Words from a Noble Woman – Thoughts on Home and Hearth

As I present these meditations from our mysterious M.A., first talked about here, I find myself in a bit of a quandary. There are times she seems to contradict herself.

For instance, in the passages below, you’ll see how she first tells herself to not take her home too seriously, then in the second she says never neglect it. How do we reconcile these thoughts?

I think it’s important we realize that by all appearances, they are her private reflections. It’s natural that her thoughts drift from one idea to the next, first believing one thing, then another. It is, after all, how we grow as thinking individuals. Always open to new ideas. (Would that all people were this flexible, eh?)

Also, I can’t help but notice M.A.’s fondness for the semicolon. I counted up to four uses in one page alone! To own the truth, I grew faint. Did she use them correctly? Hell if I know, and I’ve been to college. (Perhaps, at least in this, Kurt Vonnegut was mistaken.)

But enough with our rambling preamble. Let us begin. Here are two more of M.A.’s entries (plus a recipe!) that I managed to decipher from her atrocious handwriting:

Continue reading “Words from a Noble Woman – Thoughts on Home and Hearth”

Thoughts From a Noble Woman: M.A.’s First Entries

As I mentioned in last week’s post, I’ve been hard at work deciphering the scribblings of our mysterious M.A., and I’m happy to report I have a few entries to present today.

I’m giving you the first two I found, therefore I’m calling them the First Two Entries. (Has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?)

Please keep in mind nothing was dated, so let’s not get too concerned whether they were actually M.A.’s first writings, hmm?

In the same way, don’t worry about whether I’m making all this up or not. There’s much to be said for losing yourself in story.

There are far worse places you could find yourself.

Continue reading “Thoughts From a Noble Woman: M.A.’s First Entries”

Recent Discovery: the Diary of a Noble Woman

In a previous post, I lamented the lack of philosophical writings for women. A collection of ideas where the chief goal was to empower, embolden, and other em-words like that there.

But was it true? Did we really lack such writings, or was I falling into a “poor me” mentality, as satisfying as it is lazy? I had to find out.

My trip to the library produced mixed results. The reading materials were plentiful and the cold brew coffee sold in their cafe (only $3.95) was lovely. The problem, as I saw it, was that the writings focused too much on what was wrong with women. They came from a premise that we were broken. Battered down and weakened.

After two hours of disheartening research, I bought another cold brew and headed home.

That was when my trip took an interesting turn. Continue reading “Recent Discovery: the Diary of a Noble Woman”

On Philosophy, Pronouns, and Stoic Women

Last week in an article in the New York Times, columnist Laura Collins Hughes referred to a recent performance of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.

No, not that performance. The one Hughes spoke of was at an all-girls high school. Not only were all the roles played by girls, the word “man” was changed to “girl” throughout the script.

Hughes wrote:

“Thou art the ruins of the noblest girl that ever lived in the tide of times,” Mark Antony said over the dead body of Caesar, and I thought: When do we ever describe girls as noble? When, in the stories we tell, do we ever take them that seriously?

–from “When Women Won’t Accept Theatrical Manspreading
by Laura Collins-Hughes, the New York Times, July 17, 2017

To which I say, “Right?!”

It started me thinking – or rather, it returned me to thinking, as it’s not my first time – how powerful language can be, especially the words we choose to describe ourselves.

I’ve been doing some reading into Stoicism (because I’m weird like that), partly because it reminds me of my dad. He was a calm, quiet Norwegian. A perfect fit for Stoicism.

But also… well, have you ever read something and thought to yourself, “Yes! This, right here! This is meeee!” (Squealed in a most stoic fashion, I assure you.)

You find out you’re not a weirdo after all. Someone — okay, someone in ancient times, but still, it’s someone — thinks the way you do. Only smarter and with a better vocabulary.

Stoicism is like that for me. But there’s one little problem: it’s a wee bit masculine. Oh hell, it’s all the way masculine. I mean, they were all men.

(Okay, fine. I realize there were some female Stoics, but we know very little about them, and they don’t appear to have written anything. Not so much as a grocery list.)

So after hearing of the plucky girls doing Shakespeare, I started changing the language of what I was reading.

For instance:

The bravest sight in the world is to see a great man struggling against adversity.
― Seneca

becomes:

The bravest sight in the world is to see a great woman struggling against adversity.  ― Seneca, feminized

Granted, it’s a small change. Just one word. But that one word not only makes it more relevant to me, it’s done something more.

It got me to thinking: Maybe there are other women, maybe lots of women, who would like these Stoic thoughts too.

To tell the truth, I never felt I had much in common with other women. It wasn’t a gender issue, but more a mental one. I wasn’t as interested in the things they were (or what I thought they were – shopping, makeup, diets, fashion), which may explain why I always had more male friends than female.

But what if that was based on misplaced thinking?

Women are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them. — Epictetus, feminized

Consider the basic Stoic principles of humility, self-control, equality, justice — are those strictly masculine ideals? Of course not. Do all women practice them? No, but then neither do all men. That’s why we call them ideals. (Also, did you notice how christian they sound? Again, ideally speaking.)

