Thursday, November 6, 2014

for the animals

When you don't eat animals, a lot of people ask you why not.  Over the past 7 years (not tooting my horn but it's something to celebrate), I've gotten used to smiling and simply saying "Oh, because of the animals."  And then they nod and say something about how they tried it once and only lasted a week.  Oh, if only the billions of animals killed in factory farms every year had the luxury to simply "try out" the gestation crate or wire cage for a week and decide it wasn't right for them.  My heart aches at the callousness with which we can decorate the suffering of other beings in such disregard.  The disconnect between a cow and "beef" is alarming.  How can we hope for a just world when every meal we eat is at the expense of a lifetime (I repeat: a lifetime!) of suffering for another animal?  Cafeteria-style ethics aren't ethics at all.  We can't pick and choose where we want rightness, where we want to accept responsibility, and call that ethics.  It's not.

I'm not vegan because I simply don't want to kill an animal.  I'm not vegan because I have a soft, sensitive heart.  I'm not vegan because it keeps me healthy and feeling good, or because I live in LA and am an actress so it's the thing to do.  I went vegan at 17 because I couldn't live in denial anymore.  I couldn't be who I wanted to be, who I felt that I was at my core, if I continued to let convenience, ignorance, disconnection, and the overwhelming pressure of the majority dictate my choices.  In order to be to fully me, I had to reach down to the truths that had been lurking in the pit of my heart since I was a little girl.  Truths that don't come from within, however, but that come from being wide-eyed and receptive towards the the experiences of other beings and how they affect every beat of this universe's rhythm.  This rhythm is always available to us - all we have to do is make the choice to listen.

This listening can occur when we have the courage to know ourselves, to see beyond the characters we play and surrender to the world inside that is chin-deep in feelings our culture attempts to protect us from feeling.  There is pain in there, there is grief, there is the brightest light of dawn and the most chaotic, night-soaked ocean.  There is loneliness, ecstatic bliss, fear, the helplessness that comes from being human on a planet where we really know nothing.  These feelings dance together and, without acceptance, cause discord.  Cause the desire to escape, to turn blind eyes and to wrap our perspectives so tightly in foil so that we aren't affected by the outside world.  The real world.  Because if we really feel, if we really surrender to what is, we're faced with a reality that highlights the falsehoods and illusions and coping mechanisms our society is composed of.

I'm not vegan because I care for animals; I'm vegan because I am an animal.  Because in choosing to embrace my whole being, I simultaneously choose to embrace theirs.  When I see it in me, I see it in them.  I can't love myself, can't tend to my own pain, without loving them and seeing theirs.  We hold such great commonality - us living beings on this speck of a spot in space.  Any violence or disregard towards them produces a ripple effect that brings violence and disregard back to human kind.  I see it in the news, I see it in the loneliness of peoples' faces that I pass on the street.  This ache of humanity is only soothed with the awareness of a whole self and in seeing our wholeness, we see our connectedness.  Our sense of belonging to one another despite the fact that we float in a spinning ball amongst stars.

I'm vegan because I can't look at another animal and deny their experience on this Earth.  I can't ethically take the lives of those who are defenseless just because they are different.  I'm vegan because I want to take responsibility for my actions and I know that in simply not seeing their suffering every day doesn't make it go away.  I don't want to have a plate put down in front of me and have to consciously not think about the living being it came from who wanted to avoid pain just like I do, who wanted to survive, to simply be left alone instead of exploited by the hands of humans just because they can.  To accept speciesism is to also leave the door open for every other injustice and oppression on the planet.  Sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia.  It's all one group oppressing the other. One big coping mechanism.

I'm vegan because I don't want to just cope.  I want the truth.  I want to know that I was a source of love in my time here.  And all mushy feelings aside,  I want to follow the golden rule - If I wouldn't wish it upon myself, what business do I have doing it to another being?  I'm not the person I want to be if I choose the facade of a "cheeseburger" over allowing myself to acknowledge the piece of flesh on a plate that was cut from a dead body of a being that didn't need to die or spend their lives being tortured and denied one ounce of dignity.

