We Should All Be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

If we’re being honest, I don’t even know where to begin with this one. Not because I didn’t enjoy We Should All Be Feminists but because I have so many thoughts swirling in my head, the thought of arranging them into a coherent post is incredibly daunting.

I was scrolling through Barnes and Noble’s website when this book was recommended for me and I instantly bought it. Truth be told, I knew nothing about it. As I anxiously awaited it to arrive in the mail, I did some research.

The book is Adichie’s argumentative essay on feminism adapted from her well-known (and spectacular) TED talk.

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From Africa, she discusses what it’s like being a woman in Nigeria. How women are viewed and treated and ties that in with the larger struggle of gender equality across the world.

I warned you with The Argonauts could be challenging to read but I promise this one isn’t in the slightest. In fact, you can sit down (in a comfy armchair, preferably) and read it in an hour. Don’t take less than an hour though. You need to read it slowly, reread parts that are powerful and think about what she’s saying.

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My favorite part of the entire essay is her bringing up the controversy that surrounds the word feminism. So often today people find themselves saying they believe in gender equality but are not feminists or don’t like the word feminists (which seems paradoxical to me).

Adichie argues that by using a broad label such as saying you believe in ‘human rights’  denies the individualized struggle of gender. I don’t want to talk too much about this because she discusses it so beautifully and I’ll just butcher it here but take my word for it, it’s powerful.

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If you’ve haven’t heard Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk, I guarantee you’ve heard her magnificent voice before.

Does this look familiar:

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She speaks parts of her talk in the middle of Beyonce’s “Flawless” which, for lack of a more appropriate word, is utterly flawless.

Check out We Should All Be Feminists and/or listen to her TED talk then pop back over here and give me your thoughts.

Sustainable Yoga Fashion: Yoga Democracy

It seems like every time I go on a social media platform, everyone is talking about one topic: sustainable fashion. The fashion industry is one of the worst industries in the world, so the popularity of clothing that is manufactured to make less of an impact on the environment, reduces carbon footprints and emphasizes ethical working conditions is the greatest fashion trend, in my opinion.

Here’s the problem. Sustainable fashion is typically expensive. I’m completely behind the concept of buying less and smart but $100 for a plain T-shirt? No thanks. It’s well and great for celebrities with endless checkbooks to promote expensive sustainable fashion but what about us on a budget who still want to shop ethically? It can’t be impossible, right?

I began doing some research and found, overshadowed by the big, well known sustainable brands, there are quite a few companies who make economically friendly, ethically responsible products. You just have to do a little digging to find them. Or you can take the easy way out and just keep checking back on my blog where I’ll be sharing my finds with you!

When I began looking into economically friendly, sustainable fashion, I began getting served ads for a company called Yoga Democracy. A company that makes, surprise, yoga clothing with the tagline, “made by free range humans”.

I went to the website and saw they had a “Goddess Collection”. What’s that you ask? Leggings inspired by inspiration women. I know, it’s like they were made just for me.

What inspiration woman did I get?

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Frida! One of my favorite artists and a truly kick-ass woman.

The leggings are a piece of art in and of themselves. They’re light-weight, sweat-wicking, elastic free and not see-through when you bend over.

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Even more importantly, they’re eco-friendly: almost all products are produced in house, 95% of products are produced using recycled fibers, they aim for low water impact and maintain a low carbon impact.

Yoga Democracy is committed to paying fair wages and keeping prices reasonable. My leggings were $70 which is much less than I’ve paid for some of my mass manufactured, name brand leggings.

My only complaint is mine are a bit loose in the waist but, in fairness, I selected my size based on a friend’s recommendation of how her’s fit (and they have a good exchange policy if you get the wrong size). I have to pull mine up a few times during class but I’ve heard they’re perfect for hot yoga.

Apart from that, they’re extremely comfortable and are so freeing as you move through all your poses.

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Would I recommend Yoga Democracy? Yes – just make sure you get the right fit. Even though mine are a bit big, I wear them almost every weekend whether it’s to morning yoga classes, walking the dog, running errands or lounging around.

Plus, I’ve never gotten so many compliments on a workout outfit in my life!

All Yoga Democracy’s leggings are gorgeous and, as if their ethical principles weren’t enough, who wouldn’t want to wear a gorgeous piece of art on their clothing?

