25 April, 2017

18 Ways to Support the Fashion Revolution


It's Fashion Revolution Week! An opportunity to call for greater transparency, sustainability and ethics from those who make our clothing, handbags, shoes, etc.

Four years ago yesterday, the Rana Plaza factory collapsed in Bangladesh, killing 1138 workers - mothers, fathers, daughters, best friends - who were busy making clothing for JCP, The Children's Place and Walmart (among others). They died because the building they were working in was grossly unsafe and they lacked many of the protections in manufacturing we fought to get in this country 150 years ago. (Many did not want to go into the building but were bullied and threatened with their jobs if they did not do so.)

This is why Fair Trade matters. This is the heart of shopping with intention.


On the other side of every product we buy is a person. Every purchase we make says what kind of world we want. The option to buy fair trade is a deliberate choice to stand against the methods, secrecy and abuse that allowed Rana Plaza to happen - the system that produces the vast majority of products we buy.

It's easier than you think! There are more and more people stepping up to treat the people who make our products like are human and not another cog in the wheel.

Make a conscious choice to support those who are taking a stand and choosing to do the right thing. You might be surprised to realize that fair trade clothing don't cost more than buying at a box store. And you can wear the items knowing no one was exploited or abused to make it.



06 April, 2017

What Pence Said Is Not What Pence Said

A lot has been written about how VP Pence does not dine with a woman alone or will not go to an event serving alcohol without his wife. There is a vital need to identify context not only for what Pence said but for those who have written so passionately against it.

Just the Facts, Ma'am:

Let’s look at what Pence said (or what was written about what Pence said):
“(Pence) follows a short list of self-imposed rules aimed at keeping him out of trouble. For starters, he never dines alone with a woman who is not his wife. And when his wife is absent, he never attends events where alcohol flows.” (The Hill)
Note: this is not a direct quote from Pence (a minor point, but one that needs to be made).

There are two ways to look at that statement:
  • Pence is putting responsibility for any possible action on others.
  • Pence is putting responsibility for any possible action on himself.

Let's Try a Little Context: 

Some have claimed this stance is antiquated and/or sexist. These two sentences explain why women are not in the c-suite and is further proof of Pence’s hatred towards women.

Looking at what was written in the original 2002 article (and quoted in last week’s WP article that stirred all this up) it is imperative we recognize a lot of what is being said about Pence is added context.



Pence is indirectly quoted as saying he will not dine alone with a woman who is not his wife. That is different and has more to do with his marriage and integrity (remember that word?) than a woman’s career advancement.

The argument that females in his circles are somehow being discriminated against because they can’t get a drink with Pence is hyperbole.

He did not say a woman on his staff can’t come to an after hours function.
He did not say he would not dine with a woman in a group.
He did not say he will not meet with a woman on-one-on in a business setting (like for a review, or a pitch or a policy briefing).
He did not say women should be out without a chaperone (please!).

His words are not about pushing women into hiding or whatever other innuendo has been added into his statement.

He never said women are a subservient class or that they are not people too.
He never said his marriage is so weak one dinner could undo it.
He never says women should not be seen, heard and respected.
He never said the rule is in place because he does not trust women.

Why Context Matters:

This rule is in place as a boundary (remember those?) for him and his marriage. And it sounds like it is more about time vs. person involved.

By the way here is a snapshot of the original article: 

from here

The original quote was from 2002 after the fallout of yet another politician getting brought down by an affair. Further, no one has offered proof that this rule still stands. (And, if you read more than a soundbite and get context, you will see that Pence said he often does not eat with male colleagues either – to build a zone around his marriage.)

In a time of “fake news” and “alternative facts” (and much of what has been written about this can be labeled either of those by the way) we need to stand on what is true. We cannot add context or innuendo into things and call it real. We have to separate our emotion towards Pence and not overreact to what is a pretty innocuous quote. What people are outraged about is a lot of conjecture from people who already don’t like Pence.

