Single Lady Quotes: bell hooks

From Goodreads

I will not have my life narrowed down. I will not bow down to somebody else’s whim or to someone else’s ignorance.

As a young writer, I aspired to be a poet like Ntozake Shange, who distilled so much of the black girl’s experience in her poetry and a warrior like Alice Walker. Intellectually, I yearned for the freedom, clarity and possession that marked bell hooks’ work.
bell hooks was the first black woman intellectual I admired. I read Breaking Bread: Insurgent Black Intellectual Life – a conversation between bell hooks and Cornel West, when I was 13, and never stopped admiring her work. It also allowed me to envision myself as an intellectual in my own right. hooks has written over 30 books.

“To return to love, to get the love we always wanted but never had, to have the love we want but are not prepared to give, we seek romantic relationships. We believe these relationships, more than any other, will rescue and redeem us. True love does have the power to redeem but only if we are ready for redemption. Love saves us only if we want to be saved.”

“Love is a combination of care, commitment, knowledge, responsibility, respect and trust.”

“One of the major tasks black women face as we work for emotional healing is to understand more fully what love is so that we do not imagine that love and abuse can be simultaneously present in our lives. Most abuse is life-threatening, whether it wounds our bodies or our psyches. Understanding love as a life-force that urges us to move against death enables us to see clearly that, where love is, there can be no disenabling, disempowering, or life-destroying abuse.”

“It is the absence of love that has made it so difficult for us to stay alive or, if alive, to live fully. When we love ourselves, we want to live fully…When we love ourselves, we know that we much do more than survive. We must have the means to live fully.”

“Exclusion and isolation, whether they occur through overt or covert acts, have always been useful tactics of terrorism, a powerful way to coerce individuals to conform, to change. No insurgent intellectual, no dissenting critical voice in this society escapes the pressure to conform….We can all be had, co-opted, bought. There is no special grace that rescues any of us. There is only a constant struggle to keep the faith, to relentlessly rejoice in an engagement with critical ideas that is itself liberatory, a practice of freedom.”

Single Lady Quotes: Helen Keller

I went back through some of my journals in the past week. I do this every year. It’s a wonderful gift to be able to look back and see my patterns, to see what I longed for a decade ago, and how close my life is to that now, or how far away.

I stumbled upon this quote from Helen Keller that is one of my favorites:

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.

That inspired me to look up some others:

When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.
I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.

Single Lady Books: The Best Advice I Ever Got

Goodreads Cover Photo

Kate Couric is one of my virtual mentors, even though initially her perkiness got on my nerves, I have always appreciated her hustle.

And I admire the way she has continued to work and write about her very personal experience of losing a husband and raising two girls by herself while also commanding respect for herself in the broadcast journalism industry, which can’t be an easy feat.

I wrote about graduation/career advice at Bitch Magazine last week and it made me think about The Best Advice I Ever Got, which is essentially a compilation of advice from commencement speeches that has so much good stuff in it was a good thing I read it online, or I would have highlighted every passage.

Here were some of my favorite quotes:

Anna Quindlen
Acts of bravery don’t always take place on battlefields. They can take place in your heart, when you have the courage to honor your character, your intellect, your inclinations, and yes, your soul, by listening to its clean, clear voice of direction instead of following the muddied messages of a timid world. So carry your courage in an easily accessible place, the way you do your cellphone or your wallet. You may still falter or fail, but you will always know that you pushed hard and aimed high. Take a leap of faith. Fear not. Courage is the ultimate career move.

Katie Couric

I realized that whatever your path, whatever your calling, the most damaging thing you can do is let other voices define you and drown out your own. You’ve got to block them out and find that place deep inside you, shaken but still intact, and hold on to it.

Maya Angelou

My paternal grandmother, Mrs. Annie Henderson, gave me advice that I have used for sixty-five years. She said, “If the world puts you on a road you do not like, if you look ahead and do not want that destination which is being offered and you look behind and you do not want to return to your place of departure, step off the road. Build yourself a brand-new path.”

Life and Business Advice for the New Graduate

Another guest post at Bitch Magazine:

I haven’t donned a cap and gown of my own for a little while, but as a self-help and business book nerd, all the great career advice dispensed around this year keeps my Instapaper account busy.

There’s business advice hidden in funny books like Tina Fey’s Bossypants (paraphrase: If there’s someone you dislike at your office and they don’t have the power to change your fate, ignore them and move on) or even in general life advice books like Katie Couric’s The Best Advice I Ever Got. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from Couric: “I realized that whatever your path, whatever your calling, the most damaging thing you can do is let other voices define you and drown out your own. You’ve got to block them out and find that place deep inside you, shaken but still intact, and hold on to it.”

