Archive for the ‘Radical self-care’ Category

Manuscript Monday: Building my brand, losing my mind

Monday, November 18th, 2013

 An excerpt from chapter 12, “Burnout”:


I clicked to open a browser and loaded up the dashboard of my fancy new site,  After MySpace tanked, I wrote for a while on a Blogger platform before determining that it was time to bite the bullet and, in the parlance of mommybloggers across the country, “build my brand.”




The dashboard stared at me.  I knew I ought to write a new post, but instead I loaded up the fancy statistics widget that revealed my total number of page views, incoming search terms, referring sites, and the like.  Reading that stats widget was like swallowing a Krispy Kreme in one gulp every morning—addictively sweet, but never truly fulfilling or even satisfying.  If I had a hundred page views, I wanted a thousand.  If I had a thousand, it was usually because a blogger with a much larger following, like Gina Crosley-Corcoran of The Feminist Breeder, had linked to me, and I felt pangs of jealousy that I wasn’t yet in her league.

I couldn’t feel grateful or humbled that my blogging peers seemed to enjoy my work; instead, I wondered why I wasn’t being asked to appear on Ricki Lake.




In another attempt at brand-building, I appeared at a local Netroots conference, suffering a lonely panic attack in the women’s bathroom before shakily convening a panel called “Feminist Activism in a Gone-Rogue Age.”  When I submitted the (surprisingly successful!) panel to the national conference, I was told that I didn’t have enough name recognition yet—The Radical Housewife was not yet a brand.




I stared at the keyboard, the mouse, the monitor, blank screen with NEW POST at the top.  What exactly did a brand write about, anyway?  Shannon Drury once wrote about any old crap that came into her head, hiding behind a goofy moniker as a joke that she thought would make Erin and Christine laugh.  Then Erin moved to DC, Christine moved to San Diego, and The Radical Housewife moved to her own URL address.

I stared at the blinking cursor.  There wasn’t a shortage of topics to write about; thanks to global patriarchy, half a million ideas buzzed through my mind through any given day.  I could take a controversial position.  I could repost on Daily Kos, Minnesota Progressive Project, orFeministing.  A writing friend gave me the contact information for an editor at the Huffington Post, the site around which gone-viral careers were being made, but I couldn’t type her a sentence, much less pitch her an article that might build my brand.

I couldn’t write.  I didn’t want to write.  This scared me back into talk therapy.




….with [the therapist's] help I began the process of untangling the knot of my many identities: feminist, activist, writer, mom, even “radical housewife.”  I’d worked myself into a this/that, us/them, either/or box just like the one I thought I was fighting against years before.

Instead of me naming a MySpace page back in 2006, my MySpace page named me!



Does this binder make me look fat?

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012


It’s Love Your Body Day 2012, everyone!  I’m celebrating by having pizza for lunch and feeling really, really terrible about it.



Ugh….that triangle skirt looks like a slice….  *burp* …. I made sure I had a salad and hummus for dinner.

I wish I loved my body every day.  If I did, I would have vast supplies of psychic energy available to me if I dropped the daily anxiety about my wobbly bits–oh, the things I could accomplish!  Instead, I grow mushier and gushier every year, unlike the Yummy Mummies I see on the newsracks at Target and Cub Foods.  Why is it that I get softer while Madonna, who is also 12 years older than me, gets harder?

I’ve already written truckloads about bodies, body image, and body shame.  Check out these posts for ideas that can be safely chewed on without gastric distress:

  • Perfect diet. (Minnesota Women’s Press, July 2007) In which I reflect on periods when I was quite thin due to some really horrendous circumstances that had nothing whatever to do with health–quite the opposite, actually.
  • The stories bodies tell. (Minnesota Women’s Press, June 2009) In which I admit that I weigh more than I did when I wrote that 2007 column, and how much that irritates me.
  • It’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, so let’s talk about it. (February 2011) In which I write a blog post that refers back to the 2009 column that mentions the 2007 column AND a piece I wrote for HipMama many moons ago.

And around and around we go.

It’s like I’m stuck.  Trapped in three cold, metallic rings that are squeezing me, crushing me, HOLDING ME BACK!




Do you feel that way, too?



Why I stopped

Friday, October 12th, 2012


I didn’t watch last night’s Veep debate.  I didn’t watch the Presidential debate last week, either, and I don’t plan on watching the next two.



Though I am nowhere near as adorable as this kitteh, I don’t feel guilty.

I like to think of myself as a model of civic engagement, but the truth is I’m burned out.  I know who’s getting my vote, and so do you (Him. Her. Him. Her. Him. No. No).

Skipping the debates doesn’t make me ignorant about the issues at stake in the election. Quite the contrary!  As every idiot with a wi-fi enabled laptop and smartphone knows, we are never wanting for information.  The amount of information, and the volume and tenor of that information, can be totally crazy-making.

When our kids near tantrum stage for not achieving the high scores of their dreams on any of our four Just Dance games, we say this: “If it’s not fun anymore, stop.”  Sometimes this dose of reality works.  Sometimes, of course, there is an explosion of tears and curses and AA batteries as the Wii-mote hits the wall.

The Romney-Ryan philosophy of governing makes me ill.  They are not fun, and I can no longer watch them.

Happily, they inspire jokes and memes that are hysterical.  I love the @FiredBigBird Twitter feed and the P90X caption contests.  Thanks to social media, the debates can be GIFed into a form that does not make me want to scream and destroy my household possessions.  That’s FUN we can believe in!

Speaking of social media, this Audre Lorde quote has been making the rounds among my connected friends and social justice allies lately, which proves that I’m not the only one experiencing severe political burnout:



Dear readers, don’t forget to take care of yourself, too. Remember:

If it’s not fun anymore, stop.

If it IS fun, repost it on my Facebook and Twitter so I know about it!