post/recipe thing so, you know, permission granted.

Okee dokey. So, a fab friend of mine was coming over for breakfast & I wanted to make something awesome. Naturally, french toast came to mind because it’s great. If you don’t like french toast, you should really see the doctor, because the awesome part of your tongue is broken. For shame.

My second thought was that I should make said french toast in the waffle maker for two reasons: a) I’m lazy, and it sounded easier and b) waffles have a distinct advantage over other breakfast foods, because they have neatly arranged nooks in which to store pools of butter and syrup. I bet the other breakfast foods feel a little self conscious when they think about it. (It’s okay, foods. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses.) (Except for this recipe which is all strengths, and may be my brightest moment ever.)

So, we’ve got french toast with magical waffle nooks. Sounds pretty good. But as I was perusing the internets for other little ideas, I came across a stuffed french toast recipe. And that’s when things got interesting. Because…um…well, if it’s not obvious—again—go see Ms. Doctor Lady, because you have lots of problems.

Enough Talking—Get to the Making

Step 1: Mix up the French Toast Stuff

Almost any recipe will work here. Just a couple eggs and a milk-like product of your choice…I throw in some cinnamon and vanilla because I fancy myself exotic. The only requirement is that you don’t use crusty, thick bread. Just use plain ol’ wheat or white sandwich bread slices. I think if you use anything thicker/harder you won’t be able to jam it into the waffle maker. And that would be disappointing.

Step 2: Cream Cheese Goo

Now take some cream cheese and powdered sugar and stick it in a bowl. Then mash those things together. I suppose you could use a mixer, but an enthusiastic arm with fork will do just fine. (My friend did this part, so maybe it’s INSANELY difficult, but I just didn’t notice. You all will have to let me know if that’s the case.) I don’t really have any measurements here because, let’s face it, if you can screw up cream cheese and powdered sugar you shouldn’t be in the kitchen. Like, ever. Just mix and taste and go with what feels good in your blessed heart.

Step 3: Slam the Sammie in the Waffle Maker

Spray/oil/butter your waffle maker. Just a little. Dip 1 piece of your plain Jane bread in your french toast egg/milk mix, and put it in the waffle maker. Then put a dollop of cream cheese on it. Next, dip another piece of bread and place it on top of the whole shenanigans. My waffle maker can fit four stuffed french toasts at a time because it’s the boss. Fill yours up with the desired/allowed amounts of french toast sammies, then slam that thing shut.

Step 4: Wait. Do Not Put Mouth on Waffle Maker

I tried using the auto timer thing on the waffle maker, but that didn’t totally pan out. So I just checked on it and yanked those bad boys out when they looked good and done. The cream cheese gooed out a little bit, but don’t worry about that. In a few short minutes you’ll be like, “Even if the cream cheese had sprayed on my face and burned me pretty bad, this would still be worth it.”

Step 5: Nom.

Slather it with butter and real maple syrup then try to maintain some decorum. Good luck with that part. If you have friend that will bring you tasty strawberries and a pretty tangerine, that might help you keep your business together because it feels like you should be fancy with such beautiful fruits on your plate.

That’s it! Go give it a whirl, friendsies.

Hope 2012: Closing Ceremonies

Hope.

Such a small word.

And, you guys…I think hope is kind of destroying my life. Well, okay, not destroying, but definitely taking over. Because when I sent you all off to run with the hope baton, you ran. You ran like a beaver was trying to snack on your ankles. If you want to see how many people wrote or were asked to write in HOPE 2012, check this out. It’s crazytown.

And now, after starting this relay and watching that teeny, tiny word unfurl in a thousand different ways…I’m not quite sure what to say about it. I’m a little…umm…

Hmm.

Let’s start, as many of you did, with a definition.

We’ll use the legit, scholarly, not-from-a-lady-on-her-second-glass-of-wine source: Dictionary.com.

Hope: the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.

That’s a start, but it’s certainly not the whole picture. There’s more.

Here are our collective chronicles of hope, written elegantly, poignantly, hilariously, irreverently, and devoutly by you crazy-amazing hordes of writers.

Hope is like a ticker tape of wishes.

I hope my hair grows out (and looks fabulous). I hope my kids end up happy. I hope when I die it turns out we’re all headed for the mothership. I hope that can wear a bikini again in public someday and not show up on People of Walmart. -Mediocrates at How Did I Get Here?

I could go on for days about the things I hope for daily.  It is a never-ending and ever-changing and all-encompassing (big and small) list of things. -Confessions of a (not-so-) Super Mom

I hope that my writing touches an audience. I hope that cooler heads prevail. I hope that wisdom is heard. I hope that institutions reform, minds expand, hearts grow, and good triumphs. I hope because in hope we can find strength for action. -Michael J. Altman

My hope is to one day be completely happy with myself, at peace with myself, and to prove that there is something I can contribute. My hope is to one day be a mother. My hope is live a life full of love and without regret. -Linz at From the House of Cole

I HOPE I have a good hair day today. I HOPE Trader Joe’s is not sold out of those vanilla bonbons.…I HOPE Zocalo takes reservations. I HOPE I find something cute at J Crew.… I HOPE that shrilly, shrieky sound doesn’t mean we need a brand new Kenmore. I HOPE Cassidy finds the job of her dreams. Sooner rather than later. -Jodie at Cottage Cheese and Crepe Paper

Our hopes are big, and wild—powerful and fiery. They are almost too big to contain in our hearts.

I see that my fears are merely the flip-side of my hopes; that one almost can’t exist without the other. My hopes are so desperate that the fear that they won’t be realized is burdensome and suffocating. -Kristen Mae at Abandoning Pretense

I hope, albeit cautiously. I worry. I despair. But, I am also an optimist. My work, even though  I catalog hate, is born of optimism and the fervent hope that scholarship can help make the world a better place. If we understand how hatred functions, how hope can be a pivot for darker emotions, then maybe we identify the nefarious when it looks harmless. -Kelly J. Baker

Oh the possibilities
lining up
in an endless way
flaunting me just a tad bit beyond reach.
…Yet, I still start every single day by thinking “today is the day“.
-Marie at My Cyber House Rules

I think hope is like the love-child of some sort of human-nature-orgy. Take trust, intuition, faith, positivity, reflection, and let them inter-twine and get all funky with each other –  you get hope. -Lou at Fridge Scrapings

Our hopes are our secret dreams; we whisper them in the dark, forging a pact with tomorrow.

