You have to get up pretty early

You have to get up pretty early: the sun coming up at 7am as I'm headed home | Living Consciously Blog
The sun coming up at 7am as I’m heading home.

How is the part time job going, Jenny? (I teach Lagree Fitness at a local studio – it’s a form of Pilates on the Megaformer)

Welllll, let me tell you.

For the past 2 years, I have been teaching a class or two on the weekend and 2-3 morning classes during the week. It works great for me, because on the weekend the kids get some alone time with Daddy and I get some adult interaction doing something that I love! The mornings have also been nice because the kids are still asleep, and just getting up as I arrive home. Some days Daddy gets them completely ready and even takes them to preschool. You can read more about my philosophy of working out in the morning in my post about working out as a SAHM.

And for the last 2 years, morning classes have been verrry slim.

As in, 1-2 people in a class with a 10 person capacity.

And more than 50% of the time: no one.

No one was dedicated enough to their fitness routine to get up at 6am to work out.

We changed the time to 7am.

Still no one.

We have changed days all over the place: every day of the week, Tuesday/Thursdays, MWF.

Nope.

It is totally understandable that the studio finally actually cancelled morning classes altogether this week. And that, therefore, I’m not really technically “working part time” anymore. Because is working 1 hour a week even enough to call part time? Probably not.

So many times on this blog, I take the middle road. I respect all peoples’ choices even if they are different from my own. But I have had enough of the following constantly recurring conversation and I am taking a stand.

Here goes:

Stranger/casual acquaintance/current studio client: “Wow, your arms are amazing. I wish I was that strong. I would give anything to look like that. What kind of workout do you do?”

Me: “[insert explanation of Lagree fitness], I teach morning classes twice a week at 6am [or 7am]”

Stranger/acquaintance/client: “OMG I could never do that! 7am! That is waaaay too early, haha, you must be joking!”

Often there is a pause where they are waiting for me to tell them some other way of getting in shape. I have nothing else to say because, um, I just said it. Get up & DO SOMETHING.

Does no one else see the problem here?!

Intrusively remarking stranger, if you were truly interested in a radical change in your muscle mass and strength, as you say that you are, why do you put restrictions on yourself? If I told you, “Just buy this pill, drink this powder, say this magical incantation under a full moon”, would you do it? Trust me, some people would. But if I am telling you to just get up an hour earlier a few times a week? SURELY NOT, YOU MUST BE JOKING. THERE MUST BE ANOTHER WAY.

Obviously, this is a very specific type of person I am talking about here. There are plenty of us who get up at 5am or 6am to get some fitness in at the beginning of our day. There are others of us who get up that early to read, meditate, or (let’s be honest) are woken at that hour or earlier by a small human. Many other Lagree studios are completely sold out at 6am and 7am. Yoga studios often have maxed out classes at that time too (I know, because I go sometimes).

I AM talking to the people who say that getting up at 5am is impossible.

I AM talking to the people who want to see results without any sacrifice.

I AM talking to the people who aren’t willing to take the risk and therefore, unfortunately, will never see the gain.

I am sad for you. It’s just one little “no” the night before.
No, I won’t watch one more show.
No, I won’t get started on Pinterest or Facebook right now.
No, I won’t pick up that magazine.

So that you can say “yes”.
Yes, I will go prepare a healthy morning snack now.
Yes, I will set out my workout clothes.
Yes, I will register for that class.
Yes, I will go to bed now, even though it is early.

Yes, I will see a change in my energy level, strength, and stamina.

Because, you will.

ConscientiousConfusion.com changing to Living-Consciously.com!

Living-Consciously.com Facebook cover previewI’ve been blogging here at ConscientiousConfusion.com since at least 2007. I loved the name of this blog initially because I have been described many times in my life as “conscientious”, even as young as my report card in the 1st grade! It’s just a word that describes my frame of mind at any given moment. And, of course, the process of being conscientious is nothing if not confusing.

But, let’s face it, it’s hard to spell.

Seriously, no one can spell it.

And it’s difficult for people to find me when they can’t spell the name of the blog.

