A Woman, Thinking

For Her Own Sake

Poppy Lochridge
Photo Credit: trafficus via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: trafficus via Compfight cc

My father and I have been working our way through Gerda Lerner’s “Creation of Feminist Consciousness” for several months, a few pages every weekend when I visit.

Chapter 8 in this book outlines women’s struggle throughout history to be taken seriously as creatives and authors. In it, Lerner writes:

“The autobiography abounds in qualifications, explanations, and apologies for such unseemly ambition, yet the Duchess’s [Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle] confession has the ring of truth. By her own words then, the Duchess admits to writing from two motivations: in order to be remembered and for her own sake.”

By her own words then, the Duchess admits to writing from two motivations: in order to be remembered and for her own sake.

Cavendish died in 1673, almost 350 years ago, and yet, it could still be said that women create art for the same reasons now as then.

Any number of teachers and coaches have popped up in the past decade, all teaching some form of art: writing, photography, and painting are common.

One of the most reviled “new” art forms is the selfie - not actually new, as many observe, when self-portraits have a long history in both painting and photography. The limited camera options of cell phone photography, however, have held it back generally from appreciation as fine art, and the usual artists of selfies - young women - are still handicapped with limited authority to define themselves, their life, and their worth through art.

However, self-portrait classes - like Vivienne McMaster’s Be Your Own Beloved, have sprung up, attracting middle-aged women as students, ready to assume exactly that authority: to include themselves in history; to define their worth in terms other than the male gaze; and to claim that their contribution to not only society, but their own lives, has meaning.

“Because I’m taking control of the way I see myself in photos”
— Vivienne McMaster

 

    At the same time, high-speed internet has enabled writers and editors to offer online memoir writing classes for women, with an angle towards writing their own experience. Defining, in writing, what matters in their world. These vary from story circles to wild writing circles to writing clubs and groups, but somewhere in the marketing material we “align with what’s true in our lives” or we “create meaning and connection” or we are taking a “seat at the table” of celebrated poets. Mid-life women are claiming the authority of knowing what’s true, of creating meaning, of belonging in the world as artists and creatives.

 

    Not so different from Her Grace, the Duchess of Newcastle, Margaret Cavendish back in 1670, writing her autobiography so that the future would know that she lived - that She, Margaret, the 2nd wife of the Duke of Newcastle, had lived, and that her life had meaning. We who blog, take selfies, create art in order to insist upon our own definition of what matters - we are part of a very long tradition of creative women, stealing time from among their responsibilities to scribble a tiny, apologetic autobiography.

Tchotchkes and Time

Poppy Lochridge

LWW

(That’s either Last Week’s Wishes or Lifelong Worthy Wellness)

Last week and the week before, I wished on a star that just the right puppy would come for my husband, a soft, loveable, squeezable puppy that he can grow into a sweet and loving adult. It hasn’t happened, but he’s gotten a little clearer about what that puppy might look like, and that’s, um, good?

I wished for a Reminder about Ease, Solitude, and Thinking, not remembering that I had an appointment with my fairy godmother this past week. Yes, yes, meltdowns are also reminders.

And I also wished for treasure from the spelunking, and I’ve stashed some shiny-looking rocks in my pouch. Won’t know if they’re worth anything until I make it back out, I don’t think, and get them polished up. Polishing always takes longer than I think it will.

 

What do I want?

Tchotchkes

It’s become clear that some of the tchotchkes I’ve been handed down are actually not innocent little figurines. In fact, they might be slowly poisoning me, leeching negativity into the air I breathe. I’d like some hints on cleanup and containment. They’re not going anywhere overnight - they have, after all, been poisoning me for a very long time.

 

Soloed Time

Oh autocorrect, you know me too well. Somehow, SLOW time became SOLOed time. Well, yes, let’s go with both/and. There’s been so much to do between the Outside world and the Inside world, that this month is flying by before I can grab onto the joy of early summer and strawberries and feral bunnies and strolls in the park and picnics. I want to be expansive enough to contain all of that Life and still be able to work in both the Outside world and the Inside one, too.

 

Puppies

And yes, still asking for a puppy for my partner.

 

Superpowers

This week, I am adopting the superpower of Knowing the Next Right Thing. It comes with a reminder tag, which says “You never need to know THREE right things, only the next one.”

 

How to play along

Because safety is a core value for me, I am asking that comments in this space avoid all the ugly things: shame, blame, judgement. I am asking that disagreement and discussion be polite, respectful, generous, and open to vulnerability.

Because community is healthy behavior, I welcome you to comment, to share your own wants and wishes, to discuss wishing with empathy with me and with each other.

Called to Teach or Called to Profit?

Because GRRLS Rock!Poppy Lochridge

It’s no surprise to anyone around me these days that I love the writing that’s coming out of Vancouver. Specifically, the work of Kelly Diels. If you’re not on her email list, check her out and sign up before Sunday to get this week’s Love Letter. (Hey, I love a lot of things about Vancouver, Kelly’s just one of the newest things I’ve found about the city to love.)