I was bursting with hope – hope that with a little support, I could change many old beliefs and self-limitations and open myself up to joy and new adventures. -Mary at A Teachable Mom

My hope is to expose my anger and the parts of myself that I think are despicable (that part that drops F-bombs in front of toddlers, for example) so that I can shine a healing light on them and then connect with other people who are dealing with their anger. -Christie at Outlaw Mama

And this is my hope. That there will come a day that feels like stepping off the stage. That the postpartum anxiety will subside and a wave of calm will wash over me. That I will be able to play a little anything on my very own grand piano. -Laura at I’d Rather Sit on the Couch

My hope is twofold. One is that we can all be more understanding of our fellow humans… whether our differences are visible or not, whether they are in our body, mind, or mental health; our gender, sexual identity, skin colour, religion or nationality. The other… is that those of us with differences that restrict us in some way, can learn to accept ourselves and our limits for what they are, and live fulfilling lives within a smaller sphere than we would sometimes like. -Imp the Sane

Hope is a fragile thing. It’s like a dandelion seed, it might just float by at any time, and just as quickly be swept away. -Tom at Running Physio

What do I hope for? I hope for the courage to face my life, the courage to be in whatever state I find myself in until that state changes. I hope for the courage to respond authentically to whatever I need to respond to. -The Kale Chronicles

So instead of focusing on my fears, I choose hope.  Hope is what I hold so close to my heart, scared to loosen my grip on it, fearing that it will slip away and I’ll be, once again, left alone with my guilt.  So I cling to it, as tight as I can, afraid speak my hopes above a whisper for fear that they’ll escape from my heart. -Sierra at Everything is Coming Up Roses

Sometimes, we whisper our hopes…and they are eaten. By monsters. It’s a bummer.

My intellectual and imaginative life doesn’t allow for hope. Most horror films end badly.  If there is a hero that survives the night, she (it usually is a she) has seen, and done, inhuman things. And then she’s likely to die in the sequel as the body count climbs. -Scott at Monsters in America

Other times, hope is our anchor, keeping us tethered, and giving us reason to believe.

…here feels hopeful. Not in the manic, I’m-going-to-do-a-million-things-before-bedtime way, but in a more settled, calming, enduring way. I have hope that I will find the time to write, that my family and friends will support me, that I’ll find solutions for the scenes or posts that are giving me trouble and be inspired for the scenes that will be my darlings. -Sara at Moments of Exhilaration

[T]hinking of hope made me remember what initially made me passionate about the church/state relationship in the first place: I saw people who navigated it well, with grace, and candor, and integrity. That’s seriously hopeful stuff. -Matt at The Church/State Guy

The hospitality that I have found in my social networks have been invaluable in keeping me hopeful; hopeful about my future, hopeful about my chosen profession (even in the face of contrary evidence), and hopeful about the future of humanity. -Jermaine M. McDonald

But hope is the stuff of everyday life. It is, at its best, rather … ordinary. It is that which greets us with every sunrise and calms us as we lay our heads down at night. It is learned as our hopes are met everyday in little and mundane ways – like when the recipe turns out just right, the hug offered is greeted with open arms, and we make it through a day safe and having smiled. -James W. McCarty III

Hope doesn’t always mean a heroic act or a thread to hold to in life’s bleakest times. I think we also find it in the simplest moments, the simplest memories, and the realization that more awaits. -Kyla at Free to Be Joyful

I got to this moment because of hope.  I could give up, and a few times I tried, only to find in my  despondency an awareness that I do no service to myself, my family or life by giving up.  So, I get up, damn it.  Over and over again.  I move forward, I move backward.  I sway. -Lesley at Merlin’s Garden

I have spent the last two years of my life attempting to silence the inner voice of my youth. I love what my heart is saying to & about the woman that I am meant to be. It was in that moment of realization that it occurred to me ─ make that, I decided ─ I not only have the renewed hope of walking into my destiny triumphantly, I AM HOPE. -Antoinette at A Serendipitous Sojourn

But sometimes, [hope is] just being able to say, in the moment, that this is okay. That maybe, this is As Good As It Gets. And I have to be okay with that. -Molly Jo at Frankly, My Dear

Hope is why I am pushing my own boundaries. Hope is why I read and write. Hope is why I communicate. Hope is everything. At the core of my being, the root of every action, the impetus behind every thought is…Hope. -Your Life is a Banquet, Don’t Starve

As I grow older, though, [my ring’s] message deepens.  It has become a small, tangible sign that people can change.  Three-foot-high soapboxes can be lowered.  Crusty old mindsets can soften.  Tired arguments can find common ground. -Melissa at Goodnight, Irene

If I allow myself to look deeper, to not be seduced by cheap tours, cheap drinks, and cheap Spanish classes, I think I will find this place I now call home, [Guatemala], to be a country of great hope.  Hope against all odds. Reconciliation and healing and redemption against all odds. -Aly at Memoirs of Algeisha

You’re a four-letter word but not the one that we both mutter when times are bad. Tossing disregard for normal and laughing at convention, all of me walks our lives in need of your hand. You never fail to provide it. -Lance at My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog

Hope is in the grand and in the abstract and in the eyes of a sick child, but more often it’s also simply what gets us through. -Jen O. at My Tornado Alley

Think of those who hurt you. Think of those who degrade you. Those who have ripped your heart from your chest, stomped on it, spit on it, and pretended like nothing ever happened. These people, each and every one of them, desire hope. Want hope. Seek hope. Need hope. -Adrian at Life Before the Bucket

Some of the treatments and medications I’ve been on made me numb, and it sucked.  So maybe that’s how I can tie the hope theme into this rambling piece of drivel.  I’d rather feel than not feel, even when feeling is overwhelming.  I don’t have a hope of being cured, but every day that I get out of bed is a hopeful one.  There are open windows, but I keep passing them, and that is hope. And sharing this madness with you is hope for us all. -The Klonopin Chronicles

And hope is a gift you can give in an instant.