What’s the most useful career advice anyone ever gave you? Here’s my best shot at dispensing words of wisdom that I wish someone had told me when I entered the workforce but I didn’t know until later. Feel free to add some to the comments. I’m sure me and my imaginary boo, Ryan Gosling, are missing something.

I know. I had to add Ryan Gosling in there somewhere.

Here are some of my favorite tips:

6. Don’t date in the office. What? I know. Hot. Right there. Where you spend all your waking hours. Down GIRL! (And by date, I mean whatever it is you think I mean by date.) Certainly, there are all kinds of excuses you can make to say why this is wrongheaded. I know a lot of couples who met at the office. Don’t crap where you sleep. It rarely ends well.

7. Ask for what you want. Like my imaginary honey Ryan suggests above, asking for a raise or a promotion is something that you should totally do. Lois Frankel gives great advice about this, as does Austin-based career coach Ann Daly. It’s scary, but scared money don’t make none. In other words, the worst that could happen is that your boss will say no to whatever you’re asking for.

8. Try to forget ‘What I Thought I’d Be Doing’ and enjoy the ride. Aim to enjoy where you are. Everyone has to start somewhere.

9. Save Money. I used to have a really silly relationship with money, shaped by growing up without much. Interviewing wise people over the years has underscored for me the importance of having a stash saved in the event that I need to leave a toxic or untenable situation and regroup.

10. Win. I used to hate attention and I would unconsciously sabotage myself, thinking that if I won all the time, people would hate me for it. Specifically, “boys club” women and intimidated men. It turns out winning is sexy. It also makes you happy and confident, which gives your skin a healthy glow. Go for it.

If you have some, I’d love to hear it.

A great single lady quote from…Salman Rushdie

Koans to Bring You Joy. Sounds perfect.



This is so random, but I know you’ll appreciate it:

We must agree on what matters: kissing in public places, bacon sandwiches, disagreement, cutting-edge fashion, literature, generosity, water, a more equitable distribution of the world’s resources, movies, music, freedom of thought, beauty, love.

From: Bring Me the Rhinoceros, by John Tarrant.

Single Lady Quotes: Kelly Clarkson

I’m not even sure how I became obsessed with Kelly Clarkson. But I think my love for her probably means I should just go ahead and confess to loving popular music. Plus, there’s the fact, that she’s a Texas woman and she can sing her tail off. She’s got the healthiest combination of cowgirl swagger and down-to-earth appeal.

She is not technically a single lady at the moment – since she’s dating after being single for 6 years. But her songs still give me life. So, there you have it ladies and gentlemen.

But here are some of the things she’s said about being single for awhile. These totally resonate with me — I’m sure you can relate, even if you don’t have 1 million Twitter followers like Kelly:

“People are really concerned about my relationship status. When I tell people I’m happy being single, they don’t believe me. They say: ‘You have to be miserable being alone’.”

(Addressing rumors that she had been single for so long because she’s a lesbian)

“I get that all the time. People are like ‘Are you secretly a lesbian? Because I’d really love it.’ Lesbians tell it to me all the time,” Clarkson once said in a 2009 interview with AOL’s “I’m like, ‘I’m glad it works for you and I wish I liked women like that because oftentimes men are very hard for me, but I happen to like boys.’ I could never be a lesbian. I would never want to date someone like myself, ever,” she added.

Here’s the thing: Most of her music doesn’t have lyrics that are super inspirational all by themselves. But these are some of my favorite songs; and if you’ve never heard Beautiful Disaster Live, you need that in your life. Enjoy:

Single Lady Quotes: Coco Chanel

Audrey Tautou as Coco Chanel

When I was little, I used to sketch women in pretty outfits from magazines.

For a period of about four years, I was obsessed with the idea that I would grow up to be a famous fashion designer. (True story: I once stalked Byron Lars at Macy’s in New York and spent our entire interaction covering my mouth with my hand like Celie in The Color Purple.)

All I knew about Coco Chanel at the time was perfume. In the Plaza Hotel, where mom and I would stop to use their gorgeous and decadent ladies’ room, we could not only wash our hands, but we also could spritz perfume — perfume! That wasn’t in a can! — on yourself.  We would hoard those little thimble-sized samples of perfume from Saks Fifth Avenue and use it during special occasions. But at the Plaza? You could put on a little Chanel No. 5 like it was nothing.