Okay, so what’s the big deal, you say. Just read “man” as humankind. If these ideas aren’t exclusively male, then neither should they be exclusively female.

To which I say, Geez fella, lighten up! After several centuries of language going your way, you can’t give us a few quotes of our own?

Because just as it is for an all-girl Julius Caesar, changing the pronouns makes the quotes more meaningful to the average female.

She who lives in harmony with herself lives in harmony with the universe.
— Marcus Aurelius, feminized

A nice concept, isn’t it? A woman living in harmony with herself?

Imagine if young women were hearing messages like that, rather than “Jeans that Make Your Butt Look Great!” (from Seventeen)

Of course, I realize we’re not in the habit of quoting philosophy to our kids, either to our daughters or our sons. That’s not my point.

(Though if you do quote philosophy to your kids, I want you to know how much I love you.)

My point is… well, I’m not sure what my point is. Let’s say it’s my wish. I wish we had a Stoic equivalent for women. Because Stoicism is far more than tweetable quotes, it’s a way of life.

I wish there had been a female Marcus Aurelius who wrote down all her thoughts on how to live a good and honorable life. Maybe Marcus had a second cousin, twice removed.

Let’s call her Marcia. Marcia Aurelius.

But what’s the use of wishing? (Wishing is not a Stoic-approved practice.) Maybe we don’t have ancient philosophies to bolster us up. That doesn’t mean we can’t make use of them, or alter them if need be.

Or — hey, how ’bout this? — what if we wrote our own Meditations?

One day, someone will find a wise woman’s diary — your diary — filled with ideas, admonitions, private reflections; Empowering words on how to be a good, noble woman.

I really wish we had something like that. Tell ya what – I’ll work on mine if you work on yours.

Deal?

Waste no more time arguing about what a good woman should be. Be one. — Marcus Aurelius, feminized

What’s the Harm in Being Happy?

Young man dancingSo you believe there is no meaning to life, everything is random and there is no purpose.

What’s the harm if, just for today…

You marvel at the miracle of life?
You give thanks for each passing breath.

What’s the harm if, just for today… Continue reading “What’s the Harm in Being Happy?”

The Election is Over; It’s Time for Philosophy and Cookies

Beings how I scheduled this post ahead of time, I have no idea how the election turned out. Therefore, I shall make a prediction.

I predict,

  • The sun rose today
  • The birds sang
  • The neighbor’s dog pooped in my yard

statue of philosopher eating a cookieOne more thing that’s fairly safe to predict: No matter who won, the other side is plenty unhappy about it.

It’s times like these when we need to step back, seek wisdom from our philosophers, and eat cookies.

(Not many people know this, but philosophers regularly ate cookies. If they look morose, it’s because someone over baked them.)

So whether your candidate won or lost, consider these philosophical musings, as well as a cookie recipe that promises world peace. (No, really!)

Continue reading “The Election is Over; It’s Time for Philosophy and Cookies”

Welcome to My Existential Crisis, Episode 5

In Which Our Alter Egos Discuss Life’s Purpose, Kierkekaard, and Peach Cobbler

If you missed our previous episode, click here.

Reporter: Hello everyone. Thank you for giving us another chance today. I know we thoughtfulhaven’t made the best impression the last few times.

Editor: Speak for yourself.

Reporter: What? You think you make a good impression? Don’t make me laugh.

Editor: I’m the only one who makes sense, so yes, I always make a good impression.

Reporter: (sighs) Maybe we should just start our discussion. And when we’re done, we can eat the Peach Cobbler I made. Is that all right with you?

Editor: Yes. I searched the room so I’m satisfied.

Reporter: What do you mean you ‘searched the room’?

Continue reading “Welcome to My Existential Crisis, Episode 5”

Welcome to My Existential Crisis – Episode 3

In which our alter egos discuss philosophy, psychology, and our need for chocolate cake.

thoughtfulReporter: Hello everyone! So glad you could join us today. After our last episode — well, let’s be honest. That didn’t turn out as well as I hoped. I really thought a bit of psychotherapy was all we needed, but then we wound up–

Editor: Hey! Would you stop jabbering over there for one freakin’ minute and get her off me?!

Reporter: Uh… excuse me, folks… Now, Writer-self, you have your own chair. You don’t need to sit in Editor’s lap. Continue reading “Welcome to My Existential Crisis – Episode 3”

The Tree of Life

Here’s a little known fact about me: Early in my college career, I considered majoring in Philosophy. I was kind of a strange, studious sort in those days, prone to thinking deep, somewhat morose thoughts.

Anyway, better sense took hold of me and I decided that earning a living might be more fun.

All this is to explain why I might, from time to time, delve into deeper, more weighty topics.

Such as, have you ever considered the Mesquite tree and how it relates to our human condition, the pressures society places on us, the struggles in our day-to-day lives, and our desire to break free from our bondage and choose a life of purpose and meaning?

 

No?

Well. Good thing I’m here.

Continue reading “The Tree of Life”