personal post

Let’s Get Personal: Get Uncomfortable, Listen, & the Necessity of Diversifying the Views in Your Life

Images: Sarah Williams

With all the doom & gloom happening in the country (world?) right now, and constant fury & fear on my Twitter, I am constantly searching for slivers of positivity, or good that game from November’s election. For one, it’s opened my eyes to the need to participate in our government, and no longer be a privileged bystander. I’ve had multiple conversations with friends and family at this point, that if you are not called to action at this point, then you have the privilege to be complacent.

But this post is meant to be less about privilege (though I plan to tackle that topic again because I’ve never been more aware of mine, personally), and more about the need to diversify the people you talk to and interact with on a daily basis. After the election, I was one of those women that was SHOCKED that white women voted so heavily for Trump and I was also one of those women that considered myself a feminist, though had never heard the term intersectional feminism before. I consider myself to be aware of others, however I was aware only as much as I was exposed to from the media I ingested and the people I surrounded myself with. One of the best things (for me personally) that came from the Women’s March, was reading about intersectional feminism, and understanding that there are different degrees & levels of feminism, and that feminism for women of color is a whole other arena. When I thought of feminism, I thought of the most basic version: equality for women! What I never even considered was dividing that group of ‘women’ up further to look at black vs hispanic vs muslim vs poor vs trans women.

One of the first things I started doing (thanks to the countless op-eds I started reading post election & women’s march) was to start following women of colors on Twitter. We all know how I feel about Twitter (it is my everything), but when I took a hard look at my feed, it was filled with mostly white women, neighbors (still heavily white), and DC area businesses. Yikes – this needed to change.

I also keep going back to this video I watched recently about implicit bias. So much of this video has been swirling in my mind – the need to diversify the vantage points in your life, the way children assimilate to similar groups they are brought up in, and how humans naturally assimilate toward more comfortable groups of beings because it’s just that, comfortable. Well it’s time to get uncomfortable. It’s time to follow accounts that are having completely different experiences and are being affected differently by this currently political climate/current administration’s dealings. And in my discomfort, it is time to LISTEN (yes I see the irony in writing that as I type my own thoughts/opinions out in this blog post), and for those of you that know me, you know that I am much more likely the one sharing my opinion, than listening to someone elses.

But that needs to change too. So while I settle into my new realm of discomfort, taking harder looks at my privilege, the people I have in my life, and the circles I keep, I must continue to push myself harder to diversify further and listen more. I think we could all benefit from this. So if you have Twitter accounts for me to follow, books to read, or columns to check out – please send them my way.

Pin It

Let’s Get Personal: Little Actions Can Add Up to Big Things

Image: Amber Kay Photography

I hope everyone had a great weekend! I am hurting big time after my first wedding of 2017 (which was EPIC), finishing my first 8 mile run since pre-Evie days (and also spraining my ankle & not realizing it on mile 5), and staying up too late to watch the Falcons lose. I was a terrible blogger last week, so I am trying to get back on track and ignoring the 800 emails currently in my inbox – I promise I will respond to you all by end of day!

Last week I participated in my FIRST EVER bookclub meeting. It was inspiring, emotional, thought-provoking, and freakin’ FUN. About 10 of us met virtually from across the US via Google Hangout to discuss the Empathy Exams – a really interesting collection of essays on varying personal experiences the author has had, both personally and through other people. I haven’t exercised the analytical reading part of my brain like that, probably since High School.

The meeting couldn’t have come at a better time too, I was having a bad day (for no real reason), just super tired, moody & low and there was a big part of me that wanted to just veg on the couch and flake on the hangout. With this current political climate and everything going on in our country lately, I am just so emotionally drained & mentally exhausted. I’ve spent too much time pouring over social media, and donating half of my bank account to every charity & cause I can. I’ve fought internet Trolls, attended protests, and decked my body in head to toe Nasty Woman gear, but nothing has made me feel so re-energized and soothed like this one virtual book club meeting.

Which got me to thinking about how important small gestures & little interactions can be. Especially right now, for people like me that are driven by solutions. I am a problem-solver, a fixer, I innately see or hear about issues & conflicts and my first thought isn’t anything other than “Well what can we do to fix it?”. And right now, in our country, the problems are big, like huge, like immeasurable. Racial divide, inter-sectional feminism, banning immigrants & refugees, taking away people’s healthcare, and the list goes on. These are huge issues, on which people are REALLY divided, and quite frankly there doesn’t feel like much I can do to attempt to help solve these problems.

Or so I initially thought.

It wasn’t until last week’s bookclub meeting that I was able to take a step back and re-focus at a more micro-level, the things I could do on a small-scale, to make a difference. My sister & a friend both posted online about connections they had to refugee families and so instead of sending all my money to Red Cross and other large Refugee Support organizations (which don’t get me wrong, I still plan to do), I was able to donate baby bottles & boys’ pants, directly two two refugee families that needed these items. That felt really good.

