How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Name

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Today I launched a portfolio website to showcase my writing and public speaking and I decided to simply call this website Most people would argue that I should have called it, since that is my byline. But I chose to go with as a tribute to my first name.

My first name is the only one I can rely on. Little known fact: my name has been legally changed four times even though I’ve only been married once.  Let me explain. When I was born I was named Javacia Nicole Price. Then my folks got hitched and I became Javacia Nicole Harris. But my mom lost the paper work so when I got my license I was Javacia Nicole Price again and remained that way for a year until my mom got the necessary documents to have my name changed AGAIN. Then I got married and changed my name to Javacia Nicole Bowser. Then I decided I missed my maiden name and changed my name to Javacia Harris Bowser. It's a miracle I even know my name.

Despite its dependability, I haven’t always liked my first name. As a girl, while my friends were thinking of names for their future kids, I would sit in my room jotting down ideas for the pseudonym I would use when I became a published author. For years I hated my name. I was disrespectful of my name, calling it “ghetto.” When people had trouble pronouncing my name I apologized as if I and the syllables it took to address me had somehow offended them. When they looked at me as if I were a green girl from Mars and said, "Well, that's different," I felt ashamed. And when they turned to me with a furrowed brow and asked "Do you have a nickname?" I just laughed and said, "You can call me J." 

Then I became a journalist. And I fell in love with my byline. I became a journalist and that “ghetto” name Javacia was on the pages of The Seattle Times, The Chicago Sun, USA Today, and national magazines.

I’ve been told that having a name like Javacia is a liability because as soon as you see my name you know I’m black long before ever you see me. I’ve been told that having a name like mine could make jobs hard to come by, that I’d be passed over by certain employers. For years I considered going by my middle name Nicole. But then I thought to myself, “Do I really want to work for someone who would discriminate against me because of my name or race?”

Don't get me wrong. I'm in no way judging people of color who do alter their names for the sake of acceptance or a job. People do what they have to do. 

And I decided that what I had to do was learn to stop worrying and love my name. 

That same line of thinking also helped me decide to describe myself, on my new professional website, as a writer, speaker, and feminist. Yes, I used the f-word. Doing so made sense even though I recognize it was a risky move. I don’t want to do any writing or public speaking for someone who is anti-feminist. And feminism is not only a part of my work, it’s a huge part of who I am. 

My name is Javacia and I am a feminist. Can you handle that?

Ramblings on Jesus, Feminism and Ani DiFranco

Monday, December 30, 2013

Ani DiFranco

“We need to stop turning people into icons” – that’s a statement a friend of mine made on Facebook recently with regard to the outrage and disbelief experienced by many Ani DiFranco fans after the feminist folk singer announced that she’d be hosting her upcoming feminist songwriting retreat in Louisiana on the grounds of what was once a cotton plantation.

My friend didn’t elaborate much on her statement about icons, but her words reminded me of the importance of not elevating a person to an idol-like status.  Humans are imperfect. They will screw up and when they do you could become disillusioned with everything they represent.  This happens in churches all the time when parishioners begin to idolize their pastors. The pastor cheats on his wife and then young members of the congregation turn their backs on Christianity.

I am a huge Ani DiFranco fan. She's even part of the inspiration for the name of this blog. I started calling myself “Writeous Babe” not only as a play on the old phrase “That’s one righteous babe” but also as a nod to DiFranco’s Righteous Babe Records. Ani’s lyrics have helped me define my feminism. But I can honestly say I've never elevated her to any sort of idol status. I disagree with her on plenty of issues ranging from makeup to religion. But I've mastered the art of being able to accept and even admire something or someone in spite of disagreements. I had to -- I'm a black liberal Christian feminist who lives in (and loves) the South. 

Nonetheless, I was one of those people disappointed by Ani. I initially gave her the benefit of doubt. I live in the South and I know that down here it's pretty difficult to find a building that wasn't built on the backs of black folks. Also, I've visited plantations as a teenager and the groups with which I took these trips managed to transform the visits into an opportunity to honor the slaves who had once lived there. We did research on the black people who worked those very grounds and paid homage to them. I remember one moment standing in silence in a wooded area surrounding a plantation and thinking about how terrifying it would be to run away into the unknown and how brave the men and women who did that had to have been. These experiences brought me to tears and made me appreciate my freedom in a way that no history class ever could. 

