‘Tis the season for hot chocolate, sleigh rides and smooching under the mistletoe. Every year my family puts up a mistletoe, and every year I am reminded about how single I am during one of the most romantic season of the year. As much as I would like to treat the mistletoe like a piñata, I can admit the holiday tradition is actually a pretty magical one. Secretly I wish to be standing under the love plant with a special guy, and waiting around doesn’t seem to be working out anymore. Thankfully, times are changing, and we ladies don’t have to sit around waiting for Prince Charming to sweep us off our feet. If want to spend this holiday season snuggled up with the cute guy down the street, be the hero in your own fairy tale and go get him girl. Follow these tips to be the one smooching under the mistletoe this year.
It may have been a difficult time for some people after the results of the election this past week. For me, hearing Hilary Clinton’s concession speech brought tears to my eyes because even though she lost, she didn’t let the defeat stop her from fighting.
Clinton concluded her speech stating that she hopes young women everywhere stand up for what they believe in and I agree wholeheartedly. I have discussed the presidential election with many people and have been constantly asked, how does this change affect me, being a Canadian? For a while, I could not properly answer the question because I had no thorough knowledge of the economy. I then realized my feelings had nothing to do with that, although, these issues are serious topics and should be considered. For me, it has more to do with who we are as human beings despite the distance. This election affects me because I want to live in a world where people are being acknowledged for being able to successfully get the job done, regardless of gender, race, religion and class.
I remember at 18 years old knowing very little about politics and having no interest in voting whatsoever, but my mother emphasized my right as a woman to vote. For a while, I laughed at my mom’s constant speeches, but it was not until recently that I understood what she was saying.
I hope that after this election someone with Clinton’s mindset, strength and heart will one day run for president. It hurts me knowing that a lot of things people fought for may be taken away. But I won’t let it discourage me, and I hope you won’t let it discourage you. Although your work might seem insignificant now, it made a difference. I look at Hilary Clinton and see an absolute girl boss because, throughout her setbacks, she never gave up. I know I will continue to fight for my rights as a woman, and the rights of those who are not able to get their voices heard.
If you’ve been feeling discouraged this week, I think you should watch Seth Meyers giving his opinion of the election on his show. I found it really encouraging and I could not be more hopeful after watching what he had to say. I hope that hearing him speak and watching Hilary’s concession speech that you feel as inspired as I am to work harder every day.
My girl power heroes are fallible. From time to time, whether by words out of their own mouths or revelations from some news outlet or another, the women I admire remind me they are, in fact, human. And that’s not always a bad thing. Heroes should have flaws. Shonda Rhimes is a workaholic. Erykah Badu has some uncomfortable ideas about school girl uniforms. And Chimamanda Nogozi Adichie, the woman whose feminism speech is featured in “Flawless,” thinks having to talk about Beyonce in interviews is a bore.
Before you go thinking I’m calling that a flaw because I’m just another Beyhive stan with my stinger out in defense of Beyonce, hear me out. My issue isn’t with Adichie not wanting to talk about Beyonce. My issue is with why. Adichie, one of my favourite authors, shared her thoughts on the whole Beyonce experience in an interview with Dutch paper, de Volkskrant.
She laughingly told the interviewer she was surprised and resentful that so many of the interview requests she got after the song’s release revolved around discussions of Beyonce. I can’t imagine why she was surprised. Beyonce is arguably one of the most famous celebrities on the planet. News outlets damn near report her every breath. The resentment I could more understand, seeing as Adichie was a well-known success in the literary world before “Flawless” made her speech viral. The idea of her entire body of work being shadowed by four minutes and ten seconds of trap is understandably irritating. (And we know the internet is quick to do this. Remember when a bunch of teeny boppers said Kanye was going to make Paul McCartney famous?) I get it. I do.
Beyoncé casts an enormous shadow. Ask Solange, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams. And Adhichie rightfully wanted to avoid getting caught in it too. She didn’t want people to attribute her success to that one time she was on a Beyoncé song. But I think she mishandled this situation. She ended up coming off petty and missing a golden opportunity to amplify her voice and her message.
She could have set the record straight in every one of those interviews. She could have sat down across from every one of those reporters and let them know the full breadth and depth of her success and pull the receipts to prove it. She could have continued the conversation Beyonce she started with audiences who previously wouldn’t have called themselves feminists. She had the chance to show the collaborative power of women having a discussion on an important topic from their respective platforms and genres.
I agree with the definition of feminist that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gives in her speech: a person who believes in the social, political, economic equality of the sexes. But for me, that means being willing to swallow my pride for the collective good of my fellow women. Girl power means being eager to promote their goals, support their business, amplify their voices We don’t have to compete or compare, we can collaborate. There is space for all of us in the spotlight. There is room for all of our voices and all of our messages, and we can acknowledge the greatness in one another without diminishing the greatness in ourselves. And most importantly, when others try to pretend there isn’t space, we must tell them how wrong they are.
I really wish this is the road Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie had chosen instead. But my heroes are fallible.
We all know YouTube is a time suck. You go on there to watch one video about the placement of commas, and an hour later you’re watching a video of Taylor Swift’s “Trouble” spliced with a hollering goat and you can’t figure out for the life of you how you got there. Despite it’s Twilight Zone quality, YouTube is an awesome site. I’ve used it to find resources for clients, to learn how to beat my face to the gawds and for motivational videos to get me out of bed in the morning. But one of my absolute favourite channels is TED Talks. For those not in the loop, TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a set of conferences held worldwide where speakers who are experts in their fields share their most important and inspiring ideas. Speakers have included everyone from Bill Gates to Ariana Huffington to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
The best part is that all the talks are available on YouTube for my favourite price of $free.99. While not every TED Talk I’ve listened to has been my cup of tea (and why should I expect them all to be?), they’ve all been interesting and really well done. But there have been some that felt like they were delivered just for me. As a writer, I’ve found three TED Talks that I’ve watched more than once and will probably return to from time to time, and if you’re a creative you should probably take these in too.
