March 10th, 2014

I’m on Board with Ban Bossy


There’s no such thing as a “bossy” boy.

There are only leaders, future presidents who will, one day, replace the sand box with an oval office to do what they do best: lead, direct, be bosses.

There are girls who do the same things. But these girls are never called “leaders” or “bosses.” They get the adjective of the word to mean that they are acting in a role for which they are not.

They are bossy when they seem to “act” like or pretend to be leaders, telling people what to do. And they are just “nice” girls when they don’t do these things, and that’s it.

As the parent of daughters who like to (ahem) lead, specifically other children who are twice their size, I get the problem with the “b” word. So I respect Sheryl Sandberg’s “Ban Bossy,” a new campaign against the gendered nature of “bossy.”

Ban Bossy is about encouraging us all to recognize the power of our words in shaping how we think. It’s about recognizing, out loud, that it means something when we verbally give men license to be the “boss” and women permission to be bossy, nagging, controlling, or bitchy.

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Via Elle on Sandberg’s new initiative to ban bossy:

“Ban Bossy,” which they announced yesterday, is a call for people to strike the “bossy” descriptor from their vocabularies. Sandberg, Rice, and Chávez argue that the word is more pejorative than people realize—especially because it’s tacked on to women to snub them, while men are just praised as “bosses.”

According to Sandberg, Rice, and Chávez, the problem isn’t just that women and young girls’ feelings are hurt by the wordage. It’s that they’re often discouraged enough by it that they don’t speak up or assume leadership roles they’d succeed in. And that hurts everyone—men and women alike.

So, I get it and agree with it. No more bossy girls. Just boss girls. Boss women who know what they want and aren’t afraid to say it.

What do you think of Sandberg’s Ban Bossy movement or the gendered use of the word “bossy”?


February 27th, 2014

My #LTYMDC Cast Spotlight


In the upcoming weeks, you can find cast spotlights (Q&As) with each of this year’s DC 2014 cast members on the LTYM blog. This week, my interview is being featured on the site, so I hope you’ll come over and say “hello.”

Along with learning about why I always include my middle initial in author credits, through reading my spotlight, you will learn other interesting things, things like my hopes for my daughters and about the moment in which I learned to see my mom as not just a mom, but as a woman, a human being, too. I hope I’ve peaked your interest with this and that you’ll stop by.

In other news, tickets for the show are now on sale. The show will be on Mother’s Day, May 4, 2014 at 2 PM. It will be held at The Synetic Theater in Crystal City, VA. You can buy tickets here. If you are planning to come, please let me know so that I can imagine you in the audience during my reading! :)

That’s all for now. Happy Thursday!


February 19th, 2014

Walking Slowly in Motherhood | Lining Your Eyes


I once had an elderly woman stop me in a Walmart parking lot with some advice. “You’re walking too fast with your baby,” she said. I had only one child then. She was around 17 months and I, on that particular day, or in that moment, was attempting to hold her hand to walk from our narrow parking space to the front door of the store, very quickly.

“Slow down, baby girl,” the woman said, smiling in a way that seemed to beg me to see the humor in my quick steps and the stumbles of my toddler. I smiled back then, laughed, and said “I would,” I think,” or that I “am going slowly for my baby.” And to this she smiled the kind of smile that comes when you know that the person you’re talking to hasn’t really understood what you’ve said and won’t hear what you say until they have the ears to hear it. I knew this then, but I promise, I didn’t know what to do with that sentiment.

I’ve always been a fast walker. It started in high school. It started because I was usually nervous and didn’t like how intentional walking slow felt. It became a habit from there. I’ve always been that kind of woman, or the kind who wants to communicate her importance through all parts of her being, so fast walking, intentional steps, came with the territory.

I say all this to say that when the woman in the parking lot stopped me to tell me that I was “walking too fast with my baby” and that I should “slow down because her legs weren’t long enough to keep up with mine,” I couldn’t do any different. I didn’t know I was walking fast. And that my daughter’s legs were practically limp against the pace I thought we should go to hurry into the store, just didn’t register.