Unfortunately, Ani's released statement revealed that there were no formal plans to acknowledge the history of Nottoway Plantation. She just hoped the conversations would "emerge organically."

So, yes, as an Ani fan, I am very disappointed. But I'm not disillusioned with feminism because while I admire Ani she's not my feminist icon. 

Thinking about this I began to wonder -- do I have a feminist icon? 

I realized I do not. At least not yet. 

I'm currently in the process of making Jesus my feminist icon. Let me explain. 

I’ve identified as a Christian nearly all my life and for the past decade I’ve identified as a feminist as well. And for the past ten years reconciling these two parts of myself has been a constant struggle. And I’m tired. Sarah Bessey, author of the book Jesus Feminist, says Jesus made a feminist out of her. I can make no such claims, but I wish I could. No longer do I want to be a feminist in spite of my Christianity, I want to be a feminist because of my faith.

I said that Ani was part of the inspiration for the name of this blog. But I also decided to play on the word righteous because of the dictionary definition of the term – “morally good; following religious or moral laws.”

I don’t just want to be “writeous,” I want to be righteous too. I want my actions and my words to be pleasing in God’s sight.

I want to be a Jesus feminist.

No, we shouldn’t make people our icons because they will mess up. But we can put our trust in God.

And if you’re not sure why Jesus should be a feminist icon, I leave you with these words by Dorothy Day:

Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man – there has never been another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronies; who never made arch jokes about them, never treated them as “The women, God help us!” or “The ladies, God bless them!”; who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unselfconscious. There is no act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel that borrows its pungency from female perversity; nobody could guess from the words and deeds of Jesus that there was anything “funny” about woman’s nature.

Beyonce - Flawless and Feminist

Saturday, December 14, 2013

This morning I woke up and took a photo of myself.

I can count on one hand the number of times I've taken a selfie. But this morning I just had to. I woke up with Beyonce's "Flawless" playing in my head: "I woke up like this/ We flawless, ladies tell 'em."

"I woke up like this."

Like most Beyonce fans I spent most of yesterday in a state of disbelief. Did Queen Bey really drop a surprise album in the middle of the night? Does this album really feature more than a dozen songs and more than a dozen music videos?

I rushed home from work yesterday so I could sit down and carefully listen to all the tracks. The album immediately won me over with "Pretty Hurts," which speaks to the pressures of fitting society's beauty standards. In "Ghost" Beyonce gives listeners some insight into her business strategy and bluntly says she doesn't trust record labels. Tender tracks like "Superpower," "Heaven," and "Blue" (which features an adorable cameo from her daughter Blue Ivy) show off Bey's vocal prowess and tug on heart strings. And while the sexually explicit lyrics of tracks like "Drunk In Love," "Blow," and "Yonce"/"Partition" are a bit much at times, Mrs. Carter certainly does a good job of dispelling notions that married folks don't have good sex.

But then you hear "Flawless" and you realize she's doing so much more.

"Flawless" is a revamped version of the previously released track "Bow Down." And I will admit, when I first heard "Bow Down" I was confused. I didn't get it and I didn't like it. "What is she doing?" I asked myself.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
But "Flawless" is now about to be that track on repeat in my car when I'm running errands or driving to work. Yes, the song starts with Bey telling her haters to show some respect for the path she has paved, but don't think for one moment this means she's turned her back on sisterhood. The entire second verse features snippets from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's TED Talk "We Should All Be Feminists." This is one of my favorite TED Talks and one that I show to the students in my Women & Media class.

I get chills listening to Adichie's words to the backdrop of Beyonce's soaring soprano. And with Adichie's words, Beyonce's message becomes clear.

Bey's braggadocios lyrics fly in the face of the notion that women should "aim to be successful, but not too successful, otherwise you will threaten the man."

And when Mrs. Carter says "I took some time to live my life/ But don't think I'm just his little wife" she challenges the fact that girls are often taught to, as Adichie explains, "aspire to marriage."

Adichie says, "Marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support, but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don't teach boys the same?"