She is quiet for a moment, and then asks “do you think I have a light in me?” I pause, and smile before I answer, “your light is so bright, I almost need sunglasses.” -Jenn at So This is Love

Before Miss Swears left, she pulled me aside when no one was around. She gave me a book with white and black models in it. She told me that I was beautiful, I was special, and that I was no different from the girls in my class. She told me that I was smart and that I could be anyone I wanted to be. -Kenya G. Johnson at Here’s The Thing

I am the 4th of 6, and have found hope and inspiration in every one of [my siblings]. Yes, I’ve told them, and shown them, but I am probably the “fluffiest” of us, so I don’t know for certain if they know the depth of my admiration. In short, my sibling have always given me HOPE. -Jackie at Blessed Be

Presents didn’t have to be big. Just enough to show the female clients that they are worthy of a gift. That they have hope for a healthy future. Or any future at all. As surprising as it may seem, some had never been given the gift of hope. -Jennifer at Another Jennifer

To Myself at Fifteen, I know you’re scared and broken. I have something I want to give you. -Lesley at The Spigot List

If you are in a relationship that is ultimately damaging your happiness and ruining the person you used to be, my hope is that you look to others to help you find your inner strength.  Surround yourself with love, and don’t lose sight of your self-worth.  And those of you watching a loved one suffer; I hope that you will be the un-judging stronghold that they will need to pull themselves out. -Erica at Yeah, I’m a Nerd

[Walt Whitman] understood that it did not take much– just a token– to revive men’s spirits or ease their souls.  He did not shy away from his chance to spread hope.  Hope, he realized, was not his alone. -Amy at ReadNCook

And then after awhile, he went out in the yard to pick flowers. For Jodie. He brought them in. Just the blossoms. He put them in bowl. We all said a prayer over them.   And then, he took them next door to what had been Jodie’s house. His grandmother lives there now which is really nice. He put the bowl on the table in front of the outdoor couch where he and Jodie used to sit. And then he came quietly home.

Not sad. Full of the hope he’d been given over the years. By Jodie. -Stephen at The Desperate Man

Sometimes hope is found in America, and in The Boss.

My Italian grandfather is 101-years old.  He migrated to the United States in 1913 with his his mother and siblings.  His family believed that America, to quote from Springsteen, was a “land of hope and dreams.”  And indeed, I probably would not be writing this short reflection on hope if he had not taken advantage of what this country had to offer him. -John Fea at The Way of Improvement Leads Home

The cross-cultural gathering captured the hope ingrained in our global community and manifested the best in America’s pluralist dream.  The dais on which the couple pledged their troth backed to open ocean off Palm Beach, but I saw a smiling Statue of Liberty dancing over the water. -Elizabeth Lewis Pardoe, PhD at MyStories

Children are a magnet for hope: they pull out every last scrap of hope we have.

This adorable wee babe holds the hopes of her mother. Photo © Amy Reams and Reams Photo, used with permission as part of the Hope 2012 Blog Relay

Although I was afraid, Hope worked to remove my fear and became my optimism that my baby would be born healthy. -Kenja at Grand New Mom

My greatest hope for my two sons, aside from their general health and happiness, is that someday, they will uncover something to aspire to, to work toward, that brings them such joy. -Five Uninterrupted Minutes

Throughout her children’s lives, a mother hopes…
her baby will be born healthy
the baby will go to sleep
the baby will stop crying
the fever will go down…
-Karen at Mom in the Muddle

I HOPE you continue to sing at the top of your little lungs, not caring who hears you. -Kelly at Cobwebs, Cupcakes and Crayons

Whether they one day break the world record in the 200 meter freestyle or simply beat the odds by surviving, preemies embody hope. -Stream of the Conscious

“Yep, some people say that, and I laugh, little do they know, she saved me. And you want to know a secret?….I don’t mind doing all this for her, you know…the expensive birthday parties, the constant hospital trips, being a parent when I am already an old man….but her days are numbered.. I only hope that she knows how much I love her. And then you know…it will be okay for us both to leave this world” -Humble Writes Words

But….even if with all of that hoping, even if he STILL experiences all that I did, I am a living example, that he can still be okay.  And if “I” turned out okay, then there is hope for him after all. -Jenn at What I Really Meant to Say Was…

The boy gave me hope. Hope that the future generation may not be so bad. Hope that family will win out over vanity. Hope that empathy is still alive and well. Hope that my kids will have even a smidgeon of the qualities that this boy showed by simply helping his sibling. -Brent at SooperDad Blog of Awesomeness

My mom’s final chapter had been written, but my tiny man’s life had so many chapters remaining. -Deborah at The Monster in Your Closet

While mourning the loss of one son, and hoping for the health of another in the NICU, Edward J. Blum quotes hope from WEB Du Bois, who says, “It is never too late to mend. Nothing is so bad that good may not be put into it and make it better and save it from utter loss.”

People often use the word hope along with two other powerful words – faith and love. As I think about my current parenting struggles, I remind myself that I love Sophie beyond words. I have faith that both Sophie’s and my intentions are truly good, and we will get past this awkwardness. And I have hope that we will become an even stronger mother and daughter because of the struggles. -Leah at Leah’s Thoughts

When I first started thinking about what I would write, it almost felt like an absence of hope, but as I watch my son and I look at the things he is able to do. Things that against all odds, he is now able to do, and I think it really is a hope for hope… -Karen at Real Life and Other Hazards

I hope my sister, niece, daughter and nephews mother all have healthy babies, I hope those babies along with all babies realise they are a gift from God and are raised in loving and caring environment. -Joanne at Joanne Rambling

I began to feel a swelling in my breast, a spark that had been drowned in worry and overwhelming fears since this journey had begun, reignited. I might get to bring him home. I might just leave this tiny clausterphobic NICU. I was still uncertain but there was no denying that at last I felt what I thought had been lost. Hope. -Darlie at Written Ramblings

Ali’s academic achievement would be impressive in anyone. But when you realize that he could not even pick up a pencil, this is really stunning. The thing about Ali was that he was hilarious. He had a biting wit and sense of satire, which would crack me up when I saw him. It was only after his death that I realized that he was actively putting up political videos on YouTube under the alias ScaryBears. -Dr. Craig Canapari

Sometimes hope is the very last thing you find, right when you think the whole world will go dark.

