Let's Talk About Being Humans Online, and Not Bots

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Last week I went through the worst Troll Attack of my life, and found myself having to defend myself against baseless charges of plagiarism. Even with all the facts on my side, still the trolls came for me in waves, yelling at me, calling me out for some shit I didn't do, and accusing me of the exact thing they were doing to me in the exact moment they were doing it. It was a positively Trumpian experience! 

As I hacked my way through the waves of trollery, my online friends hacking away by my side, taking down senseless arguments and standing up for ancient values like Reason and Words Having Meanings and Time Zone Math, I had a lot of Capital F Feelings about it all. 

The first was gratitude that my online squad rolls so deep and so fierce. Seriously, I had a couple dozen women standing up for me and my (relatively) good name, and their grasp on reality held me down when it felt like I must be taking crazy pills. 

The second was uncontrollable laughter at the absurdity of the situation. Because, seriously, two minutes of looking at the timestamps and language of both posts made it crystal clear that I couldn't have stolen anything, unless I had a Time Turner, which I don't have, but probably wouldn't tell you about even if I did. 

The last, and the one that stuck around the longest, was a deep feeling of sadness.

Because as I pictured the witches clacking away with their baseless arguments, and me and my friends clacking away in my defense, all I could see in my mind's eye was millions of people, isolated in our own homes, clacking away on our devices.

What are we clacking for? Is anything changing because of all this clacking?

Or have we unwittingly allowed ourselves to become bots in the dopamine-fueled online culture wars?

What I mean by becoming bots is that we repeat the same arguments, almost as if they were on a loop, without actually checking the facts behind what we say, and without acknowledging the truth that the folks we are clacking against are live, breathing human beings.

When the Australian witches decided to witch-hunt me, this is exactly what I saw. There were a few folks in that crew who took the time to look at the facts of what was going on, and saw that I was correct and their leader was not. But most of the witches just saw that someone they like online, someone they follow and trust, was upset with me, and accepted her incorrect take as truth.

And after they chose a side, they were completely resistant to facts. They hurled accusations with no proof to back it up. They insulted me and called me a shitty feminist, a grotesque thief of another woman's glory (as though going viral is a glorious experience -- HA!) Even when presented with screenshots that proved there was no way I could have done what I was accused of, they responded with insults rather than facts. 

In short, these witches became BOTS, and they mobilized against me on a scale much smaller but almost identical to how so many of us have become bots in political discussions. Once we choose a side, facts don't penetrate. We just want to clack away against the forces we've been told to clack away against.

And I'm not saying this from some elevated position outside of it. I have botted my way through many online discussions in my years on the internet -- trying to explain the concept of privilege to folks who reject it ... trying to get dudes to listen to what women are telling them about our experience when said dudes are still fully embedded in the misogynist Matrix that is our rapey culture ... trying to explain why Hillary Clinton doesn't deserve even a fraction of the hate that's been directed at her over the years.

Even though I know it's useless, and I try to be thoughtful in how I discuss stuff online, it's still something I find myself doing. Just drop me into a thread where someone is talking about how Hillary is a demon, or how Bernie is our savior, or how Donny Johnny "tells it like it is," and you will witness my heart starting to pound and my fingers starting to clack away almost before I even know what's happening.

Why is it bad? I think mostly because acting like a bot is literally dehumanizing -- to the clacker and to all the clackees. And it means that meaningful conversation isn't possible, because we're all just running our clacking programs and trying to score points and not listening. So much clack clack clack into the void. It's depressing, isn't it? 

And who benefits from this? It's certainly not me or you or the Australian witches or any of the millions of people clacking and being clacked at online. Facebook benefits, though. Twitter benefits. And the status quo in general benefits, because of the opportunity cost of all the energy we waste clacking away into the void. What else could we be doing with that time? Literally anything else is more productive than clacking. 

So, I am going to work on this. No more unconscious clacking. No more wandering around the internet like a bot with a twitchy trigger finger. Like any bad habit, it starts with NOTICING when I'm falling into bot mode. And then I have to make another choice. Because, seriously folks, with humans like us, who needs bots? Here's what I'm going to try instead. 

  • Take a breath before clacking. Am I mad? Am I high on self-righteousness? Am I about to pop off about some shit I don't fully understand? Are there facts I need to check first? And, if there are, do I feel like looking that stuff up and making a reasoned response? If I don't, that's a signal that I'm better off just letting it go and moving on with my life. As Luvvie Ajayi says, "Shutting the fuck up is free." 
  • No repetitive arguments. If I find myself clacking out some shit that I've said before? Using the same examples and language and everything? That is a good sign that I need to play my Shut the Fuck Up card. 
  • Be OK with everyone not agreeing 100% on everything. I mean, it's not like I LOVE that there are racist/sexist/horrible people walking around in the world, and I will make my points known to them for sure. But acting like a bot never convinces anyone anyway. So what I can do is this: make my points clearly and emphatically and with humanity, then stop. 
  • Reframe my goal from being RIGHT to being HUMAN. The best outcome that we can hope for in any online debate, I think, is to be able to listen to each other like human beings. I'm not going to be able to change everyone's minds, and they are not going to be able to change mine. The important thing is to plant a seed in a way that it might possibly grow. That means not salting the ground around it. 
  • "Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me like a reasonable human being." If being human is more important than being right, then we should acknowledge other folks when they engage like humans, and ignore folks who don't. I like this phrase because it allows that human beings can disagree about some stuff and still allow each other to live in the world.

All of these points are especially important, I think, when talking with people who see the world similarly but not the same. Because, you know, the Bernie Bros do have a point about money in politics. And Hillary Bitches like me have a point AND A HALF about misogyny, and also about how incremental change is way better than reverting to the 19th century. (This is part of what made the conflict with the Aussie witches so extra stupid -- because I'm sure over a beer, them witches and I agree on like 99% of reality.)

Anyway, how about you? Do you ever find yourself acting like a bot and not a human? Do you see a couple of keywords in a paragraph and immediately fly into a rage without even reading the words around them? Do you have a tendency toward salting the ground so nothing will ever grow there again? Does it make you feel hopeless about the world, or at least gross about your online interactions? 

I hope you will join me in trying to break down the calcified pattern of uninformed, habitual clacking that's taken hold in so many of us, and endeavor to be human instead. 

My Facebook Post Went Viral and All I Got Were These Lousy Australian Witches Threatening to Hex Me

Been a pretty crazy week round here at Be Less Crazy HQ and YOU KNOW HOW I HATE THAT SHIT!

