30 March 2012

the sun is shining and the birds are beckoning

It seems to early but spring is filling the earth around me. Time is being spent out doors. Walks (multiple in one day) and skin turning pink, welcoming the warmth of the sun back.

A year ago Millie was a wee babe, newly hatched and probably screaming her head off. It was a hard time for us. Not that we didn't love having her here. She brought much joy. But my body was a bit of a wreck, suffering the after effects of a difficult pregnancy and a c-section. I just wasn't myself (emotionally, mentally, or physically) and it's hard not to be yourself. But babies love you no matter who you are. So we huddled inside, trying desperately to figure one another out.

Though no one wants to hear of the struggles I can't seem to bring myself to pass over them. They were hard and they were real. And they have shaped us: Millie and me. Things are far from perfect now but I see my life so differently now. Pushing through the difficult makes the good taste oh so sweet.

I love that Millie can crawl around, touch flowers and trees for the first time. Timidly she crawls up to the bush she never noticed before. She reaches out, touching it ever so soft, pulling her hand back quickly. Then she looks up at me filled with joy and excitement and curiosity. Everything is so new and enticing (and usually ends up in her mouth).

I love that I can work in the yard. As Millie takes her nap I put on my holey and ever worn converse, grab the shovel and rake, put all the seeds and bulbs into a bucket and head out. Feeling my body move, my muscles strain as I tame the earth that has sprouted weeds and fill it with wildflowers and begonias and poppies. The satisfaction of my bare fingers in the earth and hope of new growth is invigorating. And after a day of sun on my face and fresh air in my lungs, I feel content.

I love and appreciate the growth I see in little Miss Millie. She stacks her toys and food in little piles. She has a silly giggle when she stands on wobbly legs, trying to decide if she dares to walk. She squeals and laughs at most anything and cuddles us when her eyes begin to droop at the end of a long day.

I love being married to someone who listens and cares. He so willing adapts and changes to our needs as a family and a couple. He even asks me what we did at exercise group, though I know it can't be that interesting.

I don't want to forget all the bad. It is there and has been written on my heart. It is apart of who I am. It makes me love all the good so much more.

29 March 2012


So sorry that we have been absent for the last couple of days. I, Allison, am getting ready to release my Winter War EP (I'm a musician, and this is my baby!), so I've been hustling about with that. And Alicia has been hustling about with her own baby.

Instead of the written post that you surely deserve, I'd like to present you with the following: the bookshelf that I single handedly assembled last night.

And we'll just ignore how silly I looked trying to put it together. Hint: at one point, I was lying on the ground parallel to one of the planks, with my knees and arms stretched out trying to pull two pieces together. That doesn't make sense, but the point is, I got the job done. And I am one proud woman!


My entire body hurts, but it was worth it.

27 March 2012

Interview: Fat-Activist Jenn Leyva

I'm a huge proponent of modesty. I prefer baggy over tight, no midriff over exposed, long jeans over daisy dukes. I believe that the human body is sacred, and should be treated as such.

And even more so, modesty hides my belly pooch. Win-win.

But when I found out that an old friend of mine, Jenn Leyva, had become quite a prominent "fat activist," primarily through her blog "Fat and the Ivy," but also in outlets like the Huffington Post, I decided that honesty may override modesty in this case. Maybe I should be honest with my belly pooch and love it for what it is! (I'm cringing at the thought. Obviously I'm not there yet).

Friends, brace yourselves. Today we will be talking about our bodies.

photo by liz naiden
I recently sat down with Jenn to ask her some questions about her work as a "fat activist." Here is what she had to say:

Interview after the jump:

26 March 2012

DV: Developing a Safety Plan

I think a lot of domestic violence victims are afraid to come forth because they don't want to be forced to leave their home, make all of those drastic changes, and have to face that danger of leaving the situation. But that's not the way that at least I was trained.

