WANTcast 037: Thinking Out Loud: On Finding Your Limits, Shifting Social Media, #WellnessRealness, Building Structure, Wedding Planning, and More

WANTcast 037: Thinking Out Loud: On Finding Your Limits, Shifting Social Media, #WellnessRealness, Building Structure, Wedding Planning, and More

Community the WANTcast Work

Possibly the longest episode title ever – and it doesn’t even scratch the surface.

Taking a wee pause from The Recovery Myth miniseries right now to do some Thinking Out Loud. This episode, something new for me, has no script, outline, or even single subject matter. It’s a mishmosh of some of the biggest things on my brain and the deepest dives I’ve been doing lately.

 

at Lovely Bride in Tribeca picking up my wedding dress

Inspired by THIS Instagram post, I realized that sometimes the best coversations are long, rambling, multifaceted, and hit everyone in different ways.

In this episode we get down ‘n dirty about:

-Wedding planning and how what people say it’s like is actually NOT the case for me

-Figuring out your limitations so you don’t crash and burn

-A Cheryl Strayed Q+A that changed the way I view the way I work

-My theory about the social media landscape shift

-Some real talk on the real wellness industry

-Tiny tweaks, tricks, and tips to create structure and reclaim your day

…and more!


Listen in iTunes | Play in new window | Download | Support the pod by shopping on Amazon via this link

If it works for you, it works. Click To Tweet

Show Notes:
THE GOOD WORD: WANT’s weekly newsletter/love note
Cheryl Strayed: Love, Life and Lessons Learned in “Wild”
Another interview series I binged on over the weekend (spoiler: Brené Brown interviewing Oprah, Liz Gilbert, etc)
Instructor pals of mine whose classes I’ve been loving here in NYC:
Gerren LilesAndrew SlaneMary HorneNikki BucksSarah Girard
Do Not Disturb on iPhone and Android

Like this episode? Leave a review on iTunes, share it on Facebook, tweet it out on Twitter, or post it on Instagram. Be sure to use the hashtags #WANTcast, #womenagainstnegativetalk, and/or #WANTyourself!

5 Badass Female Cartoonists + Illustrators You Should Follow On Instagram

5 Badass Female Cartoonists + Illustrators You Should Follow On Instagram

Community Tips + Tools

One of the many joys of my childhood was coming downstairs for breakfast on a lazy Sunday and seeing the newspaper parceled out for each family member. My dad got the front pages – the major headlines and serious stuff. My brother always started with the Sports section, which he split with my mom between bites of cereal or an Eggo waffle or a big fluffy cinnamon roll baked fresh from the Farmers Market.

And me? I got to start with the Comics.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the Calendar section for Arts news and the “Lifestyle” section for the op-eds. Chris Erksine’s weekly column in the LA Times was a staple in my repetoire, and the candor with which he and other columnists (in what I deemed the more “cool” and “down-to-earth” sections of the paper as a young reader) wrote about their small yet mighty life experiences was for sure an influence on my speaking and writing style.

But I found that my tween-ish mind could learn way more from the Comics section than any other part of the newspaper. In just six or so pages of newsprint, I could dive into different worldviews, laugh at jokes that I might not have been deemed “marure enough” to understand IRL, and – my favorite – watch characters, in bite-sized vignettes, put words to what every single adult around me was thinking and not saying. As a highly sensitive person and an empath to the core, I could often feel what adults around me felt. I just wasn’t always able to put it into easily understandable terms. How could I, if no one else around me was even validating that these feelings existed?

What’s more, *I* felt those feelings, too. Stress. Loneliness. Awkwardness. Through comics, I could watch these characters morph and evolve week after week right along with me. They helped me wrap my head around a world that was sometimes a bit overwhelming, and even got me seeing – laughing – at the absurdity of so much of it. 

When I think of “The News” migrating from the page to the screen, I always feel a pang of sadness. Yes, of course, because of the value of the printed word…but also because of the immense pleasure of the Sunday comics and the parceled-out paper sections at the breakfast table. The newspaper, and particularly the Comics section helped shape me as not just a writer and artist but as a full human being.

