How Do You Defy Expectations

When my super cool daughter Em, was in sixth or seventh grade she was in the newspaper for doing this logrolling day with Timber Tina at the Great Maine Lumberjack Show.

This place is where she studied logrolling all summer and is where she battled seven boys, trying to knock them off logs by fancy footwork and all that. Timber Tina (she was on Survivor for one show and then went back for a reunion show, too and is amaze-balls)is a professional world-class lumber jill. The log rolling day was in honor of her son Charlie, this absolutely amazing guy who died that same summer. He was really young, still in his teens.

The picture was hilarious because of the boys in the background staring after she’s knocked off one of their own.

That night the issue came out, Em plopped on her bed, nuzzled under the covers and said, “I can’t believe I’m in the paper.”

I smiled. “It’s great. You should be proud.”

She hugged her stuffed kitty (appropriately named Kitty Kitty) to her chest. “I bet I’m the only cheerleading logroller.”

“At least in Ellsworth, Maine,” I added. “And don’t forget you’re also a stunt girl.”

She as named Stunt Girl at a Stunt Camp in California. It’s this big stunt camp honor. The stunt camp was all about jumping off buildings and stuff. All of this mattered because when people looked at Em, they didn’t think Brave Girl or Logrolling Girl or Stunt Girl. They tended to think Smart Girl, Brilliant Girl, Very Polite Girl, Artistic Girl, Pretty Girl.

“Aren’t you going to tell me I defy stereotypes?” she asked that night, holding out her arms for a hug.

I hugged her back. “You already know.”

Why This Matters And Isn’t Just A Braggy Mom Post

And as I remember all this, thanks to some pretty good written records, I’m sort of struck by how brave Em has always been to defy the expectations of what people think small, brainy, artistic girls are going to be doing. She was a cheerleader and a log roller. She jumped off buildings. She got into Harvard and Dartmouth all on her own. No mommys and daddys buying buildings here folks. She was a field artillery officer in the Army. She studied Krav Maga in Israel, volunteered in Costa Rica, studied film for a tiny bit in high school in New York all by herself. All these random things. How cool is that?

It’s pretty damn cool.

Somehow Em usually never lets other people’s expectations define her.

I wish that we could all be that brave, that we could have the opportunity and empowerment to be that brave, that we could all become who we want to become, define ourselves instead of others or society defining us. How shiny the world would be then, wouldn’t it?

A LOT OF IT COMES FROM YOUR FAMILY

In my family, my sister was the good one. Another sibling was the handsome, successful one. I was the quirky smart one. Another sibling was the angry one.

Those labels are who we were expected to be.

But the thing is that my sister? She’s smart. She’s successful.

That angry sibling? He did some amazing things before he died. Things that make him stunningly successful in my eyes.

And I’m quirky, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the smartest of us.

But those are the expectations, the roles, the labels and those scripts our family’s right for us (both good and bad) can really stick.

How Do You Defy Expectations

Think of who you want to be.

Think of what you want to try.

Think of why you haven’t yet.

If it isn’t about money and resources and you can, give whatever it is a try. Do the thing that people don’t expect you to do (Try not to go to jail though. Legal things are usually a better choice.) and see how it feels. See how you feel.

Do people expect you to be quiet? To be loud? Do they expect you to be an activist? A peace-maker? Think of how you can be the opposite of expectations if you feel like those expectations are holding you back. The first step is to imagine being what it is that YOU want to be, not what your teachers, family, friends, coworkers, employees, bosses want you to be. YOU.

Is there something you always wanted to do, to be, and people scoffed. Show them how wrong they are. Blow their minds. Blow your own mind, too.

Continue reading “How Do You Defy Expectations”

Some Men Aren’t Meant to Wear Scarves, So Be Your Own Style and Don’t Pretend to Be Tom Cruise Or Bieber

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Some Men Aren't Meant to Wear Scarves, So Be Your Own Style and Don't Pretend to Be Tom Cruise Or Bieber
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Normally we talk about writing somehow, right? Because we’re a writing podcast.

But we aren’t this week.

This week, we’re talking about fashion advice for men because Carrie saw a post on The Art of Manliness that was “101 Style Tips for Men.”

First off, let’s just give a shout out that there’s a website called The Art of Manliness. That is a brilliant name.

Carrie’s favorite tip was this one:

27. Always dress like you might decide to drop by a restaurant or nightclub with a dress code.

Because you might. And even if you don’t, you might as well look like a guy who’s got plans.

The Art of Manliness

All the advice reminded us of those old 1980s, 1990s talk shows where the women would get their husbands make-overs in a super hetero-normative way and these guys would come out with this total, “Oh my gosh, I’m hot” saunter.” Or else they’d try to hide.

But it also makes us think about our fixation on fashion and appearance and buying things. If you look at that list it requires buying a lot of things. That requires money. And that’s a little frustrating.

How about “101 Feel Good Tips for Men” that are about being good people or something? How about if we spend a little more time our souls and our attitudes and our civics instead of worrying about never wearing graphic t-shirts?

Oh, wait. You can’t make money off that can you?

Dog Tip for Life

Wag your tail. That’s all the style you need.

Writing Tip of the Pod

Style isn’t something you want to copy. Style in writing is voice. And your voice? It shouldn’t be determined by a list of 101 tips on what to think and how to write and who to be. It shouldn’t be about copying other people. It should be all you. Your voice.

Just like you shouldn’t go around trying to pretend to be Tom Cruise or Bieber or Idris Elba or Russell Wong and dressing like them, you shouldn’t go around writing like J.K. Rowling or James Patterson or Naomi Shihab Nye.

Be you.

Be your own style.

And if that puts you on a How Not to Dress or How Not to Write list? Who cares.

SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

My next book, IN THE WOODS, appears in July with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can preorder this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


Art News

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site.

Carrie Jones Art for Sale