Adichie goes on to ask, "Why do we raise girls to see each other as competitors not for jobs or accomplishments -- which I think could be a good thing -- but for the attention of men?"

And when Adichie declares that "We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are" suddenly even those raunchy rhymes from previous tracks have more purpose.

In case you were wondering if Beyonce is a feminist -- yes, she is. And in case you're not sure what that means, Adichie breaks it down: "Feminist - a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes."

And no, Beyonce has not turned her back on her Beyhive. The song ends with Queen Bey inviting all of us to join her in declaring that we're flawless -- not because of makeup, plastic surgery, or expensive clothes, but because we "woke up like this."

I blogged like crazy. Now what?

Saturday, November 30, 2013

What's Next?
Image by Crystal via Flickr/CreativeCommons

Here we are at the end of #bloglikecrazy. 

My hope was that my post for November 30 would clearly explain what's next for me in my blogging life. But the truth is I'm still not sure. I want to do so much, too much. I want to blog about journalism. I want to blog about feminism. I want to blog about Birmingham. I want to blog about my faith. I want to blog about my life! 

And while I believe we women can do it all, I don't think we (or anyone) can do it all at once. 

So I did what I always do: I made a list. I made a list of my writing goals:

  • I want to be a journalist on my own terms. 
  • I want to be a well-known feminist blogger.
  • I want to write a book about feminism. 
  • I want to be a successful, award-winning blogger.
  • I want to write and publish an e-book about blogging. 
  • I want to inspire and empower other women writers. 
  • I want to use my writing to serve God. 
  • I want to do more public speaking (and get paid for it). 
  • I want to land my own column in a local publication.
  • I want to land my own column in a national publication. 
  • I want to see my byline in all my favorite magazines. 

My intention was to then rank these goals, put them in some sort of order and go about attacking them one by one. The goal I ranked first would dictate the topic of my new or revamped blog. But suddenly I realized all my goals were somehow related, that each goal - when accomplished - would just bring me a step closer to bringing another dream to fruition. 

They are all related because they all define me. 

Then I remembered something writer Jeff Goins once said, something I even quoted in a post this month but somehow failed to heed the very advice I was trying to share. Goins says: 

Writing isn’t about picking the right topic; it’s about finding the right voice.

So what's next? Finding my voice. Truly. 

In December you can expect this blog to be a bit quiet. I'm going to spend the next 30 days focusing on finding my authentic writing voice, planning for 2014, and preparing for the next chapter in my writing life. 

You can expect a fun announcement on Dec. 31, New Year's Eve, my favorite holiday of them all. 

I hope you will join me on the journey that's ahead. 

Feminism 101

Friday, November 29, 2013

As #bloglikecrazy comes to a close I'm getting excited thinking about what's next (more on that tomorrow). I've spent most of this month kicking around the idea of starting a feminist blog, which I contemplated last year during #bloglikecrazy but failed to do. I've been thinking about what would make my blog different from all the other feminist websites out there.

I want my site to a safe virtual space for women and girls trying to figure out feminism -- for women trying to figure out if they truly feminists and for those who know they are but aren't quite sure what to do next. How do we incorporate feminism in our everyday lives. I want my blog to answer this  question: What does a feminist life look like?

I Am Thankful For Women

Thursday, November 28, 2013

image via

This Thanksgiving I am grateful for women.

I thank my mother for giving me life and for being my first best friend.

I thank Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni and June Jordan for poetry.

I thank Toni Morrison and Kate Chopin for prose.

I thank dream hampton for her words and her Jagged Edges.

I thank Jessica Valenti for starting a feminist website that changed my life.

I thank Joan Morgan for writing a book that helped me define feminism for myself.

I thank Sarah Bessey for showing me how to take my feminism to church.

I thank Geralyn for being the sister I always wanted.

I thank Laura and Charlene for making college even better than I had hoped.

I thank Maisy for making Louisville the hometown of my heart.

I thank Annemarie for being my work wife.

I thank LaTasha for being my person, my family, my friend.

I thank Tanya for long walks and for giving me the courage to run.

I thank Sherri for believing girls can run the world.

I thank Chanda for support, inspiration, and Olivia Pope.

I thank Karri for girl talk that I never want to end and for loving Howard the Duck as much as I do.