For years, I have stalked alternative names but none have been available. Just a few weeks ago, I was clicking around on Network Solutions again (what, you don’t do that in YOUR spare time?!) and behold!! Living-Consciously.com was finally available! I was so excited that I bought it right away from my amazing hosting provider, Twenty70Hosting. I love Kelly so much. She is helping me through this URL migration process. Not easy for someone as technically challenged as I can be. If you are a blogger looking for a new host, please take my recommendation and go to Twenty70*!

I love the new name for many reasons, not the least of which is the yoga reference. Yoga is a practice of living inside the space we create to be conscious of our surroundings at all times. Religion is a spiritual process of being conscious of how we live in vertical relationship to God. Nutrition and fitness are functions living consciously inside our bodies, prompting us to treating our bodies with respect. There are so many reasons that this new domain is a great fit.

So, I am moving forward with the domain name migration with so much excitement! You may have noticed that my Facebook page is already looking different. I am so in love with the new cover photo that I have put it at the top of this post. You’ll be seeing the new name in the logo at the top of this page very soon as well.

The best news is: there will be a HUGE giveaway to celebrate the name launch starting next week! Please keep posted on the giveaway so you can win some amazing conscious living products from some wonderful brands by signing up for my blog posts via email. That way you’ll never miss a post!

Get ready to start Living Consciously!

 

 

* I did not get paid anything to recommend my hosting provider. I just love her so much!!

Conscientious Consumerism: Things to watch for when shopping for anything

You know that you’ve reached some kind of crunchy-person dilemma when you are standing in a giant store with an aisle full of options and do not find any acceptable choices for the item you came to purchase. I’m not just talking about food, although I certainly struggle with orthorexia in that area — but any item!

Small or large. Bed sheets. Slippers. Hand lotion. Paper towels. Wrapping paper. Everything.

When I say that I practice conscientious consumerism, what do I mean?

Questions that go through my head: where was it made? Were the workers treated fairly? What are the chemicals in it? What active chemicals will it leach when not in use? Were there pesticides used in it? Are there genetically modified (GMO) ingredients? Is there gluten or dairy in this? Can I make this instead of buying it? If so, is that crazy/do I even have enough time? Should I be purchasing something with this much unnecessary packaging? Is this made of plastic? If so, can I get a glass or stainless steel version?

Yep, all those things really do go through my head. And it’s true that I have walked out of even Target empty-handed because  I couldn’t answer some of those questions satisfactorily about the item I came for.

While you are pondering just how crazy I might be, I will provide you a list of things I look for when shopping and things I avoid. Follow at your own risk!
Conscientious Consumerism: Things to watch for when shopping for anything | ConscientiousConfusion.com

Avoid:

Phthalates (also called “Fragrance” in ingredients list)

Plastic

Trans fats (partially- or fully hydrogenated oils)

Soy or canola oil with unlisted source (likely GMO)

non-organic corn (GMO)

high fructose corn syrup

corn syrup

leather (when possible)

PVC (leaches phthalates/endocrine disruptors)

Single use items

Unpronounceable ingredients

 

Prefer:

Fair trade (better)

Purchase benefits a marginalized group (best)

Recyclable (better)

Reusable/refillable (best)

Small business

Workforce responsibility

Organic

Certified non-GMO

Handmade

 

That’s my short lists for now — have I left anything out that you look for or avoid? I’d love to hear your additions!

