I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what makes me “happiest” in life. Is it writing? Or directing? Or manicures? Or a stocked Kindle full of unread books? Or lazy Sundays? These things should fill up your life. And together it reminds me of the wise words of Abe Lincoln:
Of course, it seems cliché and yet it isn’t at all. They are words to live by. Here’s five other totally cliché phrases that are totally true:
5. It’s What’s Inside That Counts.
You can buy that incredibly true print from The Calm Gallery, a fun UK store with more screen-printed goodness than you can imagine. Take a lesson from these dolls: a pimple isn’t the end of the world, you are still you. Because deep down, if you are a rotten, burning lump of coal - you need to work on that. But if you are a gallivanting fox baby sharing your refreshing water with the neighborhood squirrels - then you are certainly a good person and let’s be friends.
I’m not a nice person. It’s a bizarre thing to just proclaim like this, I know. But this is going somewhere.
I just finished reading Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In and one of the central premises of her book is women are raised with certain stereotypical ideas about character and behavior that become deeply ingrained in their view of self and therefore, hold them back in their careers. Messages like: Don’t be bossy. Don’t be demanding. Don’t be assertive.
The thing we as women are always allowed to be: nice. Nice is safe. Nice answers phone calls - even ones she doesn’t want to take. Nice doesn’t challenge leadership. Nice works late and doesn’t mention it.
I haven’t figured out my final stance on Sandberg’s theory. I don’t think I’m necessarily her target audience. As I once told a mentor: I don’t lean in, I break down. I’m a smashing Hulk in most work settings, because stagnancy and the status quo just don’t work - for organizations that want to move forward or for me. And instead of allowing myself to be punished for this behavior, I have strategically chosen to work in organizations that embrace this quality.
Not everyone has deep-seated anger issues that can be harnessed into productive work habits, so let’s go back. “Nice.” Sandberg’s right to bring it up and start the discussion. I know that was her intention with the chapter and the book. However, I wish she would have done one thing: I wish she shouldn’t have made so many damn excuses for nice. “Being liked is a key to growth opportunities… BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.”
Nice is boring. Nice is vanilla without any toppings. Nice means: “I don’t know what else to say about you.”
I don’t want to be that. And I feel badly for people who do.
If one other things comes out of Sandberg’s book, I wish we as women didn’t put so much pressure on saying the right thing. This goes for work and relationships and being at the damn grocery store. The quest to be nice leads down all kinds of dangerous roads that end with complacency, passive aggressiveness, justification and boredom.
Facebook’s walls (as in physical walls, not digital ones) are apparently adorned with inspirational quotes like: “Fail Harder” and “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”
I’d like to add to that list: What would you SAY if you weren’t afraid?
Maybe you would mention that you deserve a raise. Or you would take credit for your hard work. Or maybe you would finally tell your partner that you hate his stupid Troll collection. I’m all for being cordial, considerate and professional, but I say: Death to Nice.
And here’s the upside: when you do say something that is truly, genuinely, deeply kind - it will mean something to the person you say it to.
P.S. That lovely ice cream cone print is the work of Heather Future and if you like it, you can buy it here.
I want to thank everyone that shared Tidal Wave Girls with their friends, colleagues, family and followers. It means a lot. It’s a terrifying thing to put your art into the universe. I don’t have the audience of filmmakers like Tiffany Shlain or Jessica Yu, but it means I’m grateful for literally every single pair of eyes and ears that take in my work.
Here’s some things that made me thankful for the universe this week:
I’m going to try this 7 minute workout for you. Since I already do many of these moves in my normal 40 minute workout, I’m not sure it will have the same results for me, but I’ll try.
The media wonders why young people don’t flock to their shitty subscriptions. Here’s a hint: you don’t get us. Thank God the tumblrverse pointed that out to Time Magazine. I hope the others are listening.
This house tour at my friend Merrick’s highlights two important things about Northeast Minneapolis residents: 1. we have great style and 2. we are very much all about casual comfort. I am lusting after my couch as I think about it.
Meet 20 young women who are changing the world. They’re pretty great.
MINNESOTA’S HOUSE PASSED GAY MARRIAGE. YAY. We’re looking at you now, Senate.
