January, 2014

this is not your happily ever after (…but that is totally fine)

I remember standing beside the man I was married to at the time as a woman said, “All this success! It’s like a fairy tale.”

She was talking about our life together. My life.

I didn’t want to disagree, even though signs of the end were already manifest: the good times slipping away beneath the criticism, the way his voice would turn cold before he stopped speaking to me. Are we in the fifth grade? I sometimes asked, trying to make light of it – his mother said that I took him too seriously, that I let him affect me too much, and maybe I did. But he was my husband. And I had yet to read a fairy tale in which the prince sweeps in on a white horse – or midnight-blue Porsche – and then gives you the silent treatment.

It wasn’t until years later – after the ugliness that marked the end of the relationship, the separation that shocked some and delighted others, the obscenely expensive lawyers, the neverending divorce, the emails I sent that I knew I would regret but felt too hurt and furious to care (and I was correct, I would regret them) — after the slow hard climb into my new existence – after our truce turned from hostile to uneasy to peaceful to the faint possibility of friendship – after I realized, with more than a little surprise, that when I encountered him at the preschool, or the hospital when one of our sons had minor surgery, I was enjoying his company again – it wasn’t until after all of this, that I learned the truth about fairy tales.

I only knew the Walt Disney versions. Beautiful girls suffered at the hands of wicked women and pined for the day their man would arrive, with his dragon-slaying heroism and magical kiss. These stories were fluff and romance. They were dangerous. They taught a girl to be deluded, trusting and passive, rewarded for her looks alone (and maybe a bent for emotional masochism).

But this is not how fairy tales started out.

Unless and until they are written down – or recorded in vivid, dancing Technicolor – stories are not static things. They shapeshift from one place or period or culture or social group to another, in order to code certain values and transmit a prevailing worldview.

And as Joan Gould points out in her book SPINNING STRAW INTO GOLD: “The more patriarchal and stratified the society, the more clearly the heroine is expected to rely on the hero to save her.”

Fairy tales were originally female tales, women’s work: handed down from mothers to daughters. In these versions, heroines were not pretty victims killing time and waiting for rescue. Sisters rescued brothers; daughters rescued fathers or lovers. click here

Jan 23, 2014 · 27 Comments / ADD YOURS

service is an act of leadership: 7 reasons why ‘serving’ is different from ‘pleasing’

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
–John Quincy Adams


Pleasing is something you do to get your own needs met: for approval, validation, control.

Serving is when you get out of yourself and address the needs of someone else (even if they themselves are not aware of them).

Carol Pearson makes an interesting distinction between martyrdom and sacrifice. Martyrdom is a bargain you make in order to save yourself. Genuine sacrifice is higher and more evolved: it is intended to save others.


Pleasing is obligatory. Pleasers often feel they have to be everything to everybody. Pleasing can be its own kind of addiction: people will do it even when they’re resentful, or tired, or on the verge of burnout. They’re looking outside themselves to fill a hollowness within, which is always a losing battle.

Service is freely chosen. Servers know you can’t serve everybody, and don’t try. They know who their people are and trust that others can find service elsewhere (from more capable and appropriate individuals). They also know their own value, and where the needs of the world intersect with what they offer. click here

Jan 13, 2014 · 6 Comments / ADD YOURS

get married + be submissive?

A dog is wiser than a woman; it does not bark at its master. — Russian Proverb

If you want to be grotesquely fascinated, check out this book of relationship advice that is on bestseller lists across Europe:

Get Married….And Be Submissive

This is not the kind of submissive involving handcuffs and paddles and black silk wrapped round your eyes. The author – who is a woman – states that

“we are not equal to men and to not recognise this is a guaranteed source of suffering”.

Therefore, ladies,

“you must submit to him. When you have to choose between what he likes and what you like, choose in his favour.”

And don’t forget that

“when your husband tells you something, you should listen as if it were God speaking”. click here

Jan 6, 2014 · 31 Comments / ADD YOURS

a wish for you in 2014

I once heard one person say about another:

She had a capacity for deep joy.

That struck me. In fact, I thought it was goddamn beautiful.

Could somebody say that about me, I wondered, and a thought rose in response:

Maybe not so much.

I wasn’t an unhappy person. But even back then, I sensed a difference between happiness and joy.

Happiness is related to your circumstances. It ebbs and flows with the external forces of your life.

Joy goes deeper.

Joy is when you’re tapped in to something that threatens to blow up your heart. click here

Jan 3, 2014 · 11 Comments / ADD YOURS

darling, it’s time to own it.

My favorite thing in my Facebook feed today was a text image from Madonna’s page:


(I want that on a t-shirt.)

When we talk about finding your voice, we’re talking about your ability to own it. Your voice is not just what you say and how you say it, but who you are.

Which is maybe why we’re so quick to imitate other people’s voices. If it worked for them, so our reasoning goes, then it should work for us, right? We can hide who we are behind who we think we’re supposed to be.

When you own it, you drop the act.

You come out of hiding. click here

Jan 2, 2014 · 17 Comments / ADD YOURS
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