And There’s a Side Pocket for Snacks!
Some of you may know that I work in a reproductive health clinic. A large part of my job involves volunteer coordination, some marketing and outreach, working closely with our board of directors, and managing our social media. (I post cool stuff, you guys, check us out on Facebook and Twitter!) Additionally, I can be found handing out condoms on campuses and in area bars, hosting the occasional evening of Sex Trivia, and shouting things like “No Karolee, I DON’T know where your balls are!”
(Relax, it was just the fake set of testicles we have for educational purposes.)
Sometimes when I’m searching for interesting things to post online, my coworkers send me ideas. One such idea happened upon my email, and while it wasn’t quite right to share on our clinic page, I knew two ladies who HAD to see it.
August McLaughlin is an author, blogger, and founder of GirlBoner radio and a huge proponent of women’s sexual health and empowerment. Jenny Hansen works as a freelance writer, technical trainer, and blogger with a reoccurring little series called The Undie Chronicles. These were clearly the women who would appreciate the following tweet I sent.https://twitter.com/jesswitkins/status/560971120502120452
What I sent them was the link to this product…
You guys, for just $35 you can have your very own condom sleeping bag!!
Turns out, I was right. August and Jenny did appreciate my tweet.
Or for storing actual condoms, but I would use it for snacks!
The product includes a pillow and zip compartment for storing the actual sleeping bag, which can be rolled up just like a condom.
August and Jenny and I were making plans for our virtual sleepover that included birth control themed brownies and trivia.
Do you know it? I stumped these gals, though their guesses were admirable.
The correct answer is Little Richard’s “Tutti Fruiti.” The original lyrics read “Tutti fruiti, get booty.”
What do you think? Do you find the condom sleeping bag as amusing as we do?
Will you be joining us at the sleepover? It’s BYOS, bring your own snacks. 😉
Top 5 Reasons To Go To BlogHer
This weekend I had the immense pleasure of attending Blogher ’14.
I can’t even begin to decompress and describe the mind bomb that is this conference. 4,000 bloggers, most of them women, in scenic California, partying it up, networking, and honoring each others’ voices.
I arrived in San Jose, CA on Thursday afternoon and was greeted by cupcakes (made out of lentils???) in a beautiful city. I ask you, does it get any better than that?
Well yes, it does. Because there are keynotes. AMAZING, funny, gorgeous, talented, and freaking cool keynotes!
Who was on the list?
Jenny Lawson – who you may know as The Bloggess, and author of the hilarious memoir, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. I met her, and we talked about funny female authors, and we both just finished reading Nora Ephron for the first time, and she signed my book “Knock Knock, Mofo”. Isn’t she great?
Tig Notaro – the comedian best known for her stand up show discussing the humor and heft of having breast cancer. You can download free tracks of her stand up at her site here, including clips from her famous show, Live.
Arianna Huffington – as in the founder of The Huffington Post! Best speech of the keynotes; she was inspiring, charming, funny, and flawless. And you know what? I met her too, and I spoke to her in Greek! *seriously might faint just thinking how awesome that was*
Kerry Washington – the actor and activist. She shared behind the scenes stories from her show, Scandal, as well as why civil rights and philanthropy are so important.
Why go to BlogHer?
BlogHer is drastically different than writers conferences, in my opinion. When you go to a writers conference, there’s a pretty strict schedule of classes to attend. It’s more about learning, networking, and deciding about indie vs. traditional publishing routes. It’s awesome and definitely motivating, but different.
1. BlogHer is basically a giant party.
No I’m not kidding. That’s how it feels. Everyone is smiling. Everyone wants to meet people. Everyone wants to know what you blog about and which classes you attended, and which yogurt you picked in the Yoplait #tasteoff challenge!
Shocker! We picked Yoplait.
That’s me and the illustrious August McLaughlin
hanging out with a giant spoon. #GoodTimes
The Expo room with all the vendors is fun to bum around. And for those looking to write sponsored posts, the connections are yours for the making!
