Letting Go

Friday, November 30, 2012

Today is the last day of #bloglikecrazy. I did it! I blogged every day for 30 days straight!

One of my goals for the month was to figure out exactly what I wanted for the future of my blog. My hope was to announce these plans in today's post.

The timing, I thought, would be perfect. Not only is today the final day of my big blogging challenge, but tomorrow is the first day of December. Though I do spend this month feeling queasy over Christmas, I also spend this month drafting a long list of goals for the upcoming year. In fact, I got so excited thinking about 2013 I had completed my list of aspirations two weeks ago.

And then I deleted it.

I deleted it because while I've been blogging like crazy, I've also been praying like crazy. My relationship with God has transformed and suddenly I want to let go of my plan for my life and follow God's plan for my life instead.

(You should have seen this coming.)

No, this doesn't mean I'm going to get all weird on you or act "holier than thou" as my mom would say. And this doesn't mean I'm not going to have a list of goals for 2013. I believe God made me a dreamer for a reason. I believe God wants me to be ambitious. I'm still going to spend this month drafting that list for 2013. But I want God to be at the center of all those aspirations. I want my plans to focus on helping others not just making a name for myself in Birmingham, the blogosphere and beyond.

I think I figured out a while ago why God put me in the world. Now I need to figure out why God put me in the world wide web. I hope you'll go with me on this journey as I strive to redefine my goals.

And I leave you with my music mantra for this next month.

See Jane Move

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ironically, one of the best things that have come out of the #bloglikecrazy project has nothing to do with blogging.

Throughout the month members of See Jane Write who have participated in the challenge have been sharing links to their posts on See Jane Write Facebook group page. Through these posts we quickly realized that many, if not most, of us have a strong interest in fitness.

So Tanya Sylvan had the great idea of organizing See Jane Move -- an event to both celebrate the completion of #bloglikecrazy and help us all in our quest to stay or get in shape.

On Saturday, Dec. 1 at 10 a.m. we will meet at Railroad Park, 1600 1st Ave. S., Birmingham, for a walk/run. Feel free to roller skate or dance or do whatever you please. Just keep moving.

Bring a healthy snack to share. After exercising we will sit down and enjoy a little picnic brunch.

I hope those of you in Birmingham this weekend will join us. You can RSVP here or leave a comment on this post letting me know you'll be there.

I've said this before and I'll say it again: why should writers care about fitness? You can't write a best seller or an award-winning blog if you're dead!

Cross-posted at the See Jane Write blog

Time Management Tips from Moms Who Blog

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

As #bloglikecrazy comes to an end you may be thinking, “OMG! I need a blogging sabbatical after this!” But please resist the temptation to take a hiatus. Most likely, you’ve picked up a following of new readers or won back old ones this month. This is no time to give them the silent treatment.

Please know I’m mostly talking to myself here. And so, I recently turned to a few of my blogging buddies for some time management tips. I decided to specifically ask bloggers who are also moms for help. Why? Because I figure if they can find time to blog with kids running around the house I really have no excuse.

Rachel Callahan
Time management has become increasingly important for Rachel Callahan of the blog Grasping for Objectivity.

At the beginning of this year, Callahan embarked on a study of how to successfully utilize Pinterest as a blogger. (The results of her studies can be found on Birmingham Blogging Academy here and here.)

Callahan explains: “When I wrote those posts, I only thought I had experienced virality, with about 20,000 pins of my posts.  A month later, I found myself getting 1 million hits on my blog in a little over a month, up to 88,000 hits in a day, and eventually leveling out to 10-15,000 visitors per day.  Before the summer, I was getting 1,000 hits a day!  As of today, I have nearly 300,000 pins of my posts on Pinterest and adding around 2,000 pins a day, with my Inconvenient Gap of Truth post creating most of that traffic.”

More hits, however, mean more work.

“I am determined to answer all emails and question comments, and a million hits create a LOT of emails and question comments,” she said. Also, in addition to making a lot of money from her ad networks after this boost in traffic, Callahan was contacted by a major denim manufacturer for consultation for their lines.

So how does she find time to do it all and be a wife and mother of two?

“I try to get as many posts done on the weekend as possible, because of the demands of simply keeping up with my emails and comments during the week,” she said.

And throughout the week Callahan always takes advantage of her kids’ nap time.

“Those couple of hours every day is when I accomplish blogging, working from home for my husband's company, answering email and comments, and everything else that has to be done,” she said.

Another piece of advice Callahan offered for all bloggers: “Try to capitalize on your brain when you're in the right mindset to write. I have learned to sense when writing will come easily and when it will be excruciating.  When I'm in the right mindset, I try to write as much as I possibly can.  When I'm in the wrong mindset, I use my time more efficiently by answering emails, comments, and other administrative tasks.”

