Thursday, June 27, 2019

On Chivalry & Toxic Masculinity (A Letter) - The Saga of Lyndsie - Part 28

Have you ever been with someone who you wanted so desperately just to hear you? To understand you? To step outside of their own little world for just 15 seconds and see inside your head? And feel what you feel? Me too.

Sometimes these feelings make people break. Release the bonds on their inner tigers. Lash out. Yell. Scream. Othertimes, these feelings make people leave. Drop the offender like a heavy backpack after a long day even though it hurts more than you rationally know it should. That hurt, then sits, dull and heavy and hot in the bottom of your heart - the top of your belly. It lingers in the back of your mind and you just cant let it got. You know that if they could at least understand you, your hurt would go away. You know that the relationship probably can never resume because once broken, trust never fully mends. Yet, if you could say just that *one. last. thing* and have it be heard, you would be okay. 

Most of us do not ever say those things to our ex-partners. Some of us out of fear. Some out of nervousness. Some knowing it'll never help anyway. Some out of a desire to never revisit the situation. Yet those thoughts linger on for months, even years. That is why I wrote the below letter. I am tired of carrying the burden of that one. last. thing. It is not my damage, but theirs. I should not have to shepherd it. Thus, I wrote it here. I may never send this to the person, in my case because he probably wouldn't listen anyway (and explode with offense and tout to the sky that he did nothing wrong). But if it were nothing, why are there 3 pages of words below?


Since you were my friend and I did like you, I am going give you my honest thoughts in the page below. You can take it however you will, be offended by them or use them to rise even higher to become a better you. I apologize if some if this is said in anger. I trusted you and you betrayed my trust. I do not know if I can be friends with you for, definitely not for a while. But maybe someday.

You enticed me with your enthusiasm and your ideals of chivalry and courtesy. You treated me well at first. However, when I began to know you deeper it seemed that some of your past still lingers.
You talk about chivalry and the ideals behind it, but you are only scratching the surface. In regards to the general populace, you are a very good friend. You are there for your people, and always willing to help or support. I wish I could have kept you on that level without getting closer. I am not saying that this you is not the real you, but I am saying that there is more beneath this that you need to work on.
You talk to talk of protecting your partner’s dignity against men who would insult their honor. 

However, you did not protect me from this when it came to you. Your defensiveness created a cloud around understanding and prevented you from rationally looking at an issue. Your stubbornness in your beliefs is not an asset because it obscures clear understanding. When called a behavior manipulative, I did not call you manipulative. You are NOT defined by your behaviors or beliefs. These things can be wrong and they can change. This does not mean that YOU are changing.

And to my disappointment some of your behaviors are manipulative. They are an attempt to control the narrative of a situation rather than actually addressing the issue at hand. Dramatically “pulling back” from a discussion or argument does not solve the problem. Victim blaming: “Everything I say these days upsets you” takes all of the responsibility off of your actions and puts it on my “decision” to have emotions. If every, single, thing you say upsets someone, then that is probably on you. Try being more sensitive to others’ emotions and you will begin to learn what sets them off. No two people are going to accept the same behavior.

You claimed to know chivalry yet you sexualized me almost every day. I’ll let you in on a little secret, women do not want to hear how much a guy wants their body every time they talk. My appearance is the least interesting thing about me and something I only marginally have control over. Telling me I am beautiful all the time only insults my deeper qualities which are the ones I actually work hard at. It’s easy to posture and beat your chest at other guys who get “sleezy” like this, but it’s OK for you to do it because we have a sexual relationship? No.

There were still times where I felt like a possession or a conquest. “Am I just delivering you to this guy for a booty call?” No, you were giving me a ride to a friend's because you'd offered it. Since we were open so you had no agency in whether I hooked up with him, him & his wife or did nothing.  Women are not “yours”. That is why I am so against the terms “my girl” and “my girlfriend” or any other nickname that is diminutive and implies possession or being “lesser”.