It started innocently enough. I wrote this post on my Facebook page on Monday, just before 3 pm Mountain time:

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Little did I know how my carelessly tossed-off and honestly not-that-well-written little post would strike a chord! By my best estimates now, it's been shared more than 100,000 times on Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, and Lord knows where else.

Most of the responses were positive -- after all, people don't tend to share posts unless they are in agreement. I did get some pushback, to be expected, that fell into the following camps for the most part.

  • This isn't about gender. Spacey faced consequences because he owned up to it and apologized (um, no he didn't -- he invoked the Erkel defense: "Did I do that?")
  • You are pitting male victims of sexual assault against female victims of sexual assault (um, no -- unless you have poor reading comprehension skills)
  • You are a cunt who plagiarized your post from this OTHER post and I AM GOING TO HEX YOU

Hahaha! No, seriously! I'm not kidding! Apparently an Australian woman posted something with a similar sentiment in her own group, which I'm not a member of, then got it published in the Sydney Morning Herald. AFTER her post was published by the SMH (haha, perfect acronym in this case, no?) she then saw my post being shared around, and got mad about it.

So she posted to her community of 20,000-some alleged "feminist witches" and conjured among them the desire for an ACTUAL WITCH HUNT. Of me. A person who does not know or read her. For writing a 100 word post on Facebook. 

Only thing is, she was wrong. In many, many ways:

  • First, I could not have copied her, because both of her posts -- the one in her group and the one in the SMH -- came out AFTER mine did. And I am pretty awesome, it's true, but I'm not quite so proficient of a witch to be able to time travel ... not yet anyway.
  • Second, though we expressed a similar sentiment, my language shared nothing with hers other than the mention of several famous sexual assaulters (Spacey, Weinstein, Cosby, Trump).
  • Third, I got literally no benefit from this post going viral. All I DID get were a lot of random criticisms and accusations, which I'd be glad to share with this other writer if she really wants them.
  • Fourth, she never stopped to consider the SUPERTHICK IRONY of NOT BELIEVING A WOMAN on a post that was all about WHAT IF WE BELIEVED WOMEN? 
  • Fifth, she's bad at math and delusional and it's not my fault I came up with a pithier and easier-to-share post on this topic than she did. 

I'm not linking to her, because FUCK HER. But I do have the receipts. She lied about me, and I'm not having it, and I hope she dies mad about it. And her little dog, too! 

Moral of the story kids -- going viral is not all it's cracked up to be! The only thing I got out of it is an even deeper appreciation for the fact that I am part of a badass community of fierce women who stood up for me as all this ridiculous shit went down. 

The Only Opinion About Your Body That Matters Is Yours

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What do you do when someone you dearly love (a woman) tells you that someone else you dearly love (her partner, a dude) recently took her to task for allowing her ass to get too big, and you have a lot of Feelings about it? If you are me, you write this blog post ... 

Because, you know, I have it so good in the people-shutting-the-fuck-up-about-my-body department that I sometimes forget that not all husbands are kind and not all women have assimilated the Be Less Crazy About Your Body point of view.

What is that? Well, thanks for asking. It's basically boils down to understanding that

  • Your body is yours. You get to decide how you feel about it.
  • Hating on our bodies for whatever reason is a habit instilled in us by our patriarchal culture, and it's neither required nor advisable.
  • We can learn to let go of these self-defeating habits and instead appreciate our bodies for what they are -- vehicles that allow us to experience and contribute to this world. Nothing more and nothing less. 

But none of this is what we are taught, and unless we choose to change our minds, most of us will be stuck with our culture's default settings ...

  • What your body is for is to please and serve other people. To cause and alleviate boners. 
  • Your value as a human has a great deal to do with how many boners you are able to cause. 
  • Other people should make themselves free to comment on your body, because how else will you know how much you are worth? 

Even typing that out fills me with white-hot rage, because this way of seeing women including ourselves holds us back in about a million ways. It means that men and women alike feel entitled to assess us based on our looks, throughout our entire lives.

Even grosser, it means that we get used to these assessments, even seeking them out for validation that we are worth something. We learn to see our value as approximately equal to the sum of what other people think about the way we look. We learn to sit outside ourselves and endlessly critique, trying to imagine what other people see. Instead of learning to fully inhabit and make use of these vehicles which we totally and completely own, we hand over the keys to anyone who has an opinion about them.

It is heartbreaking. But it is NOT DESTINY. These are simply shitty emotional habits that we learned from a culture that does not value our personhood, and these habits can be changed. Each of us can learn to see ourselves in a fuller, kinder, more accurate, and more useful way. 

And as we do that, we can also draw boundaries about how we will allow ourselves to be spoken to.

When your husband tells you your ass is looking fat in those jeans, you can be like, "Bitch, who asked you?"

When a well-meaning but irritating relative offers diet advice, you can tell them, "I'm not interested in talking about that."

When someone you don't even know offers any kind of opinion on your body that you don't care to hear, you can tell them, "I honestly could not care any less about your opinion on my body."

Because, friends, even though these kinds of comments are as common as deranged tweets from our president, they are still completely fucked. They are all about trying to control you. They are all about others feeling entitled to dictate how you feel about yourself. And they are certainly all reflections of how these people see themselves. 

Personally, I'm kind of a bitch, so I shut this kind of shit down instinctively quite a while ago. But if you are nicer than me (which you probably are), you may need some practice. I suggest calling upon memories of when people made unsolicited comments about your appearance to get hyped up, and speaking these phrases out loud. 

"That's not a topic I'm interested in talking about with you."

"Hahaha, I'm not that fussed about it. MOVING ON ..."

"Diet talk again? Ugh, can we not?"

"I can't imagine why you think I care about your opinion."

"My body is not up for discussion."

And then you hold the line. If they double back on what they were trying to say, you walk away. You protect your brainspace like a lioness protects her baby lions. You be, and stay, less crazy.

You also help the hapless opinion-sharer, because, honestly? Someone should tell them how deeply no one cares what they think.

It's not the easiest thing to do, but it's not that hard, either. And when you let go of the habit of hating on your body, you gain so much freedom. It's like Konmari-ing your brain. So much light and empty space! 

If your loved ones don't get it right away, that's OK. You just hold the line, and they eventually will change their thinking ... or at least they will shut up about it. I used a simple and loving version of this script with my grandma when she'd continually bring up the topic of my weight -- "I'm not interested in taking about that" -- and it didn't take her long to get it. 