Amber Wright
Amber Wright started her blog The YeYo Diaries to document her journey of pregnancy and motherhood and to use as a virtual scrapbook for her family. She also writes about marriage and relationships, easy recipes, pop culture, and other topics.

Wright juggles blogging with a full-time job and a part-time job, along with being a wife and mother. She stressed the importance of consistently setting aside time to blog, “even if it’s only an hour to get one or two posts done,” she said. “It will leave you feeling focused and accomplished!

Wright usually writes on Sunday and she keeps a running list of topics for inspiration.

“A couple of time management tips I’d offer other bloggers are to know why you’re doing it,” Wright said. “Is it for fun and leisure? To grow an audience? Promote a cause? Knowing why you’re blogging will keep you from wasting time on it.”

Laura Kate Whitney
Laura Kate Whitney, author of the popular Birmingham-based blog Magic City Made, gave advice specifically geared toward mothers, but tips that any of us could use. She suggests that you set aside a certain time and place to blog. 

With little ones around, there will never be a good time to blog, so just assign yourself a time and place to get it done,” Whitney said. “But unless you're getting paid to post on time, don't fret being a bit late. You are, after all, a mother. The job tends to pull from all angles. It's okay.

That said, Whitney stressed that it is important for moms to be vigilant enough to get in time to write, even if it means getting a neighbor or your spouse to watch the kiddos while you steal a few quiet moments alone with your laptop.

“Sometimes we mamas put everybody else first, and our own interests take a back seat,” she said. “Make time to get those words out, Mama. You deserve it.”

Cross-posted at the See Jane Write blog

Girl on the Run

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Today I ended my brief hiatus from running.

Using one of the Hal Higdon programs, I am now training to run my second half marathon. 

I will be honest with you: I don't want to run another half marathon. I'm tired of running. Within the past several months it somehow stopped being fun. Furthermore, I gained weight the last time I was training for the Mercedes Half and since I currently weigh more than I ever have in my entire life, I can't really afford to pack on any additional pounds. 

But I'm training for this race nonetheless. Why? 

Well, I've mentioned before that I'm a quitter. When I get bored with something I have absolutely no problem just walking away. Sometimes this is a good thing. I don't waste time on television shows after the story lines get ridiculous. And, with one exception, I've dropped no-good boyfriends pretty quickly. 

But this can also be bad. I believe one of the reasons I haven't achieved the success I dream of in my writing career is because I don't follow through. I very easily get bored with blogs and book ideas and abandon them for a shiny new project. If I could just stick to something I think I could really have a breakthrough. 

So I'm training for this half marathon as a way of proving to myself that I can follow through. I keep thinking that if I stick to running perhaps through this I can condition myself to stick to other endeavors too and this quitter will finally be reformed. 

Curl Interrupted

Monday, November 26, 2012

For the past two weeks I've been rocking straight hair. This isn't something that happens often. About twice a year I go to my favorite hairstylist to have my hair flat ironed straight. My stylist prefers to cut my hair while it's straight (although she can cut curly hair too) so usually I get my hair flat ironed when I need a trim. Sometimes, I get my hair straightened just because I'm bored; and sometimes it's because I want to wear a cute hat (most of which will not fit over my crazy curls).

The four to six months in between my flat iron rendezvous is somehow enough time for nearly every person in my life to forget that I occasionally straighten my hair. Therefore, when I do smooth out my curls, I am inevitably inundated with questions such as "Is that really all your hair?" A student of mine actually had the audacity to ask me this (and with a stank attitude, might I add). I guess this child doesn't understand that curly hair will be longer when straightened. And I teach at a school for smart kids! Sigh.

The question that bothers me most, however, is "Why don't you wear your hair straight all the time?" 

Really, people? Does my natural hair bother you that much that you'd prefer I heat and beat it into submission all year? If so, that sucks for you because I love my curls. 

Even though India Arie's song "I Am Not My Hair" was once my mantra, I must admit I feel a bit weird when my hair is straight. When my hair is curly I feel like more of myself and I feel more carefree. With straight tresses I worry way too much about my hair getting wet. And I when I go to the gym all I can do is weight training because after even a short cardio workout my curls will come back with a vengeance before I'm ready for them to return. 

Besides, my curly coif is like my trademark or my brand and how people find me in a crowd. 

So today the curls are back. Oh, how I've missed you. 

Say My Name, Say My Name

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Last night I almost had a heated debate with my younger brother over the issue of women who don't take their husbands last names. He said that if his girlfriend didn't take his last name after marriage it would be no point in getting married in the first place. 

I had to interject. I asked him if he'd be willing to take her last name. Of course, my brother said "no" and looked at me as if I were insane, as many men would. I went on to say that it's unfair for him to ask his girlfriend to do something that he wouldn't be willing to do and that not having his name wouldn't make her any less of his wife. My brother wasn't hearing any of this and I knew it. So I quickly ended the conversation because I didn't want it to turn into an argument. But I wish I'd kept the talk going so that we could have understood where each other were coming from. 