I want to honor all life regardless of its relativity or usefulness to me.  And in choosing to see and to feel, regardless of the being, I can best do that.

If you're interested:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Why Feminist Ethics are the Solution to Animal Exploitation

At the very core of every injustice is the belief that existence is founded upon a hierarchy of power and entitlement instead of an inborn call towards compassion and ethical moral duty. We are born onto this planet with little security, and as we become embedded in our society, we seek to compensate for our existential insecurities by developing defense mechanisms against the natural world. We build literal and metaphorical walls to protect ourselves, we strive to cure mortality with medicine and science, and we place faith in religions that promise a way out – one big EXIT sign to fixate upon in order to avoid the claustrophobic hallway of our pain, grief, vulnerability, and even the terrifying depths of our joy and love that our psyches equate to eventual loss. Separating ourselves from the natural world allows us the illusion of immunity to it. Throughout history, this struggle to gain control over our environment and our selves has led to wars, environmental destruction, and mass social injustice. Feminist philosophers argue that the view of “self” as of the mind but not the body is responsible for laying the foundation that enables such damage, and the correlation must be drawn between our denial of the body, of the natural world, and subsequently to the billions of animals exploited each year in America alone for human use (Browning). As long as we are separating the mind from the body, we are inviting oppression against the feminine and against nature and entitling ourselves to disregard the value of non-human sentient beings. The psychological disconnect that allows the human species to exploit non-human animals is a result of the patriarchal view of self, and its mending lies in feminist ethics.

In order to understand the damage done by this disconnect, we must look at the consequences of our actions. It is nearly impossible to go one day without condoning, supporting, or witnessing the
exploitation of animals. For a society who claims to view pets as family members, the hypocrisy and ignorance of such exploitation is alarming. If we treated a household pet the way animals are treated in order to feed, clothe, entertain, or “cure” us, we would be considered criminals and find ourselves in jail instead of safeguarded by our justifications for such abuse (Hodson). Isn't it our ethical duty to take responsibility for our actions? With eyes and ears closed, the gates to cruelty, environmental destruction, human health issues, and worldwide oppression remain wide open.

According to the USDA, 9.1 billion animals were slaughtered in 2013 alone ( "Farm Animal Statistics: Slaughter Totals : The Humane Society of the United States."). While the meat and dairy industry would love us to believe that their animals graze happily in pastures of green grass, clear blue skies, and under the care of Farmer Sally donned in overalls, the reality could not be farther from the grotesque truth. Welcome to the factory farm. Animals are crammed so tightly into cages that they cannot even turn around, let alone walk, breathe fresh air, feel the warmth of the sun, or live one mere moment of their lives free from suffering. Their living conditions are deplorable; animals are covered in sores, feces, and chickens' beaks are cut off at birth to stop them from eating each other due to the stress of overcrowding. Animals are raped by machines in order to breed as many offspring as possible, or profitable I should say, and their babies are ripped from them as soon as they are born. For baby cows, if they are to be used for veal, they are immediately locked into a tiny wooden crate that shuts out all light, and are made immobile to purposefully hinder the development of their muscles in order to produce the desired meat quality. Cows and pigs alike are shot and then hung upside down, throats slit to drain their blood, and then they are gutted and skinned. There have been countless documentaries of undercover footage showing the animals remaining conscious throughout much of this process . A factory farm worker once told the Washington Post that the animals “die piece by piece” (“Animals Used for Food”). This is not the exception; this is not rare. This is where your food comes from.

We also kill animals for fur, leather, and sheepskin each year. Animals in fur farms are kept in
similar conditions to factory farms, and are often skinned alive, if clubbing or bludgeoning fails to do the trick. For some reason, leather slips under the ethical radar of most consumers, probably because the animal hide is treated so extensively that we think of it more as a fabric than slimy, once-bloodied skin. Every year, the world slaughters over a billion animals for leather alone (“Animals Used for Food”). The tribal days of killing an animal for survival, and then using every part of its body in an effort to honor the being and avoid wastefulness are long gone, at least in the modern world. Make no mistake: these means of violent abuse are not justified by their end, for when the issue of survival is off the table, we must use Ethics as a guide.