Fast forward two years, after the birth of my second child, things did begin to register. I wrote this post about it and named that anecdote as my “come to Jesus moment in motherhood.” I didn’t say it then, but, behind the sentimentalism about the pictures and who I perceived myself to once be, was a very judgmental, ugly thought.

“I was a selfish mom.”

I said this aloud, but only to myself, that evening with my pictures and with tears in my eyes.

It was late in the evening, then, and my children had fallen asleep. And I was there with my laptop and this guilt, this painful kind of guilt that I was selfish for walking too fast and for thinking of only myself. There was guilt and embarrassment at what my small child must have looked like to that elderly lady. Legs small. Stumbles. Trips. Trying to keep up with me, the lumbering giant of a woman who was too big to look down.

I said I would change then. I said I would be different then. I would walk slow, literally and metaphorically, and I would, as compensation for my sins of selfishness, allow myself the “right” to lose myself in motherhood.

I would write less, leave the house less, and try to become someone else. I would become just a mom.

And so that’s what I did much of last year.

I read somewhere about the dangers of this path, this path in which mothers lose themselves for their children. But I ignored the roadsigns. I was too busy looking at my toddling toddlers that I couldn’t see anything else. I didn’t want to see anything else. I didn’t want to see…me.

My mother warned me of women she knew who did this. She used her life as a cautionary tale. She told me a story about how she felt going to the grocery store for the first time in decades without her children. “It’s like I lost my limbs,” she said, recalling that day and the discomfort that she felt in being just by herself, being herself, when for so long she had just been a mother. I heard her and sympathized, but I didn’t get it until recently, or until a few months ago when I started wearing make-up.

I have never been a makeup kind of girl, so in my 30s, this whole thing is very new to me. I was in a bathroom at my mother’s house when I first attempted to line my eyes with the eyeliner I purchased from a drug store a week before. That first attempt was a mess. My hands shook and my arms arched and I kept over-lining my upper eyelids, mistaking them to be shorter than they really were.

I think the genius of a good makeup artist is that they have confidence in what they’re doing and in themselves. They know their face, its lines and curves, and apply makeup almost like it’s a dance. Or, at least that’s what I can gather from watching the magic of every makeup vlogger I’ve followed on Youtube in the past months.

In the bathroom, looking at my bare face, I had none of that. I didn’t have that confidence or an understanding of my face. In fact, in that moment, or with my children not in the picture, that time in the bathroom was the first time I’d really seen myself in years. It was scary in that way, but in meeting myself, again, it felt so new and exciting and invigorating and courageous and amazing. “Hello, Jessica. How are you?” I seemed to say then and in every selfie I took that day and in the days after.

I now line my eyes every morning. I do it not because I think makeup is necessary to me being a better mom. No, I do it because I love the excuse it gives me to look at myself in the morning, to feel my face, to know it, to dance with it. So I line my eyes and my children sometime watch. “Mommy, what are you doing?” they sometimes ask.

I can’t explain it now but this routine of mine reminds me to be a woman. I don’t say this to them, but I think it. It reminds me that I am a woman and that I am a human and a mother, too. I contain multitudes. I need this reminder.

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I used to say that it was having children that changed me. And, it was that. But…also what changed me was growing up and into the kind of woman who can walk slow and fast and be confident enough to know when to change pace, the kind of woman who can look into someone’s eyes when they’re speaking and hear them. It’s only when you become a certain kind of woman that you realize, with children, that you can be you and a mother and that rather than pretending to be a certain kind of mother for appearances, you will just be yourself.

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That woman in the parking lot…she wasn’t really telling me to slow down. No, I now know that what she was really telling me to do was to be in this moment of life enough to know when to look ahead and when to look down and when to adjust, when to walk slow and fast and when to grab your children in your arms and hold them and when not to. Geez. Yes, it’s all that.

I wish I could see that woman again, just to show her how far I’ve come. I wish I could see her and say “thank you.” I wish I could say that I heard her and am really hearing her now.