I thank the women of See Jane Write for helping me answer my life's call.

I thank the teenage girls in the Women and the Media class I instruct for teaching me far more than I will ever teach them.

I thank the woman in the mirror for stubborn self-love.

The Writeous Babe Wish List

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Here are three things I'd like Santa to bring me this Christmas:

The Book of Jezebel: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Lady Things

This encyclopedic guide to pop culture, feminism, fashion and more is by the writers and other creatives of the popular website for women Reading this would be a great way to spend winter vacation.

If these socks don't motivate me to keep running, nothing will.

This t-shirt by GirlTrek makes the fashion fitness statement I want the world to know.

What are you wishing for this holiday season?

The Journalista Project

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

image via

I have been posting a lot lately about wanting to start a feminist blog. But what I haven't mentioned is that I also have about a dozen other ideas for new websites. (Obviously, I can't pursue them all. I can barely find time to shower as is. But the ideas linger, nonetheless.)

One idea I got a few months ago was to start a blog (or to revamp this one) to focus solely on my efforts to be a journalist on my own terms. I haven't worked as a full-time journalist since 2009, but reporting is still in my bones. I still freelance often and I still see story ideas all around me all the time. And even though I call blogging the love of my writing life, I am still a journalist. When I attended Blogalicious in October I felt most confident not when I was talking about my blog but when I was interviewing people, when I was reporting. It felt so natural.

But I don't want to be a staff writer for a newspaper or magazine. I do, however, want to make a difference with my words and I want to be a role model for other female journalists, especially after watching a TED Talk by reporter Megan Kamerick on how women are underrepresented in the news media and how this results in incomplete stories.

It seems no matter what I do it all comes back to women and writing. It all comes back to inspiring women to share their stories and finding the courage to share my own.

Lessons Learned From My Second Half Marathon

Monday, November 25, 2013

Yesterday I completed my second half marathon. Barely. 

Though I was in great spirits when I crossed the finish line, my body was not in the same good mood. Around mile 11 I hit a wall. My muscles were aching like never before. I started to wonder if I'd even be able to complete the race. But I did. 

And my sweet husband was waiting for me at the finish line (in the cold) with flowers!

I wouldn't say I had a bad race yesterday. Just as I say that when it comes to traveling any plane landing you walk away from is a good one, I also believe that if you cross the finish line and you're not in the back of an ambulance, you've had a good race. Still my race could have been better. 

I wish I could have enjoyed my race more. I wish I would have felt stronger. And I think I would have if I had stuck to the plan. 

When I started training for this half marathon three months ago my plan was to walk this race for two reasons: 1) I was planning to do the race with my cousin/BFF who isn't a fan of running and 2) I was worried my joints wouldn't be able to handle the impact of running. 

Then my cousin broke her ankle. I thought about not doing the race at all after I lost my road dawg, especially after my connective tissue disease started to flare up like a brat begging for attention. 

But then I decided not only would I do the race but I'd also run parts of it too!

Bad idea.

During the bulk of my training I was only walking. Sure, it was very fast paced race walking. In fact, I had reached the point to where I could almost walk as fast as I run. But still, my training focused on walking. Thus my body was not prepared for long stretches of running.  I honestly believe that if I had just stuck to that fast paced walking for the entire race I would have finished in the same amount of time and felt great at the end. 

But I didn't stick to the plan. 

I didn't stick to the plan because I got distracted. I got distracted by a silly need to call myself a runner.  I got distracted by my fear of being the last person to finish the race (even though I had already told myself I didn't care when I finished). I got distracted and forgot the importance of moving at my own pace. 

And I've realized I make similar mistakes in my writing career too. I will set a goal and develop a plan for achieving it but I often fail to stay the course because I'm so worried about what the people around me are doing. 

This race has taught me a valuable lesson. The end of the year is approaching, which means I've already started drafting my list of aspirations for 2014. For each major goal I'm also going to draft a plan for bringing these dreams to fruition. And I'm going to stick with this plan even if the people around me seem to have discovered some quick and easy path to success. 

I will stick to the plan and remember that slow and steady wins the race. 

I did it!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

I did it!

I did the Magic City Half Marathon today and I survived.

I'll be back tomorrow with my post-race reflections.