There are things that I love about this unnamed part of the economy, which contains lifestyle brands, divine feminine coaching, leadership coaching, and a variety of ways in which women are teaching women. At its best, it’s subversive and feminist, 1970s consciousness raising brought to the internet age. At its worst, though, it’s traditional “second sex” advertising dressed up in the clothes of feminism and subversity.

 

Nor is it completely dual - the same person can at different times, be part of the model at its best, and then on another day entirely, show the worst the model has to offer. I’ve seen this in 2014 when the leader of a women’s online spiritual practice group offered an in-person event. It was a small event, but ticket sales weren’t strong even for a small event. And so she took to her blog. The post that came out - which was later replaced with a discount offer - was a strenuous attack on women for failing to put themselves first. The message was - “I know you can afford this event, even when you’re telling me you can’t. You have GOT to learn to invest in yourself by sending your money to me.”

 

Very like the coach Kelly shares about in a recent Love Letter, who exhorts followers to draw from retirement or borrow from family so they can "invest in yourself and invest in your success."

 

Also very like a well known writer and teacher, who shared in a blog post in January 2016 that she’d been in therapy in 2015, learning boundary setting. Not coincidentally, the previous August - while she was, per the timeline in her blogpost, still working in therapy on setting good boundaries - she offered a multi-month online class in boundary setting.

 

Friends, we need to ask some hard questions of the people we are learning from. The first is, Are they truly called to teach? There’s nothing wrong in making money by teaching, and we should value all of our trusted teachers enough to pay them for the hard work they do. But there is something uncomfortable about teachers who are not invested in the growth of their students, who, in effect, use shame or gaslighting tactics to persuade.

 

The second question we need to ask is, What qualifies you to teach this to me? What’s your lineage? What training have you done that makes you ready to teach this to me? Have you done your own work in this area - or are you still in the middle of it? We need to ask because, truth is, we’re working with some hard stuff when we’re working to find peace with our body image, our sexuality, our relationship with food or money - and we deserve to be lead by someone who has already done their own work in this area. Not someone who is just getting started - that’s a peer and a companion on the way, not someone who knows the path, has been down it enough times to know where she herself feels scared and lost. It’s understandable - I feel the same way about the things I’ve been learning. It’s SO amazingly life changing, we want to leap out there and share it with everyone we can. The mistake is when a teacher mistakes that fresh, shiny new amazement for being ready to teach - instead of knowing that the work still has to be done, and inviting co-travelers to walk the path together.

With many thanks to Kelly for her writing on likeability and decision-making and about what constitutes good information when making decisions.

I have intentionally not named either of the writers used as examples. This isn't about calling them out, or even calling them on, their choices, and so I have chosen to leave them anonymous.

 

How to play along

Because safety is a core value for me, I am asking that comments in this space avoid all the ugly things: shame, blame, judgement. I am asking that disagreement and discussion be polite, respectful, generous, and open to vulnerability.

Because community is healthy behavior, I welcome you to comment, to share your thoughts and responses and discuss this with empathy with me and with each other.

Stalactites - Wish #2

Poppy Lochridge

Even though I don’t know what I would ask for….

No, I know what I would ask for. I’d ask for the same things I asked for last week, and a little more.

 

What DO I want?

Puppies

My husband still hasn’t found the perfect puppy for him. We’ve got a lead on getting someone else to help him put up flyers, which is better than it could be. I would still really, really love for that puppy to come knocking on the door, looking for a good home.

 

R.E.S.T.

I’d like a Reminder about Ease, Solitude, and Thinking. The last month has been a flat-out haul to get to this point, and thinky time is getting scarce. This might look like a very obvious opportunity to take some time away and rest - or it might be a cue that reminds me when I need to spend some time in ease and solitude to make room for thinking.

 

Even though I don’t believe that there is any way on earth that this would ever work.…

Piffle. Who cares? This is not about productivity, not about working or not working. It’s about making space for appreciating what I have (thank you, thank you) and honoring my needs

 

Stalactites

I have been spelunking for some time around some of my memories around friendship and belonging, dating back to childhood. It’s very much like digging around in the darkest cave ever, and I would really like to start finding something that can come back out with me. Bonus unicorn points if it's shiny.

 

Even though I feel really, really uncomfortable when I just start to think about asking for stuff.…

It's a little better if I pretend that I'm just writing to myself.

 

Superpowers

I welcome the superpower of Creative Interest and Fun - joyful playing with ideas and words and images.

 

How to play along

Because safety is a core value for me, I am asking that comments in this space avoid all the ugly things: shame, blame, judgement. I am asking that disagreement and discussion be polite, respectful, generous, and open to vulnerability.

Because community is healthy behavior, I welcome you to comment, to share your own wants and wishes, to discuss wishing with empathy with me and with each other.