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Have you lost yourself in motherhood and found yourself again? Tell me your survival story and how you manage(d) to stay, well, yourself.

p.s. I’ve nominated this post in the HEART category of BlogHer’s Voices of the Year. If you are so inclined, willing, and able, please vote for me. :)


February 17th, 2014

Listen To Your Mother DC 2014


The night before, at around 6 pm, I had made up my mind. “I’m not going!” I told my sister in a phone call.

And before she could answer with “why,” I jumped in with, “because I’m not prepared and I don’t want to do anything unprepared and….”

I knew that this was a bad excuse and that it went against all my plans to be more courageous this year, less perfect, but I couldn’t help it.

My piece didn’t feel “ready,” I wasn’t ready.

Yes, I am a writer, but a speaker? No, I’m not that, so to become that I needed to practice more. But I didn’t have time to practice more. So, of course, I just couldn’t go.

I wouldn’t go.

“I’m not going to go since not going would be… the most comfortable thing to do and while taking risks and being courageous is important, it’s also important to be comfortable, right?” Yes, I’ll just put that on my Tumblr and that will be that.

It’s also important to be reasonable and kind to ourselves and accept that we need not do everything that scares us when we don’t have the time to do it. Right? And I really didn’t have the time. Right?

I didn’t know the answer to this but I did know at 10 PM that night that I hated this “comfort” logic.  It was the same logic I’ve been using for years to get out of creating art, publishing my art, be more courageous in my work, in my life.

So that night I went to bed, convinced I wasn’t going to go, but then at 3 AM, after a night waking with my five month old, I decided that I would go. I edited my piece more, practiced more, went to bed, woke in the morning, edited more, practiced more and resigned that I would definitely be going. No matter what.

I chose courage.

So I went.  I read a piece and told my sister, in walking out of the audition room, that “whether I get in the show or not is not the point. The point is that I did it! I’m happy that I did it. And if I get in, well, that would be like icing on the cake. ”

I’m writing this 16 days from that day because two days ago, I got news that I can have the icing, after all. My piece was accepted, so I will be in this year’s DC cast! And I couldn’t be more honored!

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For more updates on my courageous journey, follow me on Tumblr.

What’s something courageous you’ve done this month?


February 14th, 2014

Finding Happiness in the Snow


Along with most of the East coast, we’ve been hit by snow.

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Lots and lots of snow. More than we’ve received all season.

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I’m usually an adult when it comes to snow. I hate it, or I don’t hate it, but I hate being in it. It’s cold and wet and gets in the way of my car pulling out of the driveway.

But my children don’t feel the same way. Like most children who see snow and see its better “half,” they love the snow.

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So whenever it does snow, even if only an inch, they beg to go out in it, play in it. “It will be fun,” they say. And I usually don’t believe them but end up outside anyway, usually in my pajamas wrapped beneath my down coat and hopes that this “just be over soon!”

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Months before today, I read a book called, “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. In the book, she documents her year long journey to be happier. One of many, many lessons I took from the book is that part of being happy is sometimes faking happiness. It’s our attitude that sets the precedent for our behaviors, and, thus, our lives. If we live lightly, if we open ourselves up to enjoying the moments we dread, if we decide to lead with happiness..then so our lives will be, happier, light, enjoyable.

I have, over the years, become something of a curmudgeon, not necessarily towards my children, but towards everything and everyone else. I complain about things, things I hate, things that feel uncomfortable, things that make me feel too vulnerable, I’ve realized, because I think that complaining will make me feel better about that said thing.

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But, you know what? Complaining only makes you feel worse. It makes you feel unhappy and hard and miserable.

So, today, in the snow, I decided to “fake it.”

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I initiated this snow man, which is big, since I usually feign ignorance when my children ask to find accessories and body parts for their created friends in the snow. I faked it until I was able to let go and just enjoy this moment, this snow man, this snow. And…it felt good.

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So, about the snow. I think I like it now. I think.

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Happy Friday and Valentines all! Stay warm! xo.