Be You, Be True

Saturday, November 23, 2013

No Pain, No Gain?

Friday, November 22, 2013

I know I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me and stuff,
but Jesus, is this half marathon thing really a good idea? 

I just signed up for my second half-marathon.

The Magic City Half-Marathon is Sunday, so you can see I certainly waited until the last minute to register even though I've been training since September.

I wouldn't register, quite frankly, because I feared I'd back out and I didn't want to waste my money. I honestly didn't make up my mind I would do this until the moment I got out of my car and walked to the race expo at Regions Field.

It may seem strange I was so hesitant considering I've done a half-marathon before and considering I've been preparing for nearly three months. But as some of my friends and blog followers know, I have a connective tissue disease that causes my joints and muscles to hurt so much I can barely get out of bed some days. And for the past two weeks I've felt like crap.

But today I decided I would do the race in spite of the pain. No, actually I decided I would do the race because of the pain. Let me explain.

When I was diagnosed with this dumb disease on January 3, 2008 (Happy New Year to me, eh?) I made a vow to God and a promise to myself that I would not let this ailment beat me. I would not let it win. I would not let it keep me from living my life to the fullest. Fitness, being physically active, is a huge part of my life. I refuse to allow this disease to take that away from me.

And while it may sound crazy, on the days when I'm in severe pain I actually feel worse when I just lie in bed. My joints and muscles start to feel heavy and stiff. I can barely lift my arms and my legs feel like they belong to someone else. This is exactly how I felt Sunday morning. The night before my pain had brought me to tears. But on Sunday morning I pulled myself out of bed and went for a walk. And I actually felt better!

So I'm doing a half-marathon. Again.

Don't worry. I will be kind to my body during this race. (Well, as kind as you can be to your body while traveling 13.1 miles on foot.) I don't plan to be fast. I'm going to walk and jog my way through the race. I'm not trying to break any personal records. I don't care if I'm the last person to cross the finish line (which I probably will be). I'm just going to enjoy the journey through my city and with every step give thanks for the ability to move.

Wish me luck!

Is the selfie anti-feminist?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

#feministselfie in the classroom!

Earlier today when I was supposed to be grading tests on American Romanticism I decided to procrastinate for a few minutes and log on to Twitter. I noticed the hashtag #feministselfie was trending and, of course, I had to figure out why. 

Jezebel writer Erin Gloria Ryan posted an article this afternoon called "Selfies Aren't Empowering. They're a Cry for Help." In the piece Ryan argues that selfless are just "a high tech reflection" of the way society teaches women and girls that their physical attractiveness is their most important quality. Ryan briefly mentions an article by Rachel Simmons at Slate that seeks to defend the selfie. 

Simmons writes: 

The selfie is a tiny pulse of girl pride—a shout-out to the self. Earlier this week, the first four women to complete Marine infantry combat training posted a jubilant selfie. (Nancy Pelosi tweeted it as "selfie of the year.") If you write off the endless stream of posts as image-conscious narcissism, you'll miss the chance to watch girls practice promoting themselves—a skill that boys are otherwise given more permission to develop, and which serves them later on when they negotiate for raises and promotions.

But Ryan quickly dismisses this idea saying, "I absolutely don't disagree that the three Marines who passed infantry combat training kick ass, and that photo they took was inspiring... And if selfies were typically jubilant post-achievement photos snapped by women proud of what they'd accomplished, then Simmons' assertion that selfies are 'tiny pulse(s) of girl pride' would be apt."

But most selfless, Ryan says, are the digital equivalent of  "walking up to a stranger, tilting your head downward at a 45-degree angle, duckfacing, pushing your tits together, and screaming 'DO YOU THINK I'M PRETTY!'"

Ryan's article quickly enraged feminists who responded by taking selfies and posting them with the hashtag #feministselfie. Two of my favorites are below: 

taking time out of my day to admire myself in the midst of constant antiblack misogynist degradation.

In my selfie, I am barefoot in the kitchen. STILL A FEMINIST! @Jezebel!!

And so I quickly snapped a #feministselfie of my own. 

Even though I hardly ever take selfies, Ryan's article didn't sit well with me either. It seemed too similar to arguments against wearing makeup or cute clothes. There's always an assumption that if a woman does either of these she's doing them not for herself but for male approval. And that's simply not true. 

