Archive for the ‘Self-confidence fail’ Category

I wrote a blog post about confidence and you won’t believe what happened next!

Monday, April 21st, 2014


Many, many of you weren’t touched by my last post, “My exclusive secrets to self-confidence!” The feedback has been literally underwhelming.

So I looked up Katty Kay and Claire Shipman for some advice. I took a quiz and here’s what I got:

Screenshot (3)


Ha, ha, ha.


surprisedface (2)

BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE. This morning my therapist sent me a link to an article that she thought was relevant to our session several days ago.  The article?





And how is YOUR case of the Mondays going?





My exclusive secrets to self-confidence!

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014


This post is inspired by the copy of The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman that was sent to me by their publisher’s PR department. It was released today and you can get it on Amazon or wherever. I haven’t finished it.

But! I had an experience recently in which my own usually dismal self-esteem got a major boost. I did it in a series of steps that I am thrilled to share with my readers, all two of you, EXCLUSIVELY! Do as I do and be prepared to be the most self-assured person in the room.




First of all, get a column for a newspaper or magazine.  Spend several years building a relationship with your audience. Discuss feminism, death, marriage, Madonna, food–all the really important stuff.  Then hit ‘em with a confession that they weren’t expecting:

I have to know: Am I appealing to you? Do you think I’m doing the right thing? Do you think I’m good enough? 
Do you like me? 

Continue with stories from childhood, careful not to blame lack of self-esteem on either parents or kindly old kindergarten teachers. Be sure to consult your thesaurus so you sound more like a professor than a cowering wimp when you write things like:

Without your approval, I am bereft. When I have it, I am momentarily delighted, yet always aware of how deeply in its thrall I remain – and how much it is my master. 

I know what you’re thinking: the idea of writing these words for public consumption is mortifying. It’s embarrassing enough to FEEL this way, but to confess it?! Trust me. I know what I’m doing here.

You, dear reader, wield extraordinary power, though most of you don’t know it. Hell, most of you reading this don’t even know me.(Would you like to? Please say yes.) 

Send the piece to your editor, with a joking tagline of “hope you like it!” Lol, rofl, lmfao, etc.

When the essay appears in print and online, read it, then cringe. What is worse: displaying your underpants or your emotional vulnerability in public? You think you know the answer until the messages start popping up in your inbox.

Me too.

I totally relate!

Thank you for writing this. I’m a big fan.


Imagine all of that stuff happening to you. It feels pretty great, doesn’t it? The feeling will last until you are pitched a book about why women have no self-confidence, it occurs to you to write a blog about it, and then you find yourself wasting hours taking and deleting selfies with the book because your frizzy hair looks like crap today.

It takes Kay and Shipman until page 141 to get to the meat of their book, which is the advice: “when in doubt, act.”

So I’m publishing this blog and the least awful picture of me, the book, and my hair.

I’m going to quote from my column again:

….give me a little feedback on this [piece]. Did it delight you? Excite you? Flatter you? 

I’m not going anywhere. I’ll wait to hear from you. 













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!



I will survive (maybe)

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Before I dig into this post, can I hear from Audre Lorde again, please?  I know it’s a meme we’ve all seen a few different times, including this post from October, but it’s just too good not to repeat.


Thank you, Audre, wherever you are.

So it’s the holidaze again, and in anticipation, my clever editors at the Minnesota Women’s Press organized the November issue around the theme of SURVIVAL.  For those who feel sorry for themselves that they have to grit their teeth through a meal with relatives who, like Karl Rove, still don’t quite believe that Mitt Romney lost the election, there is a great article about a woman born in a federal women’s prison who is now an advocate for prison reform.  That is some serious surviving.

The cover of the issue is also brilliant, featuring a photograph by Nicole Houff of a glamorous but dead-eyed vintage Barbie in her candy-colored kitchen, holding aloft a beautifully trussed turkey:



Despite great gains for women outside the home, what happens inside the home is another story.  I bet that the record twenty women in the United States Senate are still expected to get a damned turkey on the family table next Thursday.  Whether they cook it themselves or grab it from the deli at Whole Foods, it’s still considered a lady’s business to get that shit taken care of.

In case you’re curious: NO, I am not hosting T-day this year. Let’s leave it at that and move on.

My contribution to the November ish is a column called “My Feminist Survival Kit.”  I bare my soul in this one, folks–that is, if there’s one reader out there who would be surprised by the fact that I prefer Sharon Needles and Snooki to Don Draper and Walter White.