Women in the Workplace + The "Rule"

It is a huge overstatement that women are not getting ahead because one (at the time) senator would not have dinner with them. Pence’s “rule” does not narrow the gap for women. It just doesn’t. There are 117 reasons more women are not in c-suites and dinner alone with the boss is not one.

We need to address the real reasons women are not advancing and stop creating fake ones that, when separated from emotion, insult our intelligence. Stop adding your disgruntled context and turn your focus to the real fight because that is taking enough energy already.

We can talk about office bonding and after work opportunities. I ask how many of those happen in a group vs. one on one. How many business dealings with a superior really happen over cocktail hour at Joe’s?

To be transparent, I was raised in an environment where this rule could have applied easily. I have worked for men (and women) who held this rule. It is not about sexuality at all. It’s not about men being easy to tempt or women being sexual predators. That is insulting on oh so many levels.

It’s about the appearance of things and how people fill in the gaps. It’s the question of what can be gained by taking a co-worker (of either gender) out after work that cannot be done in the office. It’s a healthy work-life boundary more people need. It’s keeping your marriage first. Reading this quote in the context of the 2002 article, it is about personal responsibility and has nothing to do with whom Pence is eating with (again, the direct quote says he doesn’t often dine alone with male colleagues). Instead, it's wanting not to let his job consume his life.

As Matt Lewis said (after a well thought out debate on the topic), “You have the right to exercise personal responsibility. If your priority is to protect your reputation, marriage, and political career, you have to do what you have to do, even if it means there might be some collateral damage.” (Daily Beast)


Do I think Pence wants more control over a woman’s body than he should? Yes.

Do I think some of his policies towards women are harmful, wrong, and ignorant? Yes.

Do I think this rule falls into that? Nope.


Before you go putting on your pink vagina hat to stage another (useless) march, or write a completely knee jerk, tone deaf, not applicable op-ed, take a breath and look at what was actually said. If you cannot do that, you lose whatever inkling of credibility exists outside of the circles of those who could not even be bothered to check facts before turning this into something it is not.

There are enough battles to fight without starting unnecessary ones. And I would love talk to Pence about those, one on one, in his office, during business hours.




Links:

04 April, 2017

Six Ways to Bring About Equal Pay

In a recent speech to the U.N, Abby Wambach, one of the most recognizable soccer players in the world, said:

"I represented my country on the field for almost 15 years. I won a world cup and Olympic gold medals. I was awarded best player in the world. And then, when I retired, I found myself on a stage receiving an ESPY icon award alongside Peyton Manning and Kobe Bryant. The three of us walked off that stage and into very different futures. I'll have to reinvent myself to pay my bills in retirement in ways they'll never have to...I'm coaching my 11-year-old future daughter's soccer team. On that field I promise those girls that they are equal, that if they work hard and stick together they can accomplish anything. But the thing about that is none of that's really true YET.”

Today is Equal Pay Day. It exists to raise awareness about the gap in pay because of gender.

It is easy to blow this off or to push it aside as a “feminist agenda.” But the evidence proves women, and minority women especially, are paid less than their male counterparts.

In The U.S.

Women working full-time in the United States earns $0.83 for every $1 a man earns. The gap is even wider for African-American women ($.70), and Latinas ($.60) (livefashionable). In practical terms, a woman brings home $3 less per hour than a man (or $24 a day, $120 a week, $6,240 annually!). Over a 40-year career that’s over $400,000 for a white woman or over $1,000,000 for a Latina (NWCL)!
  • The pay discrepancy is worse for lower-income jobs. 
  • Education does not help. The gap continues regardless of education level, even though more women than men have a post-graduate degree. 
  • Unions do not close this gap.
  • This is not a gender problem, it’s an issue of respect. 

It is argued that women take jobs in sectors where workers are paid less (teaching, health care, or child-care, etc.) so its comparing apples to oranges. But look within industries themselves and women are still paid less.