One man carried his wife, who was shot three times, out of the theatre, because when she told him to go without her, he refused, saying, “No, we go together.”  Not surprising then when his 14-year-old son (14!) stopped to carry another wounded woman, a stranger to him, out of the theatre.…Literally, a countless number of people carried wounded victims, held their hands, stanched their wounds – almost all of them strangers to each other. -Jen at Bible Belt to Boulder

Most of what we hear about is the hate and the violence, but so many people have open generous hearts. With kindness and a little effort, we can change the world. -Kelly at Blogical Reasoning

But hope is reserved for those with soft hearts; it patches the holes and stitches the tears. It’s the gift we receive for surviving the heartache.  For letting ourselves be vulnerable enough to love.  To believe.

Hope gives us strength without hardening our hearts. -Erin at Welcome to Grace

You would think this mingling of tombstones and vague suicide talk would have me calling 911, but red flags barely get notice anymore. Those flags need to be shooting rocket fire to gather any real attention.

“So you now want your tombstone to say, “He didn’t jump?” I joked and he did something of a laugh. With a father like mine you look for levity wherever you can, even in suicide talk. “Yeah,” he says, the mood automatically lighter. “That works.” -Ice Scream Mama

Hope, it is the thin piece of twine that binds us all together. -Cozzis Corner

Even when we start to lose hope, sometimes, if we are fortunate, hope finds us. -Ilene at The Fierce Diva Guide to Life

A battle-tested hope is the strongest of hopes. I pray you know HOPE like I know HOPE. -Matt Linden at The Dawg Run

When Pandora opened up that horrible box and let all the ills that plague the world out, hope was left behind.  And hope, time and time again, has beat back the horrors and turned them into blessings. Hope is a powerful weapon and it is battling for me today as I pay bills with the last of what is in our account. -Penny Tralia

It seems sadness, atrocity, and crisis are constantly on the radar. I’m reminded of the words of Thomas Paine, who wrote, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” -Honie Briggs

When I think of hope and how it relates to me, my strongest pull is go back to when I first had my nervous breakdown. -Little Bits and Pieces

Hope sang her song. On those coldest nights in those darkest places she sang. She sang LOUD and she sang STRONG and she NEVER. GAVE. UP!! When the storms were raging and I couldn’t hear her sing she wrapped her wings around me and waited. -Shell at The Journey is the Reward

I have hope for the future that I will be able to learn more about whom I am and what I am here to do and accomplish.  I have hope that I will overcome my ridiculous fears and my awful thoughts that come with depression. -This Mama is Crazy

I was so in love with alcohol, it was tantamount to a death sentence.…Hmm, giving up the thing you love most in the world? I couldn’t do it. I didn’t want to do it. The only hope I had was that I wanted to want to. -Natalie at The Cat Lady Sings

This is what I love so much about blogging — it gives me the experience of building a community of people who say, “Me too.  I’ve been there.  I may not know how to get out of the place you’re in, but, at the very least, you’re not there alone.”  That is the best expression of hope that I know.  Not canceling out the darkness, but being a body beside me in it, groping for the light together. -Rhea at Thirty Threadbare Mercies

After lunch I headed over to my place of employment to switch cars with my then boyfriend. He knew I was going to be doing this. And that’s when I saw them. Sitting in a car talking. That easily and that quickly, the life I had known was over. -Bethany at Runner B

Did I ever think that I would spend that “golden year” on a couch, writhing in pain for the majority of the day? No. I thought I would be in NYC, living out my dreams, having fun with friends, flourishing. Last night, I finally allowed myself to be angry about that. But then hope stepped in. -Caralyn at Gluten Free Happy Tummies

This kid had to choose a path. Hope or despair. I have no idea what the disease is or the circumstances it has brought to him and his family. All I know is that a complete stranger with issues I haven’t ever had to deal with showed me in the simplest ways that you can always choose hope. -Jerrod at Never Had One Lesson

For me, it is that hope of desperate belief in something when you have nothing else, that pulled me through my post partum depression when I became a mother for the first time seventeen years ago. I needed that kind of hope to hold me up and promise me a tomorrow. -Alexandra at Good Day, Regular People

When I prayed as a little girl I begged God to take me in my sleep PLEASE! He never did. Now I know it’s because he is not finished with me here on earth. I don’t know what his plan is but I keep myself open to him and what to do next. Hope. Sweet hope. -Kim at Dazed and Creative

This week, I am forced to face a serious and terrifying hope.My husband had a mole removed a couple weeks ago. What was expected to be a routine and unnecessary procedure has turned into what could either be a very lucky catch or four fatherless children. The biopsy came back malignant Melanoma. -Molly at The Good Enough Girl

In one week, it will have been exactly 3 years since I lost my job, in the new stages of pregnancy, and in a state of confusion and fear that was completely new to me. Some days it feels like it’s been longer; some days it feels like just yesterday. -April at Red Dirt Mama

…And then hope is just the beginning.

So although hope is not a plan, it’s the spark.  It’s the fire in your belly.  In your soul.  It’s what motivates us, and ultimately, hopefully, what moves us forward. -Diary of a Mad Woman

Without information and planning, dedication and sometimes sheer muscle, hope is a merely a dream into which one surrenders their future to the vagaries of chance. -Ann at An Unrefined Vegan

Hope often feels like a dead end path, but we will not know what is waiting for us at the top unless we start walking. -Erin at Life, Ablaze

Instead, [running] gives me the ability to face life’s curve balls unflinchingly. It provides me with a calm and open mind, it helps me take a step back, re-evaluate my initial, emotion-fuelled gut reaction and say, wait a minute, there’s a better way of dealing with this situation. It replenishes my cup of hope and optimism and makes me a much nicer person-Jennifer at Two Itchy Feet

Again, the only way out of that dark, hopeless hole was to take action, be committed and dig deep to find that inner drive to emerge a better, stronger person. To this day, I credit running for a lot of that hope. -Stacy at Will Run for Glitter

Hope is the only first step in accomplishing those goals. The next step, the hard work, is what defines me (as a person, a runner, a friend, daughter, sister etc). -Ashley at Running Bun