While I declare in the column that “burnout is painful but entirely preventable if we have the courage to make our frustrations known,” I regret that I am still more likely to cook you a fabulous turkey feast than tell you what’s really whirling around in my addled mind.  I remain my own harshest critic, unable to extend to myself the compassionate understanding I so willingly offer others.

But it was ever thus, especially when we approach mid-November.  Here in Minnesota, where the sun dips beyond the horizon at 4:30 in the afternoon, everyone is feeling dark.  One e-mail I opened last week revealed that a woman was leaving her husband, perhaps permanently.  Blogs I follow overflow with spilled secrets, deeply felt pain, suicidal ideation.

Allow myself to quote….myself: “as my Internet speed improves, the cacophony amplifies and multiplies, until it threatens to drown everything else in my head. I’m learning that I can write an angry blog post about Todd Akin tomorrow. Today, however, I can turn the computer off.”

Why, I think I’ll do that.






I’m number two! …or maybe three…

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

I’m number two!

I mean that figuratively, for the weeks of the Circle of Moms Top 25 Political Mom Blogs contest coincided with what is always the crappiest (ha) time of year: the dead zone between the last days of school and the first days of afternoon camp.

My children, who thrive on predictability almost as much as I do, go batshit crazy for ten days every June. For an avowed pessimist, it’s odd that I’m never prepared for this. As school winds down early in the month, I find myself irrationally anticipating sleeping in late, heading out to Lake Harriet for a swim, and doing all the “fun” things that we’re not able to do because we have a school schedule keeping us on the straight and narrow. On May 31, I should be calling the pharmacy to bump up all of our meds, but I don’t until it’s past Father’s Day and the damage has been done, to our psyches and bedroom walls alike.

Indeed, the whole mess has taken a large toll on my (admittedly lame) career as a Political Mom, as I found myself utterly unable to juggle personal and professional responsibilities. Not only do I feel like a steaming pile of number two, I have the stamina of an actual two-year-old. Several months ago, I reflected on how my shy temperament complicates my life, in a piece called “The Trials of an Introverted Activist” that is finally seeing print in the current issue of the Minnesota Women’s Press. Sadly, the piece did little to exorcise the anxious, Piglet-like aspects of my personality; I remain a Very Small Animal, unconvinced of my ability to remain steadfast against the two Heffalumps screaming “I HATE YOU!” to me and to each other all day long. I just hope they care enough to publish The Radical Housewife after I’m dead, for that looks to be my smartest publishing strategy right now.

But things are looking up. I fell in love with Jersey Shore. Camp started rough (it’s never good to be phoned on the first day), but it did start. And did I mention that for a moment, I was a real number two?

Let’s back up a bit, to Monday, June 13, when the Circle of Moms contest officially closed, with the conservative Political Mommentator in first, followed by Veronica Arreola’s Viva La Feminista, Gina Crosley-Corcoran’s The Feminist Breeder, and yours truly, The Radical Housewife. It was suggested that it was really too bad that the Mommentator’s legions voted out of their concern, expressed by the Tator’s husband, that the “feminazi” Crosley-Corcoran might win instead.

Yeah, he went there.

Women on the right, I beg you: please do not tolerate the use of this slur. Ever. Do not allow the men in your lives to defend you by calling other women “bitches.” DON’T DO IT. Disagree with us about politics all you want. Call us loony, call us dumb, call us late for dinner if you want, but don’t put up with sexist stereotypes. They’re bad karma in addition to bad form. Circle of Moms agreed and disqualified Mommentator from the contest.

Then, inexplicably, Crosley-Corcoran posted on the TFB Facebook page that she was dropped from the contest herself, for somehow not being “political” enough. I don’t think they read her older posts, about raising her kids gender-neutral or her take on feminism and pornography, instead focusing on her recent posts about attachment parenting her VBAC newborn Jolene. What’s not political about that? In my confusion, I realized that with TFB out I was literally NUMBER TWO. Whoa.

But I don’t want to be, either literally or figuratively. All cliches aside, I am honored just being in the company of some of my favorite online writers, including the two mentioned above, as well as Joanne Bamberger, Katie Allison Granju, Gloria Feldt, the collectives behind MOMocrats and Moms Rising, and many others whose writing I would not have discovered without this peculiar competition. Feminist mom writers are one hell of a group. I’m very happy to be in their company, and I’m grateful to all of my readers who buzzed over to the CoM site for the votes. Feminists are one hell of a group.

A group that includes Crosley-Corcoran, of course! In good news, it turned out that she wasn’t dropped from the contest after all. In bad news, it’s because she has a psycho stalker. * Isn’t that just the way with moms? A little good, a lot of bad, all in the service of the toughest job you’ll ever love and sometimes really hate.