Monday Musings: To Live Is The Rarest Thing

I love a good memoir. There’s something so reassuring about reading people’s personal stories of realizing their lives are not what they want, making a huge change, struggling and coming out on the other side. It’s almost therapeutic. If they can completely change the course of their life when things get bad, why couldn’t I?

Shortly after reading Eat Pray Love, I went to Naples and raced over to the pizzeria where Julia Roberts ate that whole pizza by herself. I figured it was part of the experience, part of the journey to the fulfilling life I so desperately wanted (plus, I rarely turn down an excuse to eat pizza).

These memoirs of self-awareness and living a fulfilling life reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:

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I truly believe life is too short to just go through the motions but more often than not, change is terrifying and so reading about people who go through the difficult times and come out the other side with better, happier lives is inspiring.

You know what people never talk about though? The middle part. The hard part. The part that’s always whipped past in stories of change.

Few people discuss the fear, uncertainty, anxiety of putting yourself out there in the world, the self-doubt and the absolute terrifying feeling that maybe the path you’re on won’t lead you to a happier life.

It’s so easy to get caught up in people’s successes, we don’t realize that all that middle part that no one talks about is experienced by almost everyone. You make that leap to change your life but adrenaline only keeps you going for so long. We expect a 2 minute montage of the bad times and then we’re there, taking the first exciting steps towards the rest of our happy lives.

In reality, change takes time. It could take a few months,  a year or maybe even a few years. Some people claim the first step is the hardest, admitting that your life is not making you happy and taking that step towards change. I, however, think there are two equally hard times: the first step and the middle, the waiting, trying new things when it’s so easy to give up, get depressed, become overwhelmed and fight everyday for your inner resilience. As difficult as it is taking the plunge to aim for a better life, it can be even harder to remain positive during the hard times and keep yourself from accepting that as your fate.

So this is my rallying call for those of you brave enough to reinvent your lives in a way that makes you happy. Remove your mentality from what the media tells you great life adventures should be like and persevere. Yes, it may be hard. Yes, it may take a while. Yes, you may feel like you want to give up but I believe that if you’re strong enough to take that first step, you’ll be able to keep taking steps through the good and bad, only to come out stronger and with that life you want, full of Julia Roberts’Napoli pizza.

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First photo from here.

Mom & Me & Mom, Maya Angelou

The first time I heard about Maya Angelou was in my freshman year Humanistic Studies class. Naturally, we read I know Why The Caged Bird Sings and everyone in the class were instantly transformed into Angelou fans.

For me, what was so monumental with the experience of reading my first Angelou work was that it brought about absolute clarity the fact that there are authors and there are storytellers. Angelou is a storyteller.

A few years later I read Singing’ and Swinging’ and Getting’ Merry Like Christmas. I was hoping to get that heart racing, all consuming feeling I had with Caged Bird but it never came. It’s a good book but not one I would call spectacular.

Then, through Our Shared Shelf, I heard of Mom & Me & Mom. I read wonderful review after review on the OSS discussion board and ordered it in the hopes of bringing about the feeling I had with Caged Bird. I found it.

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Mom & Me & Mom is the seventh and final of Angelou’s autobiographies. It revolves around her life with her mother, the famous Vivian Baxter.

If you’re looking for a glamorous tale of Mother-Daughter friendship, this may not be for you. Baxter sends her children to live with their grandmother as children as her marriage falls apart. Years later, the children return and have to cope with the deep feelings of abandonment as they try to rebuild a once broken relationship.

Vivian was not a great mother of children but was for adults. Angelou is known for having one of the most interesting life’s in written record and she recounts in her memoir the part Baxter played through the tumultuous ups and downs.

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I curled up and read this within 24 hours, I simply couldn’t put it down. Maya Angelou is able to pull you into her life in a way no other author I’ve read is able to.

Apart from the fact that she is a talented writer, I think it’s her innate ability to make every single person who reads her book feel like she is their close friend has so much to do with her incredible popularity.

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What do you think Maya Angelou – do you think she’s worth the hype or overrated?

Wolf Wednesday: Casper Mattress

Everyone has that one thing they splurge on. Shoes, organic food, your car. For me, it’s Lupin. Bet you didn’t see that one coming.

When we were living in Chicago and every penny I made went towards bills, I would do everything in my power to treat him. I lived off a spreadsheet budget so that, during  each pay period, I would have a few dollars left over to buy a new box of treats or another new toy.