2. The Keynotes
See above. Then wipe the drool from your chin. I can’t wait to see who’s on board for next year’s keynotes.
3. Voices of the Year Community Keynote
If you want to hear the voices that are groundbreaking in the blogosphere, attend the VOTY celebration. I was in awe of these women. And I want to share them all with you. Here are the 12 Voices of the Year that spoke at the conference. (All were phenomenal, but I starred the ones that spoke the most to me personally.)
*Parri Sontag ~ Her Royal Thighness ~ Leisure Suits, Braces, and Beanies: My Life as a Dodgeball Target
Kristin Vanderhey Shaw ~ Two Cannoli ~ More Than Words
Tammy Soong ~ World’s Worst Moms ~ First Reason Not to Get a Tattoo: Your Mom Probably Has One
*A’driane Nieves ~ Butterfly Confessions ~ America’s Not Here For Us
*Meredith Bland ~ Pile of Babies ~ 9 Awesome Things About Having a Physical Disability
*Janelle Hanchett ~ Renegade Mothering ~ We Don’t Start With Needles in Our Arms
Phyllis Myung ~ The Napkin Hoarder ~ Sometimes I Still Wish I Was White
Ashley Garrett ~ Baddest Mother Ever ~ It’s All One Life
*August McLaughlin ~ August McLaughlin’s Blog ~ My Big Brindle Heart: A Love Story
*Grace Sandra ~ Grace Sandra’s Blog ~ Letting The Stupid Little Ni**er Go
Jenna Hatfield ~ Stop, Drop, & Blog ~ The Bridge That is Any Bridge
Lisa Page Rosenberg ~ Smacksy ~ The View From Here
4. Networking and Friendships
There are 4,000 bloggers in one building and you get to hang out with them!!! I actually ran out of business cards.
Also, meet bloggers you follow online.
After using Twitter as a ginger beacon homing device, I met up with Aussa Lorens from Hacker. Ninja. Hooker. Spy.
You know who else I Twitter stalked?
Hege and Cotille from StitchFix! Photo coming soon as it’s on Cotille’s phone, but the girls will be sharing their photos from BlogHer and all the StitchFix fashionistas at the conference using the hashtag #StitchFixInTheWild.
*double squeeee* I even went out to dinner with them! And we leisured on Santana Row, San Jose’s trendy hot spot for restaurants and clothing boutiques.
But best of all was meeting fellow blogger, longtime friend, and founder of #GirlBoner radio – August McLaughlin!
5. BlogHer is literally a giant party.
The end of the conference is a big, outdoor party. And Rev Run from Run DMC was the dj. #ILoveThe90s
Do you need any more reasons than that?
So, will I see you at BlogHer next year?
Beauty of a Woman Blogfest: 1 Billion Rising
Happy Beauty of a Woman Blogfest Day!
Today, women and men of all ages are posting around the country on the topics of women’s beauty and sexuality. It’s a celebration of what each individual connects with, be it their favorite body part, a life changing epiphany, a female mentor they have, their desires for the future, and more!
The blogfest’s creator is August McLaughlin, a writer, dear friend, and founder of the #GirlBoner movement – in which she blogs and hosts a radio show surrounding women’s sexuality.
She’s amazing. You can follow her on Twitter @AugstMcLaughlin or check out the conversations around Girl Boner or Beauty of a Woman at the following hashtags: #GirlBoner & #BOAW3.
You can read all of the posts in the Beauty of a Woman blogfest by clicking here and seeing the full list of participants on August’s blog! Guest bloggers and readers are eligible to win gift card prizes between $5 and $50!
For my part in the blogfest, I wanted to share with you a movement called 1 Billion Rising that I’ve been involved with. It stands for 1 Billion Rising for Justice, and it’s partnered with the V-Day organization. The V-Day organization was started by author and playwright, Eve Ensler, who wrote The Vagina Monologues. As a women’s studies minor in college, I took part in the annual Monolgues show to raise money for our local women’s shelter every Valentine’s weekend.