So when I watched Coco before Chanel a few weeks ago, I thoroughly enjoyed it, subtitles and all. It made me want to dedicate myself to learning French one day, though I’m not sure I’m capable of that level of elegance in real life. I also gained a new appreciation for Coco Chanel from watching the movie, since she was apparently bent on not marrying in her life:

From the wise Coco Chanel:

“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.”

“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”

“It’s probably not just by chance that I’m alone. It would be very hard for a man to live with me, unless he’s terribly strong. And if he’s stronger than I, I’m the one who can’t live with him. … I’m neither smart nor stupid, but I don’t think I’m a run-of-the-mill person. I’ve been in business without being a businesswoman, I’ve loved without being a woman made only for love. The two men I’ve loved, I think, will remember me, on earth or in heaven, because men always remember a woman who caused them concern and uneasiness. I’ve done my best, in regard to people and to life, without precepts, but with a taste for justice.”

“If you were born without wings, do nothing to prevent them from growing.”

Single Lady Quotes: Madonna

“I’m anal retentive. I’m a workaholic. I have insomnia. And I’m a control freak. That’s why I’m not married. Who could stand me?”

““I’ve been popular and unpopular successful and unsuccessful loved and loathed and I know how meaningless it all is. Therefore I feel free to take whatever risks I want.”

“If your joy is derived from what society thinks of you, you’re always going to be disappointed.”

So sayeth Madonna, who I have loved through all of her transformations. Yes, even when she had no business trying to rap.

This is also a plug. I wrote an essay that appears in the new Soft Skull Press anthology, Madonna & Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop.  You can follow Laura Barcella, who edited the anthology, on Twitter.  If you get a chance to read it, let me know what you think.  It’s already gotten some good reviews, which is exciting.This one at For Books’ Sake says I have a different opinion of Madonna than bell hooks.  And I didn’t even know that bell hooks had called Madonna a plantation mistress. Guess I’ve got some (more) reading to do.

January’s Greatest Hits: Ariana Proehl, When Your Married Friends Hate You & The Best Sex Writing of 2012

I can’t believe it’s February already. If I had a Lindt truffle for every time I heard someone say that, I’d be fantastically obese.

Anyway, January was a great month. Thanks to those of you who started following the blog and added your comments. Looking forward to learning more about you. Feel free to reach out. I’ll be looking for guest bloggers to swap posts with in the coming months. In the meantime, enjoy the last day of January with a few of these popular posts from the past 31 days:

Ariana Proehl on Single Black Women

Hey, girl, Just settle: The art of making a list to ignore (Complete with a gratuitous photo of Ryan Gosling)

Boston Magazine’s article: Single By Choice

The importance of female friendship and Emily Rapp

The New York Times on Why Men Can’t Stand to be Alone After Divorce

When Your Married Friends Hate You

The Best Sex Writing of 2012: A Review

Better to Marry or Burn? A Biblical Question

Single Lady Quotes: Lady Gaga (Love her philosophy, still not a huge fan of her music, but she doesn’t need me she’s got a billion Twitter followers.)

Speaking of Twitter: Follow me @jvic

Single Lady Quotes: Lady Gaga

Maybe you will all delete my posts from now on, but…I’m not a big Lady Gaga music fan. I like her personally, though. If she’s being quoted correctly, we think alike & maybe have dated some of the same guys?:

In Vanity Fair, she said: ““I have this effect on people where it starts out good. Then, when I’m in these relationships with people who are also creative, or creative in their own way, what happens is the attraction is initially there and it’s all unicorns and rainbows. And then they hate me.”

Ouch, girl. Been there, though. I had an ex-boyfriend who worked at Sears set up his laptop in front of the television when I came home from a 10-hour workday. What was he doing on that laptop? Writing a short story during commercial breaks. “Because it’s not that hard to write,” he said. [You have never seen his name published anywhere. Case and point.]

But I agree with this, too. It’s a trait I think single men are admired for and single ladies are called manly for embracing. I hear it’s called throwing your whole heart and soul into a single endeavor:

“I’m already crazy. I’m a fearless person. I think it creeps up on you. I don’t think it can be stopped. If my destiny is to lose my mind because of fame, then that’s my destiny. But my passion still means more than anything.”

But my favorite quote of all is this one. I read it while I was chasing all the wrong guys and wearing myself out and derailing my self-esteem in the process. It totally helped me to remember that there is nothing shameful with working my heart out, following my bliss and wanting a mate who will get that and (gasp!) maybe celebrate it.

“Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.”


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