Love Made Visible

Last weekend, the Japanese Fisheries Agency officially notified the International Whaling Commission that its whaling fleet plans to return to the waters of Antarctica to hunt 333 Antarctic minke whales over the next four months.  This despite the fact that on March 31 2014, the International Court of Justice declared Japan’s whaling program to be illegal, and ordered that it immediately cease.

Much of the difficult and dangerous task of battling such illegal activity has been helmed by Sea Shepherd, an anti-poaching organization that has been shepherding international waters for years. Its activities have also been highlighted in Animal Planet’s Emmy-nominated reality program, Whale Wars.

“The pristine waters of the Southern Ocean are once again under threat from poachers,” said Captain Alex Cornelissen, CEO of Sea Shepherd Global. “We would like to remind the Japanese government that the whales of the Southern Ocean are protected by international law, by Australian law and by Sea Shepherd. As such, any violation of the sanctity of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary or the Australian Whale Sanctuary will be regarded as a criminal act.”

This news prompts us to highlight a related DTBF story, “Love Made Visible: My Adventurous Year” by Jo-Anne McArthur. McArthur is an international photojournalist and animal rights activist and this story is about one year in her life when, amongst other things, she volunteered as a staff photographer aboard a Sea Shepherd vessel called the Bob Barker, witnessing and photographing direct encounters with Japanese whaling ships that were poaching illegally in international waters.

Jo-Anne McArthurLife won’t always be this idyllic aboard our boat, which the crew affectionately refers to as “The Bob.” We will have intensely dangerous confrontations with our rivals, the Japanese whaling fleet. Our boat is one of three on this 2009-2010 Antarctic Mission to stop the poaching of up to 935 Minke whales, which are hunted by the fleet and sold for meat in Japan.

Her DTBF story was first featured in 2010. Read “Love Made Visible: My Adventurous Year” by Jo-Anne McArthur

Dare to be Fabulous will be featuring more new stories in the coming months. Consider sharing a DTBF story of your own! Submissions are open and stories are also welcomed in audio or video formats. Please check the submission guidelines for more information.

 

From corporate executive to elephant dung scooper, and loving it

You’re on a successful career path. You’re making good money. You’re respected. You’re being sought to fill positions with more power and higher income. And yet, you’re not happy. You’re not fulfilled. And you find yourself aching for the dream you’ve had since you were a child. Do you do something about it?

Melissa Haynes was in that very situation when she dared to take action, defying conventional expectations. Her DTBF story begins this way:

Dreamers spend their lives asleep. The early bird gets the worm. Keep your head down and work hard. Your job is your worth. If you don’t have a good job, you don’t have anything. Money makes the world go round. You are your bank balance. Your title defines you. No one will like you if you aren’t successful in business. Things matter. Appearance is everything. Grow up. Get real.

Melissa got real by being true to herself and doing what she’d dreamed of doing since kindergarten: going to Africa and helping the animals.

Have you ever lifted elephant dung? It’s as heavy as a bowling ball. Mucking out ellie stalls took hours of backbreaking, stinky work. But you know what? It was great. I loved every grueling second of it.

Read her DTBF story: “A Life-long Dream Realized: Volunteering with the Big Five in Africa.”

Haynes also wrote a book about her experience in Africa. It has the provocative title, Learning to Play with a Lion’s Testicles. Look who noticed:

Jimmy Fallon features book by Melissa HaynesMelissa Haynes book on "Ellen"

Ricky Gervais reading Melissa Haynes' book

Here’s to fulfilling your dreams. To heeding a personal call to make a difference. To facing your fears. And to creating a new path all your own. Hey, you never know just what might happen!

 

A story from your friend with schizophrenia

Imagine if your friend, colleague or neighbor of almost 20 years suddenly and publicly revealed that she had paranoid schizophrenia. Our new story comes from Rebecca Chamaa, who candidly shares her experience of secretly living with this mental disease and her decision to finally reveal it to friends and family.

Before my husband and I went public with the secret we had kept for over 17 years, we had many discussions about how people might react and how we’d respond. We had some near sleepless nights. We were very anxious because we felt our whole world was about to change.

Read the full story here: “Revealing my secret: I have paranoid schizophrenia” by Rebecca Chamaa.

