Loving you

I have really let myself go.

I used to be strong and powerful, a tiger.

I used to be beautiful and delicate, a hummingbird.

I have to say no-

No more fear or standing by,

No more pain or rain that makes me cry.

I have to feel the flow.

I will get up, get going, get knowing.

I will stop loving you, start loving me, start being free.

The Cost of Being a Woman

Living in a patriarchal society creates burdens on women that men do not encounter. Whether intended or not, those burdens impact women’s financial, emotional, and physical well-being.

The financial costs

In my twenties, I was a woman preoccupied with her looks.


I spent much hard-earned money on clothes that no longer fits and shoes I no longer own. I was completely wasteful. Despite the efforts I made towards my looks I do not recall feeling more happy than I do now. In fact, I know that I was not happier than I am now.


This is not surprising.


From an early age, women are misled. We are told that to be happy, we must look a certain way. We are sold the idea that being a woman means having material possessions- clothes, handbags, shoes- and engaging in certain activities- manicures, pedicures, facials, & massages.


As a result, we place value on ourselves based on our beauty or bodies. That value then translates into dollars for corporate America. A recent article I read suggests that over the course of our lifetimes, women spend approximately $250,000 on their appearances. (For that story click here.) Women are wasting their financial resources.


The average price of homes in the US at $315,000 (found in this Dave Ramsey blog post). Thus, for the same amount of money as the average woman spends on beauty she could buy a home. Of course, men also spend money on appearance. But, considering that women are often paid less than men, one can argue that the financial burdens of being a woman are multi-tiered.

The Emotional Costs

Those who fall prey to gendered stereotypes believe that women are more emotional than men. Those who fall prey and are mysoginists argue that this is the reason why women cannot serve in high levels of leadership such as the US presidency. This type of erroneous thinking puts additional burdens on women. Women who want to counter the emotional stereotype may feel forced to act with more restraint than men.


The emotional costs of being a woman could be lessened. If society deemed it acceptable for both men and women to feel their full emotions. Additionally, a recognition that emotions are not gendered would also be helpful. Women can be aggressive, strong, and blunt. Men can be emotional, soft, and nurturing.

The Physical Costs

When I first started this essay, I thought my research would support my belief that women face higher cost or greater burdens in life than men. But there is one are in which women are not as burdened and that is overall health. An interesting article I found in this Harvard e-newsletter stated that women live healthier, and as a result, longer lives. While this article gave me promise for my health, the truly valuable information it contained was a list for men about improving their health. I shared the article with the men in my life.

Do you believe that there are additional costs or burdens to your gender? Why or why not?

Book Review: Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan

For years, there has been a debate among book lovers, does listening to an audiobook count as “reading?”

For a long time, I tried to be a purist about this. Reading engages the mind in a different way than listening, I would argue. Eventually, I realized that I was still engaging with a story. I began to count my audiobooks in my annual reading tally.

Reading is important for me. From a young age, I was the type of person that would get wrapped up in books. Even to this day, a good story can keep me up at night. However, the experience of getting wrapped up in a story usually only occurred for me when I had a book in hand.

In 2019, that changed for me. I fell in love with the audiobook presentation of ECHO, a novel by Pam Muñoz Ryan.

I didn’t set out to find the audiobook presentation of this book. In fact, when my friend recommended the book, I knew very little about it. And, although I once read Ms. Muñoz Ryan’s book Esperanza Rising, I did not recognize her name when I was given the recommendation. All I knew was that my friend has great taste in books.

This book would be a great read from a book. The author knows how to weave a compelling tale. She creates well-rounded characters. But, this book really lends itself to an audiobook rendition.

The stories of four young people- Otto, Friedrich, Mike, and Ivy- are intricately linked by a harmonica and the desire for something more. The narrative is rich and detailed. However, the audiobook rendition provides musical background during parts of the narrative. The effect is that the audiobook really transports you to the story. Additionally, the reader does an excellent job with an amazing story.

I fell absolutely in love with this story. It was beautiful and well written. It is a book that should become required reading in schools. I loved it! And, you will too. If you like being lost in a story, you will love Pam Muñoz Ryan’s story, Echo. I highly recommend it.

A wild animal

I need the Savannahs and the tall grass prairies.