The goals of both V-Day and 1 Billion Rising are to end violence against women. Now, every February 14th, these organizations host events for victims of violence and those who support them to gather in public spaces and seek justice. The events include everything from meeting with city officials to the more emotional release of artwork and dance.
This year 1 Billion Rising is also hosting a challenge on Instagram. Using the hashtag #instaRISE, they’re calling for photos that demonstrate your inner activist – showing off the quotes, body parts, artwork, dance moves, friendships, and more so the movement keeps on rising!
It’s not to late to get involved!
Here is the #instaRISE photo challenge:
For this year’s Beauty of a Woman blogfest, I thought I’d share my #instaRISE photos because being a part of a national movement that celebrates women and stands up against violence is important – and beautiful – to me!
Day 1: Justice – Show off your inner activist! – We sold these t-shirts when I president of the Women’s Studies Student Association in college.
Day 2: JustSPEAK – Share a phrase that inspires you. – Adrienne Rich’s collection of poems, The Fact of a Doorframe, was my Bible for years.
Day 3: My Short Skirt (from The Vagina Monologues story, My Short Skirt)
Day 4: V-Day – Show off your Rebel Red
Day 5: V-Girls – Power Pink – A shade for every mood you’re in: sophisticated, flirty, sporty, confident, girlie?
Day 6: JustUs – Friends – Me with the cast of The Vagina Monologues, 2006 – I performed ‘The Vagina Workshop’ which is one of my favorite stories.
Day 7: JustMe – Selfie
Your turn! Get involved! Today’s post is JustBe – a shot of outdoors.
Share your own #instaRISE photos; I’d love to see them! You can connect with me on Instagram here or twitter: @jesswitkins.
And don’t forget to check out the other Beauty of a Woman blog posts!
What makes you feel beautiful?
What Makes a Woman REDHOT?
Hi Everyone! It’s another episode of The Redhots, and we have something a little different in store for you! First, I must sadly say I’m flying solo this month because Shhh – Marcia’s writing/sleeping/writing/sleeping! She’ll be back next month and we have a FABULOUS blog planned for you all!
So this month, I teamed up with the endearing August McLaughlin for her
Beauty of a Woman Blogfest!
Since I believe we all need a little REDHOTness in our lives, I challenged several of my favorite bloggers to share their thoughts on What makes a woman REDHOT? Here’s what they had to say!
I’ve spent a great deal of time in the fashion world and can’t tell you how many of the so-called hottest women around are tepid, sad or apathetic on the inside. We feel and appear hotter when we pursue our passions. When we do what we love and go after it with gusto, our hotness grows and radiates outward, making us feel and appear more attractive. We can’t diet, stylize, fake or buy our way into that kind of beauty—a great thing, in my opinion. – August McLaughlin
Independence. A woman who can stand on her own two feet AND stand her ground when the situation calls for it makes her Redhot in my mind. Or at least that’s what I tell myself since I tend to have a very outspoken and stubborn personality. 🙂 – Tiffany White
A RedHot woman has confidence in her talent, the courage to take risks, and compassion for others in need. – Jolyse Barnett
Then I asked the guys to way in! Cause wouldn’t every woman want to the ability to read a guy’s take on beauty?!