The beauty industry conceals not only skin blemishes, but the ugly practice of animal testing for make-up and body products. This entails testing toxic chemicals on the skin, eyes, ears, and insides of animals, not simply letting a mouse try on different shades of lavender. Animals used in testing for cosmetic and household products and medical research are stripped of their value and become nothing more than a science experiment. Making animals sick is justified by the promise of making the lives of human's better. We perform experiments on animals that are deemed cruel and unethical to perform on humans, and the believed inferiority of the animal kingdom, and therefore nature, justifies such. Does not our capacity to reason, which is used by critics to prove we are somehow “better”, make us responsible for said reasoning, and should we not reason through a lens of ethics instead of speciesist greed? The philosopher Peter Singer, author of Animal Liberation, states that “What we must do is bring non-human animals within our sphere of moral concern and cease to treat their lives as expendable for whatever trivial purposes we may have” (Singer 20).

It's not enough to eat, wear, and experiment on the beings we share the Earth with, but we also find entertainment in making them perform as if they were humans. Like a scene from King Kong, we pay to watch animals do tricks in circuses, living lives in captivity where their worth is only seen
relative to human amusement. This performance, this false view of reality and the so-called “loving”
relationship we have with animals, is seen in zoos when families take their children to gaze at lions going mad in metal cages and artificial habitats. Even our closest perceived bond and appreciation for animals is tainted: household pets are considered “family”, yet the love is relative (Hal Herzog). Millions of cats and dogs are killed in shelters all over the country because of puppy-mills and breeding. We call the dog that we bought from a breeder “family” while we cook steak for dinner (Hodson). The contradiction is yet another reflection of our severed relationship to the natural world, and consequently, our selves.

Of course, justifications for animal exploitation are just as excessive as the extent of which it occurs. It is difficult to heal a wound when you are not convinced of the injury itself. The use of animals has been a vital part of society since the start of humanity, and critics of “animal rights” argue that it's for good reason. While few people would choose to align themselves with the abuse that occurs in factory farms, the idea that using them is just a part of the “cycle of life” is a widely upheld belief (Scully). Humans' dependence on animals is a sign of our cultural and interpersonal connections, they argue, with the fulfillment of animal-involving traditions woven deeply into a society's identity. They point out that many cultures around the world have beautiful rituals of honoring the animals they use- nothing like the thoughtless cruelty condoned in America with fast food restaurants and factory farms. For many families, eating or wearing animals is necessary for their well-being. Furthermore, they find ties to their ancestors in taking part in such rituals, as well as a sense of community, and expecting such changes to be made in other cultures is a denial of their own value and a result of cultural relativism fueled by privilege. Expecting animal products, or the work of animals, to evaporate from a culture's landscape is like expecting a lung to evaporate from a human body, yet leave the body fully functioning.
The most stark contradiction that strikes me in this argument is the assumption that in today's
world, especially in America, survival is a valid reason for our treatment of animals, as if we are all
running around in the forest, starving, and in desperate need of any source of nutrition. Clearly, that's
not the case at all. Our use of animals is not for survival; this is not some Pocahontas-themed result of just how connected we are to nature or our culture. After all, I don't kill in order to connect, do you? The fact that we participate in such contradictory practices is proof of how disconnected we are from nature, and since cultures evolve throughout time, shouldn't our ethics evolve with them? For this is not a call for improving animal welfare in attempt to soften our guilty conscience-it is a call to question the validity and moral value of the beliefs we affirm as truth when we exploit animals.

In an attempt to persuade people to alter their lifestyle, I could go into depth of how using animals is destructive to humans, as the animal agriculture industry produces more pollution than all worldwide transportation combined, and animal products cause more harm than healthfulness to human bodies(“Meat and the Environment”). Brilliant minds such as authors Peter Singer and Gary Francione have already thoroughly made the case against animal exploitation with logic and common sense, using already accepted moral standards to shine the light on the the dark contradictions of the consumer. Yet still, the disconnect. Our ability to disengage from the natural world, to find comfort in speciesism, and to seek alibi through ignorance is what I find most concerning. We place a dangerous distance between ourselves and accountability when we deny our communion with the physical and animal world. This denial has been heavily criticized by feminist philosophers who see the root of all oppression and injustice as the patriarchal view of self (Browning).

