downloadAs part of my somewhat abandoned (well, modified, anyway) 2014 Reading Challenge, I have been finishing off some half-read non-fiction, and one of the books I just finished off was an interesting case study for me in why the self-helpy stuff doesn’t do it for me the way it used to.

The book was called [easyazon-link asin=”0446563595″ locale=”us”]Simple Abundance[/easyazon-link] by Sarah Ban Breathnach, and when I started it last year, I loved its message. The third third or so of the book was wonderful—it was all about slowing down the pace of your life, taking walks outside, focusing on what was going on around you and going back to a ‘simpler’ time. It was structured as a series of daily essays where you’d read one chunk a day and get a little dose of daily inspiration. I loved it.

But I fell behind partway through and have been slowly plodding through the rest of it since summertime. And the last little bit left me cold. The author is admittedly a bit of a quaint throwback—before her Oprah-fueled fame via this book, she wrote about Victoriana, and her antique-and-craft-inspired lifestyle is perhaps a bit of a niche one.

But it left me wondering about where us digital age girls are supposed to find inspiration. What if you search for your true self, and find she hates crafts? What if your true self doesn’t like scented candles, eating off of fine china, spending a Sunday buying scarves at a flea market or going on a ‘retreat’ to get back in touch with nature? Does that make you in any way less of an ‘authentic’ woman?

I am all for doing the ‘soul work’ to discover what truly makes you happy, for finding your passions and learning to enjoy them, for keeping your life simple and contented, for enjoying the simple things and savouring the smaller moments over the big, dramatic gestures. But too many woman-oriented books seem to equate ‘simple’ with ‘luddite’, and to equate ‘authentic’ with ‘nature.’ And we wonder why men still outnumber women in the STEM fields?

Fellow women of the Internet, I am here to tell you that you are not betraying your true self by enjoying technology. If you search inside for your true self, and you find she enjoys surfing the web, using it to connect with people, with information, with literature and language and all the knowledge of the world, that is just fine. If your true self feels that her perfect evening involves takeout—hand-cooked by someone other than herself—and snuggling in your nice, modern bed with a Beloved and a healthy Netflix queue, I say ‘go, you!’ If your authentic you wants to explore ‘art’ by creating YouTube videos, or Fanfiction, or Kindle books, then I say go forth into the web, and enjoy. You with me?

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"I’m a journalist, a teacher and an e-book fiend. I work as a French teacher at a K-3 private school. I use drama, music, puppets, props and all manner of tech in my job, and I love it. I enjoy moving between all the classes and having a relationship with each child in the school. Kids are hilarious, and I enjoy watching them grow and learn. My current device of choice for reading is my Amazon Kindle Touch, but I have owned or used devices by Sony, Kobo, Aluratek and others. I also read on my tablet devices using the Kindle app, and I enjoy synching between them, so that I’m always up to date no matter where I am or what I have with me."


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