Monday, January 27, 2014

"Figure out who you are separate from your family, and the man or woman you're in a relationship with. Find who you are in this world and what you need to feel good alone. I think that's the most important thing in life. Find a sense of self because with that, you can do anything else."

― Angelina Jolie

"Work hard in silence and let your success be your noise."
*P.S. I've been spending some time rewriting my first line and forgot how difficult that is. After some helpful reading, I remembered that a first line should convey the tone of a book, serve as a hook, give away something about the setting or plot, and match the sentence structure of the rest of the book. This Writer's Digest article gives some great examples.
P.P.S. Do you have any favorite first lines?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

If I Knew Then: 2014

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone got some time to relax and refresh! The past month has been busy in the best type of way, with love and friendship and the types of moments that demand nostalgia before they're over. I don't believe in New Year's resolutions (I prefer daily ones) but relish reflections. 

1. Take time for yourself because people will rarely give it to you. 

2. Spend time with family, whether that's the one you were given or the tribe you built for yourself. 

3.Don't ever give up on those you love. A cry for help, acceptance, or security can be disguised in many ways.

4. One day, you'll wake up and realize that not only have you accepted everything you've been through but that you've also found contentment with the absence of certain people.

5. Keep a notebook for your own thoughts and the wisdom of others. Reading and writing make you a better person. (I ordered notebooks and feminist cards from Rifle Paper Company. They also had this wonderful Anatomy of Love card!)

6. Don't let the world harden you. Be an advocate for those who are struggling.

7. Creative pursuits are fun and fulfilling but they are also work. Don't allow your motivation to wane because of this.

8. Read outside your genre to improve your writing. Study the way television shows introduce characters and conflict. Analyze a short story. Sift through poetry. 

9. Surround yourself with people who are more intelligent/inspiring/successful/insert any positive adjective than you. 

10. Confidence is quiet. If you're great, the world will tell you. You won't need to tell the world. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

in which my greater self

it was a dream
in which my greater self
rose up before me
accusing me of my life
with her extra finger
whirling in a gyre of rage
at what my days had come to.
i pleaded with her, could i do,
oh what could i have done?
and she twisted her wild hair
and sparked her wild eyes
and screamed as long as
i could hear her.
This. This. This.

- Lucille Clifton

Women's Health: Body Image

When I started the American Women's Medical Association on my campus, I knew I had to organize an event focused on body image. 

 Most of the other public health topics I'm interested in are more prevalent in the developing world (domestic violence, PTSD in rape victims, etc.) And yes, hunger is a worldwide issue. 

But just because a problem is relative to a place doesn't make it any less of a problem. We are a product of our environments and I see---in my personal and professional lives---this silent sickness of body hatred. Of picking apart limbs and noses and stomachs for analysis. Of using measurements as signs of womanhood. 

Now, there are books and documentaries devoted to the science of beauty. They're fascinating in their own right and I'm not even saying that it doesn't make sense 

But when we are taught that our image (specifically, a target weight) is all we have to offer, that's when the problems begin. When it shifts from health to hate. The young women who are compassionate, intelligent, funny, tough, or athletic still tend to feel inadequate. 

I approached my dean about the issue and we are in the process of organizing a body image workshop. Right now, I'm planning to show clips from a documentary called Killing Us Softly, followed by a panel discussion of women's mental health experts. 

I know engaging in dialogue won't alleviate the pain for women with body image struggles but I hope that at the very least, it can increase awareness. 

P.S. As an interesting tie in, here's a New Yorker article on female beauty in fiction