Hope is the basic, yet deep foundation that supports my sky-scraping love for running. For LIFE. -Liz at Runnerstood

To me, hope means opportunity.  An opportunity to change, to grow, to better one’s station in life. -Ingrid at Ingrid Improved

Hope is believing in your abilities to achieve this difficult task and knowing that while life may not be exactly what you envisioned it to be, it’s still pretty great because it has made you the person you are. -Gabby at The Veggie Nook

Hope is acknowledging that you have the power to choose to see things/people/situations/your past/life differently. -Cara at Fork and Beans

As a hope without action is simply just that, nothing more than a thought, or a desire. By doing, we become. -Shira at In Pursuit of More

I guess what I’m saying is if times are rough in your life, go ahead and hope for a better day, but you better be working your ass off trying to make it happen. -Aja at Writing and Recovering

Taking back my happiness gives me great hope that my reality will become everything I hope for, regardless of those around me. I will combine hope/work/and reality to create the world I want. That’s what hope means to me. -Nichole at Michon Michon

Hope can save us from ourselves.

I can sit with the surprises and  discover I  am not condemned to stare down the narrow barrel of my own troubled heart. -Doug Harrison at The Outpatient Monk

I’ve come up with the thought that makes me most hopeful for my future. Here it is: It’s okay to fail. It’s A-O-K to suck. To be wrong. To have everyone in a 5 mile radius turn to you in one accord and say, “…boo.” It’s totally and completely fine. -Melanie Crutchfield

Most importantly, you are capable of forgiving yourself for your perceived flaws, and understanding that perception is relative. Your flaws, as well as your talents, make you who you are. -Shannon at Unless I Change My Mind

I have realised that there is nothing wrong with asking for help and admitting that you can’t cope. It doesn’t make you weak, any more than trying to heal yourself and saying that you are ok when you are not, makes you strong. -Normal for Norfolk

I want to pretend that at times I’m not my worst enemy. I want to believe that a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and reading the latest Cosmo Magazine is all any of us needs to perk us up and get us back on our A game. I am human, after all.I’m also not totally delusional. So, I’ve set my nose to the grindstone and started stockpiling again. Maybe one of these days it won’t be so hard. Hope springs eternal. -Jen at When Pigs Fly

I can choose to quit acting like hope is this foreign concept that applies to the whole world except me. -Abby at Abby Has Issues

But sometimes, hope is just the little stuff that keeps us from losing it.

I hope to go eight SECONDS on the computer without hearing “Mommy, mommy, mommymommymommymommymommy,” usually followed by a loud bang and crying. -Carinn at Welcome to The Motherhood

Hope is the happiness that your dog showers on you when you come back from anywhere whether you were gone 1 minute or 10 hours. The wiggly bum, the rapidly fanning tail, the toothy smile “I am so happy that you are back”! -Richa at Vegan Richa

I am absolutely, positively, without-a-doubt convinced that this is the solution to ALL of my hair styling problems. This curling iron CURLS ITSELF, PEOPLE!  And, for those of you who are stupid like me, you can even tell it which side of your head it’s on by pressing a handy-dandy button, so it will CURL THE CORRECT WAY! Hope?  Of course I have Hope!!!! -What I Meant 2 Say

A Final Word: Thanks

Seriously, truly, a million thank yous to all you crazy, crazy people. I know some of you groaned your way to the keyboard when the baton was sent in your direction—thank you for participating anyway (perhaps despite your better judgement). I know some of you struggled with hope—watching your words evaporate as you tried to collect them—thank you for pushing through it. I know some of you haven’t written in a while—thank you for making the time for this.

But mostly, thank you for making this amazing thing. When I recruited the first round of writers, I summed up my hopes for the project in this: I just want to do something beautiful that we can all be proud of. I think we did that. YOU did that. So, high fives, fist bumps, tummy rubs, or whatever makes you feel like a superhero. That. To you. A lot.

Love,

-M

Everyone’s Better Than You at Everything

Head in Hands

Head in Hands by Alex E. Proimos, on Flickr

The internet teaches us new lessons every day. There are nuggets of knowledge littering every IP address and data package from here to Nauru and back. Being the perpetual student that I am, I keep my ear to the ground and my eyes peeled for whatever enlightening bit the internet wishes to reveal to me and…I’ve finally discovered the #1 lesson that it has to offer:

Everyone is Better Than You at Everything

Yes. It’s true. Whatever you’re doing, you’re not doing it very well. There are many, many people—droves of people, really—doing what you’re doing, but better. For instance…

People Are Better Than You at Parenting

Whether they’re tiger mom-ing, French mom-ing, attaching themselves, or detaching themselves—WHATEVER they’re doing, it’s better than what you’re doing. They run play groups. Moms breastfeed their children in public until they’re 5 years old without batting an eye. Dads coach the soccer team and build tree houses fit for the queen. They’re masters of cognitive development. Of discipline. Structure. Diapering. At-home science projects. Themed birthday parties. Whatever there is to be done as a parent, they’re doing it better than you. You might as well ship your kid to the zoo. You’re doing a terrible job.

People Are Better Than You at Home Decorating

Sure, you have decent furniture. You have a photo or two matted and framed. You have an accent wall. It’s like you’re not even trying. Because you know what? People are decorating the crap out of their homes. People are out there, upcycling, DIYing and ombre-ing every surface in sight. They’ve woven chic waste baskets out of plastic bags. Their laundry rooms are like five-star hotels for dirty socks. Where you see a box of plastic spoons, they see a custom-painted, hand-made chrysanthemum mirror. Every last item they own is coordinated, organized, arranged and exhibited with the perfect blend of exactitude, whimsy and glamour. Your home, to these home decorating mavens, is little more than a “before” picture. How do you sleep at night in that?

People Are Better Than You at Working Out

People are doing it to it out there! They’ve got pithy sayings. They’ve got fancy shoes. They’ve got health shakes. They’ve got gym memberships. They’ve got ROCK! HARD! ABS! When the going gets tough, they don’t cry like you do. They don’t sweat like a weenie, they sweat like it’s their JOB. When they sweat, they say, “Sweat is fat crying! Yeah! Air kick!” Then they do some bicep curls and drink a gallon of lemon-cucumber-mint detox juice. Where the heck is your detox juice? Nowhere. That’s where.