I leave it to you to decide who deserves a "Bitch, who asked you?" and who deserves a simple "I don't want to talk about that." But I do really hope that you (and my beloved person) will commit to holding the line on behalf of your own personhood and bodily integrity.

The only opinion about your body that matters is yours, so focus on getting that straight, and let everyone else's thoughts go. 

Be Less Crazy By Getting Some Frickin Sleep Already

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Ahhhh, delicious, nutritious sleep. It has always been one of my favorite activities in life -- my grandma told me that I was the only toddler she ever knew who would ask to be put to bed! And through most of my life, I've been a champion sleeper.

For me, sleeping feels like a bath for my brain, a safe cocoon of darkness where I can lose myself for a while. A good night's sleep feels literally like magic. 

And when I can't get sleep? Well, it's kind of the worst. I've only gone through a few insomniac times in my life --  a few years as an 80s kid terrified of nuclear war, a few months last spring when I kept having anxiety attacks for no apparent reason (my therapist and I concluded that it was deferred grief plus the adjustment to living in a higher-altitude climate). 

And now, there's the last two weeks in Paris, where I'm staying for a month ... and it's gorgeous and wonderful in every way except that sleep has been, let's say, elusive. Before I arrived, I had plans of walking along the Seine at dawn, drinking coffee and writing in cafes until time to work at noon ... but almost none of that has happened. Instead, most nights I have tossed and turned until finally drifting off around 5 am, then waking up groggy at 10 or 11, and drinking tea until I'm able to think semi-straight again. 

It's not good for me, I know -- I'm not one of those people who can power through and function even when exhausted. So I value sleep very highly, and am more than happy to spend 1/3 of my life sleeping, and when I can't, I get bummed about it very quickly.

I've noticed that I'm in the minority on this, though ... most people I know would rather watch TV or hang out with their families or even get some work done than go the fuck to bed. But they aren't really doing themselves any favors -- research shows that folks who get less than the recommended 7-9 hours have a much higher risk of all kinds of gnarly stuff, from Alzheimer's and cancer to car accidents and early death

So if we know sleep is vital to human life, why do we continue to de-prioritize it? There are many reasons, and sleep researcher Matthew Walker goes through many of them in this recent excellent article in the Guardian -- electric lights disrupt our natural light-based rhythms, and changes in the way we work and commute that eat up more free time which we're then tempted to steal from sleeptime. 

But the last reason he mentions is the one that resonates most deeply for me: culturally, we see sleeping as wasted time, and we see prioritizing sleep as laziness.

Clearly this is false -- my own experience tells me it's false -- because when I'm well-rested, my whole day goes better. I'm smarter, faster, more emotionally resilient. I have much more to offer the people around me. I'm able to make healthier choices in terms of what I'm going to eat and how I'm going to spend my time. 

When I'm exhausted, by contrast, I crave low-quality, easy-to-digest foods -- donuts, cheesy sandwiches, french fries -- because I need the hit of energy and will to live. I'm more snappish about everyday annoyances. I'm less willing to cut my fellow humans a break. In short, being tired makes me live the opposite of what Oprah calls "my best life."

And I wonder, do other folks not notice this? I think that many of us don't. In fact it seems like so many of us are so sleep-deprived that we don't even know what it feels like to be fully rested anymore. Which is a crying shame! And leads to untold misery, all the worse because it's entirely unnecessary. 

That also means that we have an opportunity, though -- if we can prioritize sleeping more in our own lives, we can experience huge change. We can become more forgiving with each other, because we're not already at the razor's edge of not being able to function. We can more easily take good care of ourselves, because we have the energy to put into self-care. We become more willing to listen, and to walk in each others' shoes, because we're not too tired to see straight.

Imagine what could come out of solving our culture's chronic sleep deprivation problem! We could eradicate road rage, improve our schools and workplaces, even find the collective will to tackle our biggest problems -- from systemic bias to climate change. We could be more creative. We could be more human. 

So, how? Like all cultural change, it has to involve each of us changing our own priorities so that we get our eight hours as often as we possibly can -- maybe even nine! Aim high! 

There are many wonderful resources on the internet to help each of us find the tools that will help us more sleep. Here are some of the common threads among these guides:

1) Keep consistent hours.

Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. I'm not super great as this one -- I travel a lot and don't even keep regular hours at home -- but when I make an effort, I do notice better quality of sleep.

2) Set an alarm to remind you when it's time to start winding down.

We set alarms to wake up, but Walker says that if you need an alarm to get up in the morning, that means for SURE you're not getting enough sleep. He suggests instead setting an alarm for bedtime -- working backwards from when you need to get up, and adding 8 hours to sleep and 30-60 minutes to prepare for sleep.

3) Establish a bedtime routine. 

This is something my therapist helped me with last spring when I was struggling to get any good sleep. Previous to establishing a real routine, bedtime looked like "go lie down whenever you feel like you're about to fall off the perch." When I started adding steps like "do 5 minutes of gentle yoga" and "brush your teeth" and "read a book for 10 or 15 minutes," I found that it really did get my mind ready to drift off more consistently. 

4) Keep your bedroom dark, cool, and free of crap.

This one especially applies to all my peri-menopausal ladies out there -- HOLLA! The last few years I find my temperature running a lot hotter than it ever did before, so I started sleeping with a fan on most nights, and using a sleeping mask as well. Blackout curtains can also help if a sleeping mask doesn't work for you. 

And try to save your bedroom just for sleeping and other bed-related activities. The idea is that you want it to feel peaceful in there, like a special place where nothing is required of you other than rest. Keep computers and clutter out of there. Reserve this space just for your own care. 

5) Pay attention to your own unrestful triggers.

Even though I love to have coffee at the end of a meal, I don't anymore, because it keeps me up. Red wine can sometimes raise my body temperature so that I'm not able to drift off, so I watch that, too. Pay attention to what makes it hard for you to get to sleep, and remind yourself that sleep is almost always more important. 

6) Right before bedtime, make it a goal to not get hepped up.

Things not to do right before going to bed: watch Daenarys lose her dragon to the Night King. Listen to Harry Potter fighting for his life against Voldemort. Get into a political fight online.

Do nice chill things instead. Watch soothing videos, like people painting or fish swimming. Listen to Jane Austen or some nice soothing music. Read from a paper book. Make a list of all the to-do items floating around your brain so they have a place to rest, too. Try the Yoga Nidra meditation on the Insight Timer app -- it's so good! Take it easy and let your mind slow down.  