Which is why when I started to discover the vast amount of cartoonists and illustrators on Instagram, my heart felt like it had been reunited with a childhood bestie. But better – because the bulk of the cartoonists I was finding myself drawn to were WOMEN.

The one gripe I have about the Comics section of my youth is how male-dominated it was. Baby Blues, Zits, Mutts, and Momma were my go-tos. When Calvin and Hobbes ran its last strip, I cried. But rarely did any characters look like me sans a token mom or female sidekick – and very rarely was there a woman in the byline. If I wanted a female point of view I really only had Cathy to turn to (who was a badass. for the record).

Today, there are countless female cartoonists and illustrators on Instagram creating witty, poignant work that is HIGHLY relatable whether you’re a woman or not. Their bravery to use their art to tackle mental health issues, take a stand for causes they believe in, and help their followers understand the nuances of what makes each person unique toes the line between art and activism. Their boldness helps me, and others like me, be bold by boiling things down to images that make us FEEL.

I might not have a breakfast table decorated with parceled-out newspaper sections and words and ideas just waiting to be discovered, but I love that social media has allowed the Comics section back into my life – and, what’s more, a brand new Comics section that looks a lot more LIKE my life.

Here are five female Instagram cartoonists and illustrators I’m loving – and think you will, too:

@IntrovertDoodles


Marzi from Introvert Doodles is the one that started it for me. Her cartoons are always a high point in my day, and get me shouting out “ME TOO!” more times than I can count. But silently, because #introvert. Unless I’m alone. Then out loud. I honestly don’t have adequate words to describe how much I love Introvert Doodles…so go check her out yourself to see what I mean.

@MakeDaisyChains



Hannah Daisy of @makedaisychains is a mental health activist who uses her #boringselfcare series to remind us all – whether we’re struggling with an illness or are feeling down in the slumps – that no act of self care is too small. She’s helped me “just clean the dishes” or “just do the laundry” multiple times. Because sometimes, those “justs” can feel a lot more than that.

@ByMariAndrew



I’m obsessed with Mari’s adorable, quirky, uber-positive (but never saccharine) illustrations. Every time an illustration of hers pops up in my feed, I’m reminded of how many little things there are to smile about – and how many of those little things aren’t really so little at all.


@SarahAndersenComics


The comic strips that Sarah Andersen of Sarah’s Scribbles (aka @sarahandersoncomics) draws remind me the mosts of the comics I LOVED as a kid – but even better. Sarah tackles anxiety, periods, dating, and the thoughts we’re all thinking but rarely say out loud. And…her comics make me snort-laugh. Which is very important.

@KimothyJoy

Okay, so Kimothy Joy’s work isn’t so much cartoons or comics as it is illustrations and art. But I love her so much, I couldn’t leave her out of this mix. Her gorgeous paintings and drawings are the perfect merger of art and activism, sharing the wise words of women along with artwork that will make your heart sing. New writing goal? Write something worthy of a Kimothy Joy quote illustration.

 


NOW YOU:
What other female cartoonists, illustrators, and artists are you loving? Who else should our WANT community be following on Instagram? Tell me in the comments below!


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Oversharers Anonymous: A PSA On Sharing Publicly.

Oversharers Anonymous: A PSA On Sharing Publicly.

Community Tips + Tools

Ever have those moments where you just can’t seem to squeeze any creativity out of yourself? That was me this weekend.

Whenever I tell people I’m a “writer,” images of scribbling away old school style inside a Moleskin journal with La Vie En Rose playing softly in the background whilst gazing wistfully out the window start to fill their heads. 

Yes, I am beyond grateful that this is something I can actually do for work. I love deriving meaning from the mundane and symbols from stories. And yes, that image of 40s jazz music playing softly in the background is usually true (well, jazz or Royksopp if we’re being honest here). I’m a very lucky gal. That’s not lost on me.

