29 May 2012

The End

Dear Readers,

Thank you for your dedication to this project over the last couple years. We have loved writing here, sharing with you, connecting with you, and we are just so grateful. We have decided, however, that we have done all we can to maintain the We Are Women Project. It has been a wonderful couple of years, and we may still post every once in a while, but for the most part, the We Are Women Project is done.

The initial proceeds from the We Are Women book covered the cost of at least one surgery for a woman suffering from an obstetric fistula. This couldn't have been done without you. Thank you so much! The book is still on sale on lulu.com, and proceeds will always go straight to the Campaign to End Fistula.

On the right sidebar you can find a list of topics that have been covered on the blog. The blog is still here, the posts are still here. You are always welcome to come look around, and we hope that the work we've done will continue to inspire and educate you. We hope you will continue to feel the community that has been built through this project.

Thank you again for your support.

Allison Barnes & Alicia Fish

gardening, part 2

A couple days ago, Alicia shared her love of gardening. Today I want to share my love of gardening. Except when I say "love of gardening," I really mean "I try, but everything I put into the ground dies." But I did plant a fig tree a few weeks ago, and so far, she is doing alright, despite the fact that I forgot to water her as the summertime heat arrived.

Look past the cat, past the planters, to a black bucket. Then that tiny stick poking up beside/behind it. That's my fig tree! (The rest of the garden belongs to my father. And behind me is my brother's garden. I think the green thumb only extends to the men of the family).

This is "figgy" a couple weeks ago, looking fresh and well with a handful of leaves. When I purchased her from a nursery, she was just a stick!

I may not be a master gardener, but I love nature. I love the bursts of green in the backyard of my childhood home. I love the fruit trees that grow there, the ground covering that eats everything up, the planters that my dad built himself, and the newest garden that my brother has so faithfully built from nothing. I love the crisp springtime air, and the warmth of the summertime sunshine on my arms.

And here's hoping that figgy makes it through the season alive.

28 May 2012

Don't Forget

photo by gary barnes

Note to Self: 
The more you love your decisions, 
the less you need others to love them.

27 May 2012


I really love gardening. I love the flowers and the butterflies and hummingbirds that come to the flowers. I love wandering around nurseries and the home depot garden department. I always find something else to buy (today it was more bird seeds, moss, creeping phlox, and rockcress). If it wasn't already so dark outside, I would be out there, moving the bushes and planting our new friends.

This year in our veggie garden we planted tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, basil, and lettuce, just like last year. But we decided to add to it butternut squash, strawberries and raspberries. The basil is just starting to show its face and the the lavender from last year smells just like relaxation. I'm still trying to figure out the best way to get grapes going too. We don't have a big yard but what we do have I am putting to use.

Do you have a garden going this year?
Flowers and veggies?
What do you love to plant?

26 May 2012

"Choosing Happiness" and Clinical Depression

photo by gary barnes
I've heard it a billion times: you have to merely decide to be happy and then you will be. I wanted to agree. I wanted to be on that rosy colored boat with those happy people, loving life, feeling good, but it was a concept that I couldn't fully grasp. I knew that there was a deeper reason why true happiness appeared just out of reach for me. So I remained on the shoreline and let that boat go on without me.

But as time has gone on, and as I have experienced different depths of depression-- and in turn, tried different ways to pull myself out of that depression-- I realize that I can still choose happiness, in a way. There are just a few more steps involved in that process.

(Continue reading after the jump)

24 May 2012

Gratitude Journal

Last year I started to keep a sort of gratitude journal. It came after a counselor advised me to begin a journal to keep track of panic attacks/ episodes of severe depression to try to find the origin of those issues, but that just sounded so depressing (which was the point, I guess). So I half took his advice and began a gratitude journal instead. A few nights ago I found it in the rubble of my room and decided to share a few pages from it:

I fell in love with the sentiments I shared in that journal, and decided to start another one for this new chapter in my life. I'm not ready to share the inside yet, but here is the outside of it:

"Let the beauty we love be what we do." -Rumi

I love it. The journal itself was $1.50 at Michael's, the gold letter stickers were about $5. I also grabbed a Smash Stick to make documenting easier (pen on one side, glue stick on the other).

I have filled a few pages so far using instagram picture and a few scrapbooking papers, again from Michael's. It's just so fun. *Note: I print my instagram pictures using this tutorial.

Scrapbooking/journaling inspiration: Dear Lizzy / A Beautiful Mess

23 May 2012


Billy and I have been working on a little diet. It is many just eating healthy and watching portion sizes (and cutting out the ever lovely milkshakes, at least during the week. I need to learn control somehow). I have been learning things about myself through this all that I never knew before. I can see a little more clearly how I deal with stress and unpleasant things in life.