In her essay Body, Mind, & Gender, Eve Browning Cole seeks to present the effects of Western philosophy and its belief that the “self”, “soul”, or “consciousness” is entirely separate from the physical body. The body is viewed as a machine with the mind as its operator. This simple viewpoint, she argues, sets up society for automatic oppression and justification for mistreating those seen as “of the body”, or “animal”, and not of the mind (Browning). The 17th century philosopher Rene Descartes
played a large role in this mind vs. body sense of self. In his mission to discover the truth of self, he
withdrew from society and used “doubting” to deconstruct, and therefore compartmentalize,
the elements of his existence. After doubting the reliability of his senses, he came to the conclusion that he is of a “certain existence, but an uncertain body” (Browning). Like Plato, he believed that the body is an instrument the soul uses, with the soul, or mind, being superior.

Feminist philosophers point out that this method of analyzing self is illogical since the sharing of knowledge and social norms begins in society. They argue that we are of society, not in spite of it. And furthermore, that we are of the natural world, not an exception to it (Browning). It is imperative that we look to our relationships when becoming curious about the makeup of our psyche. The referral to a self that is isolated comes from gender socialization and enforces patriarchy. In the past, men went out into the world, worked, and spent time with the family periodically, so the male learned to distinguish himself, to view himself as “other” and “separate from”. While the female, on the other hand, was constantly with the family, and served as the primary caregiver, which led her to identify herself through her relationships with others (Browning). Therefore, feminists explain, the view of self as “isolated” is masculine, and such a belief automatically makes that which is feminine inferior.
With the body and the feminine accepted as interconnected, it is easy to draw the conclusion that little to no value would be bestowed upon nature as well. As author Ynestra King so bluntly explained: “Patriarchal humanity declared war on women and on living nature” (King). We even refer to the natural world as Mother Nature, and so the associations with inferiority persist. The ethics of feminism combat this hierarchy by insisting that the “more connected the self is to others, the better the self is” (Tong and Williams).

In accepting the body as of equal worth to the mind, we allow for a shift in our orientation towards nature and animals (Peek et. al). When filtered through this relational mindset, the idea that our ability to use “logic” gives us dominion over animals is extracted at its root. Ability no longer
justifies the action. In the book Signs, Josephine Donovan says, “Out of a women's relational culture of
caring and attentive love, therefore, emerges the basis for a feminist ethic for the treatment of animals.
We should not kill, eat, torture, and exploit animals because they do not want to be so treated, and we know that. If we listen, we can hear them” (Donovan 375).

The solution to the patriarchally-driven disconnect between self and nature (mind and body) is simultaneously difficult and easy to apply; it requires personal responsibility to be taken by each individual. While people may scoff at the notion, dismissing it as impossible to implement, now that we have found the direct connection between the empowerment of the female and the degree to which animal life is valued, we can work to bring awareness, appreciation, and acceptance to the body. This spread of knowledge that ultimately causes social change through activism has been evident in every civil movement, including the civil rights movement, the first-wave feminist movement, and today it is evident in the movement for equal rights for gays and lesbians. The solution is not a government program that promises to fix a glitch in the system, but a complete (although often times gradual) redesign.

From an early age, women are taught to suppress their very femininity, and their worth is only measured relative to external standards, usually contrived by men. Women face constant judgement over the way they look and how they act, with every pore of their being absorbing the message that they are “not enough” (Browning). We are conditioned to believe that things that are feminine, again, of the body, such as menstrual cycles are not to be spoken of or acknowledged, heaven forbid celebrated. The same is evident in the ridiculous debate over breast feeding in public. The message is clear: if it's natural, if you can't control it, then deny it. Any nature-given aspect is a threat to patriarchy because it reminds us that we belong to nature- it does not belong to us.

