Tuesday, April 21, 2015


A recent headline caught my attention this week. Apparently, an 8th grade girl in Ohio wore a black shirt with bold white letters spelling out "FEMINIST" in a class photo for school. The school had the word blacked out because it "was not flattering" and "others might find it offensive."

Are you kidding me?

First of all, it would be a dream come true to somehow connect with this girl, and tell her how much of a badass I think she is. In 8th grade, I was killin' it on my flute, had all the Hedrick Wrangler cheers down, and was listening to KCi & JoJo's "Crazy" on repeat when my first boyfriend dumped me. I was totally ambivalent on gender equality. I naively assumed we were equal, if I gave it any thought at all.

Photo Credit: BuzzFeed

Now, at 27 years old, I proudly claim the "feminist" title, and forget that some people even consider "feminist" the "f word." A feminist is a supporter of gender equality. Unfortunately, we're not there yet, but with increasing awareness ((like this 8th grade girl is doing this week!)), we will get there, and our world will be better for our daughters AND sons.

Sister Joan Chittister said it best:

"I'm fundamental about this: I really believe that nothing is going to change in the world until the situation of women changes. You cannot simply dismiss over half of the human race; which means dismiss their agendas, dismiss their needs, dismiss their gifts, dismiss their intelligence. We are now at the place where men are running everything which means that humanity is seeing with one eye, hearing with one ear, and thinking with one half of a human brain. No wonder we are doing the things we're doing! We're bringing to the table only half the needs of the human race. I don't mean that men are doing this purposely; it's just that they only have half the experience, they have half the wisdom, they have half the intelligence...so they are making FULL decisions out of HALF of the resources..."

I don't try to rival my husband with body mass or body hair, nor do I insist on doing the repairs around the home. I thank him for working so hard, and brag on him and his career tirelessly. I enjoy cooking dinner for our family, and do most of the housework. We have fallen into gender norms in our home. To me, being a feminist isn't insisting that we split everything up 50/50. It is acknowledging our different gifts. At one time, I may have thought a well-kept house with food prepared on the table when my husband comes home from work would be regressing back to 1950...but now I consider it a manifestation of one of our family values: respect for our home. The value I bring to our home ((both in domestic work on my days "off" and in monetary values on my days working as a RN)) is absolutely equal to that of my bread-winning husband. Feminism isn't about trying to one-up my man, it's about standing beside him and knowing we are each better because of the other.

I also consider the value I'm able to provide to our home a privilege. We were born into privilege purely by being born to our ((loving, educated, white, middle-class)) families in the USA. Granted, we've struggled with finances and job security, even not having a home for a while, so yes, I feel some personal pride in getting to where we are now. But the privilege can't be denied. I feel lucky to be in our situation.

Perhaps more so now than ever, raising a daughter keeps feminist musings bouncing around in my head. I felt a visceral sensation when I heard this 8th grade girl's story, and wondered how I would have responded as a mother. I think this was absolutely a teaching moment. There is no shame in being a feminist. The fact that it was blacked out for fear of being "unflattering and offensive" just lights the fire, and reiterates the need for gender equality.

Though I admittedly haven't read it yet, "Bad Feminist" by Roxane Gay has some pretty point-on quotes that resonate with me:

“I believe feminism is grounded in supporting the choices of women even if we wouldn’t make certain choices for ourselves.”
“What goes unsaid is that women might be more ambitious and focused because we’ve never had a choice. We’ve had to fight to vote, to work outside the home, to work in environments free of sexual harassment, to attend the universities of our choice, and we’ve also had to prove ourselves over and over to receive any modicum of consideration.”

“I would rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all.”

If even one person reading this now claims the title "feminist," I will feel ridiculously happy.


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Musings From Other Mothers: Allison + Annie

So, once a month, I've been making an effort to share musings from other mothers who inspire me.

In January, I showcased Janelle, in February, I showcased Ashton, and most recently, in March, I shared musings from my friend, Andrea.

I've really been enjoying this ongoing conversation. I'm honored to share musings today from sisters, Annie and Allison. 

From left to right, Violet and her mama, Allison, Annie, and her daughter, Willow.

