Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Your queue: Netflix recommendations

Have any of you been jonesin' for some heroines?  I've got your fix!  I've been watching some (a lot) of Netflix recently, and I naturally gravitate toward strong female protagonists.  If you have Netflix, or even if you don't (the library I work at has all of these too), you should give these a try.

Lovelace (2013)
This follows the intriguing story of the porn star Linda Lovelace, played by Amanda Seyfried.  It first shows Linda's "success" as a young porn star and then backtracks and tells the more personal, behind-the-scenes story of how Linda was forced into the business.  In the end it is a powerful portrait of a girl trapped in the porn industry by a greedy, loveless husband and how she eventually escapes.

Call the Midwife, Seasons 1 & 2
This amazing British series tells the story of a group of midwives and nuns serving women in London's poor East End in the 1950s.  It is based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth.  The heartwarming show paints a beautiful picture of motherhood and sisterhood.  It shows the wonderful and also the painful, heartbreaking parts of becoming a mother and demonstrates the power of women helping women.  You will fall in love with the strong, compassionate characters and feel so warm and wholesome after each episode.

Miss Representation (2011)
This is a documentary about women's representation in the media and politics and how it influences America's youth and therefore our future.  It has shocking statistics about women in American government.  While the intensity level makes it seem like mere feminist propaganda, almost every point made is indisputably important.  This one affected me the strongest out the three Netflix selections because it is about the plight of women in the here and now, in my own country and my own generation.

Have a movie night! With popcorn! This sriracha butter popcorn is my current nighttime snack obsession.  So salty, spicy, and crunchy.  Maybe have some hot cocoa, too.  Let me know of any other Netflix heroines I should check out!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

New Year

I like New Year's resolutions. I like the sense of renewal and freshness they can give you. The problem is, that feeling of revival often seems to barely make it through January.  On New Year's Day I started writing out a list of things I wanted to improve upon or accomplish in 2014. It was a long list of tangible goals such as read one book a week and lose five pounds. Things that I could measure but that wouldn't really change my mindset. The list was also much too long to actually be completed. I would have lost motivation to make all the changes and would have been left feeling defeated.  So I started to rethink my resolutions.  What could I do that would really change my year?  What could I do to change the way I think? The following is what I landed on after meditating on it for a few days.  The great thing about these is that I believe any woman could take them and make them their own resolutions for the year.

1.  Become an expert in something. Instead of trying to improve in all of my areas of interest, I decided that focusing on only one this year is much more doable and therefore beneficial as a goal.  I thought I'd use the opportunity to take something I know a bit about and deepen my knowledge and understanding in that subject.  The word "expert" sounds intimidating, but being an expert doesn't have to mean you know more than anyone ever about that subject.  That would be impossible, since there will always be someone ahead of you in an area.  I just mean that I want to know a lot about it, maybe so that to my friends and colleagues would consider me an expert in the area.  I haven't quite decided what I'm going to choose to learn more about, but right now the contenders are Irish literature, yoga, and speaking better conversational Spanish.

2.  Stop apologizing.  Very recently, my good friend Lauren brought it to my attention how often women apologize.  For example, in a college class a male student would say, "I had a question about this," while a female student might say, "Um, sorry, but I had a question about this."  Almost immediately after Lauren told me this, I saw how true it was in my own habits.  I apologize for all kinds of things that are not wrongdoings but insecurities.  This can be traced to a deep-set lack of self-confidence that many women have been conditioned by our society to feel.  I won't delve too deeply into this huge issue, but simply being aware of constant apologizing will change the way I think about my accomplishments and ideas.  I'm excited by what a difference this resolution could make in my future and the future of other young women.  So, in 2014 I vow to stop saying sorry.  Sorry I'm not sorry. :)

3.  Be more like my dog.  This seemingly-odd resolution came to me when I was walking Luna yesterday.  It's been so cold recently that walking Luna just has not happened in a while.  In the winter she probably only gets two walks a week compared to her usual two a day in warmer weather.  So I expected her to be out-of-her-mind ecstatic to go for a walk after so long.  Then I realized that she is always out-of-her-mind ecstatic to go on a walk, whether it's the third one that month or the third one that day.  She acted as usual,  trotting excitedly along on our regular route around the snow-covered campus.  And her unwavering level of joy inspired me.  I have found myself in a rut of routine recently, but Luna has inspired me to be excited for everything I may encounter, be it on a new and uncharted park trail or the tried and true route circling the campus.  I should be constantly searching for a new smell in the same bush, a new adventure on the same old sidewalk, a new friend walking the opposite way.  This year I want to have the excitement for life that Luna has.

Whatever your goals for the new year are, may you accomplish everything you set out to do in this new, fresh, and exciting year!

Happy 2014!
Julie and Luna