Month: January 2017

Feminist Icons Who Shaped Me

“The world was hers for the reading.”

Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

I grew up in a small town, in an old Victorian, surrounded by trees. I sat in corners reading books. Every occasion, whether a birthday or Christmas, a good part of my gifts would be books for reading or writing in and art supplies. Always art supplies. My mother insisted that her children express their inner artist.

I am the oldest of four children. Four children so incredibly different in many ways. My younger siblings didn’t grasp onto art. They preferred sports, video games and television. I continued to sit in my room, or in a corner, a porch and eventually a cemetery, reading and writing. I read everything I could get my hands on. Often rereading my favourites, till the books started falling apart.  I read fiction. I read non-fiction. I was often wandering the rows of books at the library, looking for subjects such as Flappers, The Suffragettes, books with strong female characters. Even as a young girl, I was already curious about the history of women.

At eleven years old, my mother gave me a copy of A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. Immediately, I fell in love with Francie. Her independence, her determination and her sass immediately caught my attention. She had a dream and was going to fulfill it. A dream that in a man’s world, may have been impossible. Francie would be the first feminist character introduced to me, with many to come.

Our lives are shaped by the people and events around us. Women, especially strong women our inspirations. Bell Hooks, Mary Wollstonecraft (mother of Mary Shelley), Jane Addams, Susan Anthony, Christabel Pankhurst, Sylvia Pankhurst, Maya Angelou, Virginia Woolf, Susan G. Cole, Emily Howard Stowe, Nellie McClung, Gloria Steinem to name a few. For me, most of my inspirations came from fictional characters. Strong female characters. As a young girl, I would watch reruns of The Mary Tyler Moore Show with mother and The Addams Family, horror movies and westerns with my father. All of my inspirations weren’t just fiction, there was also Betty Smart, my grandmother.

Francie Nolan, Mattie Ross, Mary Tyler Moore, Morticia Addams. The four corners stone’s for me and four very different females. Their backgrounds, personalities and stories are completely different, but what they stand for, is the same. Strong, independent, outspoken women who stand for their beliefs and do not back down. They stand up for what is right. Fight for what they believe in and through their sass and determination make sure they are seen and heard. Fearless.

The recent loss of Mary Tyler Moore reminded me of how important it is to have feminist icons and heros influencing and guiding us. How important it is to teach young girls and women that they need to stand up for their rights. Marches in Washington and around the world have proven that we are not going to let anyone stop us from living our dreams or respecting our own bodies. Something has re-awoken this up in us. A small minded man, trying to bully us has added wood to our fire. A sea of pink hats is a beginning, but to ensure our futures, we need to do more. We need to channel our inner Francie, Mattie, Mary and Morticia.

Francie, Mattie, Mary and Morticia have helped to shape me into the person I am. Determined to live my dreams. Not willing to let anyone quash them. My hopes, dreams and respect for my body will not be determined by a man, even if he is a ‘man’ that is in charge of a country. We cannot stop fighting. We cannot stop sending our message. Sometimes we also need a reminder that being a strong woman and a feminist is important. Whether those reminders come in the form of a march, watching your feminist inspiration on media or reading your copy of A Tree Grows In Brooklyn for the millionth time, do it. What the world needs right now, are a lot of Francie’s, Mattie’s, Mary’s and Morticia’s.

“No woman can call herself free who does not control her own body.”

Margaret Sanger

 

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Taking a trip to the other side of Menopause Mountain & giving no f*cks in the hilarious, frank & inspiring The Big ‘What Now?’

life with more cowbell

Ever wonder what the view was like on the other side of menopause? Or perhaps you’re already there and you need to hear from someone who gets it. Everything but the Kitchens Inc. invites you to join Sandra Shamas and The Big ‘What Now?’, running at the Fleck Dance Theatre, Harbourfront Centre.

Through anecdotes, and thoughtful, sharply funny riffs and musings, Shamas takes us on a personal history tour of life after 50. Having made it to the top of Menopause Mountain—and leaving alcohol, caffeine and memory behind—Shamas enjoys and explores the brave new world of post-menopause as she tears down the assumptions and expectations that render invisible women ‘of a certain age.’ There’s a new sense of clarity, relief and release as menopause burnishes and tempers to an authentic self—and the sheer joy of giving no f*cks.

The storytelling is hilariously entertaining, fierce and fiery at times…

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Are you a Betty or a Joan?

I often look at a person I’ve just met and wonder, would they be a Betty or a Joan? When I refer to Betty or Joan, I am talking about Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.  Both strong, powerful women in the silver screen days. Yet, with very different personalities and styles (both in life and acting).  If you had to choose, who do you identify with, Betty, Joan or… another someone else?  Let’s take a poll.

I’m free! FREE!