7) Get some exercise during the day.

Any exercise will help -- exercise outside in the fresh air helps most of all. 

8) Stop looking at sleeping as a lazy activity and start looking at it as a gift. 

Sleep is beautiful. Sleep is glorious. Sleep transforms your life for the better every single day, which is kind of miraculous if you think about it. Almost nothing is more important than getting enough of it. 

If you're one of these people that equates needing a full night of sleep with laziness or weakness or shame, make a point of shifting your thoughts about it. Look at making space for sleep as a way of actively loving yourself, and teach your children to do the same. When other folks make jokes or jabs equating sleep with sloth, correct them, because this bias we have against sleep is literally killing people, and we need to flip it. 

What are your thoughts about sleep? Do you feel like you give it a high enough priority in your life, or is it something that you are willing to sacrifice for other goals? I want to hear all about it! 

How to Disagree With People On the Internet and Still Respect Yourself In the Morning

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How many times has this happened to you -- you stumble upon some internet brouhaha where people are saying folks voted for Trump because of economic anxiety (nope) or how antifas are just as bad as the Nazis they are fighting against (NOPE), and you wade on in, armed with facts and links and your mighty, towering intellect, determined to set these sadly misinformed people straight.

Ten hours later, you emerge from battle with an even lower opinion of humankind than you had when you started, thinking, Well FUCK, I have a pretty low opinion of humankind already, so how is that even possible? 

Some folks set boundaries for themselves on how they engage -- they just don't take part in political discussions, or maybe they don't take part in discussions with people they don't know personally -- and I think this is wise. I have experimented with such rules for myself, and sometimes they've really helped me. Like, in the weeks following the election, I gave myself permission to not fight about politics online, because I was too raw and got into a whipped-up headspace way too quickly, and it wasn't good for my mental health.

But, for me anyway, I do believe there is some value in participating in online discussions about tough stuff. I have learned so much from many internet friends over the years, through talking with them about tricky issues. And those conversations weren't always easy or pleasant, but I appreciated them, because when other people call out my blind spots, I get a chance to LEARN and GROW and both of those are very important to me. (On Season One Episode 12 of my podcast, I discuss an instance where a friend called me in on some careless thoughts I shared if you're interested.) 

I think there's also value in calling out blind spots where I see them, especially around race and gender and weight and all the various ways in which folks exclude the interests of other folks who are not like them. It's not that I expect to change anyone's mind by arguing with them -- it's more about the bystanders. Like, if I'm standing up against sexism, other women following the thread may appreciate it. Or if I'm calling out racist language, some folks on the thread might learn from what I'm saying, or I might learn from what they are saying.

So, yeah, I'm not gonna stop discussing hard topics on the internet any time soon. But, as a fiery and unapologetic feminist, I have to admit that sometimes I get into a zone where all the good reasons I outlined above are not what's motivating me at all. What's motivating me is the desire to slam some condescending dude's dick in a car door for public amusement. 

And sure, that's fun sometimes ... but it's not really my goal in life. I don't really want to make all the men suffer (usually). I mostly want to help people SEE, and to be helped in turn to see my own blind spots. And when I get into fighty/flighty/lighting things on fire mode, well, not much of that happens.

So, how do I stay focused on my goal of education/being educated rather than retribution for condescension? I've come up with some strategies that help and maybe they will help you, too.

1)  Discuss, but don't fight.

This is my cardinal rule. When my heart starts pounding and I feel myself being more invested in sick burns than the actual topic at hand, I step away (or at least I try to -- progress, not perfection). If someone calls black folks fighting for their rights "thugs," I will call it out. I call out false equivalency where I see it. I definitely call for more subtle expressions of thought beyond "Repubicans and Democrats are both bad!"  

But if the other person come back at me with a wall of text about why thugs is not a racist term, or how liberals just want to be offended by everything, or how if we aren't tolerant and nice to Nazis then we are just as bad as they are, yadda yadda yadda, I disengage. 

2) Offer information respectfully, then disengage. 

If someone talks shit about how awful it is that some black folks are calling for reparations, assume that they just don't know any better and leave them a link to Ta-Nehisi Coates's brilliant work on the topic. If someone talks about how obese people are bleeding our healthcare system dry, offer them an alternate view and encourage them to read it. So many people pop off about shit they don't understand at all (including me!) -- if you have a wider perspective or more experience on the topic, share it! Then go back to #1. 

3) Consider a two-response rule. 

As discussed here, the first response is to make your point and the second response is to clarify any misunderstandings. If nothing productive is happening in the discussion at this point, it's not going to magically get awesome. After two responses, generally I have said my piece. I have stood up for the people I believe I need to stand up for. That's enough. 

4) Pay attention to how you feel in your body. 

If my shoulders start hunching up ... if I start feeling anxious ... if I start to feel addicted to checking a thread for responses ... it's time to walk away. There will be more jerkburgers to fight with tomorrow! Which leads me to my next rule ...

5) Remember that you can't hug every cat.

Do you remember this silly video from a few years ago, where a woman cries about how there are so many cats in the world that she can't hug and someone made it into a song? I know it was a joke ... but the phrase pops into my mind quite often when I get in that headspace where it feels like everyone I speak with is in denial about unconscious bias.

Because, you know, most people in general are in denial about unconscious bias. And if I speak up every time I see someone with this particular blind spot, I will have literally no time to do anything else. Ever. So, I hug some of the cats that come across my path, and let the others go. And I try to address these blind spots I see in other, less personalized ways, like in my writing, as opposed to cat-by-cat on Facebook. 

6) Trolls get memes, or nothing at all. 

Trolls are not worth fighting with, because half the time they are bots anyway. You can spot trolls easily by looking for terms like "snowflake," "liberal elites," "love it or leave it," etc. These folks will not be convinced by your eloquence, so just drop a meme on them and get on with your life. I mean, unless you are PMSing really hard and feel like stomping them. Moderation in all things, my loves! 

7) Delete, ignore, and block liberally and with glee.

In some of my online hangouts there are some seriously wack dudes -- red-pill-taking, total misogynist dickwads. Some people try to make them see sense, and I bless them on their journey, but that gets a big old nope from me. I feel quite happy to use the features that technology gives me to remove these vile expressions from my life. 