In the business world, much has been written about women’s access to higher level jobs, the c-suites, etc. There is a lot of presumption and projecting placed on women that holds them back. The role of gender and un-equal parenting means women often have to ask for adjusted work schedules, can’t do post-work outings, are at home after pregnancy, etc. And instead of adjusting to these realities, thereby enabling both parents to engage with work and home, business sticks to a rigid mentality that does not work.



If a male and female are hired for the same job, they come in with the same qualifications, education, etc. they should be given the same base pay, regardless of gender, race, etc. Come time for a raise, if an employee has met the goals and expectations placed on them, they should be given equal raises and chances for promotion. And yet this overly obvious, basic set-up does not happen.

Industry has to shift. Childrearing has to adjust. And what that looks like is for families to figure out. But when, in 6 out of 10 families, a woman in the primacy or co-breadwinner, $6,000 a year can be the difference between living in poverty or not.

“If working women were paid the same as comparable men, the poverty rate among all working women would fall by more than half in 28 states. … In 16 states, the poverty rate among single mothers would fall by more than half if working single mothers were paid the same as comparable men” (Status of Women).

Read that again – the poverty rate among working women would fall by more than half. Imagine that ripple for our economy and generations of families if we just paid women equally. 

Globally

Globally the numbers get worse with women earning only $0.77 per a man’s dollar (UNWomen) if they work at all.

Women are often denied the opportunity to work. The responsibilities of child rearing fall on women in even more disproportionate measure in the developing world. Take into account a lack of education, early marriage, lack of access to medical care, birth control, etc. along with the male domination of many cultures and women do not have a lot of options.

Women tend to be economically dependent on men. Women cannot buy land. They sometimes cannot have their own bank accounts. They might not even have access to legal services.

But even for those who can work, the options are not good. Lack of opportunity leads to many barely able to eke out a living being entrepreneurial, selling food at the market and along road side stands, or opening up a seamstress operation in their home. Many work in brothels because no other opportunity exists. Or, just getting by means working in a sweatshop to satisfy our need for cheap goods.

No one can survive on $2 a day. Single or with a family of three it is impossible. And yet, we somehow think because of where people are born that they “deserve” to be poor or, better yet, that they should be happy to work in conditions that have not been acceptable in this country since the turn the last century. We cannot fool ourselves into saying that because they have a job it is okay. We would not allow ourselves or those we love to be exploited so we could buy a $2 t-shirt or cheap shoes. They want more for themselves and we have to demand better for those who we support with our dollars.


What Can You Do?

1. If you are in a position of power at your company, ensure equal pay practices are encouraged.

2. Mentor younger women to know how to ask for raises and help them move up the corporate structure.

3. Volunteer or give to groups helping women to get better jobs in the work force.

4. Follow groups working for wage equality and use your voice to get measures passed in your state and national Congress to help close the wage gap. (http://nwlc.org/take-action/)

5. Support efforts that help low-income and single mother households so they can work and provide for their families.

6. Shop fair trade. That is how we will bridge the pay gap globally. Demand more from big box retailers and corporations. Treat those who make our products how you would want to be treated if you were in their shoes.


We need to bridge the pay gap in America. Archaic thinking prevents us from doing something that would benefit all of us. It should be illegal to ask for previous wage information. We must stop punishing women for having children.

We want our little girls to dream big and affect the world, we need to pay them what they are worth and stop holding all of us back. But these dreams of equality cannot just be for girls in America. Let’s help millions of girls hope for a better future by ensuring we are not supporting exploitation or oppression with our purchases.

It’s time. We can do something.






Links:









15 March, 2017

Why I Run - Again

There are a lot of organizations I stand by. There are lots that I will promote and spread the word about. But there are only two I engage with regularly, that I go above and beyond to actively participate with and give of my time and money to.

One of those is To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA). I have written about why I support TWLOHA before here, here, and here.

On April 15th I will run a 5k thru my neighborhood. I will be joined by people in all 50 states and 11 countries around the world, as well as those running in TWLOHA's "official" race in FL. (If you want to run with me, I'd love to have you!)