One night after a long meeting, we ended on a note that was a little upsetting. I slunk into the house, put my pj's on and searched the house for something unhealthy to munch on. I didn't crave it. I didn't even care if it was very yummy. I just wanted to sit and watch something on Netflix and eat.

Not very smart. But I did it anyway and you know, I didn't feel any better.

Then, a few days later, after a long day with Millie (whom I love dearly but is very exhausting) I had a choice: do the same, unsatisfying thing by eating a spoonful of Nutella and watching yet another meaningless TV show OR go running with my friend.

So running I went.

And happy I became. I was tired but the endorphin's kicked in and, along with enjoying the night air and good conversation, I came home happy and tired yet relaxed.

So it got me thinking, what is it that really helps me deal with stress or anxiety or frustration? Not the binge eating and the TV addiction. No, for me it is running, stepping out in the garden and weeding or watering or simply admiring the beauties of nature. I enjoy talking to people who are supportive and interesting and who listen. Sure I like a good veg session with my favorite TV shows and I LOVE good food. But those don't really help me cope.

It only took me 26 years to figure out but that's better than never, right?

How do you cope with the demands of life?

22 May 2012

“I'm going to go out on a limb here. I've thought a lot about this one, as a feminist, and as an author. How should traditional roles be portrayed? In fantasy literature there is a school of thought that holds that women must be treated precisely like men. Only the traditional male sphere of power and means of wielding power count. If a woman is shown in a traditionally female role, then she must be being shown as inferior. 

After a lot of thought, and some real-life stabs at those traditional roles, I've come to firmly disagree with this idea. For an author to show that only traditional male power and place matter is to discount and belittle the hard and complex lives of our peers and our ancestresses.” 

~ Sarah ZettelMapping the World of Harry Potter: An Unauthorized Exploration of the Bestselling Fantasy Series of All Time

(She wrote so eloquently what I tried to say here.)

20 May 2012

Still Smiling!

Remember that 5k I mentioned a couple weeks ago? Remember how I said that I was doing it "Just to prove to myself that I can do it, and furthermore, enjoy it"? Well friends, I did it, and furthermore, I genuinely enjoyed it.

I was nervous right before it started. When I initially told you about this 5k, I also told you the story of the last 5k I had participated in, and how so very terrible I felt, physically and mentally, afterward. But there I was, anonymous, in a massive crowd of individuals and families, each with different goals, different paces, and surely different attitudes toward this endeavor, and I was doing it.

I didn't get the best time ever. In fact, it was my worst time for a 5k. But surprisingly it didn't bother me at all, because I felt great getting that worst time. I smiled the entire way. I was just happy to be there.

It was the best.

19 May 2012

Resources for Understanding and Recognizing Depression

Today I co-presented a class on clinical depression to a group of ladies from my church. It turned into more of a discussion, which is just what we wanted. I loved being a part of it.

If you were not able to attend, worry not! Here are some of the resources I shared with the class. (Note: Some are from a Latter-day Saint/Christian perspective. Keep in mind, these are things I shared in a church setting, so you are welcome to ignore them if you want to stick with secular resources. The more religious resources will have a URL beginning with lds.org, or will come from the Ensign or New Era magazines).

General Resources:
-       Mental Illness: In Search of Understanding and Hope” by Jan Underwood Pinborough. Ensign, February 1989.
-       Myths about Mental Illness” by Alexander B. Morrison. Ensign, October 2005.
-       Bipolar Disorder: My Lessons in Love, Hope, and Peace.” Ensign, January 2009.
-       On Kindness” by C. Jane Kendrick.

For Parents:
-       When Your Child is Depressed” by Sean E. Brotherson. Ensign, August 2004.
-       Teen Depression: A Guide for Parents and Teachers.
Young Adult Resources:
-       I Almost Lost My Sister.” New Era, August 2008.
-       Half of Us. I highly highly highly recommend this site for educating youth and young adults about depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and PTSD, both for themselves, and how to help those around them.
-       The Anxiety Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help You Deal with Anxiety and Worry” by Lisa Schab LCSW. Available through Amazon.com, $10.17.
-       “Beyond the Blues: A Workbook to Help Teens Overcome Depression” by Lisa Schab LCSW. Available through Amazon.com, $10.17.
-       Stopping the Pain: A Workbook for Teens Who Cut and Self Injure” by Lawrence Shapiro PhD. Available through Amazon.com, $11.53.
-       “The Anger Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help You Deal with Anger and Frustration” by Raychelle Lohmann MS LPC. Available on Amazon.com, $10.85.*
(Note: I have not personally used these workbooks, but they have received great reviews on Amazon.com, and look like a very positive and cost-effective resource).