You cannot force a victim to leave such a violent situation, but you can give them the tools needed to make that decision when the time is right, on his/her own time. And that's what a safety plan is.

Here are two pieces from a handout I received while receiving my domestic violence counselor certification:

Again, please, if you are a victim, know that it is not your fault, and that there is help.

Previous posts on domestic violence here.

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE(4673)

25 March 2012

We're on Facebook now! 
Click here to join the 
We Are Women page!

24 March 2012

A Family Tree

A couple weeks ago, I won a giveaway on a blog, which was basically the most exciting moment of my life. But beyond that, the product I won was mesmerizingly beautiful, so it was even more exciting. I present to you, my family tree:

It has my brother and I, my parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great grandparents. I love it so much, as does my entire family. We are finding a frame for it now, and it will hang in my family's new cabin in the mountains to make it more of a home.

One of the best things about the family tree, though, is it's completely customizable. I did five generations, but you can do as many as you want. You can have as few as 7 names, and as many as 45 names (maybe even more!). You tell Wendy what you want, and she has the magic to make it happen.

Check out Stem & Leaf's Etsy page for more info!

In a related note: if you have never looked into your family history before, I highly encourage you to start. You will be addicted. I love it. And to get you started, simply google image search "pedigree chart." One step further? Check out the largest free genealogical search, FamilySearch.

23 March 2012


You probably know this already, but I'm a musician. I used to play in a folk band a few years ago, and now I've taken up music again as a solo artist. Many of you also probably know that I have suffered from severe depression. One of my resolutions this year was to be more honest about that.* Whereas before I would seamlessly hide behind a mask of happiness and wellness, I am telling you straight: I have struggled with depression, I still struggle with depression, and even though you can't always see it, it's there. And I'm not the only one who suffers this way.

Luckily, something productive sometimes results from these bouts of depression. Usually for me, that something is in the form of music.

There are lyrics from this compilation of songs that capture exactly where I was in my darkest moments, and in some cases, where I still am.

Can you feel the winter war? Broken branches, shattered core.
Will you love me though the scars echo willows?

But as the lyrics turned to songs, and the songs turned to recordings with some of my favorite people at my side, I felt the beauty surface from those broken branches, that shattered core.

And then as my dear brother took a sort of "press photo" for me, he captured it perfectly. He captured those feelings, but also the quiet beauty of healing.

I will never be completely rid of depression, but as I pursue those things that bring me even the slightest bit of comfort, I can find healing.

*Other posts include this and this.

21 March 2012

The Danger of Gender Stereotypes

I consider myself a feminist, but only in the sense that men and women are equal. I fully acknowledge that men and women are different-- physically and mentally-- and therefore are free to fulfill different roles in the world. Or the same roles. Whatever works best for the individual. But men and women should be treated as equals.

For that reason, while this is a women-centered blog, I'd like to take a moment to address gender stereotypes, particularly in the case of males.

Did you know that 1 in 5 men will be victims of sexual assault in their lifetime*? And yet, only 4% of sexual assault victims who receive a forensic exam from a local San Diego hospital are male. Additionally, at a local Naval base, only 15% of sexual assault victims who come forth are male. Where are the others?

Sexual assault can cause physical and/or psychological harm, regardless of the gender of the victim. And every victim has the right to get help. If you, or someone you know, is the victim of such abuse, you have the right to heal.

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE(4673)

19 March 2012

Attn: Fellow Bloggers!

I posted this on my personal blog, but I wanted to post it here, too. I think that all of my projects are connected, including my music. And I think that this CD offers a different outlet for similar things I share on the We Are Women blog. So take a look, and do let me know if you want to become involved:

Dear friends,

I am ecstatic to announce that my new CD, Winter War, will be available on Friday, March 30 (digital) and Friday, April 6 (physical disc). 