But the question posed is: What Will You Run For?

I truly believe that if I knew something like TWLOHA existed when I was in middle and high school things would have been very different for me.


I would have known I was not alone.


I would have known people cared.


I would have had a community to share my struggle with instead of isolating and being filled with shame, self-hatred and pain.



So, I run for those who still struggle with mental illness, for those who cut, for those who find life so difficult to navigate through.

I run against the stigma that keeps these issues in the dark. Stigma that keeps us labeling and blaming those who hurt to feel vs. helping them in a way they will be receptive to.

I run for myself and every day since the last day I cut. I run for the good days when life is amazing and the bad days that feel like a slog.

I run because it is a form of self-care and too often caring for ourselves gets lost when we struggle.

I run because I can.

And I want you to join me!


You can donate here.

You can run with me on April 15th wherever you are (just let me know)

(You can also get your official gear for the run here)

You can shop.

From now until April 15th, I am donating 15% of sales from my small business to TWLOHA. Any purchase made through my website or any Facebook event will go towards the total. If you would love to support TWLOHA and host an event with me, please let me know.









15 September, 2016

Daily Time with God

My morning routine is pretty established. I see my husband off to work, get my coffee cup, sit on the couch and pull out my Bible. For the next 45 minutes (ish), I read the Word, reflect and journal. I have come to see that my days are better if I give the Lord these first moments, before the sun is up, before I check social media, before I sit down with my planner and figure out my day.







I like to mix up my quiet times. I am reading through the Psalms with a friend. I am doing a study on Genesis. There are a few apps with daily readings I will sometimes use. I might read a book on faith by a trusted voice.

There is a balance to be had between listening to others and letting God speak to us. Time with just His Word removes the filter of another’s perspective, and gets us over the “lie” that we don’t know enough, aren’t educated enough, etc. to come to God directly.

God left us 66 letters to tell us about His heart and His ultimate plan: to make us holy and images of Himself. It’s an overwhelming and downright scary idea. It’s one we shy away from. We are content to be His disciples, and He wants to make us like His Son.



To do that we have to give up comfort, control, stability, luxury. We have to get messy and in the mud. We have leave behind prejudice, superiority, cultural standards, and isolation of the “other” and wade into the deep.

But it is what God calls us to. We look at people like Mother Teresa, Jim Elliot, Corrie Ten Boom, Dietrich Bonheoffer and others and marvel at their faith. I would argue they were not any more courageous or bold than you or me. They just took their faith seriously and let God have control over their lives.

We are all called to live like those individuals. We might not be called to love the lepers of India, to be murdered trying to bring His Word to the isolated, or to stand up against an oppressive government. But we are called to live a life marked by Him.

Let me give you a simpler example. My mother. She is an incredible woman. She works at an organization that, by getting people in America to send money monthly for a child in the third world, is able to send that child to school, provide food, medical care, etc. It’s an amazing idea. But sometimes people just want to give but not want to write the child they sponsor. My mother stands in the gap and writes those kids. At last count she is writing over 100 of them. She is faithful in monthly writing these 100+ children, to answering their letters and ensuring they know someone loves them and is thinking of them. She has even had the chance to meet a handful of them. It’s a powerful testament really.

Her actions are having an impact for these children, their families and generations that we won’t know until we reach heaven. I really believe it. She hasn’t left it all behind to go live in Honduras. But she is doing something to affect the world around her.


What Can You Do?

We have bought into this lie that to have our lives matter we have to do something extraordinary. We have to sell it all and move to the jungle. We have to start a shoe company that changes the world. We have to open a safe house in the worse part of the Red Light District.

If God calls you to that, amazing! But that calling will come from a walk with him. It is extraordinary – but you won’t go alone. God will be with you. God often gives us “simpler” ways to serve and love those around us.