I need the warmth of the sun to awaken.

I need the night goddess Nut to lay her black body on top of me.

I need the wet grass upon my back and the secrets of the universe.

These are the needs of a wild animal.

Norte

Al norte yo me voy

demostrando lo que soy.

Para triunfar, para sufrir,

para llorar y sonreír.

Para echarle muchas ganas

y hacer mucho de nada.

En el Norte trabajare

y muy rico me pondre.

Me sentire todo un rey,

aunque trabaje como un buey.

En oficinas, labores y restaurantes

con papeles o en flagrante.

En el norte yo ya estoy

dando todo lo que doy.

Hago todo por esperanza

de mejorar mi familia y la raza.

Veo aman nuestras comidas,

y desprecian nuestras vidas.

Del Norte me ire

con ahorros y tendre

mejor futuro en mi patria.

y agusto vivire.

El desprecio no sentire,

de mi gente? Pura fratria.

Por ahora, regresaré a oficinas, labores y restaurantes en el Norte.

This is the first Spanish poem I ever wrote. I felt that it called for being written in Spanish to get the perspective of the person who decides to come North (Norte.)

The RuPaul Mantras That Inspire Me.

I first learned of RuPaul when I was a teenager. It was late 1992 and her hit single, Supermodel, finally hit middle America. The song connected with me.


For years, I kept an ear out for Ru’s other projects. In 2010, I began to watch the show, Drag Race. In the show, she evaluates contestants’ “Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, and Talent” (or cunt.) Ru’s love your pussy ethos is a big part of the show. It is also a part of her music. RuPaul’s music encourages the listener to have the cuntfidence to be who they really are.

The bold assertions of RuPaul continue to inspire me. Today, I will share my favorite RuPaul catch phrases and music. For more information about Ru, check out the interview that Vanity Fair did with her.

The Music

From the first moment I heard Supermodel, I knew that Ru was my type of musician. The song resonated with the frivolous young person that I was. Her fun, club beats were danceable and easy to sing along. I was hooked.


Since 1992, RuPaul’s music has continued to have the same sing-along power and dance beats. It is positively fun. And, most of her music has powerful messages. For example, her song “Sissy That Walk” contains a great turn of phrase that reminds the listener to be true to themselves. “Mama said, people talking since the beginning of time. Unless they paying your bills, pay them bitches no mind.” That’s bold. Do not listen to the haters, she says. I could not agree more.


For my favorite collection of RuPaul songs, check out my Pandora playlist Power Pussy.


“If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?”


Another thing that I love about RuPaul is the moments of wisdom she shares with her followers. One of my favorites happens every episode. At the end of each Drag Race episode, Ru reminds the contestants of the importance of self love with the sage words above.


These might be some of the most important words said on television. In our world, we are taught that finding love is everything. We are also taught that we are complete only when we have another person at your side. But that is not true.


To be happy, to be fulfilled, to be able to give ourself to another, we must love the people that we are. To feel sympathy or compassion for another person we must be able to give those things to ourselves. Without loving the entire person that we are, how can we love all the good and bad of another person. We cannot. Not really.


“When the going gets tough, the tough reinvent.”


This is another of RuPaul’s mantras that I love. Everything around us changes whether we want it to or not. In fact, this mantra harkens for me a quote from Confucius, “you cannot step in the same river twice.”

This idea is true. Every day, we are bombarded with new ideas, new information. Each new idea or information changes our worldview. And, unless a person is committed to being stagnant, they are also changing.

What I like about Ru’s mantra is that it reminds us that change can be intentional and that intentionality is what becomes reinvention. I think this should be the mantra of the new decade. And, I think we should reinvent ourselves into a world where equality and justice are not just reserved for the elite.


“We’re born naked and the rest is just drag.”


We get to my final favorite RuPaulism. This is one of Ru’s most powerful ideas. It reminds me that the world is an illusion. The individuals we present to the world are how we want to be seen. It is not necessarily the truth about what is or who we are.


This statement reminds me of William Shakespeare’s “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances….”


So, if indeed the rest is just drag, then we have the liberty to determine the drag we wish to present to the world. We can choose to be the version of ourselves that pleases the self. Or, we can choose to be what others expect from us. The choice lies within.


What is the “drag” you wish to present to the world.