Feminist philosophers urge us to see this fact as liberating instead of oppressive, as a cure to our psychological distress instead of a problem that needs fixing. Women must make the choice to be
women, in every sense of the word, to promote an “embodied self”, with no apologies. It starts with
literature, with organizing sources of support for women. It starts with how we guide our children to a
healthy relationship with their feelings, so that we view our bodies as friends instead of enemies. It starts with education in our school system that does not perpetuate shame in being female, but that gives boys and the girls the tools to make conscious decisions for themselves about their own bodies. It starts with bringing into awareness the true science of sexuality, not the story told to us by religion, and with women demanding ownership of their sexuality.

When we deny our self the freedom of embodiment, we deny the natural world. If we truly wish to eliminate the animal suffering that is a result of exploitation, we must reevaluate what it means to be animal, to be a body, and to be a self.   

"Animals Used for Food." PETA. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2014.

Meat and the Environment.” PETA. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2014.

Browning, Eve. "Body, Mind, and Gender." Philosophy and Feminist Criticism: An Introduction. New York: Paragon House, 1993. N. pag. Print.
Donovan, Josephine. "Animal Rights and Feminist Theory." Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 15.2 (1990): 350. JSTOR. Web. 26 Apr. 2014.
"Farm Animal Statistics: Slaughter Totals : The Humane Society of the United States." Humane Society. N.p., 17 Apr. 2014. Web. 30 Apr. 2014.
Hal Herzog October 13. "Love Cats, Eat Cows?" Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 13 Oct. 2013. Web. 30 Apr. 2014.
Hodson, Gordon, Ph. D. "The Meat Paradox: Loving but Exploiting Animals." Psychology Today: Health, Help, Happiness Find a Therapist. N.p., 3 Mar. 2014. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.
King, Ynestra. “Healing the Wounds: Feminism, Ecology, and the Nature/Culture Dualism.” Gender/Body/Knowledge: Feminist Reconstructions of Being and Knowing. Ed. Allison M. Jaggar & Susan Bordo. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1989. 115-134. Print.
Peek, Charles W., Nancy J. Bell, and Charlotte C. Dunham. "Gender, Gender Ideology, and Animal Rights Advocacy." Gender and Society 10.4 (1996): 464-78. JSTOR. Web. 26 Apr. 2014.
Scully, Matthew. "Fear Factories." American Conservative Vol. 4, No. 10. 23 May. 2005: 7-14. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 07 Apr. 2014.
Singer, Peter. Animal Liberation. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2009. Print.
Tong, Rosemarie and Williams, Nancy, "Feminist Ethics", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL<>.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

it's the weekend.

East coast time has me still waking up super early, needing to pee, and wanting to eat.  It's hard for me to sleep in when I know breakfast could always be happening instead.  Oatmeal with flaxseed,walnuts, brown sugar and coffee…but I do need the sleep, though.  

Last week we were on vacation (well, visiting family-vacation) in North Carolina.  We hadn't been back there together in two years.  We swam in the ocean, hung out in New Bern, and spent time in the country.  It's so freaking awesome going somewhere and not feeling the pressure to be "getting stuff done" or "accomplishing something".  I completely cut off from all things LA and normal life (even though I probably *should* have checked in with my online college class - oops) because for the first time in a long time, I just wanted to BE. And for us to relax. And get to be relaxed people that just married each other.  Without work or careers or tasks to do or think about.  Nothing but eating, drinking, swimming in the ocean, and walking around to get coffee.  It was fabulous.

But now we are back to reality, which is a busy place, and the past few days I have been waking up earlier than my alarm, and then wanting to crash by early afternoon.  Tonight we have a music show to go to (our talented, sweet friend who sang and played at our wedding's band), I've got a rehearsal and lots of script work to do, a yoga class (with my new job the weekends are my only chance for yoga so I've got to force myself), and to figure out when and how to walk the dog since it's going to be about 200 degrees outside for the next week.  I HATE HEAT WAVES.  And why, why is this happening at the same time Halloween napkins are in the grocery stores?!? I am beyond ready for fall.  We just experienced our summer last week in NC, thank you very much, and now I'm moving on to fall and winter.  I hate knowing that in LA, things like heat waves are just getting warmed up and that the worst is possibly yet to come.  What I would give for seasons…