IG post: Showing skin

I’m experimenting with something for the next week or so. I notice that I haven’t been posting to my blog as often as I should, but  I post what amounts to mini blog posts on Instagram regularly. I can’t seem to find a way to automate the transfer of those posts into WordPress, but for now I’d like to try simultaneously posting the more thoughtful posts here.

~~~

Original IG post text:

Side Plank #independencearmy – sorry for the amount of skin in this pic, didn’t have clients for my 6am so I did some flow of my own at home & these were the clothes I had on, couldn’t grab more without waking the rest of the family. Great way to start the day!

Adding:

First, let me say that I got nothing but positive encouragement from my followers on Instagram. Which is why I love IG, it’s such a positive place. Some of these friends I only know from Instagram! It’s like Twitter used to be.*sadface* My followers on IG are a) largely fitness buffs like myself, primarily interested in the poses and photography rather than oogling, and b) female. I have very few male followers and only allow those whom I trust to be professional.

But let me back up and provide context, in case you have been living in a hole each Spring when the blog posts about modesty re-circulate. The most popular post this year was this post from a woman asking other women to help her protect her marriage by not posting pictures of themselves baring skin.

I saw a lot of criticism of that post regarding the writer’s marriage, and I am going to completely disregard that as none of our business. I understand her intent, and as a highly conscientious person I seriously consider her legitimate feelings.

Once we know that someone is offended or bothered by something, we are responsible for what we do with that knowledge. To act upon our knowledge or ignore it is a choice.

Here is an example of what I mean.

At the beginning of this swimming season, I owned one swimsuit. A two-piece with full coverage of top and bottom that I wore before kids and through 2 pregnancies. I was planning on wearing it for another year when I participated in a discussion with very close friends about their comfort levels wearing bikinis at our neighborhood pool, some in regards to appropriate modesty front of the husbands. Because this is our first year to join the neighborhood pool and be around my friends’ husbands at a pool, I was not sure what to do. I had just purchased a second swimsuit so that I would be able to cycle between the two if one was in the wash. They were both two pieces! Both full coverage of chest and rear end, but definitely two pieces. Were they modest enough?

I choose to care about my friends’ comfort levels, so once they have shared their concerns, I am responsible for my choices in light of this knowledge.

What I am not responsible for is interpreting the reactions of those who have not shared their concerns with me.

Another example: My favorite tongue-in-cheek response to the modesty post this year was  this one: When Suits Become a Stumbling Block. The intent of that parody was to point out that it is nearly impossible for the person wearing the clothing to pinpoint whether certain clothing or behaviors would make someone else “think inappropriate thoughts”. And how ridiculous it would be to ask everyone else to stop doing anything that makes them attractive in any way.

While I am happy to honor the concerns of my friends who tell me what makes them uncomfortable, I am not responsible for determining all the nuances of every individual’s comfort level, as the satirical post illustrates.

So this is what I did: I went out and bought swim shorts for one suit and a tankini top for the other. It was the cheapest thing to do, and I hope it increased the modesty of them both. I did this because I love and respect my friends who were not OK with their husbands seeing women in a standard bikini. I still wear the non-tankini and non-shorts pieces in my backyard with the kids and my husband.

In light of such responsibility, which has it’s limitations within the knowledge we possess, one more thing I want to address about that modesty post (and comments that I occasionally get from other women/clients): it’s not ok to say that you would dress more scantily if only you looked a certain way.

I want to paste some excerpts of the comments I got on my IG post:

Don’t apologize! If I had your body I would walk around in my swimsuit. Everywhere.

Gorgeous bod!! If I looked like that, I would wear that little all of the time!!

I’d grocery shop in that if I looked like you!

If you re-read the modesty post, you will also find this line in her post:

If I was skinny with rock-hard abs and legs from here to Mexico, I’d want to take lots of pictures of myself. Mostly naked. I would want to post them with a nice filter on Instagram, and share them with whoever might see.

Here’s the catch, lady: you just told everyone else they shouldn’t. Which means you don’t get to, either

You couldn’t because of people like you, posting blog posts telling people who look a certain way that they aren’t allowed to wear certain things. Putting conscientious people like me, who genuinely respect your feelings and want to do the right thing, in a very odd place when it comes to clothing.

Which begs the question: are you asking other women to cover up out of genuine concern for modesty, or out of your own body image insecurity? I’m completely respectful of other women’s legitimate requests for modesty. I can and will dress according to specific requests, if needed. But I am not responsible for protecting you from your view of yourself, which is an impossible target for me to hit. I can’t see inside your brain.

My sweet Instagram followers are not judgemental or even critical. What makes me sad is that, at the core, the phrase, “If I looked like that…” expresses dissatisfaction with the speakers’ body. I get this from my clients a lot and I want you all to know that your bodies are strong and capable. We also know that the images we see in the media are not real. I want you to stop comparing yourselves and enjoy your physical bodies!

The reality is, there are some people like the modesty post blogger who are judging someone who is fit even more harshly than they would judge someone who is less fit. The same woman who applauded this awesome lady for wearing a two piece swimsuit might write that blog post asking that we not post pictures of ourselves at the pool because we’re not overweight.

As a conscientious fit person, I’m always open to constructive feedback. And I’m sure that I have body issues of my own. But please do not confuse insecurity with impropriety. Most of all, let’s examine our motives and stop the comparisons.