People Are Better Than You at Being Productive

How are people managing being better than you at parenting, home decorating AND working out? Simple. They’re better than you at being productive. They have lists. They have organizational structures for said lists. They have techniques. They get up early. They power nap. They multitask teleconferences while bleaching their kitchen grout and whipping up a crock pot meal. They could live your entire life on Tuesdays alone. In fact, it’d be best to just try to slip your laundry in with theirs, or try to sneak your to-do list onto their fridge because—let’s face it—that’s about as close as you’re gonna get to being even half as productive as these life masterminds.

So there you have it: evidence that every single person on the internet is doing everything better than you. Of course, there’s also the possibility that people don’t photograph, post, or describe in elegant detail the shitstorm that happens before and after the shutter clicks. There’s a teensy, weensy chance that the internet doesn’t show us real people—it shows us über-people; people at their highest moment, with no trace of failure, messiness, or inelegance. It’s that, or you’re the worst possible human ever. One of the two.

Wait, Why Is This In My Mouth?

Apple with a Tape Measure - Dieting

Okay, so, at this very moment I am eating a “dessert,” and also trying to get the taste of said “dessert” out of my mouth. I am doing this because a) I’m on a low-carb/no-sugar/stop-eating-crap-like-it’s-good-for-you diet and b) crappy dessert is better than no dessert. Possibly. Possibly not. I’ll let you know.

Everyone is dieting right now because “bikini season” is coming (why is this a thing?!) and because our society has weird values. I’m not dieting with any desire for jamming my body into 3 ounces of fabric. Rather, I am dieting because I had a kid, came out of it 15 pounds heavier, then added 5 pounds of chocolate, wine and cheese to that and now 2 years later it’s probably a good idea to trim back my eating habits.

It’s not like I take care of my body and eat right, but my gut is full of unjust fat dictators that take over anyway. It’s like I eat whatever I want, whenever I want, I don’t exercise, and then I gain weight. Big surprise. You really can’t be upset about that. (Well, actually, I am a little upset about it, but I have lofty goals for my laziness and wine consumption.)

I started exercising, and I’m still doing that (much to my own dismay), but it’s time for the big guns. I need to actually limit the amount of food that goes in my face. Just a little. And perhaps try things other than chocolate, alcohol and bread products. Perhaps.

Plus, did you know that stomping around, dripping with sweat, frightening your neighbors with your grimaced face only burns 150 calories in 30 minutes? That’s a glass and a half of juice. It’s less than half an order of french fries. It’s a glass and a half of Pinot Noir (who’s the dummy that drank juice instead?). 150 calories in my day is like plankton in a whale’s mouth. It just flies right in there without so much as a blink of the eye. (And then I SHOOT IT OUT MY BLOWHOLE! Just kidding. I don’t have a blowhole. I just wanted to carry the analogy a little further. And say blowhole.)

At any rate, I’m on a diet. And holy mother, is some diet food gross. Well, actually, I think the gross part comes in when you try to recreate the experience of “bad” foods with sugar substitutes and other man-made demon poop.

Take, for example, “Stevia in the Raw” which I have paid money for and put in my mouth. It’s yucky. Super yucky. The capital of Yuckistan. I keep waiting to get used to it, but no. The box says that it has a delicious natural sweetness, but this, friends, is not true. It has an initial lack of sweetness, followed by a very aggressive sweet-like sensation that appears in your mouth after you’ve swallowed, and hangs around until it damn well feels like leaving. Well, isn’t that peculiar? And thoroughly unenjoyable.

Yesterday, I tried putting canned white kidney beans in my salad because one of the recipes said to and—ick. I also put in low-fat feta cheese, which just kind of tastes like ground up packing peanuts in watery milk. With salt. It was the grossest salad of all time.

But because I’m more tenacious than reasonable, I keep trying these recipes. I should just decide that a no-sugar, low-fat diet doesn’t involve sweets or elaborate salads with delicious cheeses, and be on my way. Stick to veggies in their God-given form. But I don’t. I think, “Maybe this is the recipe that changes my mind about this diet.” [Spoiler alert: it isn’t.]

Which brings me to now, eating a “mousse” of some kind made of low-fat ricotta cheese, Stevia, cocoa powder and decaffeinated coffee crystals. Oh, and vanilla.

It is unpleasant.

I just realized, though, that perhaps the diet people have a brilliant plan. If the idea is to get me off sweets, they’re totally Clockwork Oranging me. Like, every time I think of dessert now, I’ll think of this mealy, suspiciously sweet, mocha-flavored disaster and my lips will snap together like a clam making pearls for a wholesaler in the mafia. And it’s totally effing working.

Nice move, diet people. Nice move.

Somebody Bring Me Some Ham

Ham

Photo by Steven Lilley @ Flickr

You all.

Remember how I said that I hate to exercise? Remember? Well, I do. Just take my word for it. Or read all this stuff I wrote about how I hate to exercise.

Anyway, I hate to exercise. It’s one of my least favorite things to do. But, you know…I’m an adult, dammit, and exercise is a thing that adults do, so I made a decision: I was going to exercise for 30 minutes a day, 30 days in a row. Yes indeedie. It’s a pretty lofty goal, considering that to accomplish it I have to get up early—which is my second least favorite thing to do.

That’s right, I made a commitment to do two things I hate, first thing in the morning, every morning, for 30 days.

Guess what day today is?

It’s day freaking 30, you all. DAY. THIRTY. Holy bleeptown. In the immortal words of Liz Lemon, “I’m a star. I’m on top. Somebody bring me some ham.”

p.s. – to help me with my goal I’ve been using that website that I mentioned before called SuperBetter. I think it’s awesome. You should check it out if you’ve got some changes you want to make in your life and you’re also a little bit of a nerd. I also used Jerry Seinfeld’s “don’t break the chain” technique, where you mark the days you’ve completed on a calendar, then you focus on not breaking the chain. Super handy.

There. Be bedazzled with knowledge, readers. She-zam.

Like Pulling Teeth (Also, Baby Animals!)

Big yawn

Photo by afsheen @ Flickr.