What are your personal guidelines for engagement online? Have you ever gotten anywhere interesting in an internet debate? Do let me know in the comments. 

Eight Ways to Live Your Life As A Beautiful Fuck You To the Patriarchy

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It's no joke that the patriarchy is coming for us HARD, y'all. I mean, it always has been -- but in the last couple of years, misogyny and many other forms of dickishness have felt even freer to unmask themselves and run amok in the hearts and minds and political philosophies of many people who once seemed rational but now seem like low-functioning bots.

This is a heart-breaking development, especially because we were *this close* to having a badass grandma as our president instead of an evil game show host.

But, even with our broken hearts, it's important to remember that we still have power. We have the power to resist, to refuse to comply with what patriarchy demands of us, to allow ourselves to grow bigger and stronger and even less pliant to what our culture would ask us to be. 

Because fuck the patriarchy. Fuck white supremacy. Fuck the coalition of haters that now constitutes the Republican party. Fuck the thousands of years of history that tell us no one is as smart or good as a rich white dude.

We don't have to go along with their game. We can instead choose to live our lives on every level as a glorious living example of FUCK ALL THAT SHIT RIGHT IN THE EAR. Here are some ideas on how.

1) Categorically refuse to hate your body as a political act.

The patriarchy wants us to hate our bodies. The patriarchy wants us to think that our worth is decided by dudes thinking we are hot or not. The patriarchy wants us to look upon our stretch marks and fat rolls as failures. But fuck that. Our bodies are nothing more and nothing less than vehicles that allow us to experience life and contribute to the universe. Plus, middle fingers are part of the body, and they are VERY IMPORTANT.

So, next time you feel yourself starting down the shame spiral about how your body does or doesn't look, realize that Donnie Johnny himself is the one who wants you to think that way. That should be enough to shut that shit down. (If not, download my book and work through it -- it will help!) 

2) Look for and build plenty of love in your life outside the confines of "romance." 

Romantic love can be a beautiful outpouring of support and cuddles and laughs, but it can also be a hamster wheel that you run on your entire fucking life for absolutely nothing.

The patriarchy raises us girls to see romantic love as our only viable path to happiness, like we are locks that need a special key in order to fulfill our life purpose. And this super heavy emphasis on one particular narrow form of love can spin out so many troubles in our lives.

  • It can make us feel incomplete if we haven't found a Special Person yet.
  • It can make us settle for shitty relationships and suck up years of our lives trying to make those shitty relationships work.
  • It can make us feel devastated when a partnership comes to an end, because who is going to want us now, old and fat and weird as we are? 

If and when you catch yourself thinking like this, please remember that all of that is bullshit designed by the patriarchy to get you to abandon your own dreams in order to serve others. Patriarchy relies on the unacknowledged and uncompensated labor of women in order to run. It literally needs us to abdicate responsibility for our own well-being in order to contribute free labor to society. So let's not. 

How do we untangle this and move forward from it? That's the topic of my ENTIRE next book, but it boils down to this.

  • Remember that your life is YOURS. You may choose to join it to others, but no one else is entitled to it.
  • Remember that romantic love is optional, and there are many paths to happiness that do not involve it at all.
  • Recognize and foster all forms of love in your life -- friendship, fellowship, hanging out with babies, making conversation with folks in line at the grocery store. All kinds of love are equally nourishing to the human spirit. 
  • If you want partnership, hold out for a trustworthy and compatible partner. Bad relationships are sooooo much worse than being alone. 

3) Make your own money and find a way to save some.

Different families have different arrangements, and they can all work fine, but the thing we want to avoid here is anyone feeling like she can't get out of a shitty situation because she doesn't have the means to do so. Because that was the boat that women were in for literally hundreds of years and it's a shame to end up in it again, here in the 21st century. 

4) Hold up and protect people who have less power and privilege than you. 

Show up for DREAMers. Learn about systemic racism and work to dismantle it within yourself. Speak up at work when someone tells a gross joke. Uplift the voices of people of color, women, folks with disabilities, indigenous groups. Whatever levers of power are within your reach, use them. 

5) Recognize and maintain some humility around the fact that we are all participating in the shit-showiest parts of society. 

All of us who are alive right now are part of what's happening in the world. None of us is purely outside it. Whether we like it or not, we are embedded in our culture's unjust structures of commerce and power. (Yes, this even includes Bernie Sanders.)

That means that, yes, white people benefit from systemic racism. Men benefit from systemic sexism. Able-bodied and neuro-typical people benefit from the fact that our culture doesn't really think about the needs of folks with disabilities and different ways of thinking and being in the world. 

Acknowledging the fact that you benefit from systemic inequality doesn't make you a bad person. Nor does recognizing that you have unconscious bias. In fact, acknowledging our privileges and our biases is the first step towards becoming useful in the struggle to dismantle them. Read up on this, and try not to become defensive about it. Practice humility. None of us knows everything.

6) Pay attention to politics, and not just on the internet.

Hook into a local activist group, or maybe several. Call your Senators and representatives. Learn about local elections and issues in your town and region and state. Donate money and time to candidates who you think will do a good job. 

By and large, the Republicans are much better at this than we are on the Left. We've been stepping up our game lately -- Indivisible has been a huge galvanizing force -- but we need to keep it going and take back our cities, states, and federal government for people who believe in facts and also give a shit about other people.

7) Listen to people, especially those whose stories you haven't heard before.

I'm not that interested in hearing what Nazis think, personally, because I'm pretty sure we all know what they stand for. And I've spoken with and read about enough Trump voters to where I'm good on that, too.

But there are many folks in our society whose points of view are not well covered, which means it's easier to stereotype them. Try not to fall into this trap.

  • If you are white and a black person tells you something about their experience, listen to them, because otherwise you will sit in your stereotypes forever.
  • If you are able-bodied, listen to disabled people when they describe how difficult it is to navigate world that wasn't designed for them.
  • If you are not fat, listen to fat people when they tell you about how they went to the doctor for a sore elbow and were told to lose weight to solve it.
  • If you are a dude, and you don't want to be "that dude," listen to women when we tell you our stories of being assaulted and ignored and devalued.

It's not easy to listen to these stories because many of them are painful AF. But that makes it even more important.

8) Feel and express as much joy as you possibly can. 

The bastards want to grind us down to where we just give up. They don't want us to feel joy. They want us to be overwhelmed and depressed and feel like "whatever I do doesn't matter, they are going to win anyway, so, eh, I'll just be over here yelling into a sheetcake."

