Non-Negotiables for 2019

by Suzette....
In the fall of 2018 I joined a book club. I joined despite hating book clubs. I don’t know why I hate them – I’ve never been in one – but the pressure to read on a group timeline, I suppose, is something I have never been interested in. But, I joined anyway, because I wanted to read the book that had been selected and because it was a “one book and done” club. I assumed I could make it through six meetings and discuss one book, then never return.
 
Much to my surprise, however, I loved the experience. And I really enjoyed the book – the first book I had read for pleasure in, oh, I don’t know . . . years!! And that was all it took. I have since finished reading six additional books (and listening to three others) – and I now have a huge stack of reading planned for 2019. My book club experience was just another example of saying “yes” instead of “no” and being open to new things!
 
That being said, we shouldn’t say “yes” to everything. And as the book we read –  Being Boss  by Kathleen Shannon and Emily Thompson – instructed us, we should always know what our non-negotiables are. As Shannon and Thompson note, “‘Non-negotiables’ help you create steadfast boundaries, habits, and routines for the things in your life that are of the utmost priority. Non-negotiables often make everything else in your life run smoothly – and if your non-negotiable is neglected or broken, nothing else seems to work quite right.”
 
We definitely take this concept of identifying our priorities as the gospel here at  proFmagazine , so we decided to focus our last live Twitter chat of 2018 on what our various non-negotiables were for the coming year. This way, we could make them clear and hold ourselves accountable. Below are just a few of the comments we received regarding non-negotiables for this new year.
 
Rookie’s Tavi Gevinson on the Pain of Knowing When to Quit

by Maura
A few years ago, with the help of my husband, I decided to quit my full-time job in academic advising and pursue a career as a freelance writer. Writing was always the thing I wanted to pursue as a career, but throughout my twenties I worked steadily in adjacent fields, never able to bite the bullet and find my way into the “gig economy” (that peppy label for the unfortunate state of creative professions in our 21st-century plutocracy). One of the reasons I hesitated to get started is that the kind of writing I most enjoy – thoughtful essays and arts and culture criticism – doesn’t pay in the age of sponsored content and the easily share-able and meme-able. Eventually, I realized that a writing career of any kind was better than the alternatives, and now I make money editing and writing things like marketing copy. I’m resigned to the fact that mostly, creative and critical writing must be a labor of love with little financial reward. But it shouldn’t be that way.
 
Before my freelance career began in earnest, I wrote for five years on the side for an underground music website,  Cokemachineglow.com , that was creative and interesting, introduced me to amazing music (and a group of great writers from all over), and helped me to improve my writing. Needless to say, the site was not financially successful in any way (and no one was paid), but the staff kept it going because we loved doing it. Finally though,  Cokemachineglow folded  at the end of 2015. At this point many of us were into our 30s, and our editor quite rightly decided he could no longer dedicate so much time and energy to the project while he also had a life to live and a day job to do.

Tipping the Judicial Scales
on Choice

by Devin
In the wake of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, a coalition of Democrats and abortion-rights groups have grown increasingly concerned about the future of women’s right to reproductive health in America.
 
Although a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion was established in the landmark  Roe v. Wade  ruling in 1973, abortion has remained one of the most polarizing and divisive issues in the American political landscape. Since 1973, individual states have enacted 1,142 restrictions on abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute. These restrictions have made the path to getting an abortion difficult or impossible for some women, especially in deep-red states like Oklahoma. 
 
Candace Blalock, who has served as chief judge, district judge and assistant district attorney in Oklahoma, reflected on how statewide abortion restrictions target economically disadvantaged women. “They obstruct any way at all for poor women to have a choice. It’s very difficult for someone that has no money, maybe several children already, to be in that situation,” Blalock said. “Rich women can fly to Switzerland if they want to and middle class women can find other means, but for poor women they really don’t have a choice.” 
 
Although abortion rates in Oklahoma have declined in recent years, the state legislature has continued to propose restrictive measures on reproductive services. Since taking office in 2011, Governor Mary Fallin has signed 19 restrictions on access to women’s reproductive health in the state. 
 