But when I’m staring out the window, it’s not because I’m looking at any one thing in particular. It’s more that I’m getting overwhelmed by my thoughts and trying hard to thread them together. And although I’ve got my Moleskins for personal musings, it’s a blank computer screen that’s usually in my lap, and it’s usually growling and nagging at me to FILL ME UP, LAZYASS! instead of softly beckoning me to scribble away.

It’s this exact point that the Impostor Syndrome goblins starts to claw at my window and I need to do everything in my power to not let them obstruct my view. Because whenever they do, that creativity squeezing starts. And whenever they do, I end up searching for answers.

I end up staring out that window for way longer than intended – because I know that if I take the easy route and Scotch-Tape together whatever Impostor-Syndrome conclusions I draw and press “POST,” I’ll regret what I’ve shared.

~

With each app release and Facebook redesign, we’re becoming more and more tolerant of “over-sharing.” Not immune, but the line between average sharing and over-sharing is becoming increasingly blurred. If I don’t think it’s too much, than no one else will, either, right? We all want in on the action, “the action” being the idea that we’re all out there doing monumental things on a minute-by-minute basis.

Social media – whether it’s Instagram, Tumblr, or good old blogs – are self-curated highlight reels. Too much focus on anyone else’s highlight reel, and that’s when the problem starts: we begin to manufacture our own.

In the best light, this could be seen as intense gratitude for the micro moments. However, my hunch is that’s not the case. We’re pack animals. We don’t like the idea of being left behind. And so, whether it’s a conscious or unconscious choice, we throw our voice into the mix and we put our moments into the pile, all as if to say that Yes, we’re worthwhile; Yes, we matter too.

Oh, and that’s in addition to the fact that the entire internet is basically feasting on our opinions, hungry to feed its algorithms so it can become smarter, faster, and more adept at predicting what exactly we’ll say, buy, and do at any click. It’s set up to make us want to share.

In this type of climate, it begs the questions: How do we choose what to share, and what to share mindfully? How do we make the distinction – especially when we’re all surrounded by so much noise telling us to LIKE, POST, and SHARE the day away?

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I’m a pretty open book, both on WANT and IRL – but I’ve set some ground rules for myself along the way. I ask myself five specific questions whenever I’m faced with the decision to share or not share, post or not post – even talk or not talk.


FIVE QUESTIONS FOR SHARING PUBLICLY:

1) Is it personal, but not intimate?

Every week, without fail, I’ll write something and I’m asked how I do it. How I share so much of myself, get vulnerable, put my life out there so openly. Let me be clear, though: my life isn’t out there. Yes, I’m transparent and yes, I share a lot. But I don’t share everything.

When it comes to moments I share, either on WANT or on social media, I only post what is personal – never what is intimate.

What’s the difference?

“Personal” means having to do with who and how I am in my everyday life, not some veneer I’m putting on to fit someone else’s standards.

“Intimate,” however, means those things that I hold closest to my heart, that happen behind closed doors so to speak, or details behind the personal instances of my life.

When we think of intimacy, a lot of us jump to anything sexual – but intimacy is far more than that. To me, things that are “intimate” include details about my relationships: family, friends, romantic, my own deepest current struggles (more on that later). I talk about these relationships publicly in a personal way, but I would never share anything that defies that sacred closeness of intimacy – from details of a conversation to details of a fight to secrets confided to gestures meant just for the moment.

Example: Besides the occasional mention in a post or on the podcast and a photo here and there, there are actually very few mentions and details about my relationship on the internet. To me, that’s a non-negotiable “intimate.” Who I am out in the world is definitely directly affected by my person, but who we are as a team is reserved just for me and my closest circle, or even just me and him.

An important note is that my barometer of what is personal and what is intimate is always changing. You don’t need to strictly adhere to whatever your definitions of “personal” and “intimate” are. But know your lines and know your limits. And whatever they are in the moment, respect them – because respecting them means respecting yourself.