*though I would like concrete proof that the stalker isn’t a RWNJ. I’m conspiracy-minded like that.

Gone rogue? Hardly.

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Don’t fret that I’ve been recycling old posts. I may have gone around the bend and back, but rogue? Not yet. I’m working my feminist tail off on a number of wonderful projects, all of which are distracting me from preparing for my son’s poorly-timed tonsillectomy on MLK Day. First up? NETROOTS!

This Saturday, while The Radical Hubby strips the Richfield SuperTarget of its ice cream and pudding, I will be moderating a panel at Netroots Minnesota. The theme? “Feminist Activism in a Gone-Rogue Age,” a concept pitched long before that shooty-killy thing in Arizona (how’s that workin’ out for ya?). The panel description, lifted directly from Netroots Minnesota’s sessions page:
Feminist Activism In A Gone-Rogue Age
2:10-3:00 PM
Sarah Palin once tweeted that feminism was “hijacked by a cackle of rads” who dared question her commitment to women’s rights. Palin has successfully exploited rifts in the feminist movement to her and her party’s advantage. Feminists appear fragmented in their response, rather than a united force for broad-based (pun intended) social change. This panel will lead a brainstorming session on how Minnesota feminists can unify their messages in an increasingly hostile political landscape. Groups such as the Minnesota Family Council. Minnesota Majority, and even the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce are itching to roll back the hard-fought civil rights gains of the last twenty years. It’s going to take some strong and sustained cackling to stop them.
PANELISTS: Shannon Drury, Farheen Hakeem, Ami Wazlawik, Solome Tibebu

I’m very excited to discuss how feminism is a vital part of the larger movement against oppression in all its forms, as well as how the progressive movement still has to work to combat sexism within its own ranks.

WHAT, you say? Progressives can be sexist?! Hell, even some women are sexist. Cackle, cackle, cackle.

A post-mortem on sanity (and my once-liberal home)

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Who is this proud Minnesota political nerd? Why, your Radical Housewife, of course!


I’m only moments away from delivering a short speech at the Rally to Restore Sanity Minnesota on October 30, 2010. I’m so excited I’m wearing my new shirt from my favorite local store I Like You. The message inside the Minnesota outline? I CAME TO GET DOWN, natch. No one parties like a native blue stater.

At about one o’clock that afternoon I stood at the podium and gave the following remarks:

I speak to you today on behalf of the statewide membership of Minnesota NOW, an activist group that is strictly non-partisan, though as the Pioneer Press kindly noted in a story yesterday, we do have an agenda.Since NOW has been in the game nationally since 1966, this shouldn’t surprise anyone, but no less a political luminary than Sarah Palin lashed out at women’s rights activists a couple months ago, labeling us with the very peculiar term Cackle of Rads.

(This is where I paused for laughter that never came.)

Cackle of Rads was Palin’s strange Alaskan slang for women who, in her words, “hijacked” feminism from…I don’t know, a roving band of grizzly bears or something.


I know this rally isn’t supposed to be partisan, and I agree with that noble aim. However, the truth is not partisan, and the truth is that Sarah Palin, no matter often she repeats it, is not, in fact, the designated mouthpiece for American women. Palin is also laying claim to speak for the protective mothers in American by coming up with another gimmick just as weird to me as the Cackle of Rads: the Mama Grizzlies.According to Palin, the Mama Grizzly is an uber-mom who will “rise up” to protect her children the only way she knows how… by voting for a woman like Sharron Angle who thinks pregnant sexual assault victims need to shut up and use their rape lemons to make fetus lemonade. That’s totally insane.

(I thought “fetus lemonade” was really fuckin’ funny, but the crowd sure didn’t.)

We all know that Sarah Palin is a mother—it’s a big part of her sales pitch.I’m a mother too.My son is ten and my daughter is five.When I see the level of insanity that has infected our public discourse, the last symbol I as a mother want to identify with is a creature known for homicidal paranoia. I don’t want to run back into my cave and hide, either! I want to do something to make the world a sane place for my children, your children, and the Palin children. In short, I’m not a mama grizzly–instead, I’m a mama cow.


I’m going to tell you a story that was shared with me by one of my feminist role models, a woman named Barbra Peterson who just happens to be a bovine midwife by trade. Barbra lives on a farm not far from Duluth with a herd of dairy cattle named after her own feminist heroes: Susan B. Anthony, Shirley Chisholm, Carol Mooo-seley Braun…

(This is where I finally realized that I was absolutely, positively, bombing and I needed to signal to my audience that I was aware of this fact.)