Natural Solutions:
-       Evaluate (and alter, if needed) your diet and exercise habits.
-       Herbal remedies for depression include SAM-e, 5-HTP and St. John’s Wort.
-       It is wise to work with a healthcare professional to establish healthy lifestyle habits and to determine which medication/herbal supplement is best for you. But it is also very important to listen to the Spirit and your own body.

*A woman attending the class also recommended checking out the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI. It seems like a valuable resource, though I haven't had a chance to look at it much right now.

Feel free to add any other resources you have discovered in the comments below. Thank you!

17 May 2012

"Olive Us" and Positive Familial Interactions

Meet the Blair children of the new short film series "Olive Us."

According to the FAQ's, Olive Us "will encourage your family to get up and do or make or move... We aim to show healthy, happy relationships between siblings. We sometimes feel worn down by the super-sarcastic dialogue we hear on shows aimed at kids — especially between brothers and sisters. We want to share a more positive take." I love this, and I am excited to see what they come up with. You can view the first episode here.

15 May 2012

Frida Kahlo and Infertility

The more I learn about Mexican folk artist Frida Kahlo, the more I am in awe of her and her life. As a teenager she was in a streecar accident in which she was impaled by a handrail through her hip/abdomen. Not only was this a traumatic incident in itself, but it was also connected to multiple miscarriages that she later suffered. She was never able to bear children, an aspect of her life she honestly, openly, and even violently portrayed in her art.

The Two Fridas, 1939
More art after the jump.

13 May 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

In fall 2009 my then-boyfriend and I broke up. Honestly, it was about time. We were no good together. But it was still hard, and my mom knew that. Just days after the breakup she was on a plane to Utah to spend the weekend with me. I remember the peace of staying in the hotel room with her. I was so quiet at first, so reserved, but she was patient with me and loved me even when I felt so broken. I was signed up for a 5k that Saturday, and she even woke up early to cheer me on at the finish line (see above picture). (And trust me, I'm not much of a runner so there really wasn't much to see there, but it really meant so much that she came). She put her entire focus on me for those few days when I needed her the most. I am so grateful for that, and for the continued love that she always, always gives me.

Happy Mother's Day, mama! I love you!

09 May 2012

Free Download: Happy Mother's Day!

Dear Mom,

If you are reading this, stop! Close your eyes! Ignore this post!

Dear Readers,

If you are anything like me, you've thought a lot about Mother's Day, but haven't decided on a particular gift for your mother yet. Well, you are in luck! (As am I!)

The Lovely Michelle of Loving Life Designs has designed a beautiful Mother's Day card for the We Are Women blog. I love it. It is simple, feminine, and the perfect size, 4"x6". You can print it into a folded card or, as Michelle suggests, print is as a flat card.

Thank you so much, Michelle! Readers, we hope you enjoy this free download and put it to good use! And Mothers, we hope you have a wonderful weekend! You deserve it!

How I used it:

(Cards for my mother, maternal grandmother, and maternal great-grandmother)

laugh your way through it

(My little sister BreBee)

The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache.

― Marjorie Pay Hinckley

(Though I have to say, sometimes a good cry helps.)

08 May 2012

Becoming Extraordinary

My Mother, Snow White, by Susan Hayward
Last Christmas I was in Tennessee, away from family and friends, serving a mission for my church. We were up every morning at 6:30, worked all day, then in bed by 10:30pm. Every day. On Christmas Day we got to call home and talk to our families, but that was it. But what could have potentially been a very lonely time for us missionaries was brightened by a kind deed: One of the missionaries' grandmothers had spent the last few months knitting scarves for all 130+ of us missionaries. That weekend we each got a new scarf, surely made with so much love and care.

Nowadays I occasionally volunteer at my local YWCA, which, among other things, provides temporary emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence. Yesterday one of the staff wheeled in a big barrel of gift bags: mothers day gifts for the residents donated by some local woman. The staff member was sporting a huge smile, and that joy and excitement soon spread throughout the room. What an extraordinary act of service this anonymous woman had performed.

I used to view these acts of service in awe, and I still do, but now with a greater understanding of how to serve. I sincerely believe that everyone has the potential to serve in extraordinary ways. The only catch is that there is no cookie cutter for "extraordinary service." That is something that we have to discover within ourselves, and when we do finally see our individual potentials, we cannot sit idly by while others work for this greater good. We must go and serve selflessly in whatever way we know how to.

A few years ago, my dear mother (a pre-school teacher by trade) showed up to a Halloween party dressed as Snow White. The children were dazzled by their teacher, a Disney Princess in the flesh. The next year Snow White showed up again, with the same reaction. Then Snow White started showing up elsewhere: a neighborhood tea party, a school fundraiser, etc. The reaction was always the same: complete awe, joy, and excitement. My Mother is Snow White, and that is an act of extraordinary service.