Being super busy now (with school - why did I agree to this again?- and work and regular taking care of house things) forces me to work to find the space to working on my acting career, which, while scary and slightly stressful, is pretty good at stoking the fire to get me going.  There's a sense of "Oh shit, if I don't do it now, or make myself work on this, I can so easily get lost in this and wake up three years later in the same place".  So, for that I'm thankful because I needed that.  And doing lots of other things also reminds me of what I'm not and who I am and what I'm 100 percent meant to do with my life.  I notice it when I'm at my job - how I'm constantly using it as an excuse to be pretend I'm Claire from House of Cards and all the other moments when I realize so much of my experience of life and who I am revolves around playing someone else or pretending I'm in a different world.  A few weeks ago, after not auditioning for awhile or really being busy with acting at all, I had a realization.  I was so busy with "being me" everywhere (at my job, I'm Catherine, at school, I'm Catherine, at the grocery store, still Catherine) that I noticeably felt the empty space inside me that's reserved for when I'm other people.  And then it hit me - other people go about their lives always being them! What? I checked with J to confirm my suspicion.  They go everywhere, do everything, and are always coming from a place of THEM.  That's so weird to me.  I realized that if I don't act, I *feel* it, like when you are lacking a vitamin or something.  It's an exercise of my soul that needs to happen.  

That's all there is for now.  That and trying to stave off my period for just one more day.  In the meantime I just want to cry inside an igloo and punch people in the face. Happy Saturday!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

countdown to carolina

From J's Instagram on our last NC trip

I know I haven't written in awhile but that's because I've been busy starting my new (part time) job at my dream-organization, school classes, unwinding from the wedding and all the boxes(looking at them, saying we need to unpack them, and then doing something else), attempting to write thank you notes, walking the dog (takes up half my life), trying to keep the spouse happy, dreaming about leaves and boots, and remembering, oh yeah, I'm an actress and must do that at all costs.  Which is why I am SO excited that we are going on our last summer vacation of the year in 4 days! We're going to NC to hang out on the beach, in the country, and in my hometown and I cannot wait to hear the ocean when I wake up in the morning and to be in swimmable water finally! (Sorry West Coast, but it ain't a beach if its too cold to swim with ease).  My mom is throwing a post-wedding cocktail hour reception thing too.  I cannot wait for green grass, thunderstorms, sweet tea, nice people, front porches…

When we get back, I expect Los Angeles to be in full fall-mode.  I want leaves, I want people shivering and rushing inside coffee shops, I want lots of Placebo playing, I want it all.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

being young, being female, being art (aka being a mom)

I always wanted to be a young(er) mom.  Kind of in the way I always knew, or at least had the idea, that I would get married young.  I'm a Taurus, and home is important to me.  I'm pretty stubborn, I know what I like, and I rarely change.  I grow, but I rarely change.  Some people are the kind that are constantly evolving throughout their life, they "find out" who they are…I literally feel like I was plopped down on the Earth already made - like, eighty years old.  My beliefs, my goals, the things that give me comfort..they are pretty much the same now as they were at age four.  I've never really had "drama" with my friends, never "dated" around, never questioned what I wanted to do with my life.  I just knew my best friends were my best friends (my soul mate family), and I felt in my core what I was meant to do, and I wanted my life with my spouse pretty much right away…so I've always had the attitude of "why wait?" and "why not?" because when I feel ready, or when I feel sure, I go for it.

And in the past year, I've learned even more about how there is truly nothing that can't serve as an opportunity for growth.  If things get scary, if I lose ground, if things are hard, I can suffer and struggle and feel all the while being in awe of the depth of this existential experience.  If I jump in a little too early, I'll just learn how to swim - I mean, I'll have to - it's either learn to swim or drown.  I'll figure it out.  

