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Monday, April 08, 2013

Jen Sincero made me do it

I told you how big a fan I am of the forthcoming book You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero, but I wanted to share some ways it's influenced my thinking and actions recently.

1. Thursday night, I had just landed in Toronto, was in the depths of my cold's fogginess, and decided I wanted the kale salad at Lola's Kitchen. Somehow, in my haste, though I said Church Street when entering the taxi, I'd typed "College" on my phone so wound up having to take an extra long cab ride. When I realized we were going in the wrong direction, I lost it. I started crying. I was so mad at myself because I was tired and hungry and sick, and that meant I would miss the Feminist Porn Awards pre-party at Good for Her, which I then thought was a signal that my whole endeavor covering the awards would be a failure. I considered skipping dinner and going straight to the party, but instead, I went to the restaurant and had orange juice and watermelon juice and nachos and purple kale salad and was still a bit delirious when I got to that night's screening, but at a certain point I gave up on the idea of going to the party. I let it go. I realized I had to be in that moment, taking care of myself, in order to be present for the rest of the weekend.

2. Last year, an incident occurred in which I was asked to not attend an event. That's all you need to know for the purposes of this post, because what I want to talk about is my reaction. I was hurt, angry and upset, but instead of standing up for myself, I caved. I thought, This person is right, and I will do what is being asked, even though it went against my core values. Even though I didn't have any respect for that person before that moment and certainly didn't afterward. But because I caved, because I assumed that if that was being asked of me that that is what I deserved, I lost out. The upside is that, after I spent much too long agonizing about the unfairness of this situation, I realized that this didn't mean I didn't belong in that world at all, and that if I wanted to belong, all I had to do was invite myself. It's a free country, after all. So I did, and you know what? Just by virtue of showing up, I have been educated, enlightened and entertained by that world. I've gotten so much back from simply showing up, and all of it has served to validate me that I don't need anyone's permission, and that anyone who would seek to exclude me isn't someone I should waste even a millisecond on. So I stopped, and my life has been so much freer, mentally and in other ways, since I stopped caring. Putting my energy into the wrong places and people is a way to zap me of my strength, and I need every last ounce of it. This idea of letting go of your past to be a better person in the present and future is a key one in the book, and one I keep having to reapply and remind myself of its total truth.

3. I was at the coat check at the Feminist Porn Awards, and the cost was $2 Canadian. Someone in front of me only had U.S. currency and they were going to let her pay with that, but I had a $5 Canadian bill, so I just paid for her (and tipped the extra $1). I'm not saying this was a revolutionary act, but it made me feel good, and hopefully made her feel good, and it was inspired by reading Sincero and realizing that I can take action at this very moment to get to where I want to be. Not every action is huge and grand, but each is a building block, like weight lifting, where the smaller actions gradually come together and create a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

4. I am a creature of habit and love routines, which so often become ingrained to the point that when life throws up an obstacle I freak out. Like last night, when I went to get on the J train at JFK and found it closed for the weekend. I'm still recovering from a cold and pretty exhausted and was cursing myself and the MTA and wondering if I should turn around and take a cab. Instead, I got on the E train and discovered that I could take it to the G train, which is also near my home, and I got there in probably the same amount of time my normal route would've taken. I only let myself freak out for a few second, I didn't cry or throw a tantrum or feel like the world was against me. I just thought, so this is what it's like to be back in NYC, and got on the train, and had a seat the whole time, on both trains.

5. Today it was stating succinctly, and fully believing, "I can't afford travel unless I have a paid speaking gig attached to it." Because it's not just that the times I've done that I've wasted money; it's that I've put myself out as someone who doesn't deserve to get paid, and that means that gigs can get canceled at the drop of a hat, because there's no contract, because I haven't put it out into the universe that I'm a businesswoman and, while a creative soul, I need to make a living if I'm going to continue doing the work that I do. It means that when I spend money in ways that don't either further my business or add something as valuable as their price to my personal life, I am selling myself short, thereby enabling others to do so, because I haven't demanded more. This switch in thinking about money is going to be a long slot, but is one I am realizing that, if I ever want to be a parent, I need to enact immediately. Not just because I don't want to set a horrible precedent for my children around money, I want to be able to raise them in a way that affords me the time and energy to take care of them to the best of my abilities.

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