In anticipation of it's release, I would like to give my fellow bloggers an opportunity to review the CD on their blogs (even if you just have 3 readers, there is no limit). In this case you will receive a digital copy of the CD for free ahead of its release, along with the album art and lyrics. You are welcome to review the CD, ask me questions about it, post a sample Mp3 to your blog, anything. Simply e-mail me at allisonabarnes@gmail.com and I will hook you up!

I am so proud of this CD. There are songs on here that go back to early 2009. There are songs written in the midst of broken hearts and in the deepest bouts of depression. And to put it all together, I have collaborated with some of my favorite artists to bring it to you. I love it so much, and I hope you do, too.

For more information on the Winter War EP, click here!

Love, Allison

women in art

I always seem to be drawn into art that features women. I am not even sure what it is that pulls me so completely to the painting but I know when I am walking through an exhibit, the stories told through the paintings are enchanting.

What are some of your favorite pieces of art featuring women?

For our Utah readers:

More info here.

16 March 2012


[hard day in 2010, picture drawn by sweet cousin ellisa to cheer me up]
I've been a little "off" this week. I've been self-conscious, needy, emotional. Even tiny problems seem monumental. I've been wading around in this thick sludge of helplessness.

Last night I finally acknowledged the fact that something wasn't right. Then I realized that just three weeks earlier, I had thrown away my beloved container of birth control pills, swearing never to go back. And now, for the first time in years, I am experiencing the emotional effects of premenstrual syndrome, or PMS.

I started taking birth control in 2009. It was glorious. The particular prescription I had allowed me to only experience a period once every three months. Whereas previously, I had mentally and emotionally not felt like myself for literally half of every month, I now only briefly experienced any of those symptoms. Menstruating was a breeze. I was myself again, not just two weeks out of every month, but nearly 4 weeks every month, practically 12 months every year. It was like re-uniting with an old friend, and she was fantastic!

I don't know if it was the longing for normalcy (yes, even in the normalcy of having a period once every month), or a growing cockiness of being able to handle my emotions relatively well, but I decided to get off of the birth control. One less expense, one less chemical. And what's the worse that could happen?

Blog readers, there is so much that I wanted to tell you all week. Information from my domestic violence counselor training classes, sentiments about the wonderful people around me, pictures of my day-to-day excursions. But for the life of me, I couldn't get on here and write. I contemplated it a couple times, but passed the opportunity by every time. How could I tell you how I felt if I couldn't even figure out myself how I felt?

Last night, I told my brother I was scared. My period has shown no physical signs of arriving, but already my heart and mind are gone. He lovingly assured me that I would be okay, then brought his exercise bike out to the living room for me to use. Hormone regulation through physical exercise. He's a smart guy.

So this morning I hopped on the bike for a few minutes, stretched a bit, did some crunches, etc. Then I couldn't decide what to eat for breakfast, so I had a Diet Coke. Baby steps, folks. Baby steps. (Also, do as I say, not as I do). I love being a woman, but goodness, sometimes womanhood is a beast.

How do you handle out of control hormones? Because really, I need help.

15 March 2012

alice and lucy

I think until recently I have spent most of my life very selfishly. So concerned with being able to do what I wanted, finding out what I needed out of life, wanting to be happy for me. College was no exception. In fact, my selfishness was fed by living on my own, always working and studying. I did good things with my time but I did it mainly for the benefit of myself.

In a class I took, we were discussing the women’s suffrage movement. We read and talked and in the end, watched a film. It was heart-wrenching and inspiring. I learned how they suffered, sacrificed, and endured; how many years, generations fought for the right to have a say in the world. At the end, my professor posed a question:

What in your life is worth all of this sacrifice?
What would you give everything for?

The images of Alice Paul and Lucy Burns and the other women who had fought so hard for something they believed in with their whole hearts lingered in my mind. I could not stop thinking of those questions that my professor had asked. What meant enough to me that I would go to prison, refusing to eat, and then being force fed just to be heard? To stand up for what I believed and felt?