I am not a knitting-extraordinaire, nor am I wealthy enough to financially support non-profit organizations. I certainly do not have that special sweet heart (or petite dress size) of my mother. But I am blessed with the creative ability to write and share music. Over the last couple months I have learned how to use that talent to serve others in ways that I hadn't thought of before. I never expect a return for any of the songs I create, but I find myself rewarded tenfold. It brings so much joy to me, yet it is something that comes so easy to me.

Serving in extraordinary ways does not have to be hard. I am positive that you, dear reader, have a hidden ability just waiting to come out and bless the people around you. My challenge to you is to ponder that ability, find it, refine it, and use it.

How have you been blessed by the service of others? How has serving others blessed you?

06 May 2012

spark of heavenly fire

There is in every true woman's heart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity, but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity.

~Washington Irving

03 May 2012

my grandmother and three of her children
Have you added the We Are Women Project on Facebook yet? For the next couple weeks we will be posting the free downloads we find around the internet for Mother's Day. Come on over!

02 May 2012

Dragging my feet, but getting it done

I used to run. Ok, not really run. More like jog. Slow jog. And it was fun. I mean, I enjoyed it well enough. I would go out around 9pm on warm summer evenings, just when it had gotten dark. The air was perfect, no sun in my eyes, just going. Pepper spray in fist (or bra), of course. A nice big loop around a few blocks, then back home to stretch. It was therapeutic. I have fond memories.

However, these fond memories have been tainted by a single 5k I did in the summer of 2010. I had the worst shin splints ever, but I still wanted to try to run. I remember feeling like knives were stabbing my shins with every step. It was hell. When I finally finished, I plopped down on the curb to try to rub out my shins in vain. I bypassed the free food and went straight home, probably to ice my shins for the rest of the day. Woe was me.

I've gone on a handful of jogs since then, but nothing lasted. If I felt any sort of strain in my calves or shins, I was out. Done. Never again.

But I don't want to be limited. I don't want to admit defeat to running, to my body.

And so here I am again. New running shoes. Slowly pacing myself. Rubbing down my shins after every lap on a track. You know.

Last month I quietly signed up for another 5k. I didn't tell anyone for a while, and still do not plan on telling anyone when or where it is. I just want to do it. Just for me. Just to prove to myself that I can do it, and furthermore, enjoy it. I'll be sure to let you know how it goes!

In the meantime, what is a fear or obstacle that you have conquered? Share your experiences in the comment section below.

01 May 2012

on grief

I believe it’s been almost a month since I (Alicia) have written anything here. And I haven’t done anything on my personal blog for a while either. I miss it. I miss writing, having to sort out what is going on in my head and my life. I miss sharing things with you.

The gap was due to busyness (Billy took a whole week off for my birthday), laziness (I spent a week watching Murder, She Wrote and reading Mary Higgins Clark mysteries), and grief.

With only a few weeks left of the pregnancy, my sister and her husband’s baby, Calvin, passed away suddenly. To say it has been heart breaking doesn’t seem to do it justice.

While I have known others to go through the pain of a stillborn, I have not been there to see or feel the heartbreak. But now my heart hurts. It hurts for my sister and her husband and what they have lost.

But not lost forever. We believe that families can be together forever. And that even though they must part with their sweet baby for a time, he is theirs and they are his forever and ever.

And yet, there is still the pain of grief. For all of us. And it seems we are all dealing with it in different ways. But something that I did not expect was the sense of peace we have all come to have. There is a feeling that everything is alright. After the graveside service, while Billy and I were talking about what a wonderful service it was, we both felt that it was not the right thing to say that they lost their baby. The joy of being his parents has only been postponed.

There is still a sadness that we all can feel that I believe won’t go away for some time. My heart hurts that my sister can’t have that baby to cuddle and love. I don’t want them to have to wait to have another baby. I don’t want them to be so scared the next time that the same thing will happen again. And I know that these next few months will be especially hard on my sister and her husband. They must live with the reality of what has happened.

Last week, while I was really struggling to find a sense of peace, Allie sent me some links that I would like to share with you. The first is an article with some tips of how to help someone who suffers a loss. This was really good for me to read because I was struggling so much to know what to do to help. Do I call or let them be? It also seemed that everyone was buying them something as a remembrance of Calvin. At first it seemed almost silly. I didn’t want to buy them a necklace or a picture: I wanted to give them their baby back. But to see that those little things, while they cannot replace their child, can help them hold that baby in their hearts, was a big help and comfort for me.

The next are some blogs of people who have lost children and how they have come to find peace in it all (here and here). I especially like this episode of The Generations Project where Natalie finds some peace about what happened through learning about those who came before her.

Thank you to everyone who has stepped up and shown their love. Even those of you who have never met my sister or her husband. Thank you for everything you have done, every prayer you have said, and all the hugs that have been given.

What has helped you through grief?