The Shapes We Make

THIS IMPOSSIBLE LIGHT is HERE!!

Body Love, Mindful MediaLily MyersComment

Hey SWM fam! I am THRILLED to announce that my first-ever novel is officially OUT! After several years of working on this, it's so surreal to hold the real book in my hands, to see it on a real shelf in a real bookstore!

This book is so close to my heart. It's so much of my own story. It encapsulates so much of the loneliness and self-criticism I used to feel. I've come to realize that this book is a love letter to my younger, lonely, confused self. Here's the synopsis:

Fifteen-year-old Ivy’s world is in flux. Her dad has moved out, her mother is withdrawn, her brother is off at college, and her best friend, Anna, has grown distant. Worst of all, Ivy’s body won’t stop expanding. She’s getting taller and curvier, with no end in sight. Even her beloved math class offers no clear solution to the imbalanced equation that has become Ivy’s life.
 
Everything feels off-kilter until a skipped meal leads to a boost in confidence and reminds Ivy that her life is her own. If Ivy can just limit what she eats—the way her mother seems to—she can stop herself from growing, focus on the upcoming math competition, and reclaim control of her life. But when her disordered eating leads to missed opportunities and a devastating health scare, Ivy realizes that she must weigh her mother’s issues against her own, and discover what it means to be a part of—and apart from—her family.
 
This Impossible Light explores the powerful reality that identity and self-worth must be taught before they are learned. 

If you want to snag a copy from Amazon, here's the link; otherwise look for it in local bookstores! (Support local bookstores, y'all!)

Thanks for all the support, for being yourselves, for working to support feminism and self-love and a world in which girls don't have to grow up hating their bodies.

XOXO

MERMAID TAROT TUESDAY: The Star (reversed)

Inner GoddessLily MyersComment
from Dame Darcy's Mermaid Tarot.

from Dame Darcy's Mermaid Tarot.

Peace is elusive. That's the first sentence that popped into my head when I turned over this week's card, The Star. In Tarot, when a card shows up upside-down, it means that the energy is present but modified somehow. The Star card represents peace, healing, quiet, solitude--pretty much the opposite of anxiety. It's fitting, then, that I pulled this card right smack-dab in the middle of an anxiety freak-out!

Tarot always has a way of slapping me (kindly) in the face with what I need to remember. Seeing The Star reversed reminded me that, yes, peace is elusive, but it also always exists within us. That sense of inner calm always has the potential to be felt; it's always lying dormant in us. It's just that we cover it up with our incessant thoughts, plans, worries, and fears. And it's so NOT easy to just wipe those things away. I spent all afternoon freaking out about job and career plans, and I was not physically able to just breathe the worries away (I wish it worked like that, amiright?).

What did help, though, was reminding myself that I do not need to make any decisions right now. There is still time to gather information, ponder, reflect; in other words, I can make a decision in the future from a more centered place, not from this current frenzied one! Realizing that allowed some space, some breathing room. That's the reminder that The Star brings us: if we search for it, there is always that calm, still inner pool inside us. Maybe we can't feel it right now; maybe we just have to trust that we'll feel it tomorrow, or next week, or next month. (My current motto is "No decisions in May!")

As long as we know that The Star's energy--that calm, still inner peace--resides within us somewhere, then it's okay that we don't feel it right now. That's what the card's reversal is telling us: you won't feel calm all the time (duh), and that's fine. Sometimes I get pissed off at all the mindfulness-love-and-light talk when it sounds like we should always be grounded and centered. WE'RE NOT ALWAYS GONNA BE GROUNDED AND CENTERED!!!!!!!!!!! But if we can remember that we can return to that more centered place, and that we will inevitably return there, therein lies the Star's grace.

I've found that as I've gotten older, I know more tools and shortcuts to get back to that inner-calm-Star place. I know the music that gets me there (Laura Marling all the way! Listen to her latest album, "Semper Femina"). I know that breathing slowly and deliberately actually helps. I know that I can turn off the screens and look out my window and remember that so many other things exist in the world besides my current task or drama. Over the years, experiencing and then recovering from anxiety episodes, I've learned that I do overcome them. Anxiety sucks, and in the moment it's nearly unbearable. It hasn't gotten more fun over time, but I do have more proof that I can withstand it, and that does help.