And lastly, you still act as if it’s all about you. Even the negative stuff. It’s not. Not everything is a personal attack and you are not entitled to get something just because you want it. Even when we stopped seeing each other, you still inserted yourself into my life and took things away from me. For instance, when you decided to come up here for an event, you had our friend change his plans because of you. You didn’t think that there were 3 other people involved with those plans that you just affected. Again. you tried to control our story, but this time you got our friends involved as well. That was the last straw, for me. A true friend would put his personal shit aside and not make others cater to it.

We definitely had some fun times and I am happy for the adventures you took me on. If you continue to be mindful of the present and of those around you, and do some more self-searching, you will do fine.  

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Living in Fear vs. Living for Happiness - The Saga of Lyndsie - Part 27

A man has weakness, he's flawed
that flaw leads him to guilt
the guilt leads him to shame
the shame he compensates with pride & vanity
and when pride fails, despair takes over
and they all lead to his destruction
which will become his fate.

Today, I had a conversation with a friend over life choices (or the lack thereof). It will probably not come a surprise to most of you that life is a difficult thing to navigate through. Adulting is hard. We have to make choices that are going to be good for us - for our livelihood and our physical, mental, and emotional health. Sometimes, these choices only satisfy one or two of the above.
For instance, going on a vacation may be something you want to do, which will lead you to destress and be happy. However, that vacation will put you out of a good chunk of your money and the time you need to work to make more money. While we all want to go on vacations, we know that we also need to work. Thus, we have to choose how many and what type of vacations we can take. 

Some of people never travel or take vacations because they are too afraid to be in debt and not have a job. This fear leads them to inactivity, working day in and day out, without much break. And then that work, unless it's your dream job, slowly wears your spirit down until you get into a rut that you cannot break out of. Or, you lose your mind and bust out of the prison, with guns blazing, into the world - quitting your job, selling all your things, and living in an RV in the middle of the forest. 

While this is a bit of an exaggeration, sadly, the reality is that most of us are living in fear. We live in fear of failure, or to be seen by the masses as a failure. However, because this fear leads us to inactivity, we are making our fears a reality which leads to our fate...we become the failures that we are so terrified to be.

Breaking out of this fear-laden mentality requires risk.  

Without risk, we cannot reap reward. 

Many times this risk puts us initially in an uncomfortable situation which at first, feels bad. It makes us question how we could have possibly thought this stupid idea was good. If, however, we are able to push through those bad feelings, we open ourselves up to new possibilities. Granted, this opening up is not easy. It makes one feel vulnerable, you could as easily get hurt as you could succeed. 

And many times, you will get hurt. Initial hurts feel like the world is ripping out your soul and stomping it into the ground. They feel as if they are never going to get any better and you are going to spend your entire life in hurt. However, hurts fade. And with every time you're hurt, you learn a lesson.

Some will take these lessons and throw them away, allowing themselves to get bitter and continually repeat the hurt. However, a wise person will learn from these lessons and to recognize the hurt when it comes around again. Once they understand that the feeling is only temporary, it will recede. Thus, knowing this, you will worry less about getting hurt and focus more on the benefits you will receive. I believe this is the beginning of true optimism.

Optimism: This is a quality that is attributed to me so much so that even my coworkers recognize it (I've been unofficially dubbed "Optimist Prime" ala Transformers).  Being optimistic does not mean that I never get sad and worried (trust me, I worry all the time), but it does mean that I am willing to take more risks because I see the positive outcome of every risk, rather than the negative. It took me a long time to get to this truly optimistic point of view, but the first big step of that was learning to work with my fear.

Fear will never truly go away, it is constantly going to be there. Even for those who think they've mastered optimism, it is possible to retreat back into fear during the darkest and most anxiety-ridden times. But the more you learn to cope with that fear of losing, fear of being seen as less than perfect, or fear of being alone, the quicker you will be able to get over it and continue on the forward motion  of your life. 

So, ultimately, I think the first step is to identify what you want. Be honest with yourself and dig deep into your psyche to figure out what single thing would make you the happiest. Then you should assess whether or not you are achieving that thing (I'm going to guess that for most of us the answer is "no"). This is the point where you begin figuring out what kinds of risks, what kinds of uncomfortable tasks, you will need to do to help you achieve that happiness. 

