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402 days. 402 (plus or minus… mostly minus) posts.

Category: Gender

What you can do right now

Like you (I presume), I feel sick. And sad. And helpless. And like I just want to find everyone affected by this attack and squeeze them, and let them cry and tell me all about what they’re going through.

But I’m not helpless, and neither are you. Here’s a list of things you can do today – right now.

1) Contact your representative and tell her/him what you want done. It’s fast and SO easy. Think about your stance on gun ownership (Should getting a gun be easier than getting a fishing license? Should it be easier to sell a gun than sell lemonade?), and make it heard.

Contact your Representative

2) Donate to an organization focused on safe gun ownership and gun control. Did you know donations to the NRA spike after mass shootings? Think about that.

Brady Campaign


Coalition to Stop Gun Violence

3) Help the Orlando LGBTQ community process, grieve and recover by donating to one of their organizations.

Equality Florida

The Center Orlando

Zebra Youth

Orlando Youth Alliance

*Update: The Pulse Tragedy Community Fund has been set up by The Center Orlando, expressly for victims and their families.*

4) Share what you know. What other actions can we take today? Please leave your ideas and resources in the comments.

Hearts by Wendy MacNaughton

Hearts by Wendy Macnaughton, @wendymac


Day 632: About Not Being Scared

I started writing this piece before I learned of Robin Williams’ death.

And in full disclosure, I don’t suffer from depression the way many of my friends, families and peers do. I’m honored to have heard some of their stories over the past few days, and to have been privy to the depth at which depression is managed with grace, grit and sometimes deep, deep loneliness.

Cheers to the depressed. May you press on and keep sharing.


Original post:

The other day, I had a moment. I woke up, took a shower, lay down on the floor, and stared up at the ceiling while tears sort of unceremoniously streamed out of my eyes, down my temples and into my ears. I felt exhausted. And hyper-aware that my wet hair was soaking the carpet.

In that moment, I felt anxious and incompetent. Logically, I knew I didn’t have anything to feel sad about – and I knew I could snap out of it if I really, really wanted to. But I didn’t want to. I felt compelled to stay there, stretched out, feeling anxious and incompetent, wondering how much longer I could delay the rest of my day. It was comforting in an incredibly uncomfortable sort of way.

I think sometimes life is just kind of scary.

And sometimes we should feel comfortable talking about how life is just kind of scary.

There’s a reason we thrive in communities – it takes all kinds of different relationships (dare I say a “village” of them) to support an individual’s emotional well-being. We need champions, advocates, reality-checks, comic relief, passion, warmth and challenges – and in the best communities, what an individual takes in in balance with what they provide.

But we (perhaps women, in particular) still struggle with this concept. We think we should be able to do it all and have it all and work it all out ourselves. We have to give more than we take. And we can’t talk about our sad or scary moments, because they make us seem weak and fragile, instead of normal human beings with deep emotions and strengths.

I’d like to be part of the movement that says it’s okay to talk about these things. That it’s okay to not have it all together, and it’s okay to ask for help. Asking and seeking is not weak – it’s productive and smart. It says you’re willing to grow and be challenged. And isn’t that a brave, beautiful thing?

Day 476: The Thing About Bossy

As a girl who was called bossy more than once growing up, I really appreciate the new #BanBossy campaign. Especially because there are still lots of discrepancies between how boys and girls think about themselves and their capabilities.

But one of the things I learned from Girl Scouts (as an adult… when I worked there) is that leadership takes many, many forms. And not all of them are loud. Something about the Bossy Conversation rubs me slightly the wrong way, because it implies that a girl has to be aggressive and assertive in order to be a leader.

Mind you, I was an aggressive and assertive little kid. I loved (LOVED) rules. I derived great pleasure from flexing my imagination within a set structure, and – um – inviting others to do the same. And I remain that way as an adult. As a producer in an agency full of lots of leaders, thinkers and dreamers, it’s part of my role to try and make the creative stuff happen – within the boundaries of budgets, deadlines, corporate legal departments and competing priorities.

But the quiet girls are leaders too. So are the quiet women. I’ve watched female colleagues gently guide conversations and processes in ways that shout leadership. While my method might be to speak up, wrangle, whiteboard and reality-check, the quiet ones observe, listen and ask questions that ultimately help the group land on the right decision. They’re respected and effective – two telltale marks of good leadership.

I do stand behind the anti-Bossy stuff, as it’s all about helping assertive girls maintain their confidence through the sometimes-painful process of becoming adults. But I’d like to tell those beautiful bossy girls that sometimes it’s okay to not feel responsible for everyone and everything around you. And to the quiet girls who are being called shy instead of bossy – I hope you know that it’s okay to raise your voice above the din when you feel strongly about something.

As for me, I continue to work on relaxing my grip on the rules now and then, and to soften my voice when someone else needs the mic.

So. Here’s to the leaders, no matter how loud they are.

Bossy girl

Me, likely experiencing a post-bossy high.

Day 85: Girl Scout Cookies

As a continuation to the continuation about happy things Midwesterners can think about while they wait for spring, this is the perfect time to post about Girl Scout cookies. In central/southern Minnesota and western Wisconsin, it’s currently cookie season (as if you didn’t know). 

I bought cookies yesterday from a lovely young woman in her last year of Girl Scouting. As she stood outside the grocery store in downright bitterly cold weather, she cheerily told me how much she’ll miss the program when she graduates, and that my Thin Mints were lovingly “pre-frozen.” She then explained to the gentleman behind me why cookies cost more this year and what she plans to do with the money she earns (a trip to France with her troop). She was smart, articulate, outgoing and a good saleswoman (“You know, a couple of packages of Trefoils would be very tasty with those Samoas.”).

If you’re wondering whether or not you should support Girl Scouts by buying cookies, the answer is yes. The girls in green sashes and brown vests are doing more than peddling delicious goods; they’re learning how to be leaders.

Day 19: The Apocalyptic Skirt

My TV antenna doesn’t pick up anything other than the ION Network, so unless I’m in the mood to watch Rebound or three hours of Cold Case, I don’t watch much television (that’s not to say I don’t take full advantage of my Netflix account). So, when my Facebook newsfeed blew up last night with posts about Kanye West’s skirt at the 12-12-12 Concert for Sandy relief, I had no idea why.

This morning, I did some research. Yes, West wore a skirt. Yes, it was made of black leather. Yes, he wore leather leggings underneath. And although I love my Facebook friends dearly, I don’t know why it was a big deal.

Women wear pants. Dogs wear jackets. Guys can wear skirts.

Frankly, I’m not sure why West even bothered with the leggings. Maybe it was cold at the show.

A few months ago, I read a story in the Huffington Post about a father who wears a skirt in solidarity with his dress-wearing five-year-old son. Nils Pickert determined that his son needed a role model who didn’t succumb to “fluffy gender roles.”

It’s likely that West and Pickert are similar only in that they’ve experienced the awesomeness of skirts, and that they don’t employ the same reasons for their choices. Making a fashion statement is ultimately different than sticking up for a kid who wears what he wants. But both situations bring up the same questions for me. Why is this news? Why do we care? Why do we have to identify clothing as feminine or masculine?

Unless a clothing item is somehow dangerous (a blazer ablaze?), if you like it, you get to wear it.