Books on Changing Bodies: A Body-Positive Review
A LEGO Exchange Tracker
There is a lot out there. Some of it is decent, most is godawful, and some is just plain wrong. Amazon.com reviews are, unsurprising, no help at all. There are a lot of purity-culture reviewers in the mix, along with adults who still think their kids are simply “too young” to have the bigger picture.
I looked for diversity in race, religion, ability, gender identity, gender expression, size, and sexual orientation, as well as sex- and body- positivity.
*As Cameron Esposito says: If any of these words don’t feel right to you, I welcome your polite and engaged feedback.
Outside the Lines
Food is complicated. Love, fear, shame, pleasure, joy, comfort, confusion- I feel a lot of different ways about food.
This is a conversation I have been having with myself for over 30 years. It is not new. I have had several wonderful professionals that have supported me in finding creative ways to grow over this long bumpy road: counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists and dietitians. I am very lucky.
I am finding ways to feel settled in my skin and feel peace with food. It's a journey, but I am solidly on it now.
Singing in My Skin
In 2016 I gathered coloring pages from the internet to set out for children attending a concert of mine. The subject was social and environmental justice, and I wanted the kids' materials to reflect this too. I found scores of pictures of MLK, along with one of Susan B Anthony, and a few that were clearly scanned from a fabulous coloring book called "History of the Civil Rights Movement" from Dover Publications. But the collection I gathered was not comprehensive.
After the concert, a mother called me to tell me that her 9-year-old child had been so curious after working on the page depicting the Woolworth's Lunch Counter Sit-in of 1960, that it prompted them to purchase a book about the event and learn much more. She made it clear that this conversation would not otherwise have happened at this time.
"I was the only one that breathed too loud."
Tonight I sang for 2 hours with a group of women. It was a workshop with my feminist choir, and focused almost exclusively on vocal technique. It was a kind of focus on the body as instrument that I haven't done in a long while, and it felt safe to do it there, with these women surrounding me.
Now, I have 2 Masters level degrees: the first in Vocal Performance and the second in Speech Language Pathology. I have spent years studying how bodies make sound, and particularly how my own body produces sound.
I have also spent every year of my post-adolescent life at war with my body.
Music for Focus
Before I went to Washington DC last weekend I wondered if my kids (8 and 5) were too young. I wondered if perhaps I was exposing them too early to fears of being shot. The Women's March, March for Science, and rallies for immigrants were more abstract for them. It took some discussion to explain that women are still fighting for equality, that some people don't trust the scientific method and what it meant to not have documents in a country you live in. It wasn't really personal. We live with a lot of privilege in a safe neighborhood of a city where we don't think twice about walking around in the evening. We don't hear gunshots. We are very lucky.
But the 5th, 6th , 7th and 8th graders at her school walked out on on March 14th, and I knew my 2nd grader was aware of it. We have talked about why I don't like shooting games, and what to do if you ever see a gun, even if you think it is not real. But my 8-year-old seemed to pay about as much attention to these conversations as to the ones in which I tell her to clear her plate or wash her hands. Not much.
Albums that make me happy
As a parent of a child with attention challenges I am constantly experimenting with new strategies to keep my child on task. The toolbox has to be deep. Because I am a songwriter, I often turn to music. We used to have a song about walking to school to keep us moving East the 5 blocks of our daily journey. I also like to lapse into improvised recitative when giving instructions to the children (after I've said it once, and before I start to get really mad).
"So Much Has Been Lost"
I used to sit on the rug holding the record cover for Free to Be You and Me, reading all the lyrics in tiny print and listening to the songs and stories that would run in my head for all the years to come. In primary colors of the 1980's, the first acting I ever did was in that show. When I met my husband, I knew early on that he was a good one. He had Free to Be You and Me on his iPod. He was a bachelor, with no kids, a nephew who lived 250 miles away, and he had Free to Be You and Me on his iPod.
I have gifted that film, that album, to so many friends with young children. I have forced my own children to listen to it on repeat (if I can listen to the soundtrack to Seussical the Musical x1000, they can hear "William has a Doll" one more time). When I meet people who were raised on it, we always smile to each other: "yes, I see your childhood heart of hope- I was there, too."
To be seen.
"So much has been lost..."
These words have been ringing in my head since Sunday.
"So much has been lost..."
Our UU church presented a service last week looking into the eye of the white supremacy that we have allowed to weave itself into our institution and faith communities from the time of its roots. Unitarian Universalism cannot think itself separate from the society in which it exists, and that society is built on a scaffold of racist structures. For whatever reason, we are finally turning our ear to hurt that has been expressed over and over, but not believed, not honored, not heard, and certainly not atoned for.
What about tomorrow?
Last night I had a great talk with my Dad. He is the one who I call when I need to problem solve, he's great at logistics, and he is unwaveringly my biggest cheerleader.
This time my Dad and I were discussing his concerns about how to participate in the Women's March.
Big Message, Little Book
How do I do it right? What if I do it wrong?
For some, these words motivate for growth. For me, they slam shut a door I rarely give myself a chance to open.
Playing music makes me feel whole. Playing music with others makes me feel human and real. Working to help others makes me feel decent. Working with others to help the world makes me feel hope for humanity. But sometimes I get stuck. I know these truths and I still get stuck in worrying I will not get it right.
Lily's first book recommendation
Every month we get a new book for each of my girls from the PJ Library. Each book shares something about Judaism, Jewish culture or a Jewish value. This one, "Welcome" by Barroux, is a simple, engaging book that is about refugees.
Ok, it's about polar bears, cows, giraffes, pandas and monkeys. But with very few words and sweet illustrations it boils down xenophobia to it's core and entreats us to say "welcome" to those who may not look like us, but who need our help. I wish it was this obvious to grown-ups.
On the way out of Lily's preschool today I picked up a book and sat down in the library to read. On the way in she had pointed it out to me and announced "Mom- that is a good book. I LOVE that book."