So when the same knowing, the same seed planting, started making itself known around the Baby Topic and the Being a Mommy Topic, I found myself surprised at the feelings I was having yet not fully trusting myself.  I know in my heart that if I got pregnant this second, J and I would be happy and totally ready (and when I say ready, what I mean is willing, because you are never ready).  So why the slight shame in admitting I'm baby-hungry?  Why do I feel like maybe I'm wrong in my feelings, that maybe I'm just being impulsive, that I'm not right to want this and want it sooner than later?  I know why.  It's because this isn't where I thought I would be when I would have a baby.  Because this timeline isn't the one I've had written and subconsciously counted on my whole life.  That I would have a successful, established career, and that we would have plenty of money before we even went down that road.  When I start examining what that looks like and what those fantasies mean, I realize that while, yes, it would be awesome to know we could pick any school to send our kiddo to, that we could travel all the time, have no financial worries in the world, and create the family life that we've dreamed of - I realized that the need wasn't coming from any soul-truth about needing my career in order to be a good mother - but that it was about the illusion that I'd somehow be more worthy and fulfilled and deserving by then.  It was really about the shame our society drips around, well, being a mother.  Being a girl that wants to be a mom.  Not that you see it clearly on the surface, but as a young woman in pursuit of career and creative fulfillment, I feel a sense of shame for also wanting to be a mom.  Maybe "shame" is the wrong word; I feel like it's not the "right" or "natural" or "accepted" path.  That there is judgement there.  Those thoughts that keep pulling me back and make me want to bullet proof the decision, because really, is this really what I could want?  Is this okay? Is it okay to not be established in your career and to start a family?

When I shine the light on the hesitation, I see so many lines swirling like smoke in front of mirrors:  What if a baby means giving up on my dreams?  What if a baby means that I have failed as woman?  Can I possibly be creative, ambitious, and progressing while embarking on motherhood?  And it basically boils down to: What if a baby means giving up on ME?

And there's the fallacy.  There's the lie women have been embedded with for so long.  That it's either/or.  That you can work for yourself or you can work for a toddler.  That you can have a career, and then, only then, will we turn the blind eye while you slump down into mediocre feminism.  Because then, you will have earned your femininity - you will have earned your right to make life, to let another being depend on you, to nurture.  And, YES, that's what it boils down to.  Back to that old fashioned shame around being a woman in her most natural, connected state.  Whether it's the period, or pregnancy, we don't want to be "defined" by it but we shouldn't have to deny it.  I wrote a paper a few months ago about the connection between feminist ethics and animal exploitation and what I learned in writing it keeps pulling at my pant legs because it is so true: if an act or being reflects the feminine, or the natural (the animal), then it is viewed as less than the "mind".  As long as we hold the belief that the body and the mind are separate, we keep the gates open for discrimination and prejudice against the body, the animal, the woman.  Without this belief, we would have to view pregnancy and motherhood (and other nurturing, sensitive, relational-dependent roles) as of equal worth to the identity of a "distinguished self" that the workforce encourages.  

It's this belief that a career, that being established in a way that makes others view you in an acceptable, respected light, is the only avenue towards creative fulfillment, towards art, spirit and freedom.  And I think to believe that is to deny the depth of experience.  My journey towards marriage was the most growth-inducing sea I've ever sailed, and it's effects have drastically changed my awareness.  I have felt it wash through every canal of my life - my writing, my acting, my self-trust, my self-empowerment, my self-love, and my overall consciousness.  I look at becoming a mother as one of the ultimate creative endeavors of my life.  One of the greatest adventures, the greatest risks, the greatest call to Vulnerability. In that light, my story has been the opposite of the one told to us time and time again: go to school, get a job, find out "who you are", find a partner, get married, have babies.  And holding my story next to the illusions of what "should be" is pointless.  

I've decided that I'm letting go.  I don't care about the timelines I made up when I was seven because timelines only condone our culture's obsession with the external world and I refuse to be whittled down to a simple perception of others. I don't care what the rest of our culture tries to impose on what I already know and feel in my soul.  I realize that the more I stay connected to the core of my essence, to the source of my true spirit, the more opportunities find me, the more trusting I feel, the more willing I feel to make the choice to jump and learn to swim, regardless of if I heard the whistle or not.  I'm choosing to embrace the full spectrum of femininity because I know that creativity flourishes alongside existential portals like motherhood, not in spite of them.  