Sometimes writing—or being creative or doing things that are important to you—is like pulling teeth. Like pulling teeth out of a cranky dog’s stinky mouth. That is what this week is like. Doodie. That’s what I have to say about that. It’s doodie.

That happens sometimes, right? You think that you’re going to come up with something spectacular and earth-shattering. You’ll write the perfect blend of funny and poignant and everyone will read your post, laugh, wipe teensy tears from their eyes, and say, “Aaaaaaahhhhh…that was perfect.” And then each and every one of your readers will go to the store, buy a single, delicious bottle of beer, wrap it up and send it to you in the mail.

That’s what you THINK you’re going to do. Instead, you write 14 sucky drafts, look at Pinterest for an hour, then Facebook, then you browse through all your RSS feeds, go for a walk, juggle for a while, and come back to the same, insidious, blinking cursor that was mocking you two hours ago. (Curse you, cursor! With your continual, “What’s next? What’s next? What’s next?” Eff you, is what’s next.)

I checked out this thing called SuperBetter, a website that helps you get better at things you want to get better at. It’s like a game. And they talk about emotional resilience, and how it’s really key for all kinds of important things, like being awesome and opening jars (I’m paraphrasing here). I have the emotional resilience of a wet tissue hanging from a tree on a windy day. Hmm. Trouble.

I also read an article a while back about how positive thinking is really important for creativity. This is a challenge for me. My name means “blackness” or “dark”—what do you want from me?

Perhaps I (& maybe you too?) should work on these things.

To help strengthen your emotional resilience, SuperBetter said that for every negative feeling you have, you should try to create or experience three positive feelings. They recommend looking out the window, or doing an image search for cute baby animals. Since I’m also supremely lazy, I went for the animal search option. Not wanting to keep the treasure trove of tiny baby animals to myself, I’m going to share them here with you. Let’s watch these little cutie-wooties prime our creative pumps and next week we’ll take over the freaking world. Or maybe just you will. If you do, can you send me a beer? Thx.

And Now…Cute Animal Parade!

cebuella pygmaea

Photo by Joachim S. Mueller @ Flickr

A baby marmoset! And it’s like, “Whhaaa?” They’ve got one (two, actually) at the San Diego Zoo if you MUST! SEE! ONE! now.

Marmoset

Photo by Jessica Merz @ Flickr.

This guy lost his mustache trimmers!

baby_pygmy1

Photo by juliez_pics @ Flickr.

Awww…the wittle baby is cuddowing.

baby chinchilla

Photo by Greencolander @ Flickr.

It’s a teensy, artsy chinchilla.

everybody loves me baby

Photo by timsnell @ Flickr.

Looks like we can expect some monkey business…(wah, wah). The photographer says this guy “generally like[s] to stir the shit.” Awesome. Unless that was literal. You never know with monkeys.

And that’s the last one. I was going to include a picture of a baby kangaroo, but those guys do not leave their mama’s pouch, and, I’m not gonna lie, the pouch thing kinda freaks me out. So we’ll stop there. Share your favorite, positive mood-inducing photos and creativity-inspiring activities, too, okay? Sweet.

All Hail Old Lady Crutchfield

I'll be like this fine looking woman, but older, and possibly meaner, and likely a little tipsy.

I was sifting through my blog feed when I came across this article from the LA Times on Bloody Marys, which reminded me that Bloody Marys are one of my favorite drinks. They’re so delicious and strange. Refreshing but fiery (if they’re made right). Bloody Marys are the perfect blend of getting schnookered and pretending that you’re eating vegetables. They are also a key element in the role I plan to play  later in life—Old Lady Crutchfield.

Bloody Mary

Image by holisticmonkey @ Flickr

For your amusement (and since this is the best idea rattling around in my attic-like mind) I shall now detail the fabulous life I intend to live in my winter years. Those years are going to be splendid for me, but mostly questionable or possibly unenjoyable for those around me. I think this is fine, because it is my firmly held belief that old people earn the right to kinda do whatever the crap they want to. So, my plan is to take the fullest advantage of this belief when the time comes.

The first element in the grand scheme that is Old Lady Crutchfield, is a porch. Preferably with a rocking chair. Like this one here, but with less of a “someone gone get keeled in the woods” feel.

Doesn't that look nice?

Next, we need Bloody Marys. Duh. And lots of them. I plan on drinking them kinda all the time. I mean…what? Is some youngster really going to try to pry a Bloody Mary from my wrinkly, determined claw? I think not. So I’ll be drinking them a lot.

So, a rocker and some drinks…not a rough start. But here’s where I might lose you—I also want to spread rumors around the neighborhood that it’s not tomato juice in my drink, but ground up little kids! Bwua-ha-ha-ha-ha! Too add to the effect, I’ll keep some little smokies in a bowl of tomato juice to fling at kids when they come a-knockin’. They’ll be too focused on not peeing their pants to inspect the thing thoroughly, thus ensuring a furthering of the neighborhood lore.

Now, you might wonder why I would chose torture children in this way. And I’ll admit, it sounds mean at first. But I’m not just scaring the bejesus out of tomorrows youths (though this is a fun side effect), I’m giving them an enemy to rally against. I’m giving them an entity so great and terrifying that they will be forced to set aside their petty differences for the sake of the common good. Geeks, cool kids, saxophone players and D&D enthusiasts alike will forge alliances in a vain attempt to defeat me (of course this could never happen, because Old Lady Crutchfield is immune to death). And if the tiny tyrants decide to toss one of their own under the bus and send him up to my house to be eaten, I’ll bring him inside, give him some cookies, then send him out covered in tomato sauce so he can be donned “The One That Survived”. It’s for the common good. The common good.

What about you? What are your favorite drinks/plans for your wrinkly future?

Don’t Let Shame Tell You Who You Are

Don't Let Shame Tell You Who You Are

If you’ve been reading for a while, you know I’m in love with Brené Brown. It’s true. She’s a vulnerability researcher stuffed to her eyeballs with grace and wisdom and I just want to hug her a whole lot (i.e., too much). I wrote about her first TED talk a while back, and she just did another one. After fighting back tears and hugging my computer screen I thought I should probably share it with you all, too. It’s only 20 minutes—and it’s amazing.