I knew that I cared a great deal about women and women’s rights but would I give everything for that? Of course my family and good friends were on that list of who/what I would sacrifice for but was that all? Could that really be all I truly cared for?

These questions did not leave me for a long time. I spent a great deal of time rereading and rewatching, studying and thinking about Alice and Lucy and what they did. It was then that I truly realized the things that mattered most to me. My family, friends, my faith and my relationship to God. Eventually I would put all my personal goals and aspirations on hold for a year and a half, leave my family, friends, my style, music, and hobbies to go to a different country, learn a new language, and share the things that I hold most dear with people who didn’t always treat me kindly.

It was the first true sacrifice I had ever made. It was the first time I had truly been unselfish. And it was the first time I felt I could become a person who could actually have a positive impact on the world around me.

Those women did great deeds in pushing the suffrage movement along. But their contribution goes much deeper. They help us become good, contributing citizens. They help us find what really matters to us. They help shape us.

In honor of Women's History Month, tell us: who are the women who have helped shape you?

(Left-Lucy Burns and Right-Alice Paul)

14 March 2012

women's history month

Did you know it is Women’s History month? March always is and I always forget. This year, I did not forget. I remembered and then life got busy and I forgot what I had remembered. Silly me.

Isn’t it fantastic that there is a month that is dedicated to looking at the women who have influenced us as a society and as individuals? There are so many women, well-known and obscure, that have shaped each of us. It makes me proud of my heritage and of my womanhood.

For book club we are reading I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. I am so amazed and impressed with women like Dr. Angelou who have made their place in a world that treated them so terribly. She has used her talents of writing to make a positive contribution to this world. While trying to learn more about her, I came across this video where she spoke of the power of the words that we speak and hear and accept. Until now I have known so little about this striking and remarkable woman and I am so happy to be getting to know her a little bit. (You can see some other great videos of her here and here.)

I think too often we find ourselves surrounded by women in society and culture that have forgotten their divinity and the power of influence they hold. But there are so many that have not forgotten and have used their experiences and talents and passions for good.

Who are the women that have shaped you?

08 March 2012


She stood in the storm
and when the wind
did not blow her way,
she adjusted her sails.

~Elizabeth Edwards

(Happy International Women's Day! We love you all and are grateful for the inspiration of the strong, loving women around us!)

Vintage YWCA Posters

07 March 2012

End the Word:

I love this initiative to end the use of the word "retard." It has become so common in our society to use the term in a derogative manner, and it's not okay. To lend your support, simply sign the pledge, then "spread the word to end the word."

The Regret.

by gary barnes
Maybe it's the fact that I'm a family science major, or that I'm attending a domestic violence counselor training program this month, or that I've been dating a bit. But relationships have been on my mind. Specifically, the matter of regrets.

I haven't always been the best girlfriend ever. I mean, nothing huge: I may have fibbed to a guy once to get out of the inevitable first kiss, and then that one time I dated my ex-boyfriend's roommate. Whoops.

But despite everything, my one regret remains the same: I didn't keep the quiet details of my relationship with X between just me and X.

Since learning about "love languages," (side note: I'm no expert, I just took the quiz in the back of the book), I now know that the problem was that I gave and received love differently than X received and gave love. But at the time, it wasn't laid out so nicely for me to see. All I knew was that I didn't always feel his affection, and it broke me up inside.

And then I complained to his sister about it.

There's a scientific term for that, and I could go look through my old school notes and find it, but I think you get the gist. If a couple is fighting, they shouldn't be revealing all those petty details to friends, neighbors, relatives, acquaintances. No good. (Unless it turns violent-- whether emotionally, sexually, physically, anything-- then please get help from an outside source). I learned this too late, and boy, did I give myself a big head smack in the middle of that college lecture.

So, Boyfriend X, I'm sorry that I was so terrible. I'm grateful that I was able to learn from this, but I'm regretful for dragging you into it. I wish I had known earlier how to care for our relationship as I should have.

