Write On Grrrl

Voice of Empowerment. Not reason.

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Finding Your Voice

Fear has the ability to silence your voice.


Dramatic? Indeed. But when you're afraid to speak up, especially when there are consequences for having a opinion that's not popular or expected or how you're supposed to act, it's way easier to be quiet.

To become invisible.

To take yourself to a place where no one notices you. Because there's a certain safety, and anonymity in this silence. When you put yourself on mute, there's no incoming harsh judgements. Because there's absolutely nothing to judge.

You are living an empty existence.

You become invisible. You go inward, not upward. You are afraid to really be you.

Hopefully, your voice is so strong that it cannot be silenced. And eventually, you'll work hard to become stronger. And get to a place where you're able to beat those other voices back. The ones that have the audacity to say you're not good enough. The ones that say why can't you be more like me. The ones that are weak. And judge. And compare themselves. And are threatened because they can't be more like you.

Hopefully, your voice can rise out of the quiet, and boldly go against the grain. And you can find the courage to speak your truth out loud. To embrace all of your wonderful, beautifully divine traits and gifts that are characteristics of you and only you. To figure out what YOU believe in. Then stand up for it. To figure out how to say no thank you to the things that don't fit your personal life mantra, embrace the things that do, and never, ever, have the need to apologize.

That's what being a Write On Grrrl is all about. 

It's about living a life of empowerment. It's about embracing love and showing fear the door. It's about Girl Power (em)powered by the pen.

Sometimes it takes a while to find your voice. 

But a there's absolutely no storytelling without one.

Turning The Page

Everyone remembers their first big job. You know, the one that bumped your pay grade just enough to indulge in stuff other than groceries or rent. And I, I, was working towards one thing. That single splurge that would mark, to me at least, that I'd made it. 

Cue the Hallelujah Chorus: A subscription to The Providence Journal. 

Delivered daily. 

To. My. Door.

Go ahead. Call me a journalism geek. I'll take it. (And probably deserve it, especially once you add in the fact that the second indicator of my world domination was being able to subscribe to Newsweek--at the same time!) Eventually, I MADE it, wildly flaunting BOTH subscriptions. 

But then, things slowly began to change. 

Newsweek got cut from the roster first, after gradually deviating from its oddly successful model, of, well, promoting news, that had sustained it for over 80 years. Kim Kardashian. Not news. It's on-line model, to me, was a shell of its former self. I didn't renew. 

And earlier last month, after an agonizing decision, I reluctantly decided to let my beloved Providence Journal go as well. (Ironically, or not so much, it was the same week that this column appeared in the Providence Phoenix. It's so not my imagination.)

For me, it went back, just as it came in, to economics. An outstandingly bad timed quarterly payment to the newspaper, rolled up alongside taxes and life insurance premiums, made me look at the budget hard. The value for the information received just wasn't there anymore. So, I substituted the e-edition for print, wondered when exactly people stopped being able to pay weekly, and tried to be okay with not physically turning the page. 

I'm not.

In fact, I'm not really cool with the pace, in the twenty years since I graduated from college, that the industry has changed. This short attention theatre stuff is killing me. Where's the details? The art of the long form? The investigations? The building of the story? The getting lost in it? The learning of something? Anything.

I know it's all just business. Like it was in 1992, when two daily editions of the ProJo got folded into one. And in 1997 when the independent locally owned newspaper got sold to a media corporation in Texas. And in 2008, when the ProJo closed their local bureaus, and ending neighborhood zone coverage. 

It's all just business. But it still makes me sad.


All Good Things Must Come To An End

In July, 2011, I set out on a personal challenge: Write one blog post per week for a year.

That's fifty-two essays, in case your elementary math really sucks.

And I wasn't just going for a record of what I ate for breakfast. (Oatmeal. Steel cut. With fresh blueberries, raw almonds, a glass of cranberry juice and a Starbucks iced French Roast.) I wanted to create a platform that was thought provoking. Conversation inspiring. To bring voice to issues that mattered. 

Or at least ones that mattered in my world.

Two years, and one hundred and six consecutive posts later (107 if you count this one), clearly, this grand experiment has gone a bit into overtime. (I'll blame my obsessively competitive nature. Even if I'm the only one running in the race.) 

And so, while I'm giving myself a standing O for outstanding achievement in discipline and deadlines, without any enforcer (or money) involved, it's time to pick up this party and move in another direction.

What? And you thought authoring an unpaid blog was my life dream?

Don't worry. I'm not saying good-bye to the blog. (Or, horrors of horrors, writing.) My mouth is far too big to stay silent for long. But what I am saying good-bye to is this rigid schedule of posting every Thursday like clockwork. 

Because that part is feeling increasingly like a job. Instead of what it really is: 

A calling and a passion.


Guest Post: There's Only One You

Ms. Jenna Z., my cousin's daughter and, gulp, one of my flower girls, is graduating from high school this year.


Growing up, Jen wasn't having any of that kids' table bullshit. She was much more interested in what was going on with the adults.

And it shows.

She's one deep cat.

Now that I've sufficiently embarrassed her, this is how she wrote her way into college, Hamline University, Saint Paul, Minnesota, where she hopes to study public relations, then eventually work for Disney.

They'd be lucky to have her:

When I think of an artist or work of art that has impacted my life, the one artist who flashes into my mind is Vincent van Gogh.

I remember the day we watched the film in seventh grade art class.  I was sitting at my paint stained table staring at the blank screen. When my art teacher said, "Today we are watching a movie on Vincent van Gogh."

He popped in the disk and pressed play. We all sat on our art stools staring at the screen, as the film unfolded his life. The students in the class laughed when he began going insane. They giggled at the thought of him sending half of his ear to his one, true love.

Then there was me; I sat there feeling sorry for him, wishing I were able to tell him how influential his work will be in the future.

Once the movie was over, our teacher asked us our thoughts regarding him. There was a girl in my grade who sat at my table, her hand shot up and she whined, "I think he was weird. Like he cut off his own ear. You don’t do that. No one liked him because he was weird."

My teacher said, "Well, I guessed some of you would think that."

Then, I looked at him and nervously said, "I just really wish I could have seen the world through his eyes. I wish I could see the night sky the way he did, the flowers, everything."

I saw his eyes glow as he stated, "That’s exactly what I wished I was able to do. I’m glad you understand."

To this day this conversation runs through my mind so clearly. This was the first time I had ever really fell in love with an artist's work. It made me understand that no matter how hard I try; I will never be like everyone else. 

Sometimes, I stare at A Starry Night and watch as the colors swirled together to form the night sky; colors that the average person would not think were in the sky as boldly as he showed them. They all swirled together to form the notion of wind swirling though the lands, the stars glowing brightly off the canvas. I had never seen a painting like that. 

The colors were not fully blended together and somehow, to me, this told more of a story than a normal painting. I decided that I too, could paint what I want. It seems to me that the oddest things have the strongest impact. So I began to paint. When I felt lonely or down, painting always made me feel better. Everywhere I look, I am reminded of how beautiful the world is. 

I always take the time to look at the sky now, just to look at all the colors that swirl around, because of Vincent van Gogh, I am able to appreciate the things around me and see their beauty.