I took my husband's last name but it's a decision I often regret. Please don't think that statement is a reflection of my feelings for my husband. He is the love of my life and an amazing man. He's an amazing man who says things like "I would be honored if you took my last name, but I completely understand if you decide not to." That statement was one of the reasons I did decide, after nearly a year of marriage, to change my last name.

But I also decided to take his name because having different last names was such a hassle. Things like banking and signing leases were difficult and I grew tired of all the questions and rude remarks from others that I endured during the several months before I did change my name. 

I've always been disappointed in myself for caving under the pressure to conform. 

I completely understand why the notion of women keeping their maiden names seems so strange and perhaps even wrong to my brother. Here in the South it’s not as common. Nor do you see couples adopting a completely new name or both partners hyphenating their last names – which are practices I observed when living on the West Coast.

My brother expects his wife to take his name – "to represent him" as he said during our talk – because that’s the way things have always been done. It’s tradition. Furthermore, many men – my husband included – even see it as a way for a woman to give honor to her man.

But doing things primarily for the sake of tradition can be dangerous. The people who didn’t want women to vote were trying to maintain the status quo. People who didn’t want children of different races to be educated in the same classroom were trying to uphold tradition.

Now I’m in no way saying this name issue is as serious as women’s suffrage or racial segregation. The act of keeping one’s maiden name is mostly a statement, but an important one; it is a statement against the sexism that is still alive and well in our country.

Some people say it’s silly for a woman to try to fight patriarchy by keeping her maiden name because most likely her last name is from her father. Those people are missing the point. Regardless of the origin of your name it’s still your name! It’s the name you’ve been called all your life. It’s the name printed on symbols of accomplishment such as your high school diploma and your college degrees. And for me it was also the byline on a decade’s worth of newspaper and magazine articles I had written.

After being married for nearly 7 years I have adjusted to my new name. As a freelance journalist I’m building a body of work under the name Javacia Harris Bowser. And since I teach high school full time and thus hear “Ms. Bowser! Ms. Bowser!” about 100 times a day, my husband’s last name finally feels like my own.

The writer/English teacher in me has also decided to attach symbolism to this new name of mind. I see it as the mark of a new era of my life, just as characters in the Bible often had their names changed after a spiritual transformation.

Still, if I could do it all over again I probably would not change my name. But this would not make me any less committed to or respectful of my husband.

I recognize that some men feel emasculated when their wives don’t take their name. And some men may think it makes them appear weak. This is, to me, another example of how sexism hurts men too. A man’s worth should not be measured by how much power he can wield over his wife; it should be about how much he loves her.

Understand that this is not a call for all women to stop taking their husbands’ last names. My point is that it should always be a woman’s choice. She shouldn’t feel pressured by her new husband, her in-laws or anyone else. Some women love the notion of taking their husband’s name and see it as a sacred, symbolic gesture. And that’s great. But some women feel as if they’re losing their identity by changing their names and the wishes of those women should not be attacked or pushed aside simply for the sake of tradition. 

"Bitchie" Blogging Advice

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Necole Bitchie
Image via iamnecole.com

While cruising around in Twitterville last night I happened upon a link to an interview with celebrity gossip blogger Necole Bitchie. If you've been reading this blog even for a week you probably won't be surprised to know that celebrity gossip isn't really my thing. I frequent blogs about feminism, writing, faith, and living your best life. But the tweet about this article caught my eye because it mentioned Ms. Bitchie "falling out of love with her blog." 

I've been there. 

It happened with my previous blog Georgia Mae. And one of the reasons I have yet to make any moves toward starting an online magazine is my fear that eventually I'd lose passion for the project. So, I was interested in what Necole had to say about this and about blogging in general. 

Interviewer Jerrod Hobbs of CarltonJordan.com asked Necole if people need to live in a certain area to be a successful blogger. Ms. Bitchie stated that if your goal is to be an entertainment news and celebrity gossip blogger with exclusive coverage then being near a major city like Los Angeles, New York or Atlanta is probably your best bet. But she went on to say, "The good thing about living in other cities across the nation is that you can be that ‘It person’ for your city." 

I think this doesn't just have to apply to celebrity news. I've heard and read advice from successful bloggers in a variety of niches recommending that emerging bloggers seek to take a local approach to their topics. I've been considering this myself. Can the See Jane Write blog become the source for news and information on Birmingham's literary and media arts communities?

Later in the interview Ms. Bitchie told Hobbs that between March 2011 and May 2012 she had to take a break from her site to deal with some personal issues. Meanwhile, her brand was changed into something different from what she created and that's what caused her to fall out of love with blogging for a bit. 

I think there's a valuable lesson we can all learn for this and I think it goes back to the idea of having a mission statement for your blog or any project. You need a clear vision for your work and you need to stay focused on that always. 