Center for Young Women's Health: Healthy Relationship Guide
Promoting Healthy Relationships & Preventing Teen Dating Violence
Women's Health: "The #1 Time to Have His Back"

06 March 2012

new things

(Photo taken in Munich, Germany fall of 2007)

I was never much of a believer when it came to yoga. I liked the idea of it. It seemed people who really did it loved it but I just couldn't seem to love it. I thought it was boring and silly... holding my hands in the air and trying to breath slowly. It could have been because I took the class that was at 8:30am during my last semester or that we did the same positions every time. But I just didn't feel like it made any difference.


My pregnancy with Millie is not what you would call a good experience. I was throwing up 5-10 times a day for the first five months and was still sick for the rest. I had kidney stones and had to do an at home IV for three weeks. Even when things started to settle down my body just didn't like being pregnant. It resented me for the 20 pounds it lost when I was sick and then jumping into weight gain so quickly. It struggled with the ups and the downs.

Not only was it very hard on me physically, it took a big toll on me mentally and spiritually. How could I be a mother when I could hardly survive the pregnancy? Others made me feel as though I was being weak and needed to just be happy that I was having a baby. I was happy and grateful. But I was also tired and so sick. I wanted this to be a spiritual experience. I wanted to not be so bitter and hurt and sick. And oh how guilty I felt for those feelings that I had.

I want to have another baby.

I love Millie more than I could have imagined. Even with all the struggles and how long it took me to "feel like myself" again, I would do it again for her. And hope to but for another little soul.

But I am scared. If I have to struggle just like last time than so be it but those were hard months of pregnancy and yes, hard months of recovery that I feel like I have only just emerged from.

I have seriously questioned whether or not I have the courage to do it all over again.

But I want to have another baby.


In an attempt to do everything in my power to make the next pregnancy a good experience, I have been trying to get out of my comfort zone and do things that I would have never considered had I had a better pregnancy. I started to going to a yoga class my friend teaches. I work hard at focusing and breathing and have actually fallen in love with it all. I now see the benefits.

Yesterday I went to a massage therapist who also works with stress management skills that are a little out of the ordinary. It was a deeply emotional and spiritual experience for me. I feel like I have started to identify some things that need to be worked through to help me let good change happen. All these fears that have consumed me don't have to consume me anymore.

There is much to do still but I feel hope and empowerment, something that I realize now I have not felt often enough.

This year I have a resolution to try new things. To get out there and do things that are hard. This was one of those things.

05 March 2012

Breaking Up and Creative Outlets

The first thing I noticed when I looked at the final tracklisting for my new EP? Just how many songs were influenced by men, or have references to former relationships in them. The "man with the silver eyes" in one of the songs? I can tell you exactly who that is. The final track, "The Slow Goodbye"? Written in the autumn of 2009, following a break up. And I assure you, I'm not the only one who finds a creative outlet for these sort of things.

Until early 2011, Leslie Feist was dating Broken Social Scene's Kevin Drew. In September 2011 she released her album Metals. There is an underlying darkness to the whole thing, with little jabs sweetly crooning out of Feist's mouth..."A good man and a good woman, can't find the good in each other..."

From 2008-2011, Florence Welch (of "Florence and the Machine") was in a relationship with a man named Stuart. Their first breakup fueled her 2009 album "Lungs," while their most recent breakup fueled 2011's "Ceremonials." In the latter, there are songs of devastation ("What the Water Gave Me") and of triumph ("Shake It Out"). It is clear that this was Florence's creative outlet, and my goodness, it did her good.

Check out Florence's performance of "No Light, No Light" at the 2012 BRIT Awards.

How do you work through a breakup?