Eight of these 19 measures have been challenged by The Center for Reproductive Rights, an organization whose mission is to use “the power of law to advance reproductive rights as fundamental human rights around the world.” The center won all eight cases they argued before The Oklahoma Supreme Court.

Being Seen + Being Heard = Being Included:
The Importance of Action

by Melanie
I am writing this piece after a tough experience navigating this country’s administration. In late October 2018 the Human Rights Campaign reported that the Trump-Pence administration plans to erase non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people across federal agencies. Quickly, the hashtag #WONTBEERASED became the narrative in opposition, as well as empowerment to those whose invisibility and silencing would result should the proposed protections be undone.
 
As I navigated several spaces across and off my campus today, I had only two conversations about this national, breaking news: one with a woman of color and one with a gay couple I ran into at lunch. I struggled through my day thinking of my husband who is transgender, thinking of our family (as I know this will upset our daughters) and thinking of many transgender, non-binary, gender-queer youth and their parents, who have this additional worry on top of a long “Will my kid be safe?” list. I also thought about all the adults who identify that I have seen transition against so many odds and their concerns about their futures.
 
As if all of that brain swirling was not enough, I then started thinking of all my friends, family, co-workers and acquaintances who have not offered a question, condolence, protest or supportive utterance to me or my partner. I feel unseen, unheard and unincluded in a space that usually feels safe and inclusive. I am reminded of how isolating it is to be different from the mainstream that surrounds me. Advocacy fatigue is real, and it is the reason why having support around you is paramount in being able to commit to creating diversity and inclusion. Encouragement from others is sometimes the fuel I need to stay the course but when I need it most, it is elusive.

Realistic New Year’s Resolutions:
#CampusWomen Edition

by Audra
1. Use my standing desk at least 30 (actually, make it 15) minutes every day.
 
A standing desk is one of those things we coo over the minute it graces our cubicle – “Oh, and did you see I have a  standing desk ?” Within a matter of weeks, however, it conforms to its true purpose – a stand for my monitor, hand lotion, and 82 pads of sticky notes – much as my butt has conformed to the shape of my padded desk chair.
 
2. Mute any and all topics related to weight loss, dieting and – ugh –  wellness  on  Twitter .
 
Your body, your rules. My timeline, my rules. My one and only food-related resolution is to finish off this gallon of mango sorbet before it gets freezer burn.
 
Making Choices: The Good (and Bad) Place

By Suzette....
This post is about choices. I chose to write it some time ago for the  proF  series on #choices and have been stuck as I work through paragraph by paragraph: choosing sentences and then deleting them, selecting words and then changing them, settling on an approach and then altering it. It’s just so damn hard to choose how to write about choices! What if I choose the wrong approach? What if the choice doesn’t make sense? What if my chosen topic, story line, syntax and ultimate conclusions are judged to be unimportant, inadequate, ineffective, boring or . . . all the above?!
 
But on second thought, what if my decision to write about choices resonates with someone? What if my choices make a difference? What if I worry less about what, how and why my choices affect others and just choose to write something that allows me to reflect and feel satisfied? 
 
Therein lies the challenge with choices. What are they, how many do we have and why do we have them? Do we make them for ourselves or for others? How can we possibly choose?
 
My latest television obsession (well, one of them) is the NBC comedy  The Good Place . (Read on at your own risk, as there are SPOILERS herein.) The show brings together a cast of characters that, upon their untimely deaths, arrive in “the good place” – a beautiful and perfect version of eternity. While the four main characters outwardly appear to be “good” people who deserve to be in the good place (with the exception of one character, played by Kristen Bell), they are in fact exceedingly troubled (and selfish) individuals who have made some questionable choices throughout their lives. 

Airplanes and Growing Pains: Choosing Love in Times of Change

by Audra
As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in gate C133 of the Newark Liberty International Airport after a deeply satisfying and nutritionally dense meal of Auntie Anne’s pretzel nuggets and a Jamba Juice smoothie (no, this post is not sponsored, and on the off chance my nutritionist is reading this, I’m sorry). I just spent five days visiting New York City for the first time ever, which was delightful and remarkable all on its own. But the additional bonus of this trip was the company I spent it in – a friend from the US who I met studying abroad two years ago in Montevideo, Uruguay.
 