This, perhaps, is the solution to staying motivated and committed, the key to staying passionate about what you do. In the interview Necole Bitchie discussed the importance of following through and said the secret to sticking with it is to do what makes you happy. Don't chase blogging trends; tackle topics you truly care about. 

Being true to your mission and to your voice will also help you keep readers. These things will make your blog and your brand consistent which will make your readers loyal. Ms. Bitchie explained it this way: "A good brand makes people feel a certain way and gives a certain experience.  People are loyal to things because of the way they make them feel."

To read the CarltonJordan.com interview with Necole Bitchie click here

Cross-posted at the See Jane Write blog

You Need an Elevator Pitch

Friday, November 23, 2012

Image by robinsonsmay via Flickr/Creative Commons

Yesterday after stuffing myself with turkey, dressing, macaroni & cheese, greens, and yams, I somehow resisted slipping into a food coma and started chatting with my dad about my future. During our talk I announced that I had plans to start my own business, sort of. I saw his face light up. My father, who's always been my biggest cheerleader, was eager to know more. So I started to tell him a bit about See Jane Write and how I had plans to transform my little networking group into a non-profit organization. "OK, tell me what it will do," my pops asked.

I had an answer, a very looong and detailed answer. As I was explaining what See Jane Write has done in the past and what I hope the group will do in the future I felt I was rambling. My father listened intently, hanging on my every word, and showed how confident he was in my future success, but that's because he's my daddy. If I were pitching my idea to a potential sponsor or to a woman I hoped would be part of See Jane Write I would have been tuned out after my first few sentences, I thought.

Immediately after this conversation I decided I needed to draft an elevator speech for See Jane Write. Chances are you need to draft one for one of your project as well, whether it's a business you hope to start, a blog you recently launched, or a book you'd like to publish.

An elevator pitch, as I'm sure you know, is a brief speech that you can use to spark interest in your organization, project, or idea. Obviously, it should last no longer than a short elevator ride of about 30 seconds -- hence the name.

An elevator pitch should answer three important questions -- WHO, WHAT, and WHY -- and should state a goal. Who are you? What do you do and what problem do you seek to solve? Why is your organization/project/idea unique? Explain your short term goals.

Here's what I've come up with:

See Jane Write is an organization for women writers of Birmingham. 
It offers free programs, such as workshops and panel discussions, to help fiction and non-fiction writers sharpen their skills and to help women writers learn how to promote themselves and their work. 
This group also strives to build community among women writers through social media and networking events. 
My hope is to register See Jane Write as a non-profit organization within the next year so that we can be eligible for grants that will allow the group to do even more for local women writers and launch a program for teenage girls interested in writing careers. 

Clocking in at 39.1 seconds, it's a bit long, but I think it will do the job for now. Feel free to leave tips for improvement in the comments.

What's your elevator pitch? 

Cross posted at the See Jane Write blog.

Thankful Me

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Turkey Day!

I figured since today is Thanksgiving it made sense to, well, give thanks. Sure, it's not very original to post a gratitude list on Thanksgiving, but being grateful is never cliche.

Today I am thankful for...

my fun and loving parents
my daddy's good cooking
the fact that my dad doesn't think that cooking is "a woman's job"
my talented, hilarious, and loving little brother (I say "little brother" but he's 24 years old)
my wonderful husband who has the patience of Job (because you have to in order to be married to me)
my cousin Tasha, a.k.a. my person
the women of See Jane Write
the amazing women I've met through Church of the Highlands
the She Reads Truth blog which has me excited about morning devotions again
the blog The Very Worst Missionary which reminds me being a Christian doesn't mean I can't be myself
the fact that the Iron Bowl is only two days away (Roll Tide!)

What are you thankful for today? 

Why Christmas Makes Me Sick

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

From ICanHasCheezburger.com

It's Thanksgiving eve which means pretty soon the Christmas season will be officially here. Actually, I feel like it already is. Some of my neighbors already have lights strewn about their patios and obnoxious holiday songs are already being played over loud speakers at the supermarket. 

If you know me well you know I hate Christmas. My head is pounding and my stomach is in knots for much of the month of December. During the holiday season I am completely stressed out and it's usually over money.

Every year I threaten to "boycott Christmas." Don't get me wrong, I enjoy buying gifts for my family and friends. I love the smiles the presents bring to their faces. I especially enjoy giving gifts to my sweet husband. But to be honest we get carried away. You see since we don't have kids he showers me with gifts at Christmastime. I'm spoiled rotten by him. And I feel he deserves to be spoiled too. The result: we way too much money on each other every winter. My credit debt balloons as does my number of migraines and stomach aches. 