Often, when you dare to share your own personal story, you not only empower yourself, you also empower others. Rebecca has not only divulged her secret of having paranoid schizophrenia, she now has her own blog about living with the disease and has even written a book.

Maybe my honesty will make it easier for the next person to share. Hopefully, I can and will be a voice that helps pave a new path for those who want to live out in the open.

Empower yourself. Empower others. We are always open to new story submissions. Consider sharing a DTBF story of your own! Check the story submission guidelines for more information.

 

Hot, wet, and daring

As temperatures reach well into the 100s across the globe and vacationers head to cool water for a much-needed reprieve, Dare to be Fabulous brings you two stories to complement that experience. Lounge back on that beach chair (or that blanket, sofa, chair or bed) and enjoy.

Jenna Jolovitz and Stephen Colbert

Jenna Jolovitz and Stephen Colbert perform a skit on his final show at Second City

First, our newly featured DTBF story. This one comes from Jenna Jolovitz, an improv writer and actor who was a troupe member at Second City in Chicago alongside Stephen Colbert, Steve Carrell and many others. (You can watch her and Carrell in a Second City pilot through a link in her story’s introduction.) Jenna has also been a writer for a number of notable TV comedies, including Saturday Night Live.

Jenna’s DTBF story is about an improvised experience in her own life. When in France, do as the French do: go topless at the beach in Cannes. Well, here’s what happened when Jenna did just that. Read “Isn’t that Fabulous” by Jenna Jolovitz.

swimming-Lisa_Chun

Swimming by Lisa Chun

The second story was written by moi, DTBF’s editor. It’s highlighted with Jenna’s story, because it is strikingly similar in theme: a young woman traveling solo during the heat of summer and experiencing bouts of self-consciousness as she heads into the water. This one was published in Moxie Magazine years before Dare to be Fabulous came into existence. The magazine is no longer in print but the story remains online and is linked here. It’s about a solo road trip from L.A. to Yosemite just after I turned thirty. Read  “Communion” by Johanna McCloy.

Here’s to overcoming self-consciousness and seizing the day. Stay cool and keep daring, everyone!

 

New story from Molly Caro May and Truckin’

Map of EnoughOur new featured story comes from Molly Caro May, author of the critically acclaimed memoir, The Map of Enough: One Woman’s Search for Place, which is now out in paperback. The book is about when she and her fiancé built a Mongolian yurt from scratch and lived on 107 acres of wilderness in Montana.

“The Map of Enough is moving, poetic, and addictive. May’s sense of wonder at her new world and adventurous spirit is admirable and contagious, but even more important is the way she inspires us to question our own deeply-held beliefs about home and happiness.”—Elle

Molly Caro May’s DTBF story is “what is hot in the heart these days,” she says. May candidly recounts how pregnancy and motherhood didn’t go exactly as she planned. Click here to read May’s story, “What I Never Expected.”

Also, as the Grateful Dead play their Fare Thee Well tour in Santa Clara (June 27-28) and Chicago (July 3-5), Dare to be Fabulous is revisiting a blog/story about when I rode shotgun in an 18-wheeler with my college beau as he drove long distances for Truckin’ Movers, a company run by a couple of Deadheads who used the song title and boot logo with the band’s permission. The story has been slightly edited since it originally appeared. Click here to read “Truckin’ “

Dare to be Fabulous is always open to new story submissions. For those who might prefer to share a story in audio or on video, those formats are also welcomed. Read the Submission Guidelines for more information.

DTBF!

Johanna

TRUCKIN’ by Johanna McCloy

Truckin'

It was the fall of 1984 and I was a sophomore at Duke University. My boyfriend Mark had just graduated and was uncertain about what he wanted to pursue as a career, so he extended his summer job as a driver and mover for a local moving company while he pondered his path and his future.

The moving company that he worked for was founded by a couple of Deadheads, Doug and Toni. Besides them, the staff comprised of Mark, Mark’s brother, and about five other employees, so it was small and had the feel of a large family. The name of the company was Truckin’ Movers and their logo was the same famous Grateful Dead boot that is seen on the cover of the band’s live Europe ’72 album. (I was told that Doug ardently pursued and happily received the band’s permission to use the name and logo.)

In addition to being Deadheads, Doug and Toni were also Krishna devotees, so Doug sometimes wore traditional Indian clothes to the office and donned a tilak (ash mark) on his forehead. In their Durham warehouse, incense smoke wafted in the air and shoes were stashed at the front door. Tapes of the Dead played all day with occasional interludes of Krishna chanting. We knew to be quiet upon entering the warehouse whenever chanting was heard.