Instagram is now more fun than Facebook for blogging

Follow me on Instagram! | Living Consciously Blog

If you’re not a blogger or small business owner, you might not be aware that Facebook has not been the friendliest place for Facebook Pages in the last 6 months. When you log in to Facebook as a user, you see many items in your Facebook “News Feed”. Some are from your Friends, some are paid advertisements, and some are from Pages you have “Like”ed. Let’s say that you’re a standard Facebook user with about 200 friends and have “Like”ed around 50-100 Pages. Maybe you log on to Facebook to check your News Feed every 3-4 hours. Think how many times your 200 friends and 100 Pages have posted Status Updates during that time. There is no way you are going to have time to see all the updates, so Facebook tries to “help” you by actually only showing a very small percentage of those updates to you in your News Feed. Facebook uses an algorithm to determine what it “thinks” you would be interested in, and hides the rest of the updates from you. As a small business or a Facebook Page, my job is to make my status updates are interesting to most of the people who have “Like”ed my Page so that my updates show up in your News Feed. Bloggers and businesses work super hard to do this. We schedule posts, we think creatively, and if you’re like me, post pictures of food and children to get you to “Like” and “Share”. The more you “Like” and “Share” an update, the more often it’s source appears in your News Feed. Or, that’s how it used to be. It used to be that all our efforts to make interesting content paid off. As a Page owner, I can see below my Status Update how many of my Fans (those who have “Like”ed my Page) saw the update. I used to get somewhere around 25%-30% of my Fans seeing my updates. That was a pretty good number although some Pages were able to reach more.

But in the last 6 months, Facebook changed the algorithm. The consensus of bloggers and small business owners is that we virtually cannot reach our Fans at all anymore. Regardless of how often you “Like” or “Share” our updates, you may never see my Page in your News Feed again. Nowadays, the same type of Status Update that reached 25%-30% of my Fans consistently reaches 10% or less. Sometimes I get the dreaded “10 people saw this post”. WhAT?! And it’s not just me. It’s everyone, including bloggers with thousands of Fans and large businesses. Facebook does have a pay-for-placement structure that allows a Page owner to pay to show up in News Feeds, but not specifically the News Feeds of those who “Like” your page — everyone’s News Feed. So you can pay for 1,000 people to see your post, but you still might not actually reach your Fans who “Like”ed your Page. You just appear in 1,000 random peoples’ News Feed. The business owners and bloggers I’ve talked to who have paid for placement say that the paid placement still doesn’t boost their numbers much above the 25%-30% they were getting before the algorithm changed. The only difference is that they’re having to pay.

If you follow me on Facebook, you might have noticed I’ve been a little slack about posting. But most likely, you haven’t noticed because you haven’t been seeing my Status Updates anyway. I wanted to let you, my awesome readers, know that I actually post a lot of personal, yoga, food, and daily things on my Instagram. I’ve been spending a lot of time over there lately because I’ve found a really neat community of yogis and fitness friends. I’m not an Instagram star or anything, but I’ve found it to be fun!

Check out some of my favorite users and posts recently:

Aren’t these so fun and inspirational?

I’ve been so much happier taking pictures and looking at positive, uplifting posts from others that challenge me than I was on Facebook battling through the clutter. I’d encourage you to give it a try, even if you don’t post pictures. Follow some inspirational people! Be encouraged!

What are your favorite Instagram accounts to follow? I’d love to hear, and I hope to see you on Instagram soon!

Vegetarians cooking for meat eaters

Technically, I’m not a vegetarian. I’m a lacto-ovo-pescatarian because I eat eggs, dairy, and fish. Until we realized that my son has problems absorbing nutrients from his food, it had been a good 10+ years since I attempted to cook meat. Back in my pre-health-consciousness days in college, I did a lot of ground meat hamburger helper and shake n’ bake chicken. Then I got to Dallas and stopped eating meat and didn’t have to use those mad cooking skills anymore.

In the last 6-9 months I’ve been attempting to add meat back into my family’s meals so that my kids can be exposed to all kinds of meat and fish and decide for themselves later in life the way that they will choose to eat when it comes to both health and the treatment of animals. As a vegetarian cooking for meat eaters, I use a meal planning system that I love (not an affiliate link) and I add meat substitutes to the meat dishes for myself so that I can continue to eat relatively meat-less. I just throw some Quorn breasts in there or some Morningstar meatballs or some seitan or tofu in lieu of beef or chicken.

Here’s the thing about re-learning to cook meat: that stuff is gross and weird, ya’ll! I mean really, in 10 years of cooking healthy and meatless I never had a recipe tell me to cut through bone, remove a tendon, beat something with a mallet(-type thing), or wrap a brick in foil!

As a vegetarian,  never did a recipe ask me to cut through bones, hit something with a mallet, or wrap a brick in foil

I had to use YouTube to figure out how to butterfly a chicken last night. It involved CUTTING THROUGH BONES WITH A KITCHEN SHEARS. Holy crap. I could never be a surgeon. How do ya’ll do this? I do admit that it smells really nice when it’s cooking. But so does pie. Mmmm, pie.

Jesus is a Feminist: you don’t have to Lean In, but don’t bow out

Jesus is a Feminist | ConscientiousConfusion.com

Although I haven’t read her book yet (it’s on our book club list and I’m waiting for the rest of the group!), I enjoyed hearing Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook and author of Lean In, speak at BlogHer this year in Chicago. While she was speaking, I was watching the chatter on Twitter and I noticed a disturbing response from the “Christian” bloggers that I follow. It actually disturbed me so much that I feel like I need to respond with this post. I saw several women who either skipped the keynote altogether because “I’m not a feminist” or attended but were tweeting things that implied that this ridiculous talk about feminism did not apply to them. What bothered me the most about this viewpoint is that it is completely wrong for someone who says they follow the Jesus described in the Bible. You don’t have to “lean in” if you don’t want to, but if you say you follow Jesus, I have news for you: Jesus is a feminist.