For where you are, God could be calling you to:
  • Serve at a homeless shelter.
  • Become a CASA for a child in the foster care system.
  • Take in a foster care child (or three).
  • Offer the empty rooms in your home to a mother and her children who are homeless or want to leave a domestic violence situation.
  • Sew quilts for nurses to wrap around preemie babies in the ICU.
  • Cook chili once a week and take it down to the homeless in your area.
  • Do a potluck quarterly for your block (or the floor of your apartment) so people aren’t so isolated.
  • Start a bible study at the local juvenile detention center or jail.
  • Put down your cell phone and engage with your children, take them outside, let them choose. Learn what it means to play with your children.
  • Take your spouse out for a meal without your phones (or kids) and actually see them. Get to know them. Treat them like you did when you first met and that spark was everything. Love is a choice – so choose it with the one promised forever to.
  • Ask someone to go lunch who you know is isolated, a stay at home mom, a co-worker, the older lady across the hall.
  • Start a hiking group at your church.
  • Volunteer your time for a local nonprofit for their annual fundraising event.
  • Learn to be a ref for a local Paralympic sport. I tell you, wheelchair basketball, tennis, swimming, etc. is incredible to watch.
  • Ask someone if they’d like to meet for a weekly Bible study.
  • Support (or start) a local anti-trafficking group in your area.
  • Collect toiletry bags and clothing for the police or local SANE nurses to give out to women they encounter.
  • If you’re a photographer, volunteer your time to give teens in foster care senior photos, or to provide Christmas photos for low-income families or for parents of stillborn babies (find more here).
  • If you’re a tattoo artist, volunteer your services for girls tattooed by their pimps to get them removed or remade. You can also do it for women who’ve had mastectomies (see here)
  • If you’re a chef, offer to cook a gourmet meal for a foster care facility or ask your church if you can use a space in their building once a month and invite those in a four block radius to come get a free meal. (If your church says no – find a new church!).
  • Help organize a shopping day or Christmas shop for low-income, homeless, or foster care families to come and get clothes and items for Christmas.
  • If you are in a position to, offer an apprenticeship or training for a teen in foster care, a man getting out of prison, a mother re-entering the workforce after a divorce or leaving her husband who beat her.
  • Do some research and find out what groups work with resettled immigrants in your community. Ask how you can help.
  • Go to the local retirement facility and spend time with those who never have a visitor and are forgotten. Be there and love them.
  • Offer hair cuts to those seeking to re-enter the work force who don’t have the funds to get one (see here).
  • Coach a local teen sports league.
  • Organize an event for all those who work from home to feature their businesses.
  • Offer to help a woman start a stay at home business (some are really not that expensive), let her choose which one she feels she can really get behind.
  • Lead a workshop on finances, budgeting, basic bank services, etc. for a local nonprofit working with the disabled, low-income, women starting over, those just released from jail, etc.

The possibilities are endless. But God does call us to action in some form. The key, as we’ll get to next week, is the attitude in which we are serving. If we are doing it out of obligation, pity or self-righteousness (a harder one to ID then you think), then we are just an annoying squawk with no purpose because we have lost the point entirely. People can tell when we are there for the wrong reason.

So what can you do? Take some time this weekend, leave the screens behind (computer, TV and phone). Find a quiet place in your home or go for a walk. Take your Bible, notebook and pen and let God talk.

I will do an entry soon on quietness/stillness but for now let me say – let it come. Your mind will be jumbled, you will get antsy, you will want to reach for the distraction of your phone. But stay with it. Anything worth doing makes us uncomfortable. If it didn’t, then we can do it on our own and where can God work in that?

Can you give God 10 minutes of your time?
Ask Him to show you a place where you can love others around you.

It starts with being quiet before God on a regular basis. The rest will come. For now, find time in your day to meet with God and let Him show you who He really is.

13 September, 2016

The Lie of Having it All

We’ve all heard it. The pervasive lie that sneaks in when we least expect it and makes us feel like we are failing. It’s the lie of perfection. It’s the lie that somehow we can do it all at 100%. We can be fully present at our jobs. We can be there for our kids. We can take care of the house, volunteer at church, still have a social life, and somehow none of these plates are going to fall.