We are online friends that have so many similarities, it's eerie. Interactions like these make me SO grateful for the internet. When used positively, the internet allows our generation to overcome obvious barriers like geography, and directs us to people who are putting out the same energy.

These sisters are a couple of bad-ass makers. The purple druzy necklace I gaveaway on my instagram ((@LindsayVM)) was from their shop! Just today I put up some darling pics of LG in a floral crown and fringe leather anklet. Both of those, along with some darling headbands we've been sportin' around town lately, are also made by Allison & Annie. You can check out their loot and support them here: Elle Marlies

What's your definition of a "feminist"?

Allison: My definition of feminism lies somewhere between the idea that I have to fight for my rights as a woman (strictly because i have a vagina?) and bra burning. Feminism is the practice of making sure that women are thought of and treated like they are the same as men. And seriously, how this is still even an issue?  I’ll never know. 
Annie: I personally believe a feminist is somebody (male or female) who stands up for the equal rights of women. A feminist is someone who recognizes the existence of gender inequality and actively works towards equal opportunity. I saw a t-shirt one time that read, "Teach your girls to be somebodies. Not somebody's." Never has something so simple struck a cord in me and defined feminism in such a simple manner.

Do you consider yourself a feminist? 
Allison: Absolutely. How could I not? I was born into a family of extremely strong women and am raising two daughters of my own. I feel extremely lucky to be in a world that has always encouraged me to speak my mind and be proud of my strengths as a woman. The idea that even one other person in the world, has not been raised in this same manor, is more than enough reason to consider myself a feminist.  
Annie: I do consider myself a feminist. I don't angrily picket & rally in the name of gender equality (which I think is the first thing some envision when they hear the word), but, I implement feminist values into my 3 year old daughter Willow's life every day. She loves all things society deems "feminine"; dolls, the color pink, dress-up, anything sparkly, nail polish..and I would NEVER take that from her! That is who she is, and who she is is magical. I do, however, want to be sure she isn't cornered into a patriarchal box because of her interests. To balance it out she has an array of building blocks, trains, matchbox cars, and certainly knows her way around a campsite. I think it's important to show our youth the array of everything they can possibly do with life, instead of one tiny window. We are not confined!

Do you feel closer to whatever you call the Higher Power since a having a "feminist awakening"? Further from? Ambivalent? Do you think feminism and spirituality are related, or have nothing to do with one another?

Allison: I don't think that I feel closer to any higher power strictly because of a feminist awakening. However,  I do think the two are related in the sense that we are all one. I link spirituality closer with humanism than I do with feminism. Even though they are all essentially linked together.

Annie: I believe my feminist awakening came with age. It began when I started to reevaluate my closet after becoming a mother. I suddenly was passing judgement on anything that I would wear on a daily basis, because of how I knew others would perceive me. Slowly I started to recognize the differences, the inequalities, and the pressures of being a female. I traded all my v-necks for a modest look, searching for respect. But does respect truly come from what fabrics we cloth ourself with? Next was when I chose to stay unmarried, not necessarily forever, but for now. Every family member I came in contact with for the first few years of Willow's life will ask me when the 'big day' was. I still don't know that there will ever be a 'big day', and I hope to make that impression on Willow as well. I don't want her to feel she needs a man to complete her puzzle and I don't want her entire childhood, teen hood, and early adult years to be spent searching for one. I have hopes that she will truly find herself before she ever ties herself to another human being; male or female. Her favorite Disney Princesses do not help implement that, in the slightest.

As for a higher power. I don't know if I believe in a higher power or any deity at all. That's not to say one doesn't exist, I don't know that, and I won't make that claim...but that being said, I do see the universe itself as a higher power, if ever there was one. I do believe feminism pushed me further from having a belief in a higher power (deity) solely based on the patriarchal values that come hand in hand organized religion. I have a hard time relating, aside from 'picking and choosing' which values to follow, and that made me feel a bit hypocritical.
I do think that feminism and spirituality go hand in hand! I think that often women who have a feminist awakening reevaluate their spirituality at the same time, or even reinvent what it means to them! Whether that be god, or whomever higher power they relate, I think feminism often alters their views even if just the slightest. I think it's a beautiful thing to question, unlearn, relearn, question again, and forever grow in ones spirituality, and I have a feeling my journey at 23 years old is hardly over.