I am also currently a member of at least 3,000 “action” Facebook groups post-Inauguration (I kid, it’s not exactly 3,000), and again, it’s starting to get overwhelming to me to try and be apart of SO many of these groups and try and tackle a ton of big issues. So instead I am going to mute a good amount of them and refocus on the 1-2, where I can actually take small actions, without getting overwhelmed. It might take some time to see the bigger result at the end, but I am confident that the smaller actions I am now taking, will end up doing more in the end.

Let’s Get Personal: A Reminder of the Importance of Selflessness & Reflection

View More: http://mathyshootspeople.pass.us/rybackfamilymini

Image: Mathy Shoots People

I‘ve found a lot more inspiration lately for writing more personal posts, so I hope you guys don’t mind it too much. Maybe all the post-election insanity has caused me to be more introspective, or maybe I’ve been reading so many op-eds and think pieces lately, craving explanation for what the heck is happening in our country (and world) that it’s opened up more introspective thoughts & thus, posts. Whatever the reason, they’re always therapeutic for me, and so I’ll continue to write them until someone tells me to stop ;-p.

Today’s post came by way of Facebook – a friend of mine from High School posted a status update after the new year about her life as a military wife & mom of two, dealing with being only halfway through her husband’s current deployment. I asked Kelsey if I could share her words here, and she thankfully agreed to let me. Here were her words:

We are a little over half way finished with Andy’s current deployment. I’m sitting in my warm and quiet house reflecting on the past few months. When Andy first deployed a few months ago I had so many emotions; sadness, loneliness and anger. I would look at families in restaurants and stores and be jealous of their togetherness and happiness. I would quickly scroll past family photos on Facebook and wished I could post pictures of my family together also. I would tear up when I received beautiful family Christmas cards in the mail. As time passed I’ve let those emotions go as I have learned so much about myself and my capabilities as a mother and a woman. I’ve learned that I can and will handle all situations that come up. Military wives learn to expect the strangest things to come up while their husbands are gone. Things in the house break at the most inconvenient time, there seems to be less sleep and long nights, kids get sick more than ever before with more ER visits and so on.

Daily routines and traditions need to be consistent even though Dad is away. I have no choice but to take on the rolls of husband and father. Kids need “rough housing,” they need their Christmas toys that take 6 hours to be put together; they need discipline and so forth. The cars need to have the oil changed and bills need to be paid, and lawns need to be mowed and raked, driveways need to be shoveled and garbage needs to be taken out. Before I did all of this with resentment and always felt a little sorry for myself. I’m over that. I’ve realized the time apart from Andy has allowed me to mature and has made me be thankful for our health and love that our family has for each other and for those who have supported us along the way. I’ve learned to let the small things go and to focus on the things that really matter.

In reading this post again, I am once more moved to tears and in awe of her strength, self-reflection, and honesty. I must also admit that her post could not have come at a better time for me. Andy has been traveling a lot more for work lately than he ever has, and I’ll admit that I don’t ever take the news well when he tells me he has to jet off somewhere new. Yes I understand it’s for his job, and yes I know that he doesn’t want to leave me hanging to take care of Evie alone, but that didn’t seem to help my mood.

I almost always get sulky and grumpy, building up how tough and exhausting it’s going to be (or is) when he’s gone and the child care routine is on me, as I still try to keep the CapRo lights on and functioning at my day job. It’s stressful for sure, but it wasn’t until Kelsey’s post (and our quick chat after she wrote it) that made me realize two things. 1 – there are so many parents that bear this burden of single-parenting (military deployments, or other circumstances) for so much longer than the few days a month Andy travels, and 2- I was making this situation entirely about me.

Every time Andy told me had to travel, I immediately thought of myself and how hard it would be for ME only. I didn’t think about how he might feel being away and I didn’t think about Evie missing Andy/wondering where he might be. Andy’s work trips pale in comparison to Kelsey’s situation (and others’ like her) where her partner is gone for MONTHS. Surely if Kelsey can see the good in this situation, I can find a way to react better and think of others more, and of myself & own pity, less.

So let this post serve as a reminder to you, especially as we set out on a new year, that there may be times where you could think of your self a little less, and of others a little more. I know I am certainly going to try much harder to do this, starting today.

Let’s Get Personal: 2016 Reflection & Year in Review

View More: http://mathyshootspeople.pass.us/rybackfamilymini

Images: Mathy Shoots People

Well Romancers, we survived the holidays, a long 8+ hour drive back from Vermont, and the roller coaster year that was 2016. Next week I plan to break down my business goals for 2017, but for today, my first post in the new year, I thought I would reflect on the insanity that was last year.

I’ll try to stay away from the political things (I think I’ve posted enough about that) and instead focus on my business – what went right, what went wrong, and what we could have done better. It was a year of change for my business – I said goodbye to my workshops, started new recurring posts (hello Mompreneur series), worked on growing my social media presence (woo hoo hitting 2K+ followers on Instagram!), and tried my hand at a little thing called eCommerce.