When I was at the lowest point of my life, immediately after leaving the husband who abused me both emotionally and physically, questioning that I had done the right thing, I came across the below article: 

This article asks you the question: Are you living according to what you want, or what you don't want?  It was the first time that someone (albeit an author on the Internet) had confronted me to point me to the harsh reality of the situation. I had been living my life the way I had because it was comfortable, understandable, known. However, just be cause something is familiar and you understand it, does not mean that it is good for your mental or emotional health. 

In fact, it's probably the opposite. Your brain, or your ego, is so used to feeling abused that it just goes along for the ride. It would rather have things be "easy" even if they hurt, than hard with potential happiness.

I would highly recommend checking out this article if you are at a point in your life where you are question whether your current path is still good for your or if you need to make some changes, however small, that may be uncomfortable yet productive.

And everyone can do this. Trust me. I believe in you! 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Fad Diets - The Saga of Lyndsie - Part 26

I’d like to take this time to talk a little bit about “fad diets” or in other words, “Why other people’s eating habits offend you”.

I had never considered myself a “dieter”. I love food. I love eating. I love trying new things, especially “weird” things.  Now, I can’t say that I enjoy all food because I have definitely tried some stuff that just tastes wrong (like natto). However, overall, I would definitely say that I’m an eater. That is why it took me a long time to finally admit to myself that I may have sensitivities to food or, at the very least, that some foods make me feel worse than others. The main offender food – whether insensitivity or no – is a food that has recently been cited as “the root of all dietary problems”.  However I thought, that while cutting this food out may help me feel better, it would also hopefully have the side effect of helping me lose weight. And, when I had decided to limit this food, I knew that I was going to be lumped into the “fad diet” crowd. 

A crowd that I will admit, used to draw scoffs and subdued eye-rolls from myself as well.

Originally, I entertained the idea of going on the Whole 30 diet or the Keto diet, but when I proposed those ideas to the manfriend he was like “no way in hell.” This would mean that I would be cooking all my own food while I watched him eat his “bachelor diet” of mac’and’cheese, hot dogs, cereal, & chips and salsa. All the while secretly hating him for 1. Not having to deal with (or admit to) the fact that food makes him sick. And 2. Not having a negative body image about himself. Thus, my next thought was, “what can I eliminate that will still allow James and I to eat the same food at home.”

So I went there, I decided to cut gluten. Or at least, the most obvious sources of gluten in my life: pasta, bread products, & pizza. Now, if we make hamburgers, manfriend can have a sandwich while I just eat the meat and toppings. It works mostly OK. Every now and then I plan to cheat or eat something with just a little gluten, but overall I wanted to see if I would feel better: happier, more energetic, & with less gastrointestinal issues.

The week I decided to really focus on this, one of our regional directors was visiting from Montreal and offered to buy us all pizza for lunch. When I thanked him and apologized that I wouldn’t be able to partake in this, one of my coworkers proceeded to lecture me about why the gluten-free diet was a fad.

She went on to explain to me that I will always crave stuff like pizza because I grew up on it and I’m used to it.
And that gluten wasn’t my problem, but eating meat was.
And how I needed those carbs because I work on a computer and carbs fuel brainpower. This she based on a study from two doctors showed that carbs prevent diabetes more than fat did.
Oh and that if I wanted to lose weight, I needed to count calories rather than cut gluten.
That I should just eat more vegetables in general.
And that sugar is also a problem, including fruit, so I should stop that too.
Oh and why haven’t I gone to the doctor to get tested (note: I have an appointment but it’s not even just that. I could not biologically have a sensitivity but can still feel bloated/depressed from eating 3 slices of pizza.)

Pretty much she gave me the impression that my choices deeply offended her and that I was completely stupid.

But you know what? After having spent a lot of time around people who are “gluten-free by choice”, have celiacs, have allergies, are vegetarians by choice, are vegetarians w/o a choice…etc. I realized something…

It’s really none of my business what these people want to eat unless I make it my business.

Most of the people I know who have these preferences/requirements, are generally very flexible and do not expect you to accommodate them. But there are time when I do want to accommodate them. For instance, in regards to SCA camping & meal plans, I have invited people w/ limited diets to participate. This is because I want the company of people and certain food issues, including gluten-free, are easy enough to work around. (Now, if you have too many food allergies, you’re probably on your own b/c I don’t want to accidentally kill you).