Now I can officially start writing full-time! So glad jury duty selection is over. It was an interesting experience. Similar to the the first time I was called for jury selection, yet different in many ways. I also found it much more stressful. A combination of sitting for long periods in the court room(s) and not really being able to write or even read for that matter. I had grand plans of getting lots of writing done. That wasn’t going to happen.

The roster was jam-packed for our turn as potential jurors.  On Monday, it seemed as if we were called up as soon as court started and each time we returned to the lounge, called back up again. Tuesday we spent half the day in the courtroom waiting to see if we would be selected for jury duty.  Yesterday was the only day that we spent a long bit of time in the lounge and even then, it was hard to concentrate. Each time a new bailiff, registrar or the manager walked into the room, all eyes were on them. We all wondered if we were about to head to another courtroom. Between that and the loud bantering of the two gentleman behind me, I couldn’t concentrate (which I can do with ease in a noisy coffeeshop). At least I was entertained by their conversation, on their strategy to get out of jury duty, if called up for selection.

On Wednesday when the manager came in to release us from jury duty selection, he half joked, “See you all in three years.” Personally, I hope that I’m not back there in three, four or even five years. I’ve done jury selection FOUR times now. I think they can remove my name from the pool now. (yes, I could get called again — once you are in the pool they can call you once every three years for as long as they want)

I am in the process of figuring out vlogging on and all the ins and outs of YouTube, so stay tuned for that. I am going to also be blogging a lot more often. Minimally, weekly, but am hoping to blog every other day. AND I can now livestream on Instagram, so I will do live vlogging. I’m incredibly excited to have a killer camera to use for vlogging. Part of figuring out vlogging, will be the how-to’s of software. I currently have iMovie and am also going to check out other options.

Please see all the links below. Please add me on Instagram and subscribe to my Twitter and YouTube channel. 🙂

Blast off!

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“Love what you do and do what you love. Don’t listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it. You do what you want, what you love. Imagination should be the center of your life.” — Ray Bradbury.

So here we are. The final day of the countdown. Months of numerical vague book entries.  The day I’ve been dreaming about since the first time I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I was ten years old and wanted to be just like Francie Nolan…

Alright! Alright! Stop yelling at me. I have to give you the long version of the story to make this worth your while. Right? No?

Ok.
Here goes.

I quit my job yesterday. Why? Why would I quit a job that paid my bills and kept me in food, clothes and off the streets. Why would I give up benefits, a pension and security? Why?

Let me tell you.
Let me explain.

For as long as I can remember I’ve written. I’ve done it part-time, full-time, as a contractor and as a freelancer. For the last several years I’ve written and edited for other people. I have done poetry and spoken word. I’ve had my writing published in literary magazines and short stories in anthologies. I’ve been a theatre reviewer and a columnist. I’ve fixed dialogue for movie scripts, written copy, done PR writing and business writing. I’ve won awards and contests. I have not written in the capacity I will be.

Full-time.
Fiction.
My own writing.

I have worked hard to get here. To get published in magazines and anthologies.
Applying for grants.
Performing my work in public.

Part-time was never enough.  There was always an ache. It always felt like something wasn’t being fulfilled. If I ever went days without writing, my soul hurt. I knew I needed fix this.

Time to sit down.
Finish my novel.
Send my short stories and poems to be published.
Finally finish all my writing projects.
Write.

Don’t worry. I’m not all starry-eyed about something that’s impossible.  Over a ten year period I worked in publishing and know what to expect and what not to expect. I know how much a writer makes and how hard they work to earn it. I know the ins and outs of what needs to be done to be seen, heard, published.  I’m not walking into this with my head in the clouds. I know reality and how to manage it.

I have paid off my debt.
Put aside some money.
Continually apply for grants.
I’ve prepared for this day.

The reason for doing this full-time; is to make money from my writing. To survive from it. It’s what I am waking up for. It’s my living. I don’t have a sugar daddy. Someone else won’t be supporting me. I will be working myself hard.  This is my career. My life.

I’ve already had many ask me how I could possibly survive doing this. Isn’t it just a hobby? That I’m unrealistic. Well folks, many people are full-time writers and they are doing ok. Cough JK Rowling Cough. (yes, we all want to be JK Rowling — even secretly) I have many friends who are full-time writers, musicians, artists, performers and guess what, they are able to survive doing it full-time as well. So you can now stop worrying. I’ll be fine.

Today is the beginning.
A new chapter.
I look outside. Low in the sky sits the Hunter’s Moon. Bright. Friday the 13th.
The perfect day.
The horror stories begin. Will the next chapter be werewolves, zombies or ghosts?

Actually, I really do need to get that next chapter written. Off I go. Laptop on my lap. Off to write the words.

Blast off!