2) Is this my story to tell?

We’re all subjective: we only know our own experience of the world around us. And so when it comes to talking about someone else, I’m always very careful to share only my OWN perspective. Not just because I can only share my own perspective – but also because I don’t know where other people’s boundaries lie.

Even if I’ve been let in on some piece of information or nuanced detail, I know that everyone is not as open as I am, and definitely has a different perception of what is personal vs. intimate. To share even photos of people who don’t usually share publicly can seem like a violation to them. I have NO CLUE how someone else feels about their story being shared – so I only tell my own.

Bonus points: this also keeps me in check by not defining my own story by someone else’s. I am the only one responsible for my own truth.

I am the only one responsible for my own truth. Click To Tweet

3) Is it promoting what I love instead of bashing what I don’t?

Whenever people ask me about how to build a community – whether it’s a friend circle, class, online platform or otherwise – I always tell them they MUST be intentional about the kinds of people they want to attract. Not in a “I’ll-put-it-out-in-the-universe-and-manifest-that-shit,” kind of way – in a “I’m-going-to-act-like-the-kind-of-person-I-want-in-my-life” kind of way. And for me, that starts with respect, kindness, and proactivity not reactivity.

It can be so easy to bash what we don’t like or use public forums to vent our frustrations. It makes us feel better to get it “out there,” even moreso to get validation from others. Yes, I feel this way too! No, don’t be silly! Even engaging in arguments can be a sort of cheap thrill, fighting your point over and over to constantly reinforce (in your own mind most of all) that Yes, I am correct, Yes, I’ve been wronged.

The problem with this is that you are what you put “out there.” Leaning on the crutches of your own victimization? You’ll attract folks who want to play the victim right alongside you. Defining yourself by your past mistakes instead of your future motivations? Welcome to Guilt Trippees Anonymous. Like attracts like, and while you might HOPE to ignite change and inspire action, the only way you can truly attract people interested in the same is if you lead by example.

This third point is a huge, huge reason why I started WANT and why it takes me forever to write content: I have made a pact with myself to be overly mindful of what I say and how I say it. If WANT is truly solution-oriented, then airing my dirty laundry in public not only goes against my entire identity, but creates community around it. If I am truly interested in change, then I must resist the temptation of the drama that going in circles around the status-quo creates. If I want to introduce positive, proactive women to one another, then I need to be that person first and foremost. I won’t be for everyone, but I will be for the people I want to attract into my life.

I won't be for everyone, but I will be for the people I want to attract into my life. Click To Tweet

4) Am I over the hump, or am I still in the work?

I remember becoming obsessed with anonymous message boards and online forums all about health and “wellness” advice – this was a decade ago, when I was at the peak of Orthorexia. I followed women who mirrored my way of life at the moment, who made me feel okay restricting certain food groups and counting macros like it was my destiny.

And then one blogger I followed came out saying she had a disorder. Then another. Then another.

The anonymous advice forums kept on going.

Slowly, ever so slowly, I realized we were all been keeping each other in a loop of sameness without even admitting to one another that we had problems. We were giving advice without ever having reached any sort of success ourselves. We were putting structure and steps to our disordered ways and unknowingly masquerading them as “progress.”

I am not in the position to offer advice or “words of wisdom” on things I haven’t yet worked through myself. The very last thing I would want is for some woman to read my work and take advice to heart that I cannot even stand by yet.

The second I stepped away from those forums and started to take advice from women who had actually succeeded in their journey of self-love was the moment I was able to shift into that space for real, too. Never, never, never again will I ever assign systems and solutions to something I can not take a step back from, look at from afar, and say, Yes, I’ve been there and am no longer tied to the circumstances of the event. I am no longer affected by what will happen, because I’m already way past the outcome.

I am no longer affected by what will happen, because I’m already way past the outcome. Click To Tweet

5) Is it focused on ME…or WE?