Redhot sexy is a gleam of clever intelligence in the eyes. It is an aura of self-confidence rippling out from a woman like voluminous silken robes. Physical appearance is but an accessory, accentuating the true Redhot woman’s inner luminescence. – Gene Lempp
There are many traits that make a woman redhot, but none of them have to do with physical beauty. There’s intelligence (smart is sexy!) and self-confidence and a great sense of humor. The ability to laugh at yourself and never take life too seriously. Practicing joie de vivre each and every day, without even thinking about it! Not surprisingly, these are all traits that my fiancee possesses – and she is the hottest woman I know! – Mark Petruska
To me a Redhot Woman is someone who knows her own mind, embraces her humanity/success and failure, practices compassion, and never ever wants to stop learning. I was reading something recently about the double standard women face when it comes to “natural beauty” e.g. look beautiful but make it look effortless, and it got me to thinking that beauty is really in the eye of the holder. A woman that can answer the question of what makes her beautiful in a meaningful way is as Redhot as it gets. Oh and weird, too. Weird people are great. – Joe Cardillo
In terms of looks, I think the fashion magazines have it wrong. It’s not being stick thin that makes anyone hot, but muscle tone (and I’m not thinking body builders here!). I know plenty of women who aren’t stick thin but are very beautiful because of this. The other thing is confidence. Confidence and the willingness to work at things (get your mind out of the gutter at this point) makes all the difference. –Nigel Blackwell
Thanks everyone for weighing in! What do I think?
I think a woman’s sexiest attribute is her ability to laugh! To laugh with one’s gut, to be ok with laughing at oneself, and to always, always laugh with one’s friends!
How would I sum up what makes a woman REDHOT and beautiful?
Women wish to be loved not because they are pretty, or good, or well bred, or graceful, or intelligent, But because they are themselves.
What are your thoughts? What do you think makes a woman REDHOT? Who’s the most beautiful woman you know?
And be sure to click over to August’s blog on Friday where she’ll have all the Beauty of a Woman blog posts linked up and ready to read!!! Thanks August for hosting this fun blog hop!
Books I’m Thankful For
Not too long ago, author August McLaughlin, shared on her blog the Books I’m Crazy Grateful For in honor of Thanksgiving. I loved her post and thought what a perfect way to pay an homage to the writers who’ve made a difference in her life. I encourage all of you to share the books you’re grateful too and post the link in the comments, or link back to my post or August’s, after all, I’m always hungry for more great reads! And Christmas is coming, I may need to add some titles to my wish list.
The Fact of a Doorframe by Adrienne Rich: If one could call a book one’s bible, then mine would be Adrienne Rich’s The Fact of a Doorframe, a collection of her poetry from 1950 – 2001. On a trip with a friend’s family to New York, we perused the NYU campus on a tour since he’d applied. I meandered through the stacks of books in the bookstore and happened upon this anthology. If you’ve never read a Rich poem, you’re missing out. She is everything beauty and savage combined, if you ask me. She’s a herald for civil rights, namely women’s rights, gay and lesbian rights, and Jewish rights. She put a face and reality to the hardships of being a mother in her non-fiction book Of Woman Born, which I wrote a semester-long paper on. In fact, over the course of my college career, I believe I wrote no less than 10 papers on either Rich’s life or dissected her literary works. I also filled a journal with my own poetry that was very clearly imitation in style of Rich’s. I recall in an interview she said she was not afraid to write about the “monstrous,” I hope one day I may say the same.
The Cider House Rules by John Irving: Goodreads compares John Irving as America’s Charles Dickens! That’s big hype, but it’s a credit I may agree with. I haven’t read enough Irving to speak of all his works, but this novel was one that deeply moved me. For those of you familiar with the film, The Cider House Rules, is the story of a doctor, Wilbur Larch, who runs an orphanage and also practices abortion if the couple decides it’s best. The story follows one of the orphans in particular, Homer Wells, who is educated by Larch on the practices of gynecology. But Homer leaves it all behind to explore the world and winds up working on an apple orchard, a peculiar place where his services just may be needed after all. I grew up in a Catholic household and attended Catholic school where we were forced to complete catechism-noted final papers every fall on all topics such as abortion, suicide, and euthanasia. I won first place for a paper I wrote about abortion. Here’s the thing though, we were not allowed to write any opinion, we could only use the Bible and the Catechism as our reference books. Reading The Cider House Rules years later in High School gave me the perspective of someone else, and transformed my views to be open-minded about the decisions someone makes regarding their body. This is not a book that is solely pro-life or pro-choice, but it poses both sides in a way for the reader to (I hope) understand where each comes from. And for those that have seen the film, it’s a really interesting adaptation with new characters in the book that were combined into one person in the film. I highly recommend this one!
