There is nothing that makes me more angry than people denigrating creative people and creative pursuits.

My sister has a doctoral degree–she’s a veterinarian. She does real, good, work saving the lives of animals and by extension, their families.

Last week I wrote a sonnet about AC/DC, and it was pretty good.

There is a clear discrepancy between what we do. One of us saves lives, the other writes dick jokes and stories about ghosts and superheroes. We get, from outsiders, some flack about the differences between us in all areas: the pay, the honor, the prestige, the ridiculousness.

Yet, my sister has never once judged what I do. She thinks what I do is just as important as what she does, albeit in a very different way.

Saying Yes to creative professions is really really hard. You are subject to so much criticism (good, bad, and trolling) and failure and pick-it-all-back-up-again-and-try-a-new-way. But when you do say yes, when you work hard and try and give it all you’ve got, it can be so beautiful.

Don’t take it from me, though. Take it from these guys.

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LOFB - Jen

These last few weeks have been difficult for me.  I knew that my contract at the university was about to expire, but even so, I held out hope that a last minute grant or donation would keep us afloat and that I would continue the job that I loved so dearly.  Sadly, that hope was in vain and I am now funemployed and fabuluxe.

My job was not so much what I did, but who I was.  I had the joy of knowing that my career made a significant difference in the lives of children with autism and I was honored to hear daily from parents and educators “Jason can read now!”  and “Mara said ‘Mommy’!”  The thought that I’ll no longer see these children or work with their parents makes me feel like I’ve been kicked in the chest and the idea that I will wake up tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that with nowhere to go and nothing to do weighs heavily on my heart and mind.  I’ve always taken care of people.  It’s what I do.  I am the caregiver in my family, the one my friends turn to in  times of need, and my chosen career  has been that of caregiver and “fixer”.  But now I have to reassess.  Now I have to start thinking about myself and where I go from here.  Now I have to stop seeking gratification and self-determination through the eyes of others and seek it within myself.  Now I have to say “yes” to me.

I am (of course) actively seeking employment in my field. . .*

*The short people have grown oddly attached to food and shelter and I’d hate to cut them off at this point!

Read The Rest Here!

Saying Yes Jen

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Life is fucking scary.

We spend almost 100% of our time trying not to die in really creative ways. We created safe cars because otherwise, they’ll kill us. We created heating and air conditioning, hot water heaters, stoves, microwaves, fridges, washing machines to keep us safe from murdering ourselves. We wear clothes so the sun doesn’t murder us with our own ignorance. We created tasers and other (worse) weapons because other people want to kill us, too. A lot.

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When you think about life logically, you’re near death kind of a lot. Life becomes less boring, sure, but also 3,000% more terrifying.

We can’t live our lives in a hole though. We can’t say no to everything and do the bare minimum in hopes that we’ll be safer. We can’t stay terrified in bed all day because that shit causes bedsores and that is worse than death.

Life is terrifying, yes, but also so wonderful and manic and full of so much fun and awesomeness that we only have a few short years to experience. We are so finite, given so little time to experience all that the world, that the universe has to offer.

However, we can’t say yes to booze and Little Debbie all the time because, sadly, that will also kill us.

Life is cruel like that.

Where is the line between too much no and too much yes? How do we balance fear and adventure? How do we feel just alive enough to not be dead? When we say no too much to life, we end up bored to tears. When we say yes too much, we ramp ourselves into the Grand Canyon of busy-ness and burnout. What do we do, then?

That’s what we’ll be discussing this month is the thin line between No and Yes and how choosing one or the other affects our lives. We’ll hear from Jen and Abby, our lovely council ladies, and a couple of surprise contributors, and hopefully from you as well!

What have you said yes to recently that you loved or regretted? What have you said no to that you loved or regretted? How do you find that balance?

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When we think about our identity, for a large part of the population, it’s relatively easy to change who we are in society’s eyes with who we know ourselves to be inside. We can change jobs, change relationships, change ideals and morals and clothing until it matches who we are inside. We encounter some pushback from friends and family and society, but we learn to get through it.

Most of us don’t have to change our external gender identity to match who we are inside. That’s, well, that’s a whole new bag of pushback from society, from family, from friends, and sometimes even from within.

So when we have someone like Laverne Cox, who plays Sophia on Orange Is The New Black and has been recently in the spotlight as a voice for the Transgender community, we need to listen to her story. We need to look to those who struggle harder than we and learn from their stories so we can make it possible for everyone to be who they are, and to understand what really makes up an identity:

Who you feel you are, matched with a hell of a lot of courage to pursue that identity.

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If she can, you can. We all have that courage. Go and do it!

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Noa Gavin, The Fearless Bitch

LOFB - NoaCaitlin Moran, the author of How To Be A Woman, once said, “When a woman says, “I have nothing to wear!”, what she really means is, ‘There’s nothing here for who I’m supposed to be today.”