Some things I’ve written elsewhere recently:
P.S. to my tumblr readers ... if you want to ask me a question, please don’t do it anonymously! I can’t respond without publishing and that is bad for you and me.
I want to tell you a story. It’s a rather useless story, but it’s a true one and I figure one (or many?) of you might be able to identify.
So I have been on a quest to find the perfect pair of black skinny pants. I had the perfect pair, but they’ve been worn so regularly and with such love that they are now a very sad muted, washed out, run down grey-brown-blegh color. This story wouldn’t even have to be told if I would have done the wise thing and bought two pairs when I got these delightful pants from Gilt a few years back, but this is the shit that happens when you shop in sporadic sprees of internet crazy.
After weeks of flash sale sites and internet super stores failing me terribly, I thought I’d hit up some of the brick and mortar shops to find a suitable replacement. I didn’t. I thought I did. But I didn’t. And why did I fail? Because as it turns out, the vast majority of black skinny pants are actually black skinny jeans for people with really swollen ankles.
Let me point out the difference:
I define “black skinny pants” as just that. Cotton pants made of solid black fabric that are cut like skinny jeans.
I define “black skinny jeans” as jeans that have been dyed black.
This is a critical point of differentiation. The former can be passably worn to work on any day of the week. The latter are reserved for Fridays only and as a result are quickly not worth the investment.
On top of my textile issues, I have also determined that I either A) have the skinniest ankles on planet earth or B) pants are now being made for people with very swollen ankles. I get it: the ankle bone protrudes ever so slightly from the leg, but does this mean I need a 70s bell bottom opening for my joints? No, no it does not.
Then I sauntered into one of the stores that I often imagined was amazing from my small town in Minnesota, until I actually went into one and realized that it’s not nearly as patriotic as the store’s “Classic Flag Tees” would have you believe. It’s just cheap. But I gave it a shot and hoped Old Navy would be able to solve this issue for me, because they had several pairs of pants that met my needs. Hoorah. NOT. I bought the Divas in black, washed them and wore them. And then, the smell. It began wafting about me, fooling me into thinking I had burnt my Amy’s Frozen Pizza. But no, my friends. IT WAS THE PANTS.
Let it be known: Old Navy’s pants smell like burnt beans. And apparently, no amount of washing and airing and drying or vinegaring (yes, that’s a thing) can destroy this stink. And as Google often does, it reminds me that I’m not alone in my bizarre searches.
So now I’m back on the hunt. Black pants, I know you are out there. Please Google, help me find them.
Reality is tough. To pretend like this has been a week of gratefulness and positive thinking would be a real joke and the most disingenuous thing I could do right now. The fact is that the world is really bumming me out. And I wish I could be like Wonder Woman.
So instead of pretending like the world is just business as usual, I leave you with this thought:
At times like these, we can not escape into our fictional worlds. I admit that a brilliant movie or enthralling book are a great source of solace for me in times of fear and trauma and exhaustion. But right now, we must do our best to be brave. This is what heroes do. And right now, without the benefit of capes or CG-animated powers, there are heroes out there trying to unravel the mess that bad guys and terrible circumstances have created. If even one of us can be the little guy or gal in the corner comic panel that says, “over there!” then we need to try. We all need to be brave.
Have a good weekend, my friends. And be safe.
Here are some of my scribblings across the interwebs this week:
P.S. that lovely Wonder Woman art comes from the amazingly talented Melissa Ballesteros. If you like it, here’s her shop.
It’s the song you always turn up. Roll down the windows. Make it loud. Pull your hair out of your pony and shake it back and forth. I love a song that makes me act like a fool. Or just makes me feel like I could spontaneously burst into any of the aforementioned activities while singing along like a karaoke superstar belting out the last tune before bar close.
Last week’s post about movies that are happiness makers struck a chord with more than 3 of you. So here’s my top 10 songs that make me feel like a giddy teenager:
10. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts: I Love Rock and Roll
Joan Jett is the fracking coolest. And since so many songs on this list are going to be in the Rock and Roll category, this seems like a fitting way to start.
9. The Who: Baba O’Riley
Pretty much anything by The Who is a happiness maker for me, but this song in particular gets me all dancy. I think it’s that repetitive synth.