I love eyeshadow because I love blending cooper and bronze tones on my eyelids every morning. I wear pencil skirts because they make me happy. 

While I see Ryan's point and while I do believe there are some girls out there are snapping selfies because they want the Interwebz to tell them they're sexy, I can't get on board with the idea of completing writing off the selfie as anti-feminist or evidence that we're all suffering under the male gaze.  

Maybe it's because my friends don't take pictures of their tits pushed together. Or maybe it's because I'm a writer. 

I love looking at the self-portraits of my female friends in my Instagram feed and I see a story -- a valid and valuable story -- in every photo, whether that story is about a major accomplishment or just the story of a woman who loves the way she looks today. The selfie is simply a memento of both special occasions and everyday life. 

Do I believe the selfie is the ultimate tool of self-empowerment? No. But it's not the ultimate tool of misogyny and patriarchy either. 

And why can't a woman just take a freaking picture of herself without needing to justify why she did it?!

When I look through my Instagram and Facebook feeds and I see fierce female faces staring back at me I can't help but smile. No, not every photo is in celebration of a job promotion or college graduation, but nearly every photo -- to me at least -- is a celebration of women. 

I believe feminist writer Feminista Jones said it best: 

The way my feminism works @jezebel is that we celebrate the beauty of all women, in as many ways as possible.

Why I Want to Start a Feminist Blog

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I want to start a blog for feminists still figuring it out. 

I'm still kicking around that idea of starting a feminist blog.

But as I stated in the Ten Commandments of Blogging, "Thou shalt not blog in vain." I need to have a clear mission if I start this blog and I have to be sure I'm not starting a feminist blog just because other feminists I like have one.

So why am I considering starting this blog?

I believe in writing the blog you want to read. And I want to read a feminist lifestyle blog. I want to read a blog that shows how women can practice feminism in their everyday lives and have fun while doing so.

I want to read a blog about how to be a happy feminist.

I want to read a blog that shows women how they can be champions for women's equality and empowerment even if they're not involved in protests and politics.

I want to read a blog that is a safe space for feminists still figuring it out.

I want to read a blog that acknowledges that there is no such thing as a perfect feminist and that expecting a woman to be a perfect feminist is no better than pushing a woman to be a perfect mother or a perfect wife.

I want to read a feminist blog that is ripe with grace and love.

What kind of feminist blog do you want to read? 

Your Blog Is Not All About You

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Today I gave a talk at a social media conference on blogging. In that talk I explained how blogging, especially blogging for a business or organization, is a lot like courtship. Mistakes often made in relationships are made in blogging too. No one likes a person who's self-centered, unreliable or boring. But that's exactly how some folks are on their blogs.

It's not all about you. Even if you're writing a lifestyle blog, you need to think of more than yourself. Consider the value you can add to your readers even when you're sharing stories about your life. Share stories that will inspire, inform or entertain or even help your readers solve a problem.

Consistency is key. Don't be flaky. Decide how often you are going to post your blog and when and stick to that schedule. That way, readers will know when they can count on you for something new. Your readers will feel they can depend on you.

Be creative. At this point it's nearly impossible to find a topic on which to blog that hasn't already been covered. So it's up to you to approach your niche in a creative way and with a distinct voice. As my blogging hero Jeff Goins has said, "Writing isn't about picking the right topic; it's about finding the right voice."

The Ten Commandments of Blogging

Monday, November 18, 2013

I. Thou shalt have no other blogs.

Most people will disagree with me and this is a commandment that I don't even obey. (I run three websites.) But if I could hit a reset button in my blogging life I would and I would only have one blog. I believe that if I could put all my web writing efforts into one site I'd be less stressed and more successful. If you do have more than one blog, you need to decide which one is top priority and focus on it most.

II. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to advertising. 

Making money from your blog through advertising and sponsorships is great, but don't let your desire to make money stand in the way of making good content.

III. Thou shalt not blog in vain.

If you're blogging simply because everyone else is doing it, you should stop now. Blogging is tough and most people make little to no money from their sites. So you need to be sure about why you're blogging in the first place. That's what will keep you motivated and push you to write posts even when you're tired and just want to take a nap.