I also spend too much money on myself, something I just recently realized. I am in no way a shopaholic, in fact, I rather abhor the mall. But something comes over me on Black Friday and I become one of those desperate people standing in a long line in the rain outside of Target, one of those crazy chicks peering through the doors of Victoria's Secret before the store opens trying to get a glimpse of this year's free tote bag given to customers who spend at least $65. I shop and shop because I feel like it's just plain silly to miss out on these great deals when I call myself a frugal fashionista. 

Then I'm sick with shopper's remorse and just general disgust at myself for the next month.

I also have trouble receiving gifts. If you give me three presents and I only have one to offer you I will go to the bathroom and cry. (Yes, I know I probably need therapy for that.) And after I've dried my eyes I will resolve that next year I will have FOUR gifts for you! And inevitably this will only increase my credit card debt and my need for medication. 

 Anne Taintor (More medication please)

This year as I've been reflecting on the many reasons to loathe this season, I've also been reflecting on, well, stuff. For years I've been letting stuff ruin the holidays and even my self-esteem. I've yearned for a nicer car, a bigger TV, and a fancier apartment not because I truly wanted those things but because I thought others judged me because I didn't have them. And most likely they didn't even notice or care or if they were judging me then they shouldn't be in my car or my home in the first place because they're a jerk face. 

I believe God has me doing all this soul searching about stuff for a reason and I don't think it's because the Creator is worried about me having happy holidays. (Let's remember that Jesus didn't even ask us to celebrate his birthday.) I believe God wants me to learn to be a good steward with my money so I will have more freedom. Think about how so many of us are weighed down by our stuff. And I think God wants me to use my resources on things that really matter.

Furthermore, I believe God wants me to learn to measure my worth by who I am in Him, not by what I have in my bank account.

It’s time to make some changes. I have no idea what those changes should be. I’m married so I can’t just sell everything I own and start from scratch. I don’t think hubster would be too happy about that. But something must be done.

In the meantime, remember not to buy me any gifts unless we’ve decided on a price cap or I'll be having a nervous breakdown in your bathroom.

"I do it for the joy it brings"

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

In a post about why she blogs, Birmingham-based blogger and editor Erin Street quoted my favorite Ani DiFranco song, “Joyful Girl,” and inspired my blog post for today.

For years I've thought that this song, particularly the first verse, describes perfectly my love for writing. It explains why I've wanted to be a writer since the age of 7 even though it's a rather thankless and low-paying occupation that most people regard as a hobby. 

But last week as I was listening to the song (on repeat) in my car I realized the first verse also explains why I'm so determined to build up See Jane Write. I've been asked plenty of times why I bother organizing events for local women writers even though I'm not making money off my efforts. In fact, I usually spend money to make these events happen. And yes, the time I spend on these programs I could be using to work on my own writing. But the joy, the downright giddiness, that I feel when working on See Jane Write activities is invaluable. 

I do it for the joy it brings
Because I'm a joyful girl 
Because the world owes me nothing
And we owe each other the world. 
I do it because it's the least I can do 
I do it because I learned it from you
I do it just because I want to
Because I want to
-- Ani DiFranco, "Joyful Girl" 

Crossposted at the See Jane Write blog.

Why I Love Being a Woman

Monday, November 19, 2012

Last week Glamour magazine hosted its annual Women of the Year Awards. Honorees for 2012 include the likes of actress Selena Gomez, photographer Annie Leibovitz, Girls creator Lena Dunham and USA gold medal Olympians. (Click here for a complete list.)

As Evette Dionne mentioned on her blog, The Huffington Post's women's website, Huff Post Women, captured the spirit of the evening at a reception dinner, asking several honorees and attendees this question: "What do you appreciate most about being a woman?"

This got me thinking: What do I love most about being a woman? It didn't take long for me to reach an answer.

The thing I appreciate most about being a woman is sisterhood.

I believe in the power of sisterhood.

Most women understand that when we band together we are an unstoppable force.

In my nearly 32 years on this earth in this female body I have learned that your good girlfriends make accomplishing goals more manageable and a lot more fun -- whether you're working toward artistic or professional aspirations or a goal to get in shape.

This #bloglikecrazy challenge is a perfect example.

I've now blogged for 19 days straight even though I've been juggling my full-time teaching job, freelance writing assignments, and church and family obligations. I've also had to make time to develop writing prompts to send to other bloggers participating in the challenge. One of the primary reasons I've been able to do this is because of ladies of See Jane Write and other female bloggers across the country who've been blogging like crazy with me. Their posts keep me inspired; their energy keeps me motivated.

And what I've seen happen this month on the See Jane Write Facebook group page has been fascinating.
I've mentioned before that the women of See Jane Write have been sharing their blog posts with the group and have been forming incredible connections, even with women they've never met IRL, as they discover things they have in common. But what I've also seen is women who were intimidated by blogging or had left their blogs sit dormant for months getting in on the action too. They've started or relaunched blogs because they saw we were having so much fun.