What do you do and what encouraged you to get into your line of work? 

Allison: I do it all girl, I do it all! Well first and foremost, I’m a stay at home mom. I have a 5 year old and a 2 year old. Truthfully, I never imagined that I’d be cut out for this line of duty. I always wanted to be a mom but I need a lot of mental stimulation to keep myself healthy and childcare isn't exactly that. Because of that very reason, I've spent most of my time as a mother trying to create a world suited specifically to me and my family. I’ve always been drawn to the idea of having my own business. The mold is not for me and if there is one thing that I’m sure of, it’s that I couldn’t possibly reach my full potential living someone else’s dream. When I was in 2nd grade, I took my first art class...I guess that was pretty much it for me because since then I’ve been making basically anything that my mind can come up with. I’ve done and still do everything from furniture revamps to home renovations, to sewing and painting. I get bored very easily so I always tend to leave a trail of half finished projects behind me. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to hone my craft. I know where my strong areas are and the places that need a lot more time. For right now, I stand as owner of an online/flea market/craft show/out of my dining room, business. I’ve basically taken a little bit of all of my favorite parts and combined them all together to make a fun, unique, shop full of kid’s and women’s accessories. I know that life is an evolution and I look forward to seeing where things will end up. 
Annie: I am currently a Work at Home Mom and am awaiting my State Board Exam to gain my Cosmetology License. I enjoy crafting more than anything in this world, and as a maker of everything from paintings to accessories, it's difficult affording endless trips to the craft store. I've always found the bridge between Cosmetology & Art to be the same, and have been doing my makeup and coloring my hair since I can remember! Generally, I love all things expressive. I felt that if I make time for both professionally, I can financially support my love of art & also give my daughter a financially stable role model she can look up to and aspire to be like. It's been a process, but I'm finally at the finish line and I'm excited to see where this new path takes me.

What spiritual practices//habits//routines do you incorporate into your life? How do you bring spirituality to your family life?
Allison: This is actually a hard question for me. the last few years have been a real shift in my beliefs and I’m not exactly sure that I have a definitive answer as to where my spirituality lies. Because of this I find it harder to make references to god and all things related around my kids. I think that kindness and love is the message, its easy to lose that in all the fine print.
Annie: Personally, I bring spirituality into mine and Willow's lives in very mild ways for the time being. We do not attend church, go to Sunday School or even pray at night. I'm not sure she would even know what a church was, if I used the word. As for practices myself, I enjoy the science aspect of spirituality and read my horoscope daily. To some that isn't relative at all, but if it's written in the stars..that is spiritual to me. I would say our spirituality is very non-conventional and even frowned upon by a lot of close family members and friends. It saddens me because I've always found spirituality to be such a personal journey, and if there is a god, I hope he will understand that we are all on our own paths to discovering what this universe is to us.

Do you want your children to have the same religious experience that you did as a child? 

Allison: My parents are divorced. They've been that way basically my entire life so I grew up in one home going to Catholic Church and the other we went to a Presbyterian Church. We were basically the, “We’ll see you there if it's a holiday or someones getting married," kind of family. My husband grew up Jewish. We celebrate Christmas and a watered down version of Hanukkah. We definitely raise them with exposure to a lot of different walks of life. I secretly hope they stay that way, but I don't care what religion or non religion they practice. They’re my kids, I’ll love them just the same. 
Annie: Yes and no. I grew up in a Presbyterian household but it was very relaxed. I wouldn't say we were avid church goers, but I went with my grandparents occasionally and were always there for holidays. My father and his significant other are Catholic and active church goers. They are absolutely wonderful and don't love us any less for our current state of limbo. I respect everyone's beliefs and if I lived closer, would let Willow enjoy Sundays with her grandparents the way I did. As for Willow's religious journey, I want her to get a taste of it all, once she's at the age where I wouldn't be choosing 'for' her, per se. I don't think it necessarily makes sense to decide what someone else's beliefs are, the majority of us define ourselves to one religion because that's all we know. Who's to say if we were born into this world and our parents let us discover for ourselves what we believe, if we'd be practicing what we are today. I want her to have what I had, but multiplied times fifty. I want her to explore every option until she finds what speaks to her, and makes sense to her. So for now, at the tender age of three..she knows nothing of religion aside from the very basics and meanings behind the major holidays she celebrates, but years from now it may be a totally different picture.