IV. Remember to rest. 

Even God agrees with me on this one: "Remember the Sabbath."  Yet this is the commandment I break ALL THE TIME. For most of us, blogging is something we do in addition to our full-time jobs, community service, family activities, etc. Thus, it would be easy to spend all of your free time working on your blog. But don't do it. Take a break so you won't begin to resent your website.

V. Honor thy blogging foremothers.

Celebrate and learn from the success of veteran bloggers in your niche. Network with them as much as possible, but not selfishly. Every exchange (and especially your initial interaction) shouldn't be you asking for help, a favor, or advice. Consider ways you can be of value to them. Pass on interesting articles you've read or just thank them for their inspiring words.

VI. Thou shalt not kill thy blog prematurely.

All things must end eventually, but don't abandon your blog simply because it's not generating the traffic you desire. It takes months, sometimes years, to build a loyal following. Just continue to produce good content and be sure you're networking offline and online -- guest blogging, commenting on other blogs, and using social media.

VII. Thou shalt not commit adultery...with thy blog.

There will come a time when you will feel as if you're having an affair with your blog. Seriously.  And when that time comes you need to check yourself. Be sure you aren't spending more time working on your blog than you are working on your most important relationships.

VIII. Thou shalt not steal content.

Chances are you're going to get ideas for posts, features or series from other bloggers because there's really nothing new under the sun. But taking another blogger's content, especially an entire blog post, and basically copying and posting it on your site is a cardinal sin in the blogging world. I've had this happen to me and to make matters worse the culprit was a huge website. My blood still boils when I think about it.

IX. Thou shalt not bear false witness about thy life.

Too often lifestyle bloggers publish post after post of beautiful pictures and prose that lead their readers to believe they're living a fairytale. I believe, however, that most readers want to see the good, bad, and the ugly. Now, this is not an invitation to turn your blog into your therapist. Your readers do not want to hear about all your problems, all the time. But a little transparency and vulnerability can go a long way. One way to be honest about your issues without being a Debbie Downer is to write about problems after you've worked your way through them. You can give your readers facing similar struggles quite a bit of hope once they see how you got to the other side.

X. Thou shalt not covet other another blogger's success.

It's hard not to be jealous when other bloggers in your niche seem to have off-the-charts readership and are landing book deals or sponsorship opportunities with big brands. But don't let the success of others distract you from your goals. Determine what success means to you and then sit down and draft a practical plan to make your blogging dreams come true.

Haiku to My Body

Sunday, November 17, 2013

You're mine; I love you

Despite the way you hurt me.

The Wolf will not win. 

My Guilty Pleasures

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Yesterday's list was so much fun, I decided to write another one. Today I'm sharing a few of my guilty pleasures.

Pitbull, the rapper. Yes, I confess. I love me some Mr. Worldwide. I recognize he's not the world's greatest lyricist and his songs aren't exactly woman-friendly either. But the Pitbull radio station on my Pandora app certainly does keep me pumped when I'm running and power walking through my neighborhood and on my favorite trail.

The Real Husbands of Hollywood. My three favorite television shows are Grey's Anatomy, Scandal and Covert Affairs. That means my sources of entertainment are full of dying, lying, and spying. So a girl needs a good laugh sometimes and that's why I love The Real Husbands of Hollywood. And there's a chance I have a crush on Nick Cannon too.

Chick flicks. I've been a sucker for chick flicks since the 1989 release of Shag, The Movie. And, yes, I did like the Sex and the City movies. Sue me.

But I also love...

Superhero movies. If you didn't like The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, or The Avengers I can no longer be your friend. Sorry.

I liked The Avengers so much I created this to be the cover photo for my Writeous Babe Facebook page. 

And speaking of superhero movies, another guilty pleasure of mine is...

admiring men with beards.  As much as I love superhero movies, I am not a fan of Super Man. At all. I thought Man of Steel would win me over. It did not. The movie was over for me once Clark Kent shaved. Yes, I love beards! Unfortunately, my hubs refuses to grow one. That's OK. He's still adorable.

What are some of your guilty pleasures? 