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin: You should be seeing a commonality between Rubin’s title and this blog. The Happiness Project is a monthly quest to change the way you both live and perceive the world around you, with the intention of finding more happiness. While I will warn the reader, Rubin’s book is a condensed version of the actual work she did over the course of the year, so sometimes her seemingly simply advice fails to grasp the reality of the life change you may be making, it is still a book that will get you thinking and making positive changes in your life to be more happy. Biggest change I made after reading this book, well folks, I started this blog.
The Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick: Of course The Mayflower would make my list! Reading about the historical voyage and first fifty years of the Mayflower passengers was a wonderful view into the past of my ancestors. I appreciate the research that Philbrick did because he truly tries to tell all sides of the story. No group is in the utmost right or wrong, and that period of fifty years was a series of alliances, friendships, and wars. I have great respect for all the individuals who fought so hard to make a new life for themselves.
What are the books you’re most grateful for?
Guilty Good Reading: A Mash-up of Awesome
Happy late Thanksgiving everyone! Getting my post up a bit later today since I just finished working a 12 1/2 hour day in retail. *phew* Guilty Pleasure Friday will be back again in two weeks, but for now, I leave you with my favorite reads from the prior week!
Alica McKenna Johnson guest blogged at Myndi Shafer’s with great writing advice about how to add more diversity to your writing. She’s honest and open about the tips she uses to write characters from different countries and ethnicities. Check out her guest post Don’t Bleach and Iron Your Work.
Jillian, a literary student who blogs at A Room of One’s Own, informed me of The 2012 To Be Read Pile Challenge! For all you bookworms with that evergrowing list of books to get to, take this challenge along with me and see yourself accomplish some great books you’ve never given yourself the time to get through. The only real catch is they need to be at least a year old in publication. I’ll be posting my list and hope you’ll share your own!
Thanksgiving is still in season and August McLaughlin shared the Books I’m Crazy Grateful For and sparked a fun conversation in her comments. Share your own books that shaped your life and made you grateful you’d read them!
Tim L. O’Brien posted an awesome blog about Why Books are Important. This is part three in his series and focuses on getting kids to read. He’s got smart advice and an awesome link to a site where you can check out the perfect titles for your kid of any age to read and have them glued to the page rather than to the screen.
If you don’t regularly follow the Life List Club blog hop every other friday, you missed an inspiring post by fellow co-founder, Marcia Richards all about long distance swimmer Diana Nyad. She’s a courageous woman who will inspire us all to do our own Xtreme Dream challenges. So after you’ve read Marcia’s post, check out Diana’s own blog about her recovery process from her attempted swim from Cuba to the Florida Keys after being attacked by box jellyfish.
What’s in a Name…:
If you haven’t been following Nina Badzin’s baby naming debacles, you’ve been missing out. She recaps the long nine month journey and also reveals her newest addition’s long awaited, and well thought out, name in Finally, His Name.
Because Humor is Necessary During the Holidays:
I love Sara Grambusch’s blog. She’s got the spunky and self-deprecating humor that I adore in a person, and she also provides delicious healthy recipes. In this post, Household Things I Do Wrong, she recounts the number of times she’s unsuccessfully mastered the art of housework. Let’s all pray she and I never become roommates; angels will weep for society.
The Good Greatsby will have you stitches with his headlines: Starbucks Announces: Come for Joe not John. Must read for coffee drinkers and users of public bathrooms everywhere!
Jenny Hansen serves up More Cowbell when she asks Is Adulthood Stealing Some of Your “Grooviness?” Dance parties are a known reaction to Jenny’s posts; you’ve been warned.
Charles Gulotta relives his edible memoirs in his entertaining tale toward intelligence; he calls it Chew on This.
Enjoy your weekend! See you all again Monday!