Even now, despite my stable income job, I’ve added grad school to my list of bills but still resiliently refuse to stop spoiling my wolf. I will happily forfeit a new pair of shoes (all the Carrie Bradshaws in the world are cringing, I know) if it means a new surprise for the pup.

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A few weeks back I stumbled across Casper Mattresses (thanks to the Skimm) and noticed they made dog beds. I did my research and found that, apparently, so did they.

110 prototypes were developed, 460 hours of laboratory testing and 11 months of dog sleep studies. The result: a combination of pressure-relieving memory foam and durable support foam wrapped in thick canvas.

There’s extra material on the surface for when dogs dig before laying down (their natural instinct from the wild), the sides are bolstered to create a safe space as dogs feel safest in enclosed areas and, most importantly in Lupin’s case, the cover material is made with one of the strongest bonded microfibers which can be removed and washed.

I bought it the next day.

Frantically checking the tracking status, the big day finally came. I dragged the box into the house, automatically triggering “Curious George” (our nickname for Lupin when he gets unbelievably nosy).

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The foam pieces come separate and you have to assemble it within the cover. I was a bit annoyed at first that assembly was required (I can’t even assemble a ratio-friendly PB & J) but it’s beyond simple and quick. Believe me, if I can do it, you can.

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I gave the bed a test run and then with promises of a kiss, I passed it over to it’s new owner.

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Casper even sent a little toy which Lupin has been playing with nonstop since. We’re working on his hand-eye (would it be mouth-eye?) coordination. It’s not going so well.

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The bed’s a bit pricy but if it lasts the way it’s meant to, I think it’s well worth the investment. If not, as long as he’s happy now, I’m happy.

What’s the one thing you can’t help but splurge on?

Books and Babes

Over the weekend, I went to a fantastic author luncheon. Few things will convince me to put on real pants on a Saturday so when you see me wearing them, you know the event must be worth it! To me, a day spent with book lovers is a day well spent!

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The luncheon was at the beautiful ballroom of the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club. I have the fondest memories of reading Harry Potter as a kid, curled up in a big armchair at the Yacht Club. In my opinion, I can’t think of a dreamier place to become absorbed in the world of books. Wide, tall windows, glittering chandeliers, fountains and paintings. It’s utterly dreamy!

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We sat at table, basking in the early afternoon sunlight. Waiters ensuring your coffee never got too low, chatting away until the authors took the stage.

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We listened to Cynthia Tennent, Amor Towles and Adriana Trigiani. All write different types of books and had very different personalities. As a group, they left us laughing, thinking and spellbound.

Have you ever been to an author event before? More importantly have you read anything by the authors I saw? I’m so excited to get a read A Gentleman in Moscow!

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, Carrie Brownstein

They say you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. I won’t lie here, I absolutely judged this book by it’s cover.

I’m certain this is my favorite book title I’ve ever read.

You see it, read it, let it sink in and then begin the slow clap.

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Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl is a memoir (as you can obviously see above) by Carrie Brownstein.

Some of you may know her as a member of the punk-indie band Sleater-Kinney. Others may know her as the co-creater of the show Portlandia with Fred Armisen.

Others of you, like me, may have never heard of her but don’t let that stop you from reading the book!

Her memoir mostly covers the time from her childhood up until around the time the band broke up.

She is a good, authentic writer and her book is easy to read (I think there is a negative connotation with something being easy to read but I don’t mean it as a negative at all. I found her storytelling very compelling and, therefore, easy to read).

She talks a lot about the punk-indie music scene which is something I’ve never really cared much for and so it went a bit over my head but her passion for music is undeniable.

What I loved about the book was her insiders perspective to being in the media spotlight. She discusses the frustrations of being asked questions being prefaced with “female” and how she was outed as a bisexual, without her permission, through an article about the band.

I’m not sure about you but I find it extremely reassuring to read memoirs by successful women who discuss their road to success. I think it’s all too easy to look at people we admire or define as successful and only see where they are now.

To be able to have them invite you into their lives to show the difficult times, the failures and the work to get where they are is anxiety relieving to me.

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I enjoyed Carrie Brownstein’s book and would definitely recommend you check it out. If you do read it, be sure to pop back over and tell me what you think!