9 Things You May Not Know About Me

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Facebook game of sharing things about yourself your friends may not know is a fun one. Until now, however, I haven't participated. Because of all my blogging I feel like my life is an open book. I feel like there aren't many things my Facebook friends don't know about me. But I'm going to join in nonetheless. Instead of posting my list on Facebook, though, I'm sharing it here.

1. Nine is my favorite number.

2. My brother and I take the game Just Dance so seriously you'd think we were trying out for the next Step Up movie.

3. I once traveled out of the country without a passport.

4. My name has been legally changed four times.

5. I once knew French so well I could read an entire book in that language. Now I only remember curse words.

6.  When I was younger I wanted to be an archaeologist but only because I liked saying the word.

7. I used to be good friends with the Goth couple from The Amazing Race.

With Kynt & Vyxsin

8. I'm not afraid of bugs, Pitbulls, or snakes but if I see a mouse or a rat I will piss my pants.

9. I taught group fitness classes at the University of Alabama Student Recreational Center when I was in college and had plans to start a health magazine and my own gym after graduate school. Maybe one day I will!

Embrace Your Inner Girl

Thursday, November 14, 2013

One of last week's prompts for See Jane Write's #bloglikecrazy was to share your favorite TED Talk. Some of the women participating in this challenge to blog daily in the month of November wanted to know: Who is TED?

I then realized that everyone isn't obsessed with TED Talks like I am. I have the TED app on my phone and my iPad. I show a TED Talk once a week to the students in my Women and the Media class (We call is TED Talk Tuesday) and I watch at least two more a week on my own. I LOVE TED Talks.

I'm working on a TED Talk playlist of sorts for my YouTube account. It will full of feminist goodness of course and the video below will be at the top of the list.

Take some time to watch Eve Ensler, creator of The Vagina Monologues, discuss how everyone (yes, even men) need to embrace their inner girl.

How to Be a Jesus Feminist

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sarah Bessey
I have a new girl crush, y'all.

Meet Sarah Bessey. She's the author of the new book Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible's View of Women. The book is all about the process of reconciling one's Christian faith with feminist ideals -- something I've wrestled with for a decade since I started identifying as a feminist in my early 20s. 

I haven't had a chance to read the book yet, but you can be sure this is how I'll be spending most of my weekend. 

So how am I crushing so hard on this Jesus Feminist when I haven't even read her book? Well, it's all thanks to Bessey's interview with The Hairpin. In her interview she had this to say: 

For me, I was in my early 20s when I began to self-identify as a feminist. I loved having women pastors, seeing women on church boards, seeing women pursuing any life they wanted. So it became a natural thing for me to say I'm a feminist. But then, in the church, when I said it, people would be surprised, and ask these questions—“Do you not want to be a wife and a mom? Do you hate men?”—and they’d ask me what “kind” of feminist I was. I just sort of cheekily started saying that I was a Jesus feminist, a feminist because I love Jesus. It's from my faith that I treat people with equal value, not the other way around.


So if you're wondering how to be a Jesus Feminist or wondering how a woman can be both Christian and feminist, I believe Bessey has summed it up quite nicely and flipped the question: How you can a woman be Christian and not be a feminist? Jesus teaches us to treat people with equal value and that's what feminism, at its core, is all about. Period. 

And this notion of equality applies to marriage too. In the interview Bessey remarked:

With marriage, of course, everyone does it differently, and finds what works for them. But we believe in something called mutual submission, where we submit to each other, and Jesus is the head of our household. 

That statement by Bessey made me want to cry and do a praise dance and kiss my sweet husband who yesterday wrote an article for about our "nontraditional" marriage, a marriage in which my goals and dreams are just as important as his, a marriage in which I'm not considered a bad wife because I don't have dinner waiting for him as soon as he walks in from work.

So I'm thinking of doing something crazy. I'm thinking of coming out as a Jesus Feminist at church. If you read this blog regularly or know me IRL you're probably well aware that my feminism practically oozing from my pores. But my feminism isn't something I talk about much around my church community, especially since feminists had been criticized in sermons on more than one occasion.

But I have this idea: Next year I want to lead a church-based small group for women during which we will read and discuss Bessey's book. I'll need to read the book before deciding if this is something I really want to do, but leading a Christian feminist small group would be a dream come true!

Are you a Jesus Feminist?