First, let’s be clear on what a feminist is. Here’s the definition from Merriam-Webster:

fem·i·nism: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes

If you believe that men and women are equal, you are a feminist.

Let me put it another way.

Have you attended a school, college, trade school, or certificate program? Do you teach others in any capacity: have you trained a coworker at school, taught a workshop, led a Sunday school class or Young Life meeting? Ever spoken in front of an audience that included men? Do you own a car, a house, do you have a birth certificate, a driver’s license, a passport, a library card, a credit card? When the U.S. census comes around, do you count yourself as an individual human being, or do you skip yourself and only count the males in your household? In your day to day life, do you speak to males in public and expect them to speak back to you? The postman, the clerk at the store, your neighbor, the dads in your children’s class at school, your childrens’ teachers and principals?

If you said “yes” to any of these things, you are behaving as a feminist, and are relying on feminist tenets in your everyday life. You have an expectation that you will be (and you have been) allowed the same freedoms that a man has, in these particular areas.

You also have much more freedom than a woman would have had in Palestine during the time that Jesus was on the earth. It was a rough time to be a Jewish woman. Although Jewish Greek and Roman women had some degree of power and freedom [3], in reaction and opposition to these foreign societies, strict rabbinical law in Palestine during the time of Jesus took the opposite viewpoint and forbade all such liberty for women[4]. When Jesus came onto the scene, He* challenged all of those norms.

An observant Jewish woman in Palestine during this time would have been barred by strict rabbinical law to be taught to read or to study the Torah. In the stricter households, she might even have been confined to her home. When she was allowed out of the house, it would be to worship in the synagogue, but even then she was separated from men. Men were educated in literacy and in religion, but women were not. If you were a very religious Jewish man of the time, you would not speak directly to a woman in public. Not even your own wife, daughter, or mother [1]. She was both too inferior and too lavicious, merely by merit of her existence [4]. That pretty much leaves out owning any kind of business or working full time. Maybe you don’t want to own a business, but what about being legally recognized as a person? Nope. In the Old Testament, women were not counted when there was a census. During the time of Christ, the testimony of a woman was not acceptable evidence in court [1]. Josephus documents that women were actually deemed inferior by law [2].

In contrast, every reference in the Bible to the larger group of followers of Jesus (outside the immediate disciple group) specified that both men AND women followed Him.

The fact that the overwhelmingly negative attitude toward women in Palestine did not come through the primitive Christian communal lens by itself underscores the clearly great religious importance Jesus attached to his positive attitude–his feminist attitude–toward women: feminism, that is, personalism extended to women, is a constitutive part of the Gospel, the Good News, of Jesus.”

Jesus Was A Feminist, thesis by Leonard Swidler, 1971

It’s interesting to note that Jesus frequently taught outdoors and in public places, rather than in the synagogue, which would have been the norm for a Jew trying to drum up a new movement. Why wouldn’t He be in the religious forum of the culture — a synagogue? Because if He were to teach in a synagogue, women would not be able to hear Him. Outdoors, anyone could attend, and did [4].

Jesus not only spoke to women, but He had a theological conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4). He listened to her points and gave her thoughtful answers. Again, something that a religious leader of the time would never have done, in public or even, most likely, in private.

Multiple times when Jesus healed a woman, He touched her, which was scandalous (Mark 1:29-31, Matthew 8:14-15). He directly addressed the “female issue” of a woman with uterine bleeding by healing her without fear or shaming. He not only healed her but commended her faith in coming to Him with the problem (Mark 5:25-34, Luke 8:43-48). Possibly most scandalous was His reaction to The Woman Caught In Adultery, who is only known in the bible in relation to her sin, not by her actual name — a commentary on how the writers of the gospel themselves felt about women. The religious leaders of the time used the woman only as an object to catch Jesus in political and religious trap, but Jesus saw her as a person just like any other person, and treated her as such (John 8:3-11). He stood up for a woman’s equality (feminism) by reminding the male religious leaders that sin is not inherently male or female, and neither is forgiveness and grace.

A key component of the gospel of Jesus was that He not only took on the sins of the world and died, but was resurrected, conquering the human fate of death and ascending victorious. Obviously, it is of crucial importance to His message that there is valid proof of His life after the crucifixion. So to whom did He choose to show Himself first after leaving His tomb? Three women (Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-11, Luke 24:1-11, John 20:11-18). Women whose testimony the modern society would not have recognized in court. If He wanted to make a big splash immediately, what He should have done is shown himself to a four Jewish men, the amount needed to legally corroborate any story. But instead, He cared enough about the women who stood by Him in His final hours to go them first, to comfort them in their grieving. I just love that gesture, because it proves that He cared about their feelings above any need to prove Himself (He has plenty of time to show Himself to groups of men later). Every action He took through His ministry recorded in the Bible proved to be a conscious choice to be inclusive and foster equality in gender as well as societal position and ethnicity.

