The Shapes We Make

THINGS ARE GETTING NOT-SO-PERSONAL

Kate WeinerComment

When I first started sharing essays on The Shapes We Make, it felt really empowering to be personal—to reveal the beautiful and the ugly. Telling my truth made me feel strong. And there was something addictive about the positive response that I received from friends and far field acquaintances alike. I loved hearing that an experience of mine resonated with someone.

I've always understood myself better by writing. But I no longer want to share everything that I'm writing. I want to be truthful. I want to be vulnerable. And I want to maintain firm boundaries. I'm glad that I pushed my boundaries—otherwise, I wouldn't have known where I stood. Because I am certain now that some things, like my sex life, I want to share only with friends.

This morning, I went through and deleted a bunch of essays that were too personal (you're welcome, anyone I've ever dated). There's still a lot up on SWM that reflects the whole of who I am; the messy stuff, the pretty stuff, the weird stuff. But I feel much more at peace accepting that I have perimeters that right now, I'm not interested in crossing.

Adrienne Rich had it right when she spoke of the power of one women's truth to open doorways for others. Alice Walker was spot-on when she extolled the love expanding capacity of sharing our stories. Telling our truth, however, doesn't have to mean turning everything into copy. We can keep somethings to ourselves if that's what nourishes us. We always have the power to guide our narratives. 

 

WHEN SHOULD YOU SHARE?

Kate WeinerComment

With SWM, Lily and I want to create the kind of content we would have loved to have access to when we were growing up. That means being frank about our fears and brave about our hopes. You know that scene in "Obvious Child" when Jenny Slate's character talks about what her underwear looks like at the end of the day? Watching that was incredibly liberating because up until that point, I literally thought I was the ONLY woman in the world who did that. That scene was super funny and a little uncomfortable and the moving picture embodiment of what I hope for with (some of) my writing.

I know something is worth sharing when I feel a little shiver pressing "Publish." It's also pretty much the best thing ever when someone messages me out of the blue to tell me that an essay I wrote brought them comfort, love, and laughter when they needed it most. It's such a gift to find that in the world and I'm always grateful for whenever I can pass that on.

But lately, I've had a lot of doubt about sharing my work. I'm hesitant to be real about my ugly moments and fleeting neuroses because I'm worried that readers will craft an incomplete picture of who I am. There's this part of me that fears that someone sifting through SWM would think I'm this stressed out weirdo whose adept at falling into self-loathing spirals and still hung up on her ex. They won't realize I'm pretty happy and healthy and hopeful, I think, Because I rarely want to write when I'm that way. So even though I only feel a stormy sadness in my soul once every couple weeks, I choose to write about that experience and not the hundred and one moments when I was peace in this wild world. I don't think about my ex very often, but a reader wouldn't know that. And my anxieties? As soon as I string 'em into sentences, they dissolve. 

Writing is my sanctuary—where I go when I need to make sense of something. It's really yummy for me to write out my feels during a sweet summer evening in a sun-dappled park.  My writing is almost always a way to soothe, to honor, to express, the not-so-pretty parts of me (when I'm feeling fierce and foxy, I take that energy off of the page and into the STREETS!)   

And I think that's what been stopping me lately: this sudden want to be perceived as beautiful and together all day, every day. It used to feel like second nature for me to be open—vulnerability is freedom.  But I've had my trust shaken by someone I was vulnerable with and I think I'm still smarting. Or maybe, I'm just learning how to take that trust and put it back into myself. 

Because here's (two) things about fear of sharing: (1) You can NEVER control how others perceive you—which is DELICIOUS permission to just do you—and (2) Each one of us contains multitudes. You could have a canon of memoirs to rival the output of Joyce Carol Oates and it still wouldn't get at the whole of who you are. 

Of course, we should be thoughtful about what we share and when (I try not to speak for others, exercise compassion, and NOT publish anything when I'm "writing hot.") It's also important that we support each other in whatever creative channels help us figure out who we are and how we want to be in the world. We need to remember that no single article or song or play is a substitute for the whole of who someone is.

How do you decide when, what, and where to share? What advice do you give yourself when you want to get it out into the world but are feeling uneasy? Share in the comments below—although only, of course, if it feels good to you : )

DIPPING MY TOES INTO TAROT

Inner GoddessKate WeinerComment

Lily friend is very into Tarot (check out her awesome Goddess Tarot Tuesday column as well as her Fiverr page for a personal reading). I'm not as cuckoo for (gluten-free/organic/fair trade) cocoa puffs as she is about the whole thing BUT the more I learn about her passion, the more open I am to this rich world. Lily says that Tarot isn't the absolute truth—it's a way to illuminate what's going on in our lives. Every reading inspires me to be more attuned to my surroundings, to see the situations I'm experiencing in a new light. 

Dipping my toes into Tarot has opened me up in so many ways. For one, I think it's really important to respect our friend's passions and to explore together what makes 'em tick (I know it means the world to me when my friends join me for a hike or take some time to garden). For another, it's healthy to crank your heart open to fresh ways of thinking. Although I've long been in desperate love with the messages interwoven into the moon cycles and loamy soil, I used to harbor a hearty dose of cynicism toward Tarot. It wasn't until my friend Lynn introduced me to Goddess Cards and I found a spiritual middle ground that I started to understand the mystery and magic embedded in Tarot. Tarot links me to a luscious lineage of witchy women who drew from the natural world to divine meaning in their lives. I love that! 

I don't think I'll ever wholeheartedly abide by astrological signs and I listen to my horoscope only when it's got juicy predictions for my love life. But I do value nurturing a connection to the natural world, to goddesses and to myths, through Tarot. As a mountain mermaid, it's pretty vital. 

 

SUBMIT to STRAWBERRY FANTA ZINE

Kate WeinerComment

Radical feminist/rocking human bean Alison Znamierowski is curating a zine intended to provide younger women with a strong support network as they navigate growing up. As Alison writes: 

The basic question that this zine will work to answer is:

"If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?”

The intention of this zine is to share love and advice because growing up as a girl/woman is hard!

Many of us are fortunate to have had kick-ass role models throughout our life who have helped guide us through the rocky world of being a woman. Consider this zine an opportunity to pay it forward as well as a chance to truly reflect.

 

Want to submit? 

E-mail Alison at alznamierowski@gmail.com with a scan of your page. Be sure to include your advice to your younger self (it can be handwritten, typed, collaged with magazine letters) as well as a photo of yourself.

We can't wait to see what you loves cook up!

 

 

ADIA VICTORIA

Mindful MediaKate WeinerComment

Lily and I went to Pickathon this weekend. It was an incredible experience—camping in the starlit woods is my happy place—but what will stay with me most is the raw magic radiated by the many inspiring female musicians who took to the stage. Hurray for the Riff Raff was electrifying; Thao  & The Get Down Stay Down rocked. Lily and I were particularly captivated by Adia Victoria, however. Watching her perform, I couldn't shake off just how vulnerable she was. Sometimes she exuded confidence and other times unease. Her voice would waver, her eyes would wander—and suddenly, she'd focus in and you'd feel the full resonance of her gothic blues. She was totally rad but also REAL in a way I've very rarely seen on stage before. Her performance haunted me because she claimed her imperfections, bared her soul, spoke about loneliness and insecurity and not quite fitting in. 

Music is about a thousand and one things. For us at SWM, it's connection, it's illumination, it's love, it's loss. It's listening in on another's story and thinking yep, you said it. 

Check her out and be sure to share with us whose music is rocking your world too.