All this has inspired me to strive to take See Jane Write to even higher heights and I know I can do it because my sisters will be there to help me along the way.

Crossposted at the See Jane Write blog

An Ode to My Person

Sunday, November 18, 2012

She's my person.

People often say that friends are family we choose. 

What's behind that statement is the truth that family members are "friends" you're stuck with -- forever! 

I've been thinking a lot about family today and not simply because I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving. Last night I attended the latest Arc Light Stories event, which features unscripted storytelling before a live audience. Saturday night's stories were all about family and aptly dubbed "Thicker Than Water."  (Check out hubster's article on last night's event.)

Last night I was thinking about that idea of friends being family you choose and realized how blessed I am to have (some) family members that I'd spend time with even if biology and tradition didn't dictate that I do so. A perfect example is my cousin Tasha. She is one of the funniest, smartest, and nicest people I know. She's beautiful and creative and a woman of strong faith. 

Tasha recently had a birthday and in a sappy Facebook post I told her that the title "cousin" just doesn't quite seem sufficient. Even cute phrases like "my sister from another mister" don't cut it. 

I need a phrase that expresses that she's family I would choose. If I got a do-over and had the chance to hand pick all my relatives she'd still be on my family tree because she's not just my cousin but my best friend. 

I think the writers of Grey's Anatomy gave me the phrase I was looking for. As Cristina Yang and Meredith Grey say about each other, "She's my person." 

She's my person because we understand and appreciate each other's quirks. Our lists of things we love and things we loathe are nearly identical. And since we our college days she's always been my biggest cheerleader. I could call this girl right now and say I've decided I want to be an astronaut and she wouldn't discourage me or call me crazy. She'd just say, "OK, let's figure out how we're going to do this." 

I hope she knows I'd travel to the moon for her too. 


What Would Jesus Blog?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Image via

Back in January I gave up blogging and all forms of social media for three weeks for a time of prayer and fasting my church calls "21 Days of Prayer." I didn't even allow myself read blogs during this time.

I decided to do this because my obsession with blogging had become just that -- an obsession -- and I had begun to neglect more important things like spending time in prayer and studying Scripture.

When I launched #bloglikecrazy this month, I feared this would happen again and for about a week it did. I began to wonder if God wanted me to blog at all. Then in the most roundabout way I happened upon She Reads Truth, a blog and online community that seems just perfect for young women who love God and social media. She Reads Truth offers daily devotions through the blog and the bible app You Version. There's online discussion on the blog and Twitter.

Currently we're reading through the book of Colossians. Here is the verse that stood out to me the most this week:  

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. -- Colossians 3:17

This reminds me that blogging and social media shouldn't be something that takes me away from God. I should instead use it as a way to thank God and as a way to carry out the work that I believe the Creator placed me on this planet to do -- empowering women and girls through the written word.

Reaching for a Helping Hand

Friday, November 16, 2012

Helpful Leader
Image via Flickr/Creative Commons

I don't like asking people for help. 

My parents say I've been this way since I was a child. I've been called "fiercely independent" and I carry this label around like a trophy; I wear it like an "S" on my chest. 

But sometimes, actually oftentimes, two heads are better than one. Sometimes I need help. 

A member of my writing group See Jane Write recently wrote a blog post on this very topic. In her post she stated: "One of the biggest lessons I learned when it came to goals is that to achieve you have to know when to ask for help." 

My fellow Jane went on to challenge the other ladies in the group to post their goals on our Facebook group page so that we could help one another realize these dreams. I often write about my goals on my blog and mention them on various social media outlets, but usually for the sake of accountability, not for assistance. 

But that changes today. 

I have a major goal for 2013 and I need help! Next year I would like to take all the steps necessary to make See Jane Write an official non-profit organization. I have such big dreams for this group. I want to offer more programs, a conference, and a writing camp for girls. But to do these things I need money and sponsors, and to get money and sponsors I need my group to be a 501(c)(3). But the very idea of this is so overwhelming it makes my stomach hurt. 

So I'm asking for help.

Now, it's your turn. What's your major goal for the next year? Leave it in the comments so I and other readers can give you a hand. And I leave you with this: 

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. 
Indeed. It is the only thing that ever has." --Margaret Mead

Cross-posted at the See Jane Write blog.

An Open Letter to Taylor Swift

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Taylor Swift by David Shankbone 2010 NYC
Image by David Shankbone via Flickr/Creative Commons

Dear Taylor,

I wasn't going to write about this. By now it's old news that last month when interviewed by The Daily Beast you said you're not a feminist Actually, when asked if you considered yourself a feminist your exact words were: 
I don’t really think about things as guys versus girls. I never have. I was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life.
Taylor, I understand where you're coming from. When I was your age I wouldn't call myself a feminist either. I would say things like, "I'll start calling myself a feminist when feminists stop bashing men."