Right before I left her apartment this morning (which I will miss, though I will not miss the fact that it’s a sixth-floor walk-up), something a little melancholy and bittersweet struck me. When is the next time we’ll get to see each other? When is the next time I’ll get to come to New York? What circumstances might compel either of us to return to Montevideo, a genial oddball of a city that shaped our lives so unexpectedly during college?
 
When I first started working at  proF  after I graduated, I was asked to write about the transition from college to “adulthood.” It never materialized, partly because I had no idea how to express the complicated (melancholy, bittersweet) tangle of emotions I was feeling at the time and am still figuring out how to grasp. For as excited as I was to graduate and embark on some sort of career that incorporated my passions (which, still looking), this part of my life has been marked by a pervasive sense of sadness. I am  so sad  that I’m not a student anymore. I’m sad that I don’t technically live with my parents. I’m sad that my life is bookended by 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., not “whenever the hell I want” to “whenever the hell I want.” And I’m sad that many of my friendships have fallen away, no longer bound by the axis of shared experience.

Substitutions: The Choices We Often Have to Make in Work and Life

By Suzette....
I love to cook. I try to make time at least once a week – usually on a Sunday – to make a meal completely from scratch. And when the weather turns cold, I almost always opt for my favorite soup: winter minestrone. This is a complicated recipe with a long list of ingredients. And making it is a real commitment as it requires about an hour’s worth of chopping – carrots, celery, onion, garlic, peeled butternut squash – not to mention the homemade chicken broth that was made the day before (from the bones of the roasted chicken that was eaten the week before). This soup is literally about a week in the making before it’s done.
 
On a recent occasion, I was partway into the final assembly of the soup when I realized I did not have a bay leaf, which is meant to simmer in the soup for about an hour before adding the final ingredients. I turned the kitchen pantry upside down, sure that a bay leaf was there, but to no avail. With no interest in running to the store for just one ingredient, I decided to Google substitutions: “What can be used in a recipe instead of a bay leaf?” The answer was quick and easy – it was thyme. And fortunately I had plenty.
 
As I added thyme to the winter soup, I couldn’t help but think about how many other things we substitute in our lives – out of necessity or not. Just like a recipe for a great meal requires various ingredients, the recipe for life and work has a long list of ingredients as well, and many of them can (and sometimes should) be substituted. In fact, whether we’re aware of them or not, we choose to make substitutions in life all the time.

Catching Rays: Sharing Work-Life Balance

By Kari
I really enjoy listening to women I admire share how they “do it all.” It helps calm my mind (and soul) to hear exactly what other moms are doing to succeed and strategize at the workplace and at home. Working in higher education, I have found it profoundly important to have a support system of mom-friends – those working similar hours in a positive environment, surrounded by college students who are motivated for scholastic success. Having these gal-pal connections has given me a place to turn to when I have questions about raising my child, what apps are good for learning or what foods are perfect for dinner. Regardless of the question or concern, even if it’s just a simple solution to a car pool situation, it is nice to hear from others how they manage all the work, stress and momentum of the quickly changing seasons.

Choosing YOU:
The Holiday Gift that Keeps on Giving

By Lauren
Will I “survive” the holidays this year? This is the question – in one form or another – on the minds of many right now. The holidays can be exciting for some, but an anxiety inducing nightmare for others. When you’re obligated to be with people who’ve known you your whole life but who may have no idea who you really are, the thought of putting in face time can be overwhelming. When it comes to holiday togetherness, I’ve heard so many people say, “but I have no choice.”
 
This is not true, though. We always have a choice. But with that choice comes tough questions. For example: how much discomfort are you willing to bear for peace of mind? Are you willing to tell your Mom that you won’t be home on Christmas Eve? Are you ready to tell your partner that you’d like to spend the holidays on vacation instead of at the in-laws? Is there a something major in your life that you’ve been waiting to bring up, and you just can’t take it any longer?

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