~~~

I could go on and on with examples. If you are a reader, I encourage you to read the sources referenced at the bottom of this post — the fourth one, in particular, goes through the four gospels one at a time, citing every example of women and how Jesus treated and reacted to them.

Let me get back to my point. My hope is that women (bloggers or not) who call themselves followers of a faith originated by Jesus will stop bowing out of the feminism discussions by giving their faith as an excuse. Most likely, you are a feminist aside from your faith, even though you weren’t aware. But if you say that you follow Jesus, your faith should reinforce your feminism. I have not addressed the issues brought up later in the New Testament by Paul regarding the leadership of women in the church, but I think that Carolyn does an excellent job of analyzing the dangers of women letting submission be the guise under which we allow harassment in the church. Let’s be more aware of how we are treating women and men as a result of Jesus’ example. Let’s read the books and blog posts about feminism and join in the discussion. Let’s let this radical idea of equality permeate the way we treat our friends, how we judge (or choose not to judge) other women, how we make our political decisions, how we spend our money, and how we choose to consume media and entertainment. Everything we are doing impacts other women, and let’s all start being a little more conscientious. Dare I say… just like Jesus.

 

Sources:

1. Jesus Was A Feminist, thesis by Leonard Swidler, Professor of Catholic Thought & Interreligious Dialogue, Religion Department, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA. Article first appeared in Catholic World, January 1971.