04 March 2012

Info for DV Victims

"Domestic violence causes far more pain than the visible marks of bruises and scars. It is devastating to be abused by someone that you love and think loves you in return." 
- California Senator Dianne Feinstein

Over the next few weeks, I'll be participating in a domestic violence counselor training program. In turn, I wanted to pass some information onto you, faithful blog readers. I hope that these few bits of information will come in handy if, heaven forbid, you ever find yourself or a friend in the grasp of domestic violence.

Victims of domestic violence come from all age groups, religions, ethnicities, socioeconomic levels, sexual orientations... no one is exempt. Below is a common model used in identifying certain aspects of domestic violence.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, it is important to remember that it is not your fault. It's also important to remember that help is available.

One of the most basic precautions you can take is to develop a safety plan. It doesn't require any drastic changes immediately, but it is a plan that helps you be prepared if the situation takes a turn for the worst. The RAINN organization offers a great outline here to help you make a safety plan.

Here are some 24-hour emergency hotlines to take note of:

San Diego, CA:
YWCA: 619-234-3164
San Diego DV Hotline: (888) DV-LINKS / (888) 385-4657

Salt Lake City, UT:
Utah Department of Human Services: 800-897-5465

Provo, UT:
Center for Women and Children in Crisis: 801-377-5500

National: The Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

02 March 2012

Learning from your fellow-bloggers:

One of the many reasons I love blogs is because you can learn so much! About anything! Here are some bloggers who have talked about their favorite makeup products:

The Alison Show: The BEST Drugstore Lipsticks
(She even bought a bunch and tested them out. She's pro.)

Mormon in Manhattan: mascara posts here, here, and here.

A Beautiful Mess: How to Style Mod Eyeliner, and tons of hairstyles.

Rockstar Diaries: Lipstick.

Lyndsay & the Johnsons: In the Bag.

...then there are the ladies who have amazing senses of style, like Stacey and Emily. Too good.

I have barely seen the tip of the iceberg of makeup/fashion blogs, so now I'm coming to you, dear reader. What are some of your favorite style resources?

01 March 2012


I suffer from bad habits.

You know like eating ‘til I am so full I am going to be sick… then eating some more. Or not hanging my clothes up at the end of the day. (I know it is so easy and yet they still land on the floor.) Then there are things like fidgeting when I am nervous or procrastinating. I know these things make me miserable and yet I find myself reverting back to those habits day after day.

One habit in particular has really been casting a shadow over my life.

At eight in the evening, after we have tucked Millie into her bed and she is fast asleep, Billy and I usually relax and watch something on Netflicks. Modern Family, Psych. Something funny. We just kind of veg. It is nice. Eventually Billy falls asleep and there I am, left completely alone. No one to worry about (although I check on Millie multiple times) but me. I continue watching. And watching. Time ticks away, my eye lids begin to droup. But there I sit, forcing my eyes to keep watching. The world falls asleep and I am stuck in a trance watching old TV shows that mock people like me. I tell myself “Just one more episode” every time. EVERY.TIME. Finally when I can stand it no longer, I sneak into the bedroom and slide quietly next to Billy. I pray he won’t wake up because I don’t want to tell him how late it is and how I wasted perfectly good sleeping time to watch people who aren’t even real.

If you want a general statement of this bad habit I would have to say it is a lack of self control. I know that what I am doing makes me miserable, makes me a tired, neglectful mother and wife, and does nothing to fulfill me but I do it anyway. When I ask myself why I do it I lean towards explanations like “It is the only time I have to be alone, without the prospect of the child waking up or someone knocking at my door. It is all me.”

But does that really justify it? Does it justify how tired I am the next day, how unmotivated it makes me in my life, how it takes away from going to bed with Billy, which I love?

No. Indeed it does not.

So how do I change it? How do I take control of my life and say “GO TO BED AT A DECENT HOUR YOU FOOL?”

I feel like for our next book club I need to choose a good motivating book. Then I can talk it over with some others and maybe I will actually start making some changes.

And getting more sleep.

What do you do to get rid of those habits that eat at your soul?
Do you have any favorite books that help?