So, here is my question: Why is food seen as such a personal issue? This is one of the things that really irks me.
Why do people feel the need to press you into eating the donuts/cookies/bagels they made/bought for the office? 
Why do you have to make me feel guilty for not eating those things?
And, why do they think they know better than you what your diet should be?

For me, feeding people is a joy. As an Italian, I express love through food. Food brings community. I will admit, if someone turned something I made down, I would assume that they didn’t like it and feel a little bummed. However, I would feel a lot worse if someone ate something I made/offered and then got sick from it.  That is kind of the opposite of building community.

One could argue that people worry about the dieter. And yeah, some fad diets are probably not good for you, but we are all adults and thus, we don’t really need other adults telling us what we should/shouldn’t eat. If you are really concerned for someone and their “diet” choice, maybe you should just ask them questions to ensure that they’ve done the necessary research. It’s kind of crummy to get all up in arms about someone doing/eating something that don’t or won’t do. Make sure you think about how hard this may be for them already.

During that meeting, the one where the director bought pizza, I was literally trapped in a room full of pizza-enjoyers, stuck with the shittiest salad in all of creation: lettuce, shredded cheddar, tomatoes, banana peppers & onions. I know he tried to support my choice but honestly, if one person had given me shit for not eating the delicious-smelling pizza, I probably would have just started bawling.  I <3 o:p="" pizza.="">

So, the next time you want to judge someone’s diet choices, please be sensitive. They may be jumping on the bandwagon, or they may be trying to be healthier but either way, they are making sacrifices that they may not exactly want to make. Unless they are asking for advice, or asking you to cook for them, it really shouldn’t affect you what they choose to or not to eat.

For me, personally, the plan is to cut out ­gluten-y things and replace it with more vegetables and whole grains of other types. I may not look it, but I am nearing my mid-30s and have realized that my body doesn’t play as nice as it used to. I am not as active as I was in my 20s because I’m not hiking across campus all day long with a 30lb backpack. I am also more financially comfortable and YET more responsible. This means that I can afford to eat out more often, but also that I have a lot more bills as well. Eating out is terrible for the wallet and definitely gives you more options for temptation (fried everything, pizza, mac & cheese at every restaurant).

What I want to do is build a habit of healthier eating rather than just dieting to lose weight. I want to do this for manfriend as well because he’s also in his mid-30s (though he refused to admit it) and it couldn’t hurt but also because it’s easier to eat together if we eat the same food. I’m hoping the main effect of this is that I will feel better: less-bloated, less upset stomachs, less lethargic, less depressed. If I lose weight also – yay! If we get used to eating ½ plate of veggies (yes, that’s 2-3 “servings” in 1 meal), then all the more successful it’ll be!

That being said, I would appreciate support for my endeavor. And, if I break down and have a piece of pizza or a cookie now and then, please don’t judge me. We’re all human, afterall.

 Image result for vegetables

Friday, April 6, 2018

Adrenaline & Endorphins - The Saga of Lyndsie - Part 25

At this point in my life, every time I get to the gym, it feels like an accomplishment. Every morning I get to the gym, it feels like a great accomplishment.

Sure, sleeping is nice. Laying in bed lazily on a relaxing Sunday morning is amazing. However, stubbornly trying to get in those last 5 or 15 or 30 minutes of alarm interrupted sleep on a dark, weekday morning is just… Painful. Conversely, getting up immediately when the alarm rings and your eyes and legs don’t want to work, is almost as bad.

If you knew me at all, you’d know that I am not a morning person. AT ALL. So the fact that I’ve been working to make a routine of snoozing for 15 minutes or less Is probably about as hard a job as landing a man on the moon. But dammit, I need to start  getting up to be productive. Some days, that might mean getting into work early. Other days, it should mean being able to go to the gym. Right!?