I’ll sometimes get a call from a family member (usually my mom, hi mom!) asking about something I’ve written. They pause. There’s worry in their voice. I can hear them raising their eyebrow all the way to the moon.

As I explain to them, just because I’ve written about something personal and tough doesn’t mean it’s bad or all-consuming. Exactly the opposite, actually. If it WAS bad or all-consuming, then I promise you, you wouldn’t be reading about it.

When I am writing about a personal experience, I always ask: is this simply self-serving, or does it serve a greater purpose? Am I venting right now, or is there a lesson in here for someone else?

I don’t know how to write anything without including some sort of personal story or experience. That’s just how I work. However, my goal is always to use the story as evidence to support a greater purpose. It’s not about me anymore. It’s about WE. It’s about US.

One important note: The secret to ME vs. WE is to not only be confident in everything you DO know, but just as confident in everything you DON’T. When we’re focused on ourselves, it can be tough to admit we’re not sure about something…so we pretend to know it all. We pretend to be experts. Mindful sharing – and connection, natch – comes when you can say Yes, I know what I know, Yes, I know what I don’t know, and YES, I stand behind my words as evidence to support a bigger, more inclusive lesson.

over-sharing sharing publicly

What I realized during my creative block this weekend was that I was trying to finagle a story out of an experience I wasn’t yet over. My brain is currently preoccupied by thoughts of a huge impending life shift. I simply cannot write about how to work through that preoccupation from a truly informed, lesson-learned perspective. And I was trying to. But just because I don’t have the solution yet doesn’t mean I’m any less worthwhile or that I don’t matter too.

Sometimes we feel the need to have all the answers – to be able to speak on every experience with a firm opinion or a place of wisdom. I know I do.

It’s in those moments we’re most tempted to share; covering up the fact that maybe we’re on shakier ground than we’d like to admit, or aren’t quite as far up the staircase as we’d prefer to be.

But sometimes, the most important thing we can do is just live it all out. Not every experience has to be for everyone at every moment. Some moments are meant for us alone. No matter what those Like-Comment-Share buttons might want us to believe, to really BE in those moments instead of broadcasting them is not being selfish or guarded. It’s just. being. self. aware.

The words will come later, if they’re meant to come later. But for now? Close the laptop, turn up the jazz, stare out that window, and instead of trying to pry it open – allow your story to unlock at its own pace.

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Allow your story to unlock at its own pace. Click To Tweet

WANT YOURSELF:
These are my five rules – now I’d love to hear from you: Do you have similar ways to gauge what you do and don’t share publicly? What’s worked for you, and what hasn’t? Tell me in the comments, and let’s get this discussion going – the internet isn’t going away any time soon, and neither are ways to share ourselves. The more we help each other out, the more ways we’ll have to be able to share mindfully.


#SelfieEmpowerment: The Case For The Selfie

#SelfieEmpowerment: The Case For The Selfie

Body Community Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power

I’m kind of possessive over my iPhone – namely, the “Photos” app. No way is anyone allowed to scroll through without my finger at the helm, no chance anyone’s going to catch a glimpse of my photo library without my consent, because I’ll be shielding it from view like I’m hiding a top secret government code (or hoarding Quest bars, either or). Because my phone is a vortex into a land of emotional duress, a land of unseen joy, a land of pleasures and painful moments documented and catalogued into Years and Collections and Moments. Yes. A land full of selfies.

Social media allows even the most inconspicuous of us a certain level of visibility, whether you’re Joe Shmoe working at the local convenience store or Jessica Simpson on a yacht in St. Bart’s jet skiing like a boss. With visibility does come responsibility. But I’d like to argue that it’s not a responsibility to show our most ethical, morally sound, G-rated selves. Rather, with social media comes a responsibility to show our most fiercely authentic, actualized selves – the darkness AND the rainbows.

selfies

So let’s talk selfies. Selfies showcase one of two things: They’re either an authentic expression and representation of someone’s full self, or a plea for validation and a representation of someone desperately trying to belong.