No. FUCK THAT. The fact that they don't want us to dance and live our lives and be free makes me want to dance and live and be free EVEN MORE and I hope it has the same impact on you. 

To be alive is to have the capacity for hope and joy, so exercise it. Do whatever you can to keep going. Make a point of it. Write a list of all the things that bring you joy, and do them as much as you can, possibly while also waving your middle fingers in the air like you just DO CARE.

Because this world is OURS. I believe that what we are witnessing is nothing less the death rattle of white supremacist patriarchy. And we can hasten the demise by reclaiming our time and our space -- in our minds and our bodies and our relationships and our towns and the whole wide world. 

Nice Is Not the Most Important Thing To Be

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Scene: a gray office in a gray office building. My boss and I are on a contentious conference call, which consists mainly of folks complaining about how a project we are trying to plan is literally impossible.

"It's really hard! It's going to take us two years! This is insane!" I listen for a while, doing jerk-off motions to make my boss laugh, then I unmute our line. I speak slowly and directly. 

"Okay, guys, so I guess I should go back to management and tell them no, it can't be done, and they should either give up on it or find another team to do it ... right?" 

I hear crickets for a moment, then a heavy sigh. "No, I guess we'll have to figure something out." And we do. 

At the end of the call I turn to my boss and say, "Haha I bet everyone on that call thinks I'm a massive megabitch now."

He shrugs. "Maybe, but why do you care?"

And in that moment I realized that my Pittsburgh Steelers-loving boss is also a bad-ass feminist, because he was RIGHT.

In that moment, on that contentious call, nice was not the most important thing for me to be. It was far more important to find a way past the complainy part of the discussion, into the "OK, assuming we ARE going to do this, what's our best path forward?" part. And, in that moment, the easiest path from A to B was for me to de-prioritize my need to have everyone in the world think I'm a sweetheart. Because I'm not. At least, not always.  

Niceness = Silence

More often than not, being nice means being quiet. It means swallowing our own thoughts and wishes and desires to make life easier for other people. It means silencing ourselves in order to keep the social order peaceful and conflict-free. It's a word that is constantly used to rein women in.  

  • "It's not nice to answer all the questions, Hermione! Don't be such a know-it-all!" 
  • "Be nice! Your coworker didn't mean to be racist, he's just clueless!" 
  • "I know you don't like this guy but you should be nice to him anyway, he's a nice guy!" 

Somehow, in all of these situations, women being nice is more important than women being educated, or true to our own values, or honest about how someone else's behavior impacts us.

Knowing all this, it's incredible to me to realize how deeply this need to be seen as nice is embedded in us, from our earliest moments existing as girls in this culture. Even with the giant Don't-Give-A-Fuck streak that I seem to have been born with, I STILL start to feel frantic when I'm in the midst of a situation where what I want diverges from what the people around me want. Even when someone is habitually overstepping with me -- I am still the one who feels like I've done something wrong when I uphold my boundaries. 

The dude at the bar who keeps pressing his ass against mine when there is PLENTY of room for both asses to exist without touching. The fellow at work who keeps interrupting me to repeat what I just said, only louder. The man who is taking up two whole tables at the coffee shop when there are no empty tables available. I will speak up to all of them now, for sure, in a clear and direct voice. But that doesn't change the fact that I still feel a huge amount of pressure to find a way to make myself okay with all of it. 

Niceness = Upholding the Social Order

This is because I was taught to make myself okay with all of it. That is what girls and women are supposed to do -- fill in the gaps, gloss over the inequities, invest our emotional energy into making everything okay for everyone except ourselves. And THIS is what niceness truly is about -- holding our tongues in order to uphold the social order.

The patriarchy relies on girls and women to do this, rewarding us with the moniker of "nice" when we succeed, and punishing us as bitches when we either fail at being nice or choose not to prioritize it. It's like niceness is a circle of light, and we get to stand it in only so long as we don't cause too much trouble. The instant anything becomes more important to us than niceness -- like justice, for instance -- we're outside the circle. We're not nice anymore -- we're nasty, cast out of the realm of low-maintenance, lovable womankind. We're feminazis. We don't know our place. 

Niceness = A Weapon Used Against and Wielded By Women

We are taught to enforce niceness in ourselves and in the women around us. Like, the last time some dude was pressing up against me at the bar, 51% of me felt LIVID at the encroachment, and 49% of me felt ASHAMED that I was going to have to do something about it. I wanted to unobtrusively back my stool away from him forever, or even leave the fun night at the bar with my friend, just to avoid the conflict.

I didn't, of course -- I ended up throwing some elbows when words didn't work -- but I really wanted to. A huge part of me was more than willing to give up on my right to take up space in the world without being groped, simply to avoid the conflict, to continue to "be nice." 

I've seen this kind of policing happen between women as well, in dirty looks and shocked expressions when other women step out of the circle of niceness and start to be a little more real. And it's not just about interpersonal relationships -- it's about politics, too. I've seen it in groups of liberal white women when they don't want to listen to women of color because it's "divisive" -- aka "not nice" -- to talk about race. I've seen it in groups of women who respond to valid arguments with statements like "Don't be so hateful -- some Trump voters are good people!" 

But I've also seen what happens when women let go of niceness as a goal, and let other concepts be more important instead, and it's a beautiful thing.

Qualities That Are Far More Important 

If "niceness" is far less important than we think, and basically a tool of The Man used to keep women quiet, and something to which we no longer need to aspire, then what should we aspire to? Well, thanks for asking. I believe that all of these qualities are far more important than and even often in complete opposition to "niceness."

  • Honesty
  • Directness
  • Compassion
  • Justice
  • Equality
  • Righteousness
  • Protection of vulnerable people 
  • Wisdom
  • Forethought
  • Social sensitivity
  • Listening

Am I Saying Everyone Should Be A Giant Bitch? 

No, of course not. There are many situations in which it makes total sense to be nice. We want to be able to share our toys, to extend each other compassion, to get along with minimal friction in the nuts and bolts living of life. 

But when niceness is the highest priority, not only do we end up silencing ourselves in service to it -- it can also become comically inefficent, like when there are 4 cars at a 4-way stop and each one waves the others through. Everyone's just trying to be nice, sure, but we all sit there for ages waiting for someone to do something. It's much, much better to be that someone, to take the brunt of being "not nice" to get going again. 