Little did I know feminism isn't about bashing men. It's not about "guys versus girls" as you said. Feminism is the belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. Period. Sure, there may be some misguided women who disparage men in the name of feminism, but that is not the true spirit of the movement. 

In fact, feminism is helpful for men as well, because they too are harmed by sexism. Gender stereotypes tell men they can't show emotion, that they're only worth as much as their last paycheck, and that their physical strength is more important than their intellect.

My goal here isn't to convince you to identify as a feminist, but I want you to know that feminism is about creating a world where women can "work as hard as guys" and actually "go far in life." Perhaps you think a women's movement is no longer necessary since women can't legally be held back from pursuing any career to which they aspire. But we can't deny that women still aren't paid as much as their male counterparts. Women in leadership positions who are no-nonsense and assertive are often called a "bitch" while women who are nurturing to their employees are viewed as weak. And female politicians are frequently asked more about their wardrobes and families than their policies. I could go on and on, but my point is there is still work to be done. 


Another Reason to Love Sonia Sotomayor and Sesame Street

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

On a recent episode of Sesame Street, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor let Abby Cadabby and girls everywhere know that while pretending to be a princess is fun, it is not a career. Instead they can and should aspire to be a teacher, lawyer, doctor, engineer, or even a scientist. “A career," Sotomayor says, "is something that you train for and prepare for and plan on doing for a long time.”

And donning her judicial robe, Sotomayor's presence and wise words lets girls know they can pursue any career they want, even a career as a judge. 

Thank you, Sotomayor, and thanks Sesame Street! 

h/t Feministing

The 25

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Websites You May Like
Image by Enokson via Flickr/Creative Commons

Thanks to readers like you, I have decided to move forward with plans of establishing myself as a feminist blogger.

On Friday I met with a local feminist blogger that I admire and who writes for the site Feministe.  One piece of advice she offered during our chat was making a list of 25 sites to visit regularly for information and inspiration. I knew this was something I needed to do because I’d read and heard this advice before. Over the summer I even started working on a list but never completed it.

It’s time to stop procrastinating.

Now I know there’s no way I’ll have time to read 25 different blogs a day. But if I can skim through 5 a day, 5 days a week, I should stay on top of things and should have plenty to jot down in my journal of blog post ideas.

My list not only includes feminist sites, but also blogs on topics of interest to me such as natural hair, fashion, blogging, and writing. And here we go...

2.  Feministe
6. xoJane

What blogs do you read each week? 

Monday Motivation: How to Leave a Legacy

Monday, November 12, 2012

Legacy Parkway shield
Image by Garrett via Flickr/Creative Commons

For the past month the senior pastor of my church has been teaching on the idea of legacy and how to really make a difference in the world.

Yesterday, he told us to leave a legacy we have to:
1. Do what we should do.
2. Do what we could do.
3. Do what we would do.

Doing what you should do is, quite simply, about doing the right thing. It's about being faithful, finishing what you start, and keeping your word.

Doing what you could do is a bit more difficult. This is something that requires us to give up something. Consider the meaningful things you could be doing if you stopped doing some of the less important things that take up so much of your time now. Doing what you could do is about sacrifice. Yesterday my pastor reminded us that, "Leaving a legacy will always cost you something."

Doing what you would do, however, if even more of a challenge. This one is about faith. It's about having the courage to dream. Think of all the times you've said, "Oh I would do (fill in the blank) if only I had..." So here's your challenge: do it anyway. Pursue that lofty aspiration even if you don't have enough time, enough money, enough education, or enough connections. Do it anyway.

And once you have achieved that dream against all odds you can be sure you will be leaving a legacy that will inspire others for years to come.

Am I Crazy For Blogging Like Crazy?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Britain Going Blog Crazy - Metro Article
Image by Annie Mole via Flickr/Creative Commons

Today is day 11 of #bloglikecrazy, my challenge to write 30 blog posts in 30 days.

Last night I sat in front of my computer for two and a half hours trying to think of something to blog about for today. I didn't feel inspired by any of the prompts I've been providing for folks joining me in #bloglikecrazy, and the words just wouldn't come for the post I'd hoped to write.

Suddenly, I became very discouraged and began to doubt myself. What's the point? I wondered. Why am I bothering to "blog like crazy" in the first place. It's not like I have thousands upon thousands of people eagerly awaiting to read my words. Why do I even bother to blog in the first place when there are so many other blogs out there about writing by people who have been more successful than I and so many blogs out there about feminism by people with more education in women's history and gender studies. 

Then suddenly, as if the Creator heard my whining and decided to do something to pull me out of my self-pity, I stumbled upon a blog entry on The YeYo Diaries titled What's the Point of Blogging? In the post the blog's author Amber lists reasons why she has continued to blog for five years despite the fact that the blogosphere is so crowded these days.