2. Josephus, Contra Apion II, 201. Trans. by H. St. J. Thackeray, Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1966), p. 373

3. “Rufina and Her Sisters: Jewish women in the Diaspora”, by Ross S. Kraemer. Reprinted on My Jewish Learning from Jewish Women in Historical Perspective, edited by Judith Baskin, 1991, with permission of the Wayne State University Press. c. 1991 by Wayne State University Press.

4. Women and Ministry in the New Testament, by Elisabeth M. Tetlow, Paulist Press, 1980. reprinted on WomenPriests.org

 

* I am capitalizing this pronoun out of respect, because this is my blog and I can.

Twitter parties: etiquette and unfollowing

Twitter Parties: What do YOU think?

It’s time to talk internets. Lately, I’ve seen more and more Twitter parties in my small(ish) group of followers and Twitter friends. Just last night, Dallas Moms Blog hosted one with the hashtag #DMBmoms. Last week, Green Sisterhood co-hosted with Holistic Moms Network, #holisticmoms. On Wednesday nights, Working Mom Journal hosts #workingmomchat. On Monday nights, #clothdiapers talks about, uh… cloth diapers! I used to follow one about essential oils whose hashtag I have now forgotten. These are just the ones that I know about regularly. There are literally thousands of others going on at any given time.

While the essential oils weekly Twitter party was 6 months ago, and #clothdiapers has been going on for at least 2 years,  it seems like only recently that Twitter parties have gotten really popular.

What Are Twitter Parties?

The most basic form is when a group of people tweet during a set time period (usually 1 hour) with the same hashtag. You use a third party app like Tweetgrid, Tweetdeck, or Hootsuite to track all the tweets with that hashtag so that you can see what everyone is saying and tweet back to them using the party hashtag and sometimes the @ reply to specific participants. Remember that if you reply to an individual using the “@username” as the first word in your tweet, your tweet will not be visible to your Twitter followers in their general Twitter stream. So if you are just @’ing people, your followers will not see those tweets in their Twitter streams.

In more formal Twitter parties—usually the ones involving prizes and corporate or celebrity hosts—you have to RSVP to the host separately beforehand. In the course of these parties, participants who registered ahead of time will win prizes, with prize and winners being announced during the course of the party. The host will direct the Twitter party by asking questions that everyone following the hashtag will answer. Answers and questions will be tweeted and retweeted, sometimes with reply @ and sometimes just to the participants’ regular Twitter streams.

A problem

This is where it gets annoying for the participants’ followers who are not interested in joining the party. Let’s say this is my usual Twitter timeline over the course of 2 days (it is):

Random tweets throughout the day, in fairly evenly spaced intervals (around 10 tweets in 2 days). That’s fine if you follow me, I’m mixed in with everyone else in your Twitter stream throughout the day with all of us talking and looking like this:

But what if I am currently attending a Twitter party? Here is my timeline less than a full hour:

  

And here is what you see in YOUR Twitter feed when when you go to check what’s up on Twitter right now:

  

Yep. JUST ME. Like you really want to see that much of me. This party was for Dallas moms. A lot of my Twitter followers don’t live in Dallas and are not moms. What do they do?
UNFOLLOW.

Or do they?

More and more of my friends are attending Twitter parties. Just today at noon, my Twitter feed was completely taken over by a party that two of my friends attended. I don’t unfollow them because, well, they are my friends in real life! I can’t unfollow them!

Then my husband comes home later tonight and says something like, “Did you see that funny thing I tweeted?”. And I have to answer no, I didn’t, because it got lost in the Twitter party. Especially depressing when he’s home with the kids tweeting cute pics while I’m out somewhere and I miss the cute pictures entirely due to someone’s Twitter party (this has happened to me).

Two solutions

One is to open a new Twitter account specifically for Twitter parties with a different email address, in order to avoid annoying my regular followers. Unfortunately, some of the Twitter parties I attend are to represent myself as a blogger. In those cases, I want to use my blogging persona, which is @_conscientious.

The other is to attend Twitter parties but always just @ reply the host or another participant, thereby hiding the majority of my tweets during the hour from my Twitter followers as a whole. I had picked up just from attending parties that this is not a very professional practice because it kind of slams the host with Mentions. I Googled all over for “Twitter party etiquette” and came up with no answer to this question.