It’s raining today, and I love the rain. It makes me love the world we live in. But I’ve also been researching pimps and prostitution again, and it’s just so, so dark. It’s crushingly dark. I just needed some tiny amount of hope to keep me going. Just a teensy, weensy bit because, I tell you, it’s like every word I read steals a little light from my life. I needed something to say that there is still goodness in the hearts of humankind somewhere, somehow. This did it for me. This is enough for today. Thank you, Dr. Brown.

If you REALLY, really can’t spare 20 minutes, here are a couple of thoughts to take with you:

Vulnerability is not weakness. It’s courage. Vulnerability is what is going to save us from shame. Shame is the thing that lurks in the darkness and tells us not that we did something bad, or stupid or greedy or selfish; but that we are bad, stupid, selfish and greedy.

Shame tells men that they can’t ever be weak. Shame propagates the myth that being a man requires that you stay in control of your emotions, that you prioritize work over everything else, that higher status should be your life-long pursuit and that violence goes hand-in-hand with manliness. Shame tells women that we must be nice, thin, modest and look beautiful. It tells women that we have to be able to juggle every task that comes before us (home, work, cleaning, cooking, studies—all of it!) without breaking a sweat. And shame tells us all that falling short of these things is disgraceful.

But shame is a liar. So, I want to ask you a favor: don’t let your darkest day be your only day. Please don’t, darlings. You are beautiful. You are sacred. You are loved. Don’t let shame tell you who you are.

Lady Power! (Or, I’m Actually not a Lesbian)

Just look at those ladies! Tell me you wouldn't snuggle them…

It’s been brought to my attention that, sometimes, I sound like I’m into girls. Now, I do like lesbians. Well, I guess not all lesbians. How could I know that I like all lesbians? So I guess I’ll say that I have wonderful lesbian friends that I like a whole lot. But alas, I *like* dudes. Well, actually, I have a bit of a complicated relationship with Dudes, but I like one dude. My husband. I have a very awesome, uncomplicated relationship with him. Ack. This got super convoluted all of a sudden. Let’s start over.

I compliment ladies a lot. And I sometimes want to snuggle with them. I’ve mentioned being entranced by the adorable Mary Louise Parker and wanting to snuggle with Dr. Brené Brown. I’m totally goofy over Alice Bradley. And kinda lots of other women. I’m like that in person, too. Maybe worse. I kinda want to be uncomfortably friendly with a lot of women. Doesn’t everyone feel that way? Aren’t there some women that you think, “I could just snorgle her a little”?

I wrote a draft of this post and had my husband read it and he said, “Nope, you still sound like you want to make out with women.” So, let me explain a little more. When I say “snuggle,” it’s like I want to pinch cheeks and rub noses and squeeze shoulders. Kinda like you would with a kitten, you know? Like you see the little kitty, and you just want to squeeze it and talk through your teeth and say stuff like, “Awent you just the sweetest wittle kitty evoh?” and then the kitty looks at you like it’s kinda fun but also a little terrifying. That’s what I picture in my mind. Anyone? You know what I’m saying? You know that feeling when someone is just so remarkable and funny and awesome and beautiful that you feel like you can’t control yourself?

Maybe it’s just me. I’m aware that I shouldn’t actually do those things, though. I promise. You don’t have to worry about me if we meet in person. I think that I want to snorgle people, but I don’t actually do the snorgling. I’m not totally bananas, it’s just that…well, some women—a lot of women—are super amazing. And there’s something about the fact that women walk around oozing with awesomeness that makes me want cuddle strangers.

I think it has a lot to do with the fact that those same women—the same women that floor me with how gorgeous and vivacious and smart they are—probably had a life experience not unlike mine. And my experience went something like this: be a kid, gain a teensy bit of awareness, hate yourself from then on. The de facto position of most girls as they grow is to be utterly disappointed in themselves. Criticizing your body and hair and teeth and laugh and knee shape is basically a full-time job from about age 10.

Love me some Tina Fey. Things would get real awkward, real quick.

I know it sounds dramatic, but I’m pretty sure that’s the deal. It was for me. And there’s some data to back it up, too. According to some research that Dove (the soap company) has done, only 4% of women worldwide think they’re beautiful. Holy crap! I personally know a boat load of beautiful women, and I see beautiful women all the time. Like, every day. So, either all the beautiful women gravitate to places where I can see them, or we women have a BIG discrepancy between what actually is (there are LOTS of beautiful women and you’re likely one of them) and what we think (we’re all a bunch of uggos).

And that’s just looks. When we get to the workplace, our intelligence takes a hit as we’re routinely valued lower than our male counterparts (the stats show we make 25% less just because of our boobs. Or maybe it’s the uterus. Both? Something about our lady parts is getting us in trouble.) Women hold a stupidly low percentage of power positions in government and we have a puny representation in the film industry as writers, directors, or producers. Even in cooking—a chore stereotypically thrust on women as their duty—when it comes to the role of head chef, women only eek out 15% of the positions nationwide. Chores at home go to the ladies, high-powered glam positions go to the men. Lame.

I’m sure I could continue this way for a while. Google easily coughs up a pile of reasons for women to say, “Hey, wait a minute…” But I don’t need to. The point is not that we need to boo-hoo ourselves OR poo-poo men, the point is that when I see women—smart, radiant, AMAZING women—I think the appropriate response is to be enamored. To be amazed. To want to snuggle up on the couch and soak in the goodness of another soul, and be at least one voice that says, “Hey, you’re kinda great.” Maybe it’ll rip a plot hole in the story we’re told. Maybe it’ll make a way for a tiny sapling of self-worth to break through the concrete that got poured over our rich lands. Or maybe it’ll just make for some super awkward moments. That’s entirely possible, too.

So, cough it up, people. Isn’t there someone who you think is so amazing that you want to snuggle them a little? Just a little nuzzling? Please, do share. Let’s compliment the crap out of each other for a while, okay?

—-

p.s. – Loads of love to the ladies in my life who have lost track of how amazing they are. You know who you are.

p.p.s. – Finding an image for this post was kinda infuriating. I searched for “women” which brought up a bunch of sketches of bare-breasted women. Really? “Women” = “something naked that I can do”? Come on, internet. Get your crap together. So, then I searched for “badass women” and got a bunch of pics of roller derby players, which was kinda funny.

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