Advocacy, Environmentalism, Feminism

Scanning, Dabbling and Changing the World…

DISCLAIMER: This blog post is more for my own brain dumping edification than for your entertainment. 

Since early college, I wanted to work in/run a non-profit organization. I majored in political communication/campaign management an minored in women’s studies with that intent. I fell in love with Marian Wright Eddleman, Gloria Steinem and Sarah Weddington.  I volunteered  for various women’s groups, political candidates and environmental organizations. I continued volunteering after college while supporting myself by waitressing. And I kept having recurring conversations with my parents that always ended with “you have to get a real job”  “you can’t work for nothing” “you can’t volunteer forever”

So I stopped my volunteer work and went to law school. I think my intention was to skip the trenches (unpaid) and jump to the executive (paid) levels in the non-profit/campaign world. I thought that the letters after my name would get me there (rather than the paying the time + dues + dirty work). Of course, I was wrong. Accordingly, I have never been able to actually land a job with a NPO or campaign that I actually believe in and have passion for.

I have dabbled in all the little things I believe in or want to advocate for without actually fully committing to that profession.

I went to law school because I thought it would open the door to work in Non-profits.  I got an LLM in environmental law, because I  wanted to work in environmental advocacy. I got certified as a yoga instructor because I believe in and want to advocate for the balance of body + mind + spirit. I got certified as a holistic health coach because I believe in and want to advocate for natural, whole foods and a healthy lifestyle in balance with nature and the earth’s cycles. I got certified as a birth doula because I believe in and want to advocate for a woman’s choice for natural birth without unnecessary medical intervention. I trained in Mayan Abdominal Massage because I think every woman should intimately know (and be able to take charge of) how her body works.

I never really wanted to be a lawyer. I never wanted to teach yoga (though I love doing so). I never wanted to be a health coach.  I never really wanted to be a doula, I never wanted to give abdominal massages.  I just wanted to learn. I just wanted to have the knowledge to be able to credibly advocate by/for/about these things.

There is a (ridiculous) saying – those who can’t do, teach. I think the saying should be those who are afraid to do, continue to learn.  I am stuck in a perpetual cycle of learning. Am I afraid of doing?

There has to be a bit of fear in there somewhere… The fear of not being able to find the job that satiates me, not being able to make a living at that job, not being able to make a difference.  The common denominator to those fears, is insecurity, it’s the fear of not being good enough. Not being flexible enough, peaceful enough, healthy enough, strong enough, inspirational enough, articulate enough, just not enough.

My own perception of competition terrifies me.  There are millions of yoga teachers, health coaches, business coaches, life coaches out there. There are 1000s of non-profit organizations designed to save the environment, empower women and fight for healthy options. The idea of having to be as good as any one of them terrifies me.  What will make me unique? What will make what I do special? Stand out? Make a difference without taking away from something or someone else?

I’ve read the Fire Starter Sessions, I’ve read A Course In Miracles, I’ve gone through B-school, I’ve Dream Mapped, I’ve Surrenderd. I am well versed in the laws of attraction and abundance and theoretically understand that there is plenty for everyone and the right “clients” are out there for me. But I still can’t seem to move past the fear of not being as good as XYZ. I’ve been a passive participant in all of it, without truly taking action.

Part of the problem is understanding my big crazy dream, inside and out.  I can’t narrow it down. I can’t pick just one thing.  It’s so large and vast.  I think the common thread in all of it is advocacy on one level or another for the diverse things I am passionate about.

  • I want to create an advocacy think-tank that serves non-profit, heart centered or purpose driven organizations. I want to design + create their campaigns, their branding, and their message.
  • I want to run a non-profit organization that DOES GOOD and that SERVES. But what good things and what service, I don’t know.
  • I physically want to create things using my hands. Dig in the dirt. Recycle, re-purpose, build.

What does all of this mean? How does it all come together? Where is the clarity?