So, whatever is getting you anxious this week, or confused, or worried-- let it be. It might not go away just yet (um, the astrological theme for May is instability, thank you very much, Mystic Mamma). You may not feel that peaceful Star feeling right now. But it does exist within you, always. You can, and will, find your way back to it. Try to stay still and feel that small, still pool within you. That one teeny part of you that is stable, and calm, and watching everything unfold, and saying oh darling, it will be okay. The Star promises us that this voice is always inside us, even when it's whispering. Even when we can't hear it. It's there.

It's a great week to: slow down, breathe deeply, meditate, close your eyes, unplug, go into nature, take a solo walk, journal, talk nicely to yourself, reach out for support, lean on someone's shoulder, focus on the natural world, sip tea, gaze out your window. Avoid decision-making, over-achieving, or pushing yourself too hard.

Happy star-gazing! xo

YOUR MAGIC WORDS

Mindful Media, Inner GoddessLily MyersComment
Firm believer in the power pose. Posin' before my talk, "Your Magic Words," at TEDx Wellesley College.

Firm believer in the power pose. Posin' before my talk, "Your Magic Words," at TEDx Wellesley College.

HEY there! As you may have noticed from our long hiatus, May has been a cray-cray month-- has it been for you too? My trusty source for all things astrological, Mystic Mamma, predicted that the theme for May would be instability-- and boy, was that right. The beautiful thing about instability, though, is that old patterns get shaken up and left behind, and we can put new patterns, new intentions, new habits in their place. So, here's to instability!!

One thing that's come up for me a lot during this cuckoo-for-cocoa-puffs month is MAGIC. In the wake of difficult interpersonal drama, endless confusion about jobs and future plans, I have found my magical practices deepening. I've been turning to the Tarot more often, studying my dreams, and collecting herbs and tinctures for focus, clarity, and healing. It's been fascinating to see that when things got rough, I turned to magic. I was so happy that my instinct was to turn to my passion, rather than away from it, during this unstable time.

Magic comes in many forms. A common definition that I like a lot is "creating change in conformity with your will." By this definition, anytime you focus your intentions to create change, you are practicing magic! A spell is basically a clearly articulated intention, and you don't need to be into crystals or Tarot to do that! In fact, I see writing itself as an act of magic. I gave a talk on this subject at last year's TEDx Wellesley College conference, in February of 2016. It took me a while to get my hands on the video, and even longer to post it. But here it finally is, my attempt at explaining how I see magic, storytelling, and feminism as all connected. I hope you enjoy!

CRYIN' TO COLBIE CALLAIT

Body Love, Inner GoddessLily MyersComment

TRUE STORY: A few weeks ago, I got in my car, turned on the radio and heard the beginnings of a pop song I'd never heard before. I was about to change the channel when I started listening to the lyrics: "You don't have to try so hard/ You don't have to give it all away..." and GURLS, I STARTED BAWLING. Lolz. I'm not a frequent cryer (Kate can attest to that) so I was pretty darn surprised. Colbie Callait's song about not needing to try so hard --poppy and cliche as that may be-- just hit me so damn hard. Because, like most girls, I've spent most of my life feeling like I do need to try so hard. Every message I've received from the media, social norms, and mainstream advertising has told me to worship one version of beauty, and to nearly kill myself trying to attain it.

Of course, I don't subscribe to that belief AT ALL-- not rationally, anyway. But those messages sink in so deeply that even when we know better, we're constantly judging ourselves, trying to reach a narrow definition of perfection. Thankfully, as I get older I feel less desperate pressure to conform to this, but the feelings still arise. I'm in a phase now of mourning for my younger self; mourning the minutes and hours and months I lost to hating my body, obsessively exercising, scrutinizing myself, and believing I was ugly. I think I was crying in that car for all those thoughts that ate away at me during my adolescence. I was crying for all the mornings I woke up and immediately thought about my weight. For the times I stared at myself in the mirror and saw only ugly. For the countless other girls experiencing the same destructive thoughts.