Well I e been trying. This has happened in the last month less that I would have liked. Ideally, I would like to have one day a week where I get up early and go. (I know, that more than one day is probably better, and 3 to 4 days is ideal). However, good freaking luck with that one LOL! One day, maybe at least make it a habit I hope…

I mean, when I do make it to the gym in the morning everything else feels amazing. My body, while tired, feels energized. My mind seems to work with more clarity and my mood definitely increases. You would think these benefits would be enough to get me going every day. Unfortunately, not Quite yet.

However, mornings when I’m stumbling awake is really the best free time I have for the gym. After work, I’m always running errands and trying to do something like hang out with my boyfriend. And honestly, there really aren’t enough hours in the evening to do all the things that I want to do. Again, you would think all of these reasons would be easy motivation to get to the gym in the morning. It’s not like I need sleep anyway… Unfortunately, that’s still not enough.

Ugh... how do I work up my resolve to just get my lazy ass out of bed and get gym ready? Telling myself to do so seems to be the only thing that works and only works about half the time. Maybe I need to be hypnotized… LOL.

So this is the other thing I'm trying to do...capture this amazing post gym feeling. The heightened senses, quick thinking, positive mood and energized feeling. If I could bottle that up so I could revisit it in the wee hours of the morning, I'm sure that would help. As I can't do that, then maybe, re-reading this post occasionally will convince me that it’s totally worth it.

So, dear Lyndsie, future Lyndsie, if you’re reading this… Get yo ass up! Do something good for your body and mind.
Love, past Lyndsie 

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Welcome to Anamnesis (a.k.a. the title change) - Anamnesis The Novel

What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.

- Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

As some of you may already know, I have had to make a minor (monumental) change to my completed cyberpunk novel, "Insignia". I had to change the name.

Back in 2012 when I had started writing this novel, I searched the name to make sure there wasn't a similar novel with the same one. At that point in time, there was not. However, the problem with sitting on a novel for six years means that the world of literature changes and someone steals your title....Yes, I'm looking at you, S.J. Kincaid. (Ok, ok, I also bought your book).

Insignia by S.J. Kincaid was released as the 1st in a series, in 2013. Nice going Lyndsie, way to get on that. :-\

Needless to say, not to be overshadowed by an already prolific author, I needed to find a new title. It's sad, too, because Insignia is very pertinent to my book, easy to say, and most people can figure it out. I wanted to stick to the one-word title because it captured the feel of my story - the spartan, dark world. Unfortunately, all the other more common key words just didn't have as much oomph as "Insignia". Or they were taken.

Timeseer (already a book with that name anyway)
Savant (already a book here too)

And then there were multi-word titles that I debated on though they seemed to be a stretch:

The Memory Code
The Mech Wars (I didn't even bother looking this one up because I'm sure there's already something out there)
Being Human
Bright Star

Finally, I turned to synonyms of the two words I like the most: Insignia & Memory. I didn't find anything good for insignia except "colophon"which is a bookmakers symbol. Specifically,

a statement at the end of a book, typically with a printer's emblem, giving information about its authorship and printing.

However, there are a lot of great words for "Memory": Remembrance, Flashback, Reminiscence, Retrospection, Cognizance, Mindfulness, Anamnesis....

That's when I fell upon that last one and said to myself, "That seems like sci-fi." When I looked it up, it hit home even further:

Anamnesis [an-am-nee-sis] (n): the recollection of the Ideas, which the soul had known in a previous existence, especially by means of reasoning.
- Platonism 

Honestly, there's no more perfect title for this novel. 

So now I just need to get it published before someone else steals it.....

Monday, March 26, 2018

Indie vs. Traditional Publishing - The Saga of Lyndsie - Part 24

In 2012, I began to write a book as some of you may know (ok, I am kidding. If you are one of those that still doesn't know that I am/have been writing a book for a while now, then you must have been living under a rock).

Anyway, in 2013, 2015, 2016, & 2017, I have finished this book. Yes, I finished it multiple times because it has undergone some edits every time I want to declare it officially "finished".

However, I have sat and sat and sat on this book. What was I going to do with it? The idea of submitting to traditional publishers literally paralyzed me. Though, I couldn't really place my finger on why.

Most people would just say that I'm lazy and/or not committed enough to my writing to work really hard and do research 45 hours/day and get 1000 rejections before finally getting accepted somewhere. But in actuality, I think my feet-dragging was really related to other things.

