Reading: T Kingfisher’s Toad Words

51eoLxCu+BL._AA218_I’m not finished reading ‘Brainstorm’ but I don’t generally read non-fiction without also having some fiction on hand to relax with. I have read T Kingfisher’s book of short stories Toad Words before but I needed to refresh myself on the details when I hosted the Storytelling Circle during the St. John’s Storytelling Festival last week.

I have been trying for years to find the right angle to tell the title story from. Even though it is in first person, and very well-written, it wasn’t quite in the right language for *me* to tell it aloud. Meanwhile, Kingfisher’s language is delightful and playful, and it feels like she is telling you the story personally, like her phrasing is an in-joke for the two of you. It’s really fun.

I like how she takes well known tales and spins them a little to get a new perspective and I often find myself saying, ‘Huh, never thought of it that way.’ when I read her work.

I’ll be telling other stories of hers once I have her permission and once I find the right angle again.(Yes, I had her permission to tell Toad Words.)

She has a variety of short story collections and books available and if you like quirky stories based on traditional tales, you should check them out.

Train of Thought: On Clothing – But How Do You Feel?

For example, here are two pieces of an outfit I choose for 'Minnie Cooper' a talk show host who was a black sheep in her conservative family. She dressed to call attention to herself and she didn't buy into what her family thought was appropriate. She didn't care what they thought.

For example, here are two pieces of an outfit I choose for ‘Minnie Cooper’ a talk show host who was a black sheep in her conservative family. She dressed to call attention to herself and she didn’t buy into what her family thought was appropriate. 

I can remember watching ‘What Not To Wear’ back in the day and being annoyed, not only by the fact that they tended to dress everyone so much alike, but that they had no consideration for what people wanted to wear/felt comfortable in. There is more than one way to look good and they never seemed to get that at the time.  (I think Stacey London gets it now, though.)

I mean, I get  that our choice of clothing can be a message to the world. It’s a good thing, in general, to understand that and then to be able to choose what message to send, to choose whether to meet the ‘standards’ set by the situation or not. I often make those choices when I pick a costume for characters I play in monologues or mystery games. It’s interesting to decide whether this particular character would dress ‘appropriately’ for a given situation or whether they would choose to subvert expectations.*


And all of that doesn’t even get into the messages that other people can read into our clothing. I flatly refuse to accept that we are responsible for those messages, but again, it’s a good idea to know what they might be so we can be prepared to deal with them. That’s not the same as accepting responsibility for their thoughts and actions, it’s just acknowledging that we might have to deal with them.


Anyway, this is all just sort of a long introduction to a question I feel that we don’t ask often enough…

How does your clothing make you feel?


What about if, instead of concentrating just on how clothing *looks* we, instead thought about how it makes us feel? What about if we took the emotional ramifications into consideration?


If your clothing makes you self-conscious, if it leaves you feeling too hot or too cold, if it keeps you tugging down a hemline or rolling up a waistband, then it doesn’t feel good. If you are going to spend your evening thinking about your clothes instead of doing whatever it is you had planned, then it isn’t a good choice of outfit. I get that sometimes an item can *seem* like a good idea until you get to the event and something is not as expected, but often we choose an item of clothing and immediately know that it isn’t going to work.

What I’d like is for everyone to be able to dress for their own comfort and enjoyment and not have to give a damn what anyone else thinks. I know that isn’t possible at this point in history, but I am hoping that is going to change. In the meantime, I hope that, the next time you are getting dressed, you think about how you will feel in your clothes.  And, if you think that your clothes will take up too much mental space, if you think that it will distract you from having fun, then you choose something else to wear. I want you to make a choice that serves you well and keeps you happy.

Tune in next week for the third part in this series: Dress For Your Own Power.

*Of course, some of my characters would have no idea what the ‘appropriate’ thing is. That’s a whole other layer of characterization.

Signal Boost: DIY Postcard Swap Fall 2017

I’m trying a new challenge this fall, the DIY Postcard Swap so I thought I would post the link here in case you want to try it, too.

The premise is that you create 12 postcards and mail them out after October 25, and you will receive 12 in return.

I’m find this as intimidating as all hell. I have no art training and I’ve seen some terrific postcards from previous years. Here’s the thing, though. I’m doing the challenge anyway, no matter how intimidated I am.

After all, what’s the worst case scenario, someone doesn’t like my work? Oh well!


iHanna?s DIY Postcard Swap Fall 2017

My boys drew this for me a few years ago when I was reading Pressfield's 'Do the Work' and asked them for a drawing of me slaying a resistance dragon. It seemed to go with this post, too.

My boys drew this for me a few years ago when I was reading Pressfield’s ‘Do the Work’ and asked them for a drawing of me slaying a resistance dragon.
It seemed to go with this post, too.

Reading: Daniel Siegel’s ‘Brainstorm’

I have always been troubled by our cultural notion that teenagers are inherently difficult people and that there is no way to avoid having a miserable time with your child during those years.

I mean, I understand that going through all that change in a few short years is challenging, and that there are a lot of misunderstandings that can (and do) occur.

I’m not naive, I’m just hopeful.

I can’t help but wonder if some of the problems that crop up have to do with the cultural expectation described above. You know,  the way that, if you expect trouble, you often find it?*

DrDanSiegel_Brainstorm_Cover_Small 3D AT

Anyway, as usual when I start wondering about something, I started researching, and that led me to Daniel. J. Siegel’s book ‘Brainstorm.’ I’m reading it right now and I’ll let you know how it goes. So far, I like what what he has to say and I’ll be writing more about it when I’m done.

If this topic intrigues you, too, you might want to check out Brainstorm.


*Please know that if you are struggling to communicate with your teenager, I’m NOT saying that you are the cause of the trouble. I’m not thinking of individual cases here, I’m wondering about our cultural approach. This stuff is just hard all around. For everyone.