View More: http://mathyshootspeople.pass.us/rybackfamilymini

The CapRoShop was (and continues to be) my biggest challenge and growth point from 2016. It was a completely new arm of my business and is something I knew very little about going in, but consequently that means I learned SO MUCH this past year about launching an online ecommerce business. How to stand-up the online instance (SSLs, WooCommerce, Printful, Designs, Penning Product Descriptions, and more), and how to attempt to market the shop (giveaways, collaborations, and OH THE MARKETING) were challenging, stressful, and still very much both of those things. I could have never done with without the help of so many and honestly by the end of 2016 I was mostly just glad I finally was able to launch the damn thing. I have a LOT MORE on my plate with the shop for this year (more in next week’s post on 2017 business goals), but for now I’ll just say that it was one of the biggest things that came out of 2016 for Capitol Romance.

View More: http://mathyshootspeople.pass.us/rybackfamilymini

But really the thing that started it all with regards to CapRo going eCommerce would be that we launched our first ever PRODUCT in 2016, the infamous Capitol Romance Wedding Planner! Born out of an idea that came to me during the Blogcademy, it took a long time to write out all the content and work tirelessly with the insanely talented & amazing Typecase Industries to bring the planner to life. We’ve sold out 3 printings of the planner & released new cover color options. Our “All We Do is Plan Plan Plan” cover is by far our most popular & we look forward to continued sales in 2017!

On the wedding coordination side of the house, we officially welcomed Kara to the CapRo team for 2016 weddings and are excited to share that we hope to have ANOTHER kickass rockstar coordinator on board the team for 2017! We collectively worked 26 weddings last year (up 9 from 2015) and I know we’ll top that in 2017. We continually have the BEST clients in the DC area and I can’t wait to see what our clients cook up for us this year.

View More: http://mathyshootspeople.pass.us/rybackfamilymini

On the personal side of things, I tried to take a step back from the business in 2016. I said goodbye to the DIY workshops (which still live on, thankfully with District Bliss!), and took only a handful of coordination clients. I cut back on blogging too, which will likely continue in 2017 as those with blogs know – blogging is time consuming with a capital T. I hope to continue to have guest bloggers to help (please! submit posts!), but will spend the time instead with that cute ole family you see in this post today.

As always, I have to thank YOU, my readers & supporters for keeping this business alive. It’s the only way this business has survived since 2011 and it’s the only reason it’s still forging on for another year. So thank you guys and I look forward to a new year of learning, challenges, and growth.

stay nasty,

Bree

Let’s Get Personal: Coming to Terms With Privilege

View More: http://mathyshootspeople.pass.us/rybackfamilymini

Image: Mathy Shoots People

Ever since the election, I’ve found myself reading more think pieces, reflection posts, and opinion articles than my brain & emotional state can handle. Pieces that attempt to explain what the hell happened, why rural Americans voted how they did (and how we should or shouldn’t feel about that), how women & immigrants could vote for him, and what the heck we should do, feel, think, say …. yes it’s exhausting, but it seems to be all I can do these days as I STILL wake up wondering when I will no longer feel like I am in a bad dream. Because honestly, most of my days, I still cannot believe we elected this man to be our President.

But of the countless articles I’ve read, there is a topic that has caused me to do the most soul searching and questioning: the topic of privilege.

Privilege is a layered topic and one that is not always easy to discuss. I acknowledge that being a women puts me at an immediate disadvantage in some realms, but on the whole, being upper middle class and white, puts me at a certain level of privilege that many are not afforded. And while I can say that I empathize with those that are less fortunate than me, or aren’t afforded the same luxuries as me, I can’t truly know what it’s like to not have a certain level of privilege.

And I’ll admit that this is challenging for me. Sometimes I feel like apologizing to the world (“I never asked for this privilege”), sometimes I feel the need to get super defensive (“But I am also disadvantaged in other ways”), and sometimes I just sit at my laptop, reading, and not at all knowing what to do or so. If you know me you know that having nothing to do or say isn’t exactly in my nature.

So here I am, admitting that I am a privileged individual, that is conflicted and unsure of how to deal with that privilege. The think pieces and opinion articles written by those that are less privileged than myself have opened my eyes to the experiences of others that I hadn’t considered before. I am now potentially more aware, but still completely unsure of how to rectify or come to terms with my privilege. Do I read more articles? Do I try to have hard discussions? Do I ask questions?

I am worried of looking insincere, or offensive, or worse, ignorant. And if I don’t know how to deal with this, how the heck am I going to properly teach my daughter about the topic?

At this point I think the thing I’ve come back to the most, is the power of listening. Not always trying to defend myself or needing to say something in response – just listening to other points of view, trying to understand what it’s like from another, less-privileged perspective, and learning all I can from the varying pieces. I won’t ever be able to erase the privilege that my race, my upbringing, or my gender has given me – but I can continue to try and understand how that privilege might affected the way I react, the things I do, or the things I might say. I can challenge myself to listen more, understand further, and challenge others to do the same. Because what’s really the point of being granted something like privilege if I don’t try to use it for the betterment of others?

Rad Things For Your Big Day & Life Together Go Shopping!