Anyway, up north near the farm it’s not unusual to be visited by coyotes or even wolves, all of whom would be delighted to chew on a slab of fresh beef. Barbra tells me that when the herd senses danger, the healthy mothers will gather the children and elders, that is, the most vulnerable in their community to attack, into the center of a circle that they form with their bodies. Barbra says that this circle of care is instinctive to the mama cows, and it’s something very remarkable and inspiring to watch, especially for those who consider the cow a stupid creature good for dinner, shoes, and not much else.

Today, on a day when we celebrate sanity, I ask all of you to reconsider the language of grizzly bears, cackling rads (whatever the hell those are), teabaggers, head stompers, disgusting lemonade makers, and really just slow yourself down…be like a cow.

Be calm.Eat, sleep, and take care of each other. Thank you.

(Polite clapping)

At least I fared better than the next speaker, a woman from Students for a Democratic Society who had her mic unplugged and was yanked offstage. Apparently calling the USA a supporter of terrorism (in Palestine and elsewhere) wasn’t a very sane thing to do.

In hindsight, this should have alerted me to the fact that the political climate in my state was worse than I imagined. On Tuesday, to the surprise of the Rad One and the rest of the Minnesota punditry, the Republican party scored a majority of seats our state legislature–the first such win for the Minnesota GOP in 38 years. I’m 39. I don’t remember a time when my state wasn’t majority LIBERAL. Mark Dayton could still pull out a squeaker in the governor’s race, but that fact gives me no comfort. A squeaker?! In Minnesota? Really?? Did I hallucinate those votes for Paul Wellstone? WHERE IS MY SANE MINNESOTA?

I came to get down, unaware of how down things really were. 2011 can only get worse.


Monday, August 30th, 2010

…I got it. Bad.

Once I get over the flop sweat and panic attacks, I will be posting more frequently.

Until then, I am listening to Al Green and drinking valerian tea (when I’m not drinking something stronger).

Returning returning returning!

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

Hello again! Did you miss me?

From the vault: Sylvia Plath & the perils of procreation

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Whats follows is a post from my ancient MySpace blog, published on Friday, April 3, 2009. I thought it might be appropriate to revisit, as my thoughtful essay for Literary Mama that grew out of it is due to be published any day now.

Just like mom & daddy did.

Even before I scored Sylvia Plath on the “What crazy bitch are you?” Facebook quiz, the recent suicide of her son has been on my mind. The good ladies of used the occasion of Nicholas Hughes’ death to open a discussion on whether those with mental illness feel it’s appropriate to have children, given the likelihood of the disease being passed on. The commenters fell out predictably.

PRO-KIDS: good lord, no one knows what combination of DNA you’ll pass on. Don’t be so hard on yourselves. Parenting is a big fat crapshoot. So breed if you wanna, and don’t worry about it!

ANTI-KIDS: good lord, I am miserable enough without taking on this load of guilt. No way would I hang this noose around my own child’s neck. This dies with me.

It should be noted that Nicholas Hughes left behind no partner and no children. Sylvia, on the other hand, had been suicidal since her college years and still had two kids. Why?

A few days ago I dug out Paul Westerberg’s second solo album, Eventually, and thought about this some more as the song “MamaDaddyDid” came up. From the lyrics:

Decided not to have any part of

Wonderful lie of (life) love

Decided not to raise some goddamned kid

Just like ma-ma-mama daddy did

Yes that was their way no it ain’t mine

Guess they did ok at least they tried

This record came out in 1996. Paul and his wife had a son named Johnny two years later. His lifelong struggles with alcoholism and depression are well-documented.

Former Playmate and current Jim Carrey date-mate Jenny McCarthy is out with a new book about what causes autism and how it can be “healed.” (I find many of her opinions to be utter bullshit, and I believe that having a son on the spectrum gives me some authority on the matter.) This book tour, however, she’s trotting out a doctor who says there’s link between mental illness in the family and an increased risk for autism. Hmmmmmmmm.

Liz’s birthday is coming up in a few days, so she has been in my thoughts more than usual. Before she died, she fretted that her daughters would have to start getting colonoscopies in their twenties and would forever live with the fear of inheriting what killed her. I never asked if she regretted having them. I think I could guess her answer.

I suppose I picked a side when I had a biological child nine years ago, but the decision was not an educated one. Would I have listened to a reasoned argument on the matter, though? Did someone try to talk some sense into Sylvia Plath? She seems like a pretty clear-cut argument for not procreating. But who am I to judge what makes a life worth living? Sylvia’s daughter seems to be doing okay. Nicholas Hughes seemed okay too, until he quit his professorship to become a potter, then hanged himself.

Parenthood is so terrifying.