Just like body image campaigns tell us to love our bodies, period, I’ve seen commercials and essays and advertisements telling us we need to unplug and live in the moment, period. Some of them are actually quite moving; they’re great – but just like there’s a lot more to loving your body than just saying you do, there’s a lot more to living in the moment than just unplugging.

For some of us, technology, and therefore selfies, help us live in the moment. Instagram Culture, at its best, gets us noticing beauty in a whole new way – allowing ourselves to be so moved that we want to catch it for later. Where we get in trouble with technology is when we’re tied to what’s going on outside of our immediate surroundings: checking Facebook, scrolling through SnapChat, liking and retweeting instead of raising our heads up to face that world that’s right at the tip of our noses.

Selfies can help us live in the moment, helping us document a moment of sheer bliss or even utter confusion at the world around us. Maybe even the days we feel “fat” or “dumb” or so confused by life we can barely make sense of which way is up. Selfies can help us look for the beauty in ourselves, and can even help us analyze our darker moments or the days we’re not feeling so great. Selfies can give us permission to be so moved by who we are in that moment that we want to catch it for later so we remember what that feels like.

The flip-side of selfies comes when we’re so tied to what is going on outside of us and we post trying to prove a point, get more likes, or get social proof that we are doing something right…instead of doing it right for us, and feeling confident in that knowledge.

I am an unapologetic selfie-taker. They’re a tool I use to help me stay authentic. I use them not to fabricate a character out of myself or to show only my “pretty” days. I use them to keep me honest, and keep me remembering what it feels like to be in awe of who I am, rainbows and darkness, all-inclusive. Maybe some people won’t believe that. Maybe some people will choose to judge me for it. But that’s okay – because those selfies aren’t really for them at all. They don’t have to believe. *I* believe it.

selfie

I’ve heard people say that selfies themselvsies (see what I did there) are the problem. But they’re not – they’re just a vehicle for whatever the selfie-taker is experiencing inside of them. When artists started to paint self portraits, did their contemporaries say their society was turning into a culture or narcissists? When men and women started experimenting with flash photography and brownie boxes, did their peers deem them shallow and vain? (I mean, maybe, but it obviously wasn’t the end of human connection.) It’s not about the image itself – it’s about the intention. 

If we shifted the way we approached selfies, both as participants and as voyeurs, I honestly think we could make a big shift happen in this tech-heavy world. If we viewed selfies as a vehicle for empowerment – of others and of ourselves – can you imagine the example we’d be setting for younger generations who would grow up knowing no differently?

Next time you take a selfie, ask yourself: Does posting this empower you, fascinate you, make you feel something inside – or does it carry the weight of likes and follows you hope you’ll get on the exterior?

There is nothing wrong with craving love and attention. Don’t we all just want to feel seen?? The judgement around selfies is at the level of unnecessary catty-girl-shit: our lens focuses in on what’s “acceptable” and what’s not “acceptable” instead of what might really be going on under the surface. I don’t think it’s helpful to do away with the selfie…I just think we need to find other ways IRL to address that very human need for connection and belonging. And when we’re brave enough to share our fullest selves, we’ve got to let that shine, for us and us alone.

The reality of our world is that not many people are going to set this example – it’s a small minority who have the courage to share their full selves and full authentic expression. It’s our job, rather, to BE the example. Not just for others – but for ourselves. Because in those darker moments of our days, it’s helpful to have a solid practice of full authentic expression already there in our toolkit.

A selfie, whether you share it on social or hoard it on your phone like I do, can be a visual reminder that you’ve been through the good and the bad before, you’ll be through it again, and you have the ability to turn things around for yourself where you see fit. It’s not our responsibility to be perfect, but it is our responsibility to be raw, vibrant, and 100% unfiltered-ly real.

selfie


WANT Action Plan:
Get on board. Post your selfies with the hashtag #selfieempowerment and #WANTyourself – and let’s see if we can help make social media a more authentic, more vibrant place for everyone else following along. Join me?