Tuesday, February 26, 2013

On Women's Empowerment

Women's issues have always been important to me, even before I realized it. In elementary school, my mother told me about how marriage and children were expected for most women. A girl married over the age 25 was considered "old". Sometimes education was emphasized but it was always in the context of finding a good husband---the ultimate prize.  

Her experiences, even the ones I was not around for, molded me into questioning the roles we get into, the definitions we cultivate for what a successful future is. She's always pushed me to find purpose and make something that's truly my own, whether that's through words, medicine, or causes to fight for. She found power through her singing. Most of all, she reminded me to respect the choices of my fellow peers. 

Last night, I shirked any hope of studying and writing when the documentary Makers came on PBS. It reminded me that because of many strong women, from Gloria Steinem to my mother, I have the luxury of choice in so many ways. Even my confusion and uncertainty are luxuries. I can have open, insightful conversations with my friends who have chosen to marry early and those who are choosing not to marry at all. I can sift out messages from the media that skew body image and discard them. I can define parts of myself that have no relation to anybody else. 

In addition, I have recognized that various men in my life have also been empowering. My father always quizzed me when I struggled in certain subjects. He promised me at a young age that I'd never have to worry about getting support for education. When I began driving, he taught me how to make sure I'd never get ripped off at a car dealership. He's also the reason I always had high standards for the way a man should treat me.   

Things have changed since my parents and I immigrated here in the late 1980's. There's still a long way to when it comes to equality but I think it's okay to celebrate how far we've come. 

"Some of us are becoming the men we wanted to marry." Gloria Steinem

"Human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights."  Hillary Clinton

"Well behaved women seldom make history." Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

"I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives." Jane Austen, Persuasion

Monday, February 25, 2013

4 writing tips from revisions

During editing, I've found that my plot is sometimes slow. Here are some tips that have helped with that:

1. Group events together: If possible, have a subplot intertwining with the main plot. If more than one event can occur in a chapter, that adds tension and action. 

2. Take out extra dialogue: Dialogue that isn't pushing the plot forward is just wasting page space

3. Remove events with similar settings: Do your characters always sit around in someone's room or in the same coffee shop or at work? Take out any repetitive scenes to tighten up the story.

4. Write a one sentence summary of something important that happens in each chapter. If you can't think of one for a part of your book, maybe it's time to cut it out or add some trouble for your MC!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The power of a book: The Lover's Dictionary

The days had become monotonous since the new year. Work, sleep, errands. The monotony broke when I spent Valentines weekend with Samir and before I left, he gave me some gifts. Among them was a book titled The Lover's Dictionary.

I don't usually gravitate to romantic books but this one was different. It's a novel written in the form of a dictionary. Each entry is akin to a poem: short yet satiated with insight. It goes into the morose places love can sometimes fall into and the hope that makes this emotion so sought after. 

Interrupting the monotony of the present and providing something to beat it in the future. That's what love and books are capable of. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

On purpose

Your purpose in life is to find your purpose and give your whole heart and soul to it” 

There's duty, love, and then there's purpose. Purpose is in the answer to these questions:
What makes you lose track of time?
What keeps you distracted but fulfilled?
Purpose can be woven into a career or it can be an underlying current among different facets of a life. It's different for everyone and evolves as we do. 

I've learned that so far, purpose has been about devoting my time to causes and issues far grander than myself. It's also about shifting those subtle wishes into wills. 

Often, I don't realize that answers are everywhere if I'm willing to see them. A few weeks ago, I watched this video for the twentieth time and wondered, "Why can't I connect with others to talk about body image?"
Then the other little voice in my head challenged, "Why not?"
With that, I thought of making a body image workshop at my school as part of the Women's Health Association (which I put the building blocks down for a couple of years ago). It turns out, there are a number of physicians, professors, parents, and advocates who also want to discuss this issue. 

I've often been frustrated at feeling as though I'm not living out my purpose yet but slowly, I've discovered that this isn't true. Maybe I can't dissect women's issues as a clinician but I can take baby steps with the resources and skills that are here now. I can use my love for words to explore a woman's journey by writing feminist poetry or visit a professor who has worked with mothers in Africa. 

Across the internet, I read about different people taking the time to weave words, care for their families, and pursue their numerous interests. Purpose and passion, intertwined into one life. 
You guys are incredible and even though I don't say it enough, you serve as daily reminders that purpose is the best treatment for burnout.  
I hope your Valentine's Day is filled with purpose in many forms!

  What gives you a sense of purpose? 

Happy Valentine's Day!

Whether you're spending the day with your significant other, friends, family, or yourself, I hope it's wonderful! Here's what I'll be doing:

1. Sending some books and money to Room to Read, an incredible organization that works on increasing literacy and gender equality in developing countries through books! Spreading a love for books---is there anything better? Note: There are many facilities that accept donated books, from the Salvation Army to every local library. 

2. Escaping with Samir. I took the photo below while I was attempting to organize my suitcase. There's nothing like statement necklaces, bold red lipstick, and of course my Kindle to get me excited to travel! 

3. Telling everyone close to me how much I love them. Valentine's Day isn't just about romantic love. Nobody ever gets tired of being reminded that they're loved. Nobody. In the day to day hustle, it's too easy to take those close to us for granted and assume that sentiments are understood. Verbal appreciation has the power to uplift.