So I’d like to ask you: What do you think about Twitter parties? What do you think when someone in your Twitter stream is attending one—do you Unfollow? How do you attend parties without annoying your own followers?

Me vs. Skinny Jeans

It has come the time in my life where I must buy new clothes. Two babies in two years, and then the scourge of the tiny holes in my shirts have winnowed my winter wardrobe down to nothing. I went out to a few stores the other day in search of clothing for the kids for our family pictures this weekend and noticed a disturbing trend when it comes to jeans and pants in my size.

Skinny jeans. Everywhere.

In fact, I was informed by my Twitter friends (who know these things) that skinny jeans are the ONLY jeans out there this season. Cargo-type pants are not even available anymore. I know, because I looked.

Since I started teaching and practicing Lagree Fitness Pilates, I have changed shape once again. From maternity, to post-maternity, to maternity again, to Pilates… I am proud to say that, yes, I have worked very hard to get my glutes and thighs crazy strong and toned. You would think that I would be excited to show them off. You would think that, but you would be wrong.

I do not like to use profanity on this blog, but I can’t think of a better way to say this: I do not really want people looking at my ass. Skinny jeans make me feel like everyone is looking at my ass.

Is it just me, or do skinny jeans really seem to leave your rear end nowhere to hide? Maybe it’s just my perception that boot cut jeans were a little less “out there”. And I really loved cargo pants.

Sure, my husband loves the skinny jeans look. And that is an appropriate way for him to feel about my body. There is an attitude out there that “you can look but not touch, and if you’re going to leer that is your problem”. I have to disagree with that. I feel that I have some degree of control in the way that I dress which confers upon me a certain amount of responsibility for how people look at me.

It’s true that in one aspect, wearing skinny jeans does promote my Pilates practice by exhibiting the results of the work I have done, but in other ways it can really bother another woman who struggles with body image issues. As the advertisements say: results may not be typical. I can guarantee you that there is another part of her body that comes out ahead of mine. We are all born with our own bodies and they just don’t look alike. We are all beautiful, we shouldn’t look the same. Skinny jeans make me feel like I am promoting comparison.

And don’t even get me started on how I spent most of the 5th grade coveting those jeans that closed at the bottom with a zipper. If I was wearing this trend in the 80’s, I am more than a little reluctant to repeat these fashion mistakes when I am nearly 35. Should a woman of my age even be wearing the same thing she wore at 10 years old? I think not, my friends.

Because I never have a 100% solid opinion on anything, I can also counter everything I’ve said in this post by mentioning that I’ve seen some of my friends do a great job of wearing skinny jeans in a manner that does not scream “look at me” or draws unnecessary attention to their assets. I know it can be done.

To those friends, I say: please comment on this post and tell me where you got those jeans and what you looked for when you were shopping. Please. 

In the meantime, I will be lurking here in the corner, in my cargo pants from 2008, bemoaning my lack of choice in pants and trying to reconcile my inevitable participation in this trend.

I kind of don’t want you on Pinterest

How do I say this…I don’t really trust you. Pinterest is a place to share things with my friends. You know, people. Humans. Other (mostly) women who like to see pretty photos of things we might make, cook, or try with our kids one day.

And you are a business. Sure, you’re possibly a small business. Maybe even owned by a woman, even a woman I know.

But I’m just not comfortable with you being here. When I got the email that Company Selling Something was following me on Pinterest, it felt eerie. Like Big Brother had climbed into my cookbook on my shelf in my kitchen. Or a car dealership set up a billboard on the place where I keep my unrealistic dreams. Sure, it was OK that someone from high school I barely talked to can see my pins, but a company?

You say you’ll pin things and I’ll see them? What you mean is that someone in your marketing department will pin things that they hope I’ll see.

I guess that’s what makes me a little worried. Pinterest is a place I pin a lot of things that will help me avoid consumerism. To find marketing edging its way in makes me sad. I don’t want it to be another place trying to convince me that I need to buy more, when I wanted to be inspired to create.

So no, Company X, I’m sorry I won’t be following you back.

How do you feel about companies being on Pinterest?