I bring all of this up because as a graduate student, working toward my Ph.D, I need to make a choice. I need to hone in on a research topic. A subject. A field to become an expert in.  I have had meetings with professors in the Political Science, Digital Media, Communications and Public Policy departments.  I am somewhere between ecofeminism, the rhetoric of advocacy, branding for non-profits and campaigns and environmental communication. How do I pull it all together?  I want to smash the fluffy-bunny-wiccan-men-hating paradigm attached to the ecofeminist movement, to write a revised manifesto for MODERN Ecofeminism.  I want to understand the rhetoric that makes a campaign successful and tell PETA, “you’re doing it wrong.” I want to be the person that designs the words to tell the world “economic growth isn’t compatible with environmental protection, but here’s how we can do better. This is how we fix it.”  I want to start a movement that’s bigger than a Facebook group or a Google + Community that is true high-risk activism.  I want to scream at the online generation that Social Networks are making us apathetic.  CLICKING LIKE isn’t going to change the world. You have to get up off your ass to do that!  I want to be the David that slays Monsanto.

I want to put it in my mouth, chew on it and come up with a thesis statement.

Feminism, Yoga

Hurricanes, Office Fashion and the Crazy Professor in the Women’s Studies Department

You can take the yoga teacher out of the yoga room, but…

Fashion Kitteh hates Yoga slobs….

For the past 5 or so years my daily wardrobe has consisted of yoga pants, organic tees and cozy wraps. When I started working full time again I definitely needed to make some shifts to my wardrobe.  You just can’t get away with yoga pants and wraps in the office, well maybe on Friday, but certainly not daily.  When I left my corporate pharma job, I vowed to never wear panty hose again.  Attire at the University is business casual for the most part, suits on meeting days, jeans on Fridays.  And yea, I have poured myself into panty hose more times in the past 3 months than I had in the past 6 years. The adjustment was brutal.

The curse of hurricane Sandy left me with a little blessing in disguise. It blessed me with a new wardrobe.

On the first night of the storm, portions of our roof blew off. We sustained water damage in nearly every room.  Other than the soggy carpets, the first thing I noticed was our office.  All of my yoga training binders and half of my yoga library were ruined. The piles of shoes not so neatly stacked in the corner, water logged.  Without power, we escaped to Vermont for 3 days of comfort. Upon our return, we began cleaning and taking inventory of the damaged items. That’s when I noticed the smell.  That musty-not-so-fresh-there-is-mold-growing-somewhere-smell.  My nose directed me straight to my closet. I opened the doors and found 75% of my clothes on the hangers damp and stinky. Leather boots, furry Uggs, a wardrobe of Lululemon, my favorite (still haven’t replaced them) jeans, a few suits and all the professional clothing I had begrudgingly put together for my new job.

Moldy. Stinky.

Stuffed in trash bags and sent to the dumpster. Gone.

Thankfully, Hubby is the more practical one in our relationship, so we were covered by insurance.

The thought of replacing a wardrobe was daunting to me.  I hate Jersey malls. [who the hell puts on make up and heels to go to the mall anyway? So rude!]  I haven’t been a big shopper since college where I successfully racked up over $5000 in debt to Victoria Secret, Urban Outfitters and Tower Records.  It took me years to pull my credit out of the Newbury Street gutter, and while I flirt with it often, I never want to climb back in. These days I spend my money on books, online programming (health, business, coaching, cooking), workshops,  kitchen tools and every so often, some new yoga junk.  I am not used to shopping for whole wardrobes that aren’t black and in a good organic + spandex blend.

The answer to my shopping woes was pretty simple….online.  Saved by the internets yet again! Thank you, Al Gore!

Etsy. Overstock. Bluefly.  +  45 mintues at the Jersey Shore outlets.  I successfully pieced together a new, professional-I-work-9-5-again wardrobe.   My shopping spree even included 4 new suits and dear God I hate suits!  I thought I did a pretty good job.  Then my perfectly pleasant, perfectly coiffed, always in the perfect pants suit co-worker commented…

“you always look so pretty…and flowy”

Fashion kiss of death.

Flowy…is most definitely a yogic adjective, not a corporate, I mean business one.

And then today, the IP Program Coordinator said, “I love your sweater. Damn, you have the wrap market cornered!” My only response was…I like to be cozy.  I think I should have consulted my Jersey-born, LBI raised niece. She would have forced me to stop being a yoga slob. Maybe the moral of the story is that I am meant to get my Ph.D. I can become that crazy professor with long silver hair, flowy skirts and obnoxious, chunky jewelry hand made from some tribe in Africa.  I will teach EcoFeminist Activism and go on tirades about how the patriarchy has violently caused a separation from nature. The 18 year old undergrads will talk about the crazy hippie, tree hugger  in the Women’s Studies department that does yoga in her office.

I will still wear a bra though.

Or I could ditch this whole corporate thing (again) and go back to teaching yoga. 🙂