Oh God do I feel that deep down in my soul. I change my identity every single day, because what I wear, how I do my hair–it changes who I think I am for that day. Sometimes I curl my hair and I’m so ladylike. Sometimes I pin it back so it looks like I shaved half my head. Sometimes I wear purple extensions.  It seems silly, but I feel like two different people based on whether I’m wearing heels or my knee-high combat boots.

For a while, I struggled with this constantly changing view of who I am. Identity, to a lot of people, means that you’re one thing all the time and that’s it. If you have different ‘identities’, you’re being disingenuous and are, to the extreme, a liar. A Mata Hari.

Welp, fuck that shit right up the spine.

There are so many facets that make up an identity. People can be mothers and bass-playing hardasses (I know one). People can be tie-wearing ninjas (I married one). People can be artistic and creative and sensitive and still know more than their fair share about Motley Crue (I am one).

Being you may feel different every day. You’re not always gonna feel the exact same way all the time, because that’s boring and also, not at all how anyone feels.

Don’t be afraid to be new, as long as it feels true to you.

Abby Heugel, The Funny Bitch

LOFB - AbbyI ended this month’s “Identity” post by saying that “among other things, I am a writer, a daughter and a loyal friend. I’m funny and grateful for humor, but introspective and complex as well. I’m someone who struggles, but I’m doing the best that I can and am unapologetically myself. I am not my circumstances, but rather a survivor. I am a constant work in progress.”

Writing that post wasn’t easy, mostly because I’m still struggling with this issue on a day-to-day basis and I worry that my identity—both internally and externally—has

become something that I don’t even recognize anymore. I am all those things mentioned above, but I’m also someone who has a hard time accepting where I am right now.

I don’t love my job and get frustrated with the fact I can’t get paid to write humor or something I feel passionate about. I get frustrated with my health because it often feels so out of my control. I worry that my insecurities—those I often try to keep to myself—are projecting out to the world and putting off those that I meet.

In other words, I’m not happy with my identity. And the fact that I’m the only one in control of it—the only one that can change that—can feel just scary as hell.

But this month I was forced to take a look once again at how I see myself, and as one person commented on that post, “The external is what we manifest and what we manifest is a direct reflection of what we believe about ourselves.”

That stuck with me.

My identity is whatever I make it to be, and whatever I put out into the universe—good, bad or indifferent—is a reflection of how I feel about myself. While I might not be happy with my circumstances, I don’t want to be a reflection of that unhappiness. I don’t want my identity to be tied up in struggles, but rather with how I work through them.

I am a constant work in progress, but identity is constantly changing. It’s up to me to decide the direction.

Jen Reinmuth, The Fierce Bitch

LOFB - JenMy struggle with identity has been lifelong. Being the youngest in my class, I always felt left behind; like I was “acting” the way the other kids were but never really feeling the flow. Although to outward observation I seemed bubbly and popular, I was an insecure hot mess. Sadly, you don’t always grow out of that shit, so into late adulthood, I still found myself framing my identity upon my accomplishments, and the perceptions of others…namely, men. Whether I had the straight A’s, the dream job, and the perfect guy interested in me determined my self-worth. Get a B and ruin my perfect 4.0 GPA? Crying jag. Not get the venerable position I desire? Weeks of self-loathing. Rejected by the man I cared about? Go directly to the Bell Jar, do not pass “Go”.

It has taken years of heartache and rejection, but for the first time in a long time, I feel like I’m finally coming into my own identity, and I owe that in great part to (a) my ex husband, and (b) losing my job this week. Yeah, I know, queue dound of all of you saying “Da fuq?” but hear me out. My ex husband taught me that men cannot define you, they can only offer you what they have to give, when they have to give it. If that’s enough for you? Great. If not, pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile, smile, smile your way onto someone better. And losing my job this week taught me that who I am is more than what I do. What I do (or did) was autism research. Who I AM is a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a lover, a writer, a singer, a dancer, and American, and Oregonian, a Christian, a Republican (yeah, I know…judge away), a human being, a woman, and a Child of God. I am finally in a place where I know who I am is enough without titles and affirmations from others.

I met a man a few months ago that I really hit it off with. He is smart, and funny, and kind, and cute as hell, and I absolutely love spending time with him. And he appears to feel the same way. And you know what? we’re both OK with that being what it is. When I entered my 40′s I abandoned the whole idea of expectations. Do I want a committed, long-term relationship? Absolutely. And maybe that’s with this guy, and maybe it’s not. But for now, we are enjoying getting to know each other and having a great time when we hang out. No labels. No “let’s talk about the relationship” douchebaggery; just two adults who enjoy each other’s company. I don’t need him to define my self-worth because I KNOW my self-worth. And as for work, I am confident that the perfect job will come my way; maybe not what I’ve been doing for the last 4 years but that’s OK. Because, as aforementioned, that’s what I DO, not who I AM. Don’t ever let anyone or anything define your identity. You’re too pretty for that shit.

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