Sunday, August 3, 2014

sunday night

So Sharknado 2 just happened..(and what more can I say there)

This weekend was full of nieces and nephews, the sister in law's birthday, lots of greasy food, lots of randomly humid weather, and sleeping in (YAY).  I start my new job tomorrow and will be making time to blog throughout the week.

Coming up :

Finding your own alignment to your own inner river of creativity.
Veganism and Feminism and why the two go hand in hand and should basically have sleepovers every night with matching pajamas.

 In the meantime I have been rekindling my obsession with Carolyn Bessette and trying to contextualize the fact that Sharknado only encouraged my fear of subways.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

no matter the weather

I'm always reminded to not go too far from her. The little me inside that will make sure I hear her if I stray. Tonight I'm babysitting a 13 month old girl in a hotel room. I started to experience some panic over my heartbeat (I felt a fluttery, weird, irregular thing as I do now and then) which led to forgetting to breathe which only added fuel to the fireball of anxiety brewing. I hadn't really experienced that type of anxiety in awhile and didn't know the trigger. And there I was, in a hotel room that felt like The Shining (dark except for a tiny light so the baby can sleep), no noise of the TV for distraction, no Carrie Bradshaw on the screen to keep me safe in the clouds. I was simply me – earth, here, weighted, and alone. Alone with my racing mind and my attempts to breathe into my belly. I got a message from a dear friend:

“Today I make room for the good that is waiting for me. No matter what the weather is, my body is always comfortable.”

As I tried to find the home in my flesh, in my machine, the baby started crying from her crib. Of course this was happening. Of course when I needed space and breath, she needed proximity and to scream. I picked her up and she fell back asleep, snuggled on me on the bed. Maybe this was good. Maybe having to tend to her would pull me out of my head funk. It did, eventually. After a few minutes I re-swaddled her and put her back in the crib. I took note of the change in my body, how it felt like the feeling of stepping off an airplane and back onto your ground. The familiarity that anxiety prys you away from.

I then happened to get on the computer and within two minutes the blog “Existential Parenting” found its way in front of my eyes. Babies. On the brain lately, along with all of the other tethers to this world. It's odd being at this age, where all of “the things” are actual things in people's real lives- not just the pretend lives of their Barbies. The thought of being pregnant is terrifying, but what isn't. I've always hoped and kind of felt that it would actually work like a balm to my anxiety. A place of constant connectedness, a portal into the miracle of existence. A home that's rooted in something real, at least for now, or nine months..I wonder if I would feel trapped or set free – probably shades of it all. What traps us, or what we fear will trap us, is often simultaneously the tunnel that leads us to freedom, to wholeness, to acceptance instead of denial. It's written about beautifully in the book The Untethered Soul (which I highly recommend and pretty much serves as my Bible).

I can't put a finger on it, and don't need to try to give it a name, but things have been stirring the past couple weeks. I've felt some deep, beautiful shifts which seem to have also kicked up some anxiety-dust. As change and transformation and transition usually does. I'm getting better at sitting back, at trusting in the opportunities for growth and in the calls to awareness. I know that the degree of resistance is equal to the degree of growth hanging in the balance, waiting on the other side. The more that I let go, the more I surrender, the more I am able to receive. Like the line I've kept close to my heart ever since the same dear friend gifted it to me: I am ready to receive the gifts of the goddess. Because it's all a gift, really; the happy, the sad, the scary, the exciting, the uncomfortable, the sweetness, nothing is real without its foil...and they are all gifts.

I start a new part-time job next week at an organization I've been married to since age 12. I'm trying to refocus on the “business” part of acting, while the actual acting part is feeling really good at the moment. I'm also taking more classes this fall (whatever I have to do in order to get a new pair of glasses, seriously). I'm a fucking wife. So many big things are going on and coming together right now and then there are the baby cravings and the strong desire for gold stacking rings from Etsy. It's slightly alarming to feel the pieces of you fuse, for the little girl me to recognize the me in the mirror from her dreamed up life so many moons ago.