So ... this week I'm reflecting on my deep desire to have everyone think I'm nice all the time, and what that costs me when I heed it, and what's possible when I don't. For me, it's about being willing to speak and hear the truth, regardless of whether it makes me look like a sweetie. I am really fucking nice, goddammit! But it's not the only thing I am.

How about you? Does your desire to have everyone think you are a nice person hold you back in any way? What might your life look like if niceness as a concept slid a few spots down your priority list? Tell me all about it below. 

 

My Best Time Management Tip: Stop Hating Your Body

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How many hours of your life have been spent wasted having a cow about the way you look? More than you'd like?

For me, those wasted hours always seemed to come upon me when I was getting ready to go out somewhere and do something that had nothing to do with my appearance. I'd be trying to get dressed for work or for a party or to go out and play with my band, but everything I tried on would made me look and feel like Jabba the Hutt.

And I'd sit on the edge of my bed with my head in my hands feeling like a total failure. Why am I even trying to look cute? It's not even possible. I'm too fucking fat!

Then I'd put on my schlumpiest pants and head out the door, my confidence to face the world pre-shredded.

The interesting part is that, even from that place of feeling like a disgusting hosebeast, I still went out and did some pretty awesome things. Like, me and my body would give a killer class at work, or have a blast with my friends at the party, or rock the crowd at the bar till they couldn't take it anymore. Once I got past my freakout and into doing my thing, I completely forgot about my Jabbaness.

So feeling ugly never really held me back from doing anything I really wanted to do ... but it did cause me to waste a lot of time and emotional energy. Every single time, I had to hack a pathway out of it. And every single time, it was hard work.

What an odd sensation it was -- on one level I felt super cool, and on another, I knew I was absolutely vile. And I'd watch the two levels duke it out from day to day. Sometimes the cool feeling won and other times I got lost in vileness, but either way, the struggle was real and also absolutely exhausting. I was just trying to put on some pants and live my damn life and all of a sudden I'd find half of me having to talk the other half down off a ledge? Brutal.

Eventually I got sick of the back and forth -- I'm worthy! No, I'm heinous! -- and I decided I was NOT going to waste ONE MORE MINUTE of my ONE PRECIOUS LIFE worrying about my gut or my stretch marks or one boob being bigger than the other or whatever. And, obviously, when I achieved this, I got the benefit of feeling generally okay about myself and my appearance most of the time. A little-heralded side benefit is that I also reclaimed a huge chunk of my time and brainpower and life essence.

Ever since I took steps to evict from my head the patriarchal ideas of what I was worth being equivalent to what I looked like, getting dressed hasn't been a big deal at all. Not even on my wedding day, where at the last minute I decided not to bother with Spanx after all, because we were serving barbecue and, reader, I was planning to ENJOY IT.

Can you imagine what it would be like to be free from the gravity of the beauty shame spiral? How it must feel to be able to keep and spend your energy on worthwhile endeavors rather than throwing it into the body-hatred black hole? How your life might change if you could step out of this madness?

Well, here is the good news -- it is COMPLETELY POSSIBLE to change the way your brain works on this topic. It's COMPLETELY POSSIBLE to dismantle what we've been taught and learn to evalute ourselves by much worthier standards. And it's NECESSARY if we want to live full and bold lives.

How can you evict the patriarchy from your head when it's been squatting there since before you can remember? That I can help you with -- just click the pink box right over there in the sidebar >>> and I'll send you a free copy of my book. Read it, try what it suggests, and I guarantee you'll get to reclaim big chunks of your precious time.

Basic Shit I Should Know By Now: Try To See It THEIR Way, Especially If They Are Dealing With Stuff You Are Not

This is my new series on some really basic shit that I should know by now, and yet somehow I still need to be reminded of. Maybe you do, too? 

I really hate the song "We Can Work It Out" by the Beatles. Check out the lyrics and see if you can see why.

Try to see it my way
Do I have to keep on talking till I can't go on?
While you see it your way
Run the risk of knowing that our love may soon be gone
We can work it out
We can work it out

Is that a classic dudebro argument or what? There's no, "Let me try to see it your way and you try to see it my way and from there we'll work it out." Nope, it's just the old My Way or the Highway trick. We can work it out, but you, my dear, will be doing ALL the work.

Now, I'm sure that Paul has matured in the 50-some years since he sang this song, and probably has developed the ability to have two-way conversations when he's in conflict with someone, so I can't bawl him out too badly.

But it's amazing to me how many people walk around with the attitude that others must always try to see it from THEIR perspective, without ever making the effort to understand anyone else. This plays out interpersonally all the time, from disagreements with friends to differences in opinion at work.

Nowhere does it play out more blatantly than when PRIVILEGE is involved.  

Like, seriously, have you noticed how completely unwilling most folks with lots of privilege are to even contemplate walking a mile in the shoes of someone with less? Men dismissing the perspectives of women without ever really considering them ... white people assuming that they know everything about racism even though it has never touched their lives ... able-bodied people believing that people with disabilities are taking FULL advantage. You know what I mean. 

Here's a perfect example of what I'm talking about. Right after the election of the Donald, I was part of an online discussion of mostly white women. (As we all know, white women voted for the Donald by a 53-47 margin.)

In their grief over the results, some of the liberal white women in this discussion thread started talking in alarmed tones about how many Latinx people voted for Dolt45, until one of our Latina members got pissed and told everyone off. In what world does it makes sense for a bunch of white women to bitch about the few people of color who voted Republican, when it was clearly white people who did this in the first place?? Don't you even try to blame this shit on us! 

Maybe you can guess what happened next -- it was not an opening of white lady hearts and minds after they listened to the criticism and tried to imagine how it would feel to be Latina and hear your people being bashed when white folks are the ones responsible. 

No, what happened was the white women lost their shit. How dare you speak to me like that! I was only asking a question! Why are you getting so angry at me? This is abusive! 

Now, I can imagine and you probably can, too, that if I were a Latina woman who had dealt with various expressions of racism and discrimination my whole life, I might be pissed about the oblivious white-centeredness of that discussion, too. It only takes a little effort to swallow the defensiveness and try to see it HER way ... but these white ladies chose to defend themselves in their racism rather than have the chance to grow past it.

Part of the function of privilege is to shield people from the awareness of what non-privileged folks go through. So, the more privilege a person has, the less aware they are of the fullness of reality -- they are literally only seeing a small, curated slice. 

Coupled with this cluelessness is the assumption by the privileged that they already know everything about what everyone is going through. More than that, they also feel they know how everyone else should meet their challenges.