Even before reading Amber's list my own reason began to flood my mind, reminding me that I have never blogged for millions of page views, for money or to win blogging awards (although those things would be nice).

I blog for the practice, the people, and the personal growth.

The Practice. I've mentioned on this blog before the importance of treating writing as a practice, as something we must work at daily like the football player preparing for the big game or the runner training for a marathon. Blogging is the perfect way to practice my writing. Blogging also helps me work on making my writing more captivating and concise, which helps me write stronger articles for the publications for which I freelance.

The People. Ironically, for me the best thing about blogging has little to do with the process of writing. What I enjoy most about blogging is all the connections I've made with other women who blog. This month's #bloglikecrazy challenge has been the perfect example of how blogging can bring people together. Many of the women in my writing group See Jane Write are participating in #bloglikecrazy and over the past several days they have been sharing their blog posts on the See Jane Write Facebook group page. These posts have sparked meaningful conversations about topics ranging from fitness to family to mental health. And in most cases these conversations have been between women who didn't know one another before meeting via See Jane Write and #bloglikecrazy. These women have discovered common interests and decided to build relationships offline. In a few weeks we'll be gathering at a local park for a short run and a picnic of healthy snacks, an event that evolved from a conversation that began because of a blog post.

The Personal Growth. I've never viewed any of my blogs as online diaries. The first blog I wrote was one I maintained for the alternative weekly I worked for in Louisville, Ky. Then I started Georgia Mae with the idea that it would evolve into an online women's magazine. And The Writeous Babe Project was originally meant to be a blog for writers. Yet, with all these sites I inevitably did write about my personal life. Often the best way to discuss current events, feminist issues, and  matters important to writers is by sharing my own experiences. Thus, my blog has been a way for me to work through personal issues in a productive and creative way. And just clicking though the archives is a great way to see how much I've grown and changed over the years.

Why do you blog?

4 Simple Goals (Before 2013)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Image by Rosmary via Flickr/Creative Commons

 The cool crisp air greeting me in the mornings and the bright red leaves on the trees outside my patio window signal that fall is here and 2012 is coming to end. For me this is a cue to start jotting down goals for 2013. But thanks to Katie at A Place to Dwell, I've decided to put my planning process for 2013 on hold for a bit and do something new -- 4 Simple Goals. This project is the brainchild of Elsie at A Beautiful Mess and you can find the rules in detail here. Essentially, you pick simple, activity-oriented goals that will make your life richer, happier, and healthier. Elsie also recommends that you reward yourself for sticking to your plans and that you blog about your progress. Here are my 4 Simple Goals Before 2013:

1. Start exercising 6 days a week. Supposedly we humans develop habits after doing something for 21 days, so once I've exercised 6 days a week for three weeks I'll consider this goal accomplished. 

2. Read and meditate on Scripture daily. Again, I will consider this goal accomplished after sticking with it for for 21 days. Since I'm so into blogging and building community between women, I think one thing that can help me with this goal is the blog SheReadsTruth.com. So I plan to follow the Bible reading plans offered there and chat with other women involved in this online community. 

3. Finish reading How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran. 

4. Spend more quality time with my husband. We've both been so busy lately we barely see each other. Before this year is over I'd like us to sit down and discuss how we can be more intentional about prioritizing our relationship. 

OK, it's your turn. What are your 4 Simple Goals (Before 2013)?

Your Blog Needs a Mission Statement

Friday, November 9, 2012

Project52: Assignment #1 - Vision Statement
Image by Tamas Buti via Flickr/Creative Commons

To all my blogging babes out there, answer this question: Why do you blog?

Before you respond, I want you to consider not only what you hope to get out of blogging, but what you want your readers to take away from your site. What's in it for them? 

Answering these questions will help you develop a mission statement for your blog, something I believe we all need. Having a clear vision for your blog will help you develop content, choose guest contributors, and, if you have advertising on your blog, it can help you decide which sponsors are right for you. 

Some of you may be thinking: My blog is just about me and my life. I just write what I'm thinking and feeling. Do I need a vision or mission statement for my blog too? If you want to get and keep readers, yes. Even personal blogs have a distinct voice and as you're writing about yourself you are essentially creating a character with which you want your readers to make a connection. Showing every facet of ourselves online is pretty difficult to do and probably not even the smartest thing to do. So even with personal blogs we must decide which parts of ourselves we will share and which interests and philosophies we will discuss. 

So go write your blog's mission statement and once it's polished, consider adding it to your blog's About page. I'm a woman who believes in leading by example, so here's a rough draft of my blog's new mission statement: 

The Writeous Babe Project is a blog about writing and women's empowerment. My blog is designed to help creative and goal-oriented women -- especially those who write and blog -- achieve their artistic ambitions and live their best lives. The Writeous Babe Project is also a feminist lifestyles blog which means I address topics such as fitness, fashion, family, and faith, but from a feminist perspective. 

Now it's your turn.