1. For When Procrastination is Kicking My Ass (Inside The Mind of a Master Procrastinator – Tim Urban)
I don’t know about you, but I’m a master procrastinator. I am an expert at leaving things to the last minute. I’ve got the art of putting things off down to a science. I really wish I wasn’t this way, but it’s almost like it’s a part of my creative process. Every time I’ve tried to be proactive and get a head start on something, I’m left staring at a blank page and a blinking cursor like some sort of fool. So I scroll on my phone, paint my toenails, and twiddle my thumbs while the sense of impending doom kicks in. The hours tick by, the deadline looms, and I’m still somehow uninspired. And then like a bolt of lightning, tinged with a good dose of panic, inspiration strikes me and I produce the piece that had been eluding me for hours.
I knew I couldn’t be the only person who felt that way, but the first time I heard someone explain what was going on inside of my head was during Tim Urban’s TED Talk, “Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator.” I watched the whole video going, “Yup, that’s me!” He’s both witty and honest about his own shortcomings as he describes the three characters taking residence in his head and the heads of procrastinators like myself: the rational decision maker, the instant gratification monkey, and the panic monster. It sounds silly, but it makes perfect sense, and his hard hitting truth wrapped up in humour and personal stories really helped me feel more inclined to get a handle on my procrastinating ways. That’s not to say I’ve done it yet, but it’s on my list.
2. For When Creativity Feels Way Too Heavy (Your Elusive Creative Genius – Elizabeth Gilbert)
Ok, my creative friends, let’s be real for a minute. Do you ever feel like your art is making you just a tiny bit crazy? I promise you’re not the only one. Creatives, especially writers, have a long and well-documented history of being just a little bit unusual. We’re neurotic, extremely self-critical, and prone to bouts of misery. We enjoy the high of producing something we love, until we start to question if it’s really worth loving. On the other hand, we’re shocked by some of the work we’ve done and can’t believe that came out of us. Being a creative is a roller coaster ride of pride and doubt and the never ending fear of failure.
In her TED Talk, Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the wildly successful book, “Eat, Pray, Love” discusses the sense of distress creatives across all genres feel when it comes to success. Before we achieve it, we think, “I’ll never be any good!” After we’ve got it, we lament, “What if I’m never this good again?!” That kind of worry has been enough to drive far too many writers to drink, drugs and suicide. Up until watching this TED Talk, I’d just accepted that stress and neuroticism were just inescapable side effects of my life as a writer, but Elizabeth Gilbert dared to say she’s not cool with the idea of creativity and suffering going hand-in-hand. The solution she suggests sounds far-fetched unless you’re a creative, but I promise, if art of any kind flows through your veins, it’s going to resonate with you and it just might help you sleep a little easier tonight.
3. For When You Work Yourself into a Rut (My Year of Saying Yes to Everything – Shonda Rhimes)
I fell in love with Shonda Rhimes sometime during my marathon binge sessions of Grey’s Anatomy. I watched 12 seasons, 24 episodes each, in 6 weeks. I am not ashamed. Shonda is that good. She’s made me laugh, cry and scream at my TV. I begged her not to hurt my favourite characters, break up my favourite relationships, or destroy any part of her fictional world that I loved. Shonda has the power. Between Grey’s, How to Get Away With Murder, Scandal, and Private Practice, the woman has locked down a night of television and secured her place as a titan of media. Sorry, the titan of media. I look at Shonda and I see an unstoppable object, an immovable force, the unrivaled benchmark. I know of course, that Shonda could not have been perfect, but imagine my surprise to hear her ask, “What do you do when the thing you do, the work you love, starts to taste like dust?”
Shonda keeps it all the way real in this poetic and powerful speech. She is as witty as you’d expect from a writer with her reputation, but it’s her raw and candid discussion of conquering fears, curbing her workaholic tendencies, and keeping the joy in her career alive that really hits home. This speech is a reminder that, even if the creative work you’re producing is life changing and the whole world is depending on you to make it happen, you can’t succeed without acknowledging the importance of putting the work down, putting yourself first and taking the time to do what feels good. If you’ve ever been burnt out by your craft or feel on the verge of it, you need to watch this TED Talk.
Did any of these resonate with you? Is there another TED Talk that’s a go-to for you? Let us know in the comments!
If you think you can’t look trendy while attending your BFF’s pool party, think again. Summer is all about being fun and colourful, and expressing yourself through your clothes so don’t be afraid to go all out! From the bathing suits you decide to wear to the sandals you strut up the driveway in, all eyes will be on you. Here’s how to make the most of the last few poolside opportunities as summer winds down. (more…)
The only way you’re going to avoid the topic of sex these days is if you walk around with your fingers in your ears and a blindfold over your eyes. Like Salt-N-Pepa said, “Now we talk about sex on the radio and video shows/ Many will know anything goes.” That was 26 years ago. We’ve got enough songs about it to make a thousand playlists. We use it to sell everything from food to cars. There are thousands of products designed specifically for the enjoyment of sex. I think we can stop pretending sex is a taboo subject now, right? That doesn’t mean it’s something we should take lightly though. (more…)