- I wasn't sure I was even good enough to be a writer.
- I didn't feel like I was good enough to be a writer.
- Thus, why put a ton of work into trying to get published when I wasn't really worth it?
- Also, I was overwhelmed and didn't know where to start.
- Losing control over much of my writing via contracts was not appealing
- Conflicting information
- This highlighted one of my WORST skills: doing research

 However, I have realized that NOT getting my work out there was kind of killing my self-worth too. That was when a friend of mine opportunistically started this online writer group with bi-weekly meetups. Then from that, I learned of the Angry Robot publishing open door which encouraged me to fine tune my story for publication. THEN I found CIPA (Colorado Independent Publishers Association).

I have been to two CIPA meetings so far and have found them very inspiring. And I learned one very great thing about Indie Publishing - It really relies on networking. One of my BEST skills.  This last meeting was a presentation on Traditional vs. Indie publishing and couldn't have been more enlightening. I have weighed this decision in my head for a long time, and think I've finally come to a decision.

First of all, I am going to weigh out the Pros & cons of both styles of publishing. Now, let me tell you, this is only what I understand (and the result of 4 years of research) but it could be incomplete or plain wrong. However, if it's the latter, I would blame the websites and "respectable people" i have gotten it from.

Traditional Publishing
- (perceived as) More respectable
- Less work in promotion/marketing for the author
- (generally) Provides cover art, editing, typsetting etc.
- Access to a wider network
- Advances and contracts to ensure work
- Take a larger % of your earnings
- Shady contracts/contracts that can affect you long term
- Less control over cover art and edits
- Some of the pros above are inconsistent between publishers (like some require the author to do a lot more marketing etc).
- Slower to publication/printing
- Competing against many other books

Indie Pub (formerly-known as Self Publishing)
- Keep more of your earnings
- More control over story, art, and distribution area
- Your own schedule
- More overall Freedom
- Faster to publication/printing/distribution
- More investment financially from author
- More time required to "get big" with marketing/promos
- Quality may be perceived lower
- Competing with a lot of other authors

So the more I have looked these over, the more I have begun to feel that Indie Pub is going to be the future. Books come out quicker and they are more to the taste of the author. And since it seems that everyone is an author these days, making a living off of it may not be as easy as it used to be.

For me, I think it's the better step. I mean, don't get me wrong, I would love to be a professional writer where writing IS my day job. However, at this point, it doesn't feel like possibility from either route. Because, even if I did get picked up by a Trad Pub, it is no guarantee that I will be able to live off that. In fact, it's almost guaranteed to be the opposite at first. I would still have to work my day job while simultaneously churning out works to stay relevant. That seems more stressful than I would like.

Right now, I just want my story to be read. To be loved (and hated), shared and talked about. I want to hold a copy in my hands and say "This...this is mine".  So, I have taken the initial steps to become a published author - I bought business cards, a web domain, and have begun thinking about crowdfunding for cover art and editing fees.

I WILL have a finished, fucking, novel. Even if it takes me 10 years to do so.

P.S. OMG YOU GUYZ, I'm super excited about my business cards.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Fight Like A Girl (and Kick Butt!!) - The Saga of Lyndsie - Part 23

I had written this post in honor of International Women's Day, but have not had a chance to post it until now. Better late than never, I suppose!!

This day has been significant for me since I was living in Italy at the age of 20. I remember walking around Perugia during my lunch break from school, shopping and getting coffee, and a couple of men handed me some flowers. It was a bunch of purple flower and something else that reminded me of a daisy.

At first I said, “No grazie. Non ho soldi.” (No, thank you. I don’t have money.”
But the man insisted, “Prego, prego. É la festa delle donne.” (Please, please. It’s Women’s Day. )
At the time, I didn’t understand.  I had never heard of “Women’s Day.” I had to ask a shopkeeper what Women’s Day was.
“You Americans don’t know International Women’s day?”

And I hadn’t known. It was never something that was ever mentioned when I was growing up (or if it was, it wasn’t made enough of a big deal that I remember it).  I remember thinking at the time how great it was to have a day that is recognized internationally to celebrate women.
As there are many influential women in my life, I would spend some time celebrating them here. Please be aware, this will not be an exhaustive list because time and practicality dictate that I will not get to them all.