While I made my way from Philosophy to Japanese to Geology classes at Duke, my beau mastered the art of loading and driving an 18-wheeler. The large truck had just been added to their fleet of smaller vehicles and Mark was the first employee to get a big rig driver’s license. It wasn’t easy. Maneuvering such a large truck was one thing, but there were also 12 gears and a very specific approach to braking. (If you’ve ever seen runaway truck ramps, that’s what they’re for, braking problems.) Mark had to know about the truck’s mechanics and followed a regimented checklist before each trip, just as a pilot does with a plane before taking off. He also had to know what to expect at highway weigh stations and how to address any issues that might arise there.

When Mark drove long distances over holidays, school breaks or weekends, he’d sometimes take me along, picking me up at the house where I lived off campus. Everyone knew he was coming for blocks before he arrived, because you could hear the truck’s rattling diesel engine and the hissing and squealing of its brakes. Large rigs weren’t supposed to drive through smaller neighborhoods, so as soon as I heard his truck approaching, I’d run outside and wait at the curb. He’d drive up and I’d open the passenger door, take the three large steps up into the cab, plop into the large rotating seat awaiting me, and throw my duffel bag into the sleeper area behind us while the truck barely idled. Then, he’d get the truck out of there before the police could arrive to hand us a ticket. (Doug and Toni weren’t always informed that I joined him.)

Truckin TrailerThe truck’s CB created another world on the freeways, an audio salon covering about a five-mile radius. Over the CB, truckers talked to each other about their jobs, the roads, their trucks, or the area around them. The most common use of the CB was to announce “Smokey” (highway patrol officer) sightings, which allowed truckers approaching the area enough time to slow down and avoid a possible speed trap. In Mark’s case, he received a lot of questions regarding the relatively new crate and tarp system that was being used on his 18-wheel trailer. After explaining how it worked several times, Mark suggested that I take the next query. I happily consented and we decided to make my CB “handle“ Tokyo Rose, based on my years of living in Tokyo as a teenager. It wasn’t typical for a female voice to be heard on the CB and the actress in me loved it. I’d use any excuse to start a conversation. “What’s the weather like in Bammy [Alabama]? Over.”

Truckers also used the CB to comment on motorists, looking down from their high perches into neighboring car windows and taking note of what they saw. Approaching truckers would be told to watch out for the chick in the blue skirt in the brown Toyota, for example. They’d look into the car as they passed, commenting to everyone with a “woohoo,” or “let’s see more of those legs, darlin’.” Little did that poor girl know that all the truckers in the vicinity were talking about her. Moving freely to her tunes, she was likely feeling invisible inside her boxed enclosure.

I learned about runaway ramps located off steep inclines for trucks whose brakes were failing. I learned about the frequency of torn tires and the need for replacements. I also learned the silent ways that truckers communicate by blinking their lights once to tell a truck behind them to go ahead and pass, and blinking twice as a way to say thank you after getting in front, if you were the truck that did so.

When we went to truck stops, we always used North Carolina accents so we could blend in and converse without calling attention to ourselves. When we pulled into weigh stations along the freeways, we’d hear the universal request from the officials awaiting us, arms outstretched with a palm open toward the driver’s window, their words jumbled together as one: “drivuhzlicenserestrationlawoogbuuk!” (driver’s license, registration, log book.)

A trucker’s log book identifies the drivers, the truck owner, the type of truck and the commodities being shipped in its trailer. It also tracks the location and miles for every 15 minute interval of time, whether on or off duty, and throughout every 24 hour period. (This is because there are strict laws regulating how much time a trucker can drive between rests. A faulty log book can result in harsh fines and even prosecution.) After the officials checked the documents and found them to be okay, which was most of the time, Mark would drive onto the designated scale markers on the ground. Each axle would be weighed to ensure compliance with state law maximums and a red or green light would indicate whether we’d need to pull over for further inspection or were free to move on.