It’s a lie. One that it starting to crack. People are starting to realize that it is impossible to “have it all.”

In order to say yes to something, you have to say no to something else.

Shonda Rhimes writes about the wonderfully in The Year of Yes. (She also writes incredibly well about how motherhood is not a job (it’s who you are) and that it’s okay to get help with your kids). Read it. Please.


But there is no “having it all” unless it includes rest, relationships and a new definition of “success.” The theme of taking a step back and reevaluating our lives, what we are committed to, and what we have let define us, is coming up all over the place. This is a message we desperately need to hear and digest!

Last year I read Alli Worthington’s Breaking Busy, Emily Freeman’s Simply Tuesday and Lara Casey’s Make it Happen in rapid succession (I’d highly recommend all of them). They all speak to this idea that while we are busier than ever, we feel like we are getting less done and losing what really matters in our quest to conquer the out of control to do list.

Okay, let me get this straight. Worthington writes. Women are sacrificing sleep, recreation, hobbies, friends and even family on the altar of busyness. So we aren’t sleeping, aren’t taking care of our bodies, and we aren’t doing things we enjoy with people we love. Then what in the world are we doing? (pg. 22 - emphasis added)
Worthington talks about capacity. She looks at her cell phone as an example. Your phone can only do so much at one time. It will only work for so long without a recharge. We tend to keep going on empty, to try to do more on limited reserves. It just doesn’t work.

Overload

A year after reading all of these books I am still on overload.

I am not “busy” per say. My planner is mostly work, writing and working out. I do not have children, am not committed to anything outside of my home. My life is relatively stress free. But that does not mean I am not outside my capacity or am not overloaded.

I tend to focus on too many things at one time. In my creative life I try to push too many projects forward. I get too many ideas of things to try (got to love Pinterest). I will want to excel at cooking, become the perfect Bible journaler, and run my own business. I join clubs on Facebook I have no intention of engaging with and have more newsletters coming to my inbox than I will ever read. My desk is cluttered with impulse buys, notebooks and print outs to read and digest.

All of this can stimulation leads to feeling overwhelmed. To me it is a sign that something is not sitting right in my core.

Too often we restrict our barometer of busy to our planner, but what about how much time we waste multi-tasking or on social media or procrastinating?

www.amandalunday.com/2015/07/journaling-into-pain-and-doubt.html

What if we took a step back and looked at our habits. Where are we over-indulging? Is it food, shopping, TV, buying more planning supplies or books (guilty!)? It is volunteering everywhere? Or over-booking our children’s schedules? Or, is it subtler – like never putting down our cell phone and constantly checking our feeds?

All of these are a form of escape. Avoidance is easier than admittance and without admittance we will never take action to correct what is wrong.

According to my planner my life is the last thing from busy. But internally – in my head, in my heart and with my emotions – I am so overloaded it leaves me feeling empty, not creative and tired.

At the heart of all of this is learning to say NO!


Learning to say no when it comes to:
  • what we are committed to.
  • what and who we let define us.
  • whose voice we listen to.
  • believing the lie that we have to do it all.
  • making our lives appear like what we see on Pinterest.
  • this idea that we are our kids’ social activities director, when really I think kids today need engaged parents who eat dinner with them and ask them about their day.
  • the guilt and shame that is heaped on us by the very distractions we use to numb.

Rhimes’ book is about empowering herself to stop being the shy girl in the corner and move out into the world (seriously, read it now!). But maybe someone can write a book about stepping into the shadows and realizing that saying NO is the best thing most of us can do.

08 September, 2016

What I'm Reading


I set a goal to read 25 books in 2016.

I love to read. I spent most of my childhood doing it. It was my escape. It fed my imagination. It shaped me into who I am. My book collection is kind of like my music list - varied and dependent on what's going on around me. I go through phases of biography, faith based, books on my craft. I went years without reading a fiction novel. I now tend to read three books at once: one on faith, one on my craft and one fiction.