However, before I start, let me briefly share a short history of International Women’s Day from Wikipedia. The first women's day was observed in February 1909 when 15,000 women marched through the streets of New York demanding improved pay, shorter hours and voting rights. The day was mostly celebrated by socialist movements and communist countries in the following decades. In 1975, the United Nations proclaimed the year International Women’s Year and christened March 8 as Women’s Day. There is a much richer history of this event, but you can find all that information on the Interwebz.

Influential Women to me: 

1.       My Grandmother, Leslie Jagiello: All the women in my family are amazing and I am proud to know them. However, if you want to see someone that has a fire burning inside her, you just need to turn to my grandmother. She is over 90 years old and keeps saying she’ll live to be 100. She is stubborn, silly, intelligent, a hard worker, and very loving parent & grandparent.  She loves babies and bourbon. She took me on so many adventures when I was a child from cruises through Annapolis harbor, to farther away retreats in the Bahamas. 
She has showed me just how strong a woman can be even after enduring heartbreaking hardships. She inspires me every day with her actions – she never acts her age – and her (sometimes) outspoken-ness. She is never afraid to be herself. And, even at 91, she is beautiful. I am looking forward to being a feisty, whisky-drinking, laughing, travelling old lady, just as she is. 

2.       My Mom, Marian (Jagiello) Clark:  If knowing my grandmother wasn’t enough to understand the strength women have in my family, then knowing my mom would hit it home. She is definitely one of the strongest women that I know. I mean, after all, she had to deal with ME as a child. :P As ½ of the pair that raised me, I learned a lot from her including how to be open-minded, tolerant, kind, loving, fashion-forward, and to take care of myself (emotionally, physically, and in life).  Her continuous challenging has made me strive to be a better person and has set my own expectations of myself high. She’s silly as hell and I kind of love it when she gets drunk at social gatherings and dances.  She’s also seriously good at sewing – a trait that I unfortunately didn’t inherit.  Again, she’s beautiful. I got good genes!

3.       Women Fighters: I want to say first that I am always in awe of women fighters (fencers, heavies, martial artists, MMA etc.) but I would like to highlight three in this post from the SCA.
-          Tatiana Bonieux (Goss): Tatiana is an inspiration for so many reasons. She is a five-foot-nothin’ fencer who is just totally fierce.  She will stab you in the face before you realize she’s even moved. More than once she’s stabbed me and I have fought on for a few moments before I realized that I was dead. Much how I imagine a real sword fight going with her in fact…Recently, she got her Master of Defense peerage and since then she has just exploded. I am so excited to see her living up to the role with both her mentoring and her personal growth.  Not that she didn’t have these qualities before – she always has – but since the MoD-ding she is no longer just a (very) skilled fighter but has grown into a peer.  Her support of the fencing community and fencers individually is inspiring. Every time she says “Good job, Lana!” I know she means it. And every time she apologizes for maybe missing something, I know she means it. Tatiana, in addition to being fierce & fast, is also earnest, humble and very positive. All of these qualities are those that I fully admire.

-          Mahara Vandale (Jennifer Thomson): Mahara has been an inspiration, not only for me, but for an entire household.  House Vandale was formed in 2013 but the formation was really only official in name. Before that time, people flocked around Mahara and her husband, Tom, and they created a community. Any who knows me, would know that community is something that I value very highly. Mahara is inspiring because she is always welcoming to anyone who wants to be a part of her life.  She is also a talented fencer and artisan. She’s always willing to help and support her friends and even her acquaintances. The most notable thing about her personality is that she is easily delighted and excited about the cool things in the world, and that her friends are interested in. I have learned a lot from her in her prowess and positive attitude.

-          Yazida bint Zarif (Yaz Ostrowski): A true renaissance woman: talented, creative, martial, generous, sarcastic, and kind. She taught me so much when I was a punk kid just starting out. To this day I still have some of her hand me down garb! She showed me the joy that was the SCA with a healthy dose of reliquaries, cooked babies, cat training, and other shenanigans.