To the fat, such a person might say, "You just have to eat less and exercise more, it's not that tough!"

To women, such a person might say "Please, tell me which laws make it legal to discriminate against women."  

To someone with mental illness, such a person might say "You just need to get some fresh air, you'll be fine!"

If you've never experienced having your problems privilege-splained to you by someone who has never experienced them, well, it's exquisite. I mean, the irony is exquisite, once you get past the stabby feeling. 

I don't want to be such a person, and my guess is you don't either. Which means that we all need to remember -- if we want to be halfway decent people, we absolutely need to make the effort to listen and empathize and learn from people with less privilege. Otherwise, by default, our worldviews will be missing huge chunks of reality. 

This kind of privileged-dismissal-by-default is a HUGE mistake, and people make it all the time -- with big important issues like racism and sexism and also with many smaller, dumber situations as well. 

Like not bothering to put yourself in the shoes of the person you're annoyed with at work who is taking a little longer to solve a problem than you would like.

Or glaring at the old person who doesn't know how to handle the credit card machine instead of imagining how it must feel to be an old person trying to figure this out while a lady behind you fumes that it's taking too long.

Or shutting down a dear friend who is trying to show you genuine errors in your thinking, instead of just listening.

I have to admit that I am no master -- my desire is to try to see it from the other person's perspective, but I don't always succeed. Too often I bulldoze along like baby Paul McCartney, expecting other folks to come along to my way of thinking without making much of an effort to understand what they are saying. But, I want to do better.

So that's my challenge to myself -- try to see it THEIR way, especially when they have a perspective that I can't see from where I am sitting. Because when I take the time to do so, I notice two wonderful outcomes. First, I learn something I didn't know before, and second, I find it easier to behave more like the compassionate person I want to be. 

How about you? Is it easy or difficult for you to put yourself in someone else's shoes? If you're a bulldozer like me, how do you remind yourself to make the effort to see it from a different perspective? Would love to hear your thoughts, please share them!

Basic Shit I Should Know By Now: Eliza's Right, Take a Break

This is my new series on some really basic shit that I should know by now, and yet somehow I still need to be reminded of. Maybe you do, too? 

How often do you find yourself all jammed up, and you try to power through, but the more you power through, the worse things get? 

It happens to me daily. I work in software, and my job involves a great deal of troubleshooting and problem-solving. My process is both intuitive and analytical, and when I'm on the trail of a solution, I never want to give up until it's done. I push and push, and sometimes I get there, but more often, I just get more and more frustrated.

The same thing happens when I sit down to write. When the words are flowing, I'm flowing, too, and nothing feels better. But when the words stop, or when I have a concept that I'm not sure how to break down for the reader, the frustration again starts to rise. 

What is that frustration? Is it a sign that I'm useless and a failure and no solution is possible, and I'm just going to sit here in front of this computer raging and muttering to myself like a crazy person until I die and devolve into a skeleton? 

Probably not. What I'm starting to see is that frustration is only a sign that I need to take a break. Make a cup of tea, watch the birds, take a walk, do some dishes -- anything to break up the glut in my mind and open my perception back up again. 

Because when I don't take a break, and I keep trying to power through the frustration? I start fucking things up. I make silly mistakes, I forget what step I was on, and I get super-real-to-the-point-of-bitchiness with the people around me. And then I feel awful. 

If this sounds familiar, well, there's a good reason for that -- it's how human beings work. When we are in the midst of bad juju, our perception narrows to a point. We tend to focus on what's wrong -- risks, dangers, likely pitfalls. And that makes sense, in a way, because of where we came from and how we evolved -- like, when there's a wooly mammoth with giant tusks charging at your family, you should probably focus on that first. 

But a software problem in 2017 is not a mammoth, wooly though they both may be. A desire to express a complex thought in my writing with clarity and humor is not equivalent to a desire to stay alive in the face of danger and strife. The kinds of problems that I face these days generally aren't even solvable from a space of fight or flight. They require that I open up my attention and consider new ideas. Even if my customer is having a cow and my boss is having a cow and I am also having a cow, I need to find away to set all that aside and let my mind breathe for a minute. 

This requires that I stop freaking out. It requires that I allow my brain to relax and the ideas within to mix and mingle freely. And the very best way to do this is to take a break, to focus on something different and allow the pressure and vexation to run out of me. 

It's best if it's a major break from what I was doing before. Like, if I'm troubleshooting something on the computer, picking up my phone doesn't make for a very good break. It works much better to do something completely different, like vacuuming or lifting weights or painting. The goal is to exercise a different part of my brain and hopefully get my body and blood moving, too.

It takes effort for me to remember and allow myself to step away for a while, because what I've been taught is to stick with it. At school, at work -- all of us are taught to sit still, to override our natural instincts to ebb and flow, and to keep our little noses to the grindstone for the allotted amount of time, whether it's an hour in math class, or eight hours in the office. So my default is to try to push through, even though it doesn't work that well. 

When I do remember to take a break, though, and afterwards I go back to the issue at hand? I have fresh eyes and a new perspective. Without exception, I'm able to do what I wasn't able to do before I switched things up. It's kind of magical, how breaks can lead to breakthroughs. 

The dangers of NOT taking a break are spelled out in the second act of the genius musical, Hamilton. In "Take a Break," Hamilton's in the midst of shit-tons of work drama, and his wife and sister-in-law exhort him to run away with them and spend the summer upstate. Their voices entwine in gorgeous harmony as they try to convince him, and it's not only about the fact that they want to spend time with him -- they both can see that he's in the frustrated place and desperately needs to switch things up.

Tragically, he doesn't see their good sense. He makes a terrible decision -- to stay in town and power through -- and in the very next song he fucks up majorly, sowing the seeds of his own political destruction as well as the death of his oldest son. Everything unravels for him, and it all stems from his inability to step away from the fray for a minute and reconnect with the easy and free-flowing parts of life. If only he had listened to Eliza and Angelica and taken the damn break! 

So, this week, let us all learn from Alexander Hamilton's mistakes and NOTICE when we are getting frustrated. Let's pay attention to the moment when trying to push through an obstacle starts to feel more like banging our heads on a wall. And let's use that feeling as a cue to step away and give our minds a chance to unclench for a minute. 

Are you good at recognizing when you need to take a break from whatever you are doing and switch up your internal experience? Do you find frustration to be a good workmate, or a barrier to getting your work done? Tell me all about it!