But in recent years the habit has faded. I buy books but don’t read them. I have the best of intentions but books end up half done (if that) and forgotten. Maybe it was grad school. Maybe it’s the distracted way I’ve lived for far too long. I realized if I wanted to read I needed to be intentional about it. I spend so much time at night zoning out with the TV or re-reading what I write. Instead, I am trying to be better about reading. I want to get away from the screen and read. It’s not about plopping down on the couch and looking at my phone instead of the computer, but opening a book, recharging instead of zoning out.

Like anything worthwhile in life it comes with intentionality. With four months to go, I need to read ten more books to reach my goal. Two and a half books a month? I think I can do it.


Here is what is currently on my bedside table:

Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen by Queen Liliuokalani



I am researching Hawaii’s overthrow for a book I am working on. Who better to learn from than the woman who saw it happen? Liliuokalani was the last queen of Hawaii. She took over after her brother died. The wheels of change were already set in motion. The queen, in an effort to get her side of the story out, published Hawaii’s Story in 1898. She hoped it would strengthen their efforts, put a stop to the overthrow of her nation. But it was not to be.

The queen writes about her life, how she grew up, her travels to London to see Queen Victoria’s Jubilee and the slow takeover of her homeland. The book was published before the final push by the American business community to full coup her kingdom. It is a key read for anyone wanting to understand the heart of these islands and helps put some context around the discussions happening now in Hawaii.

Enchanted Islands by Allison Amend



A Book of the Month selection for June, Enchanted Islands tells the story of Frances “Fanny” and her best friend Rosalie. It is loosely inspired by the memoirs of real life explorer to the Galapagos Frances Conway.

I am still in the start of the book. It is slow to get going. I will see what Amend does with the story, but question why some of this backstory is needed.

The book is set as Fanny looking back on her life, now an old lady in the retirement home with her lifelong friend Rosalie. They both escaped less than idea childhoods and have made a break to Chicago. I will stay with the book for a chapter or two more.

I am fine with rambling stories about life. It’s what I enjoy reading (Molokai, Home, Anna Karenina are some of my favorite books). It’s what I write. But I have to care about the characters and at this point I find Fanny too gullible and Rosalie overly self-absorbed. I know Rosalie isn’t going away and, based off her attitude in the first chapter, she doesn’t change. Unless Amend can endear me enough to Fanny to see her life through, I might leave the Islands and go research Conway’s life on my own.

A Writer's Diary by Virginia Woolf

 

I love journals. I love reading how other people see the world. I will almost always buy someone’s journal if I come across it in a bookstore because I think it one of the purest ways to really get to know someone. One catch - they can’t be selected. I don’t want someone going back and editing a person’s history. A journal is a private place. It is where we wrestle with the best and the worse of ourselves. It’s where we become. If a person can’t be real in their journal where they can? Edited journals to me are someone taking out what makes a person true.

I read Plath’s journal in college, the one edited by her husband Ted Hughes. Something was missing. Plath was a genius. She was deep, true and troubled - yes! But in her troubled-ness was her genius. Hughes tried to contain her. In how he edited her thoughts we lost a piece of who Plath was. I bought her unedited collection to read. I want to know Sylvia without her husband’s intrusion.

Woolf was a prolific journaler. I amend my protest against edited journals here because it is thematic. Her husband cut her words down to entries on writing, reading, the craft and what she was taking in as she worked on her own works. He lets us have a view of Woolf without editing her voice to fit his agenda (which I feel like Hughes did with Plath).

This book is repeatedly recommended in other writing books. I see why. It feels like a conversation with a master. It also challenges me to invite my reading and work into my journal. Woolf wrestles through books she read, where she is with her own work, and what is going on in circles around her.

A definite read for any budding writer or someone who enjoys Woolf’s work.



What are you reading?
 
© Amanda Lunday