I was crying from relief, too. Because if the message of the song is true-- that we can simply breathe, can be ourselves, can stop trying so damn hard-- isn't that the most relieving feeling ever? If we are already enough, if we are perfect in our own way, if we "don't need to change a single thing", as Callait sings, isn't that the most amazing realization? What space might that open up in our lives? How much time and power could we claim back if we really believed it?

She captures the relief so well when she sings: "Take your makeup off/ let your hair down/ take a breath/ look into the mirror, at yourself/ don't you like you?" Cause that's the most important question, right? When you're all alone, can you feel your own presence, your unique spirit, your aliveness? Can you face yourself, boldly and bare-faced, with no judgement? Can you see the absolutely unique perfection that you are? It's a helluva long process, but it can begin now, and it can begin with just one breath. Cause she's absolutely right. You really don't have to try so hard.

I've also been shamelessly belting along to "Scars to Your Beautiful" by Alessia Cara. Same deal. Love it so much. Here's to self-love pop that's catchy AF!!!!!!!!!

YOU'VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY

Kate WeinerComment

I'm having one of those days where I feel like a poop person because I guess I'm just like every other human and have ups and downs WHY. So I went to the Whole Foods to do my grocery shopping (I bet you didn't know I am actually a Patagonia-clad mama to Juniper and Jasper—my Australian shepards) and then I suddenly remembered how a year and a half ago, newly graduated from college and living in a dangerously unventilated attic, I used to go to the Whole Foods to forage for free samples after my job on a farm. 

Suddenly, that memory—of rolling into the Whole Foods in my dirty shortalls, prowling for free food—warmed my heart. Because it made me realize that in the last two years, I have come a LONG way. 

I'm never sure when or how growth happens but it is always so riotously beautiful to me when you take a step out of your life and look back at the many sad, gorgeous, happy, strange, and unsettling moments that guided you to where you are now. A year and a half ago, I was subletting from this god awful couple who hid all the pots and pans from me after I accidentally used their frozen pizza tray to roast veggies. I supplemented my job on a farm—where I was nearly fired for not cleaning the radishes enough—with three part-time gigs. I would've been lost if not for my rad friend Linda, who volunteered on the farm where I worked and had  seen some s**t. Linda was in her fifties and worked as a cook on a tugboat. She inspired me to just go for it, and so I did. 

The summer wrapped up and I moved home to work at my dream farm-to-table venue where I spent an eerily warm fall helping with weddings (not my dream) and I was sad and unsure and wracked with eco-anxiety. So I found work in San Diego, where my first room was in a damp apartment condo managed by a crack dealing landlord, and I cried a lot because I still felt sad and unsure and wracked with eco-anxiety. The first meal that I ate in that windowless kitchen was with rainbow chard and blood red beets. In my haste, I'd forgotten to wash the veg clean of the sand. So I made a big pot of rocks, really, and took one bite and cried (again), because I was tired of not doing anything right and living in houses that weren't my home.

So I moved again, this time two blocks from the beach, and then again, to a family friend's home, and then to the mountains because I wanted to swim in alpine lakes. And then I lost my job, and sifted through an endless slew of freelance gigs, and I found a new job, and a new home. And I filled my room with plants that put me at peace because it's always been my dream to live in a little Eden so full of snake plants and philodendrons that you can barely find the bed. 

And somewhere—sandwiched in between the sadnesses that clawed their way like weeds, in between the houses that didn't hold me close, in between the loves I let go—good things bloomed, gave life to people and places and moments I am forever grateful for. I won awards for my environmental activism and traveled the country speaking to communities about sustainability. I was paid for pieces that were published. I garnered grants to fund my art. I have made things that are beautiful and that I'm proud of. I have felt so very sad but also so very alive with hope.

I don't know where I'll be in the next few months. I'm thinking a treehouse. But I love knowing that I can trust that whatever I do, it will bring me closer to where I want to be—even if I can't name it yet, or may never be able to. There's beauty in recognizing that growth always happens, that homes & loves & plans dissolve only to come back together. Again. And again. And again.