What is the difference between religion and spirituality?

Allison: Religion is something you find in a building with a lot of rules attached to it. It’s what pulls us apart and makes us think we are different from people who are just the same as us. Spirituality is the bits and pieces that you've been exposed to, the parts that stick like glue to every part of your truth. Spirituality is what makes us one. 
Annie: I believe that religion and spirituality are two completely different ballparks. Spirituality, to me, is much more private/personal than religion. It's not something that can be read from a book or taught within four walls, but something found within you. Spirituality is when I relate to something that answers so many questions for me (in the non physical world) and resonates within me. I define religion as the man-made version of that. I've always seen organized religion as a tool of division. It's misinterpreted by many people and the root of hate towards many things and people whom I love. I feel I can't support the LGBT community and also be "religious" and I also feel the same towards being a feminist. Organized religion has often felt like a place of inequality to me, more or less a 'white man's code' to follow to be sure you get into the Golden Gate.

What do you think happens when we die?

Allison: Technically, I think that we are Reincarnated. I don't believe in heaven or hell. I believe that I am you, and you are me, and that we are one giant circle. You start at the beginning and once you've gone through every soul and every experience then we are all one. This is still an evolving thought in my mind but that's basically what it boils down to.

Annie: I truly do not want to say 'this is what I think will happen when we die.' I have no idea, and frankly I don't know that I even want to know that answer. I do know that I do not believe in a Hell. Hell as always seemed like a scare tactic to get a mass following to abide by rules of one specific religion when there are 500+ practicing religions. I don't believe that innocent children would be sent to the flames for choices such as their parents choosing not to baptize them, and things beyond their control. I relate most closely to the idea of reincarnation and the recycling of souls. Reincarnation for those that are unfamiliar is the concept that your soul can begin life in a new body after biological death. When I was a toddler I would tell my mother of my "surgery" (which I never went through in the physical world) among other odd tales, and I've read a lot of interesting articles, including scientific evidence that reincarnation exists by Dr. Ian Stevenson that have jogged my interest on many levels! Science has always resonated with me more so than religion, and it's much easier for me to relate to something with backed evidence than it is to have faith in something I can't see or touch.

How do you talk to your kids about the big questions?

Allison:  Well, my almost 2 year old asks questions like, “Anna pop?” which means she wants a Frozen ice pop. So I’m still in my safe place with her.  My 5 year old, on the other hand, has asked me what heaven is. I gave her the standard, “the place that you go when you die”. When she gets a little older, I’ll bounce ideas around with her but for now I’ll answer as generic as I can. I think the world should be left for each person to discover their truth through their own experiences. There is so much knowledge to be exposed to and to be stuck in one direction at a young age seems like a waste of wonder and excitement. The world is their oyster, so I’ll let them crack it open!
Annie:  Luckily, there haven't been too many 'big questions' thus far, but I should probably buckle up, because they're coming! As for now, the biggest question she asks is what kind of sauce she can have with her chicken nuggets. We own the movie, "All Dogs Go to Heaven" and she has asked where they are, and I've explained in a gently manner...but I think for her at this age, that falls in the same realm as her fairy movies and other mystical tales. When she's ready, I plan to answer every question in at least a handful of ways: the way organized religion explains it, the way I see it, the way another religion views it, etc. The bottom line is that I want her to have so many options that she has no choice but to decide for herself which resonates most with her. I don't want her to simply not choose religion because of my viewpoints, I want the to discover for herself along the trials of her life what works for her and I will support her in every way that calls for. If that means in five years I will be an avid church-goer next to her, you best believe I will be beside her, holding her hand and supporting her 110%. It's all about growth and I can't wait to see who and what this little beauty blossoms into!