When Mark first started driving for Truckin’ Movers, they only owned small trucks, so we were accustomed to riding together on those long vinyl seats that ran across the cabs and rattled along with the truck engines. When he graduated to the 18-wheeler, it felt like we’d become freeway royalty, bouncing with soft air suspension above everyone, in big comfortable easy chair thrones. The first couple of times we rode in those trucks, we’d inevitably break into British accents, pretend waving as if on a parade, “greetings to the minions.” When I rode along with him on multi-day trips, we generally stayed in motels overnight, but when he was alone with the big rig, he’d park at the large truck stops and sleep in the sleeper section of the cab, occasionally awoken by truck stop prostitutes knocking on the cab door to see if he might need anything.

One time, we were hit by a horrible storm in Alabama. I usually helped him by tracking inventory of the items being moved, but that day, I helped him load the truck as well. He was solo and the weather made the work even more grueling. The shipper couldn’t have been nicer and didn’t balk about the trucker’s girlfriend helping him load. After we finished loading, it was after dark and we were frozen to the core. We drove to a motel, took long hot baths and buried ourselves under the blankets, our bodies aching from head to toe. Another time, we unloaded a truck in San Francisco, where Glen, Mark’s “humper” (that’s the actual job title used for the person who assists the main driver/loader in the moving business), literally humped the client in her bedroom as we inventoried and unloaded her furniture on the floor below. She came downstairs with a wide grin on her face and when we were done, she took us all out for pizza.

Mark and I enjoyed all the adventure and independence that came with life on the road. We enjoyed it so much, in fact, that we seriously pondered buying our own truck and taking a year to live and work on the road as independent owner/operators after I graduated from college. That didn’t come to pass, but it remained a dream for some time.

When I’m on road trips and I pass big trucks on the highway or on long country roads, I consider my brief sojourn into that world and smile. Sometimes, I blink my lights to offer a trucker the chance to pass me, or as a way to say thank you for letting me do the same.

Tokyo Rose says hi. Over.

Johanna McCloy is editor of the Dare to be Fabulous website and the book, Dare to be Fabulous: Follow the journeys of daring women on the path to finding their true north. She also edited her mother’s memoir, Six Car Lengths Behind an Elephant:Undercover and Overwhelmed as a CIA Wife and Mother by Lillian McCloy.

Every little step we take

“Every time we take care of some piece that we have a little resistance to – ‘it’s going to take too much of my time, it scares me’ – we become more whole, more alive. We’ve dealt with stuff that’s been bugging us consciously or unconsciously, and it’s not bugging us anymore. As we do that, we help the whole interconnected life be less bugged. Something else will come up soon, and that’s okay because that’s how we keep growing. We’re taking care of everything, whether we’re aware of it or not; it’s what we call cosmic resonance. When we take care of something we think is just in us, we’re affecting the whole world. With every little step we take, we’re affecting everything and everyone.”

– Roshi Bernie Sanders, from his book with Jeff Bridges, The Dude and the Zen Master

Yes, indeed. The personal is universal, and the universal is personal. It’s all connected, maaaan. And that’s what Dare to be Fabulous is about: experiences of facing up to our own personal resistance. Sometimes, such an experience might even be surprisingly spontaneous, but in the doing of it, you realize how good it makes you feel, and that positive charge then resonates with the people around you… and the community… and the world. Dare to be Fabulous provides a platform to help boost that positive charge.

Buddhist teacher Roshi Bernie Sanders founded the Zen Community of New York, which later became Zen Peacemakers, an international order of social activists. His book with Academy Award-winning actor Jeff Bridges is a dialog between them, a deep and often hilarious conversation about incorporating the spiritual in our daily lives and doing good in a difficult world. It’s a delightful and insightful read.

Sohini Chakraborty and her Dance for Revolution

Sohini Chakraborty

Sohini Chakraborty, photographed by Daniel Pepper

I first read about Sohini Chakraborty in TIME Magazine in 2010. I was taken by her story, her mission and her work and immediately contacted her organization to extend my support. Talk about daring to be fabulous! Sohini’s non-profit organization, Kolkata Sanved (sanved is Sanskrit for “empathy”) helps thousands of former child prostitutes, victims of trafficking and other abused women and girls to dance their way into healing and ultimately, into empowerment.

“Dance can help you break free, Dance can bring us together – Dance, Move and Rise for Revolution!” This is the tag line that Kolkata Sanved and One Billion Rising’s “Dance for Revolution” campaign launched earlier this year. I’m including a link to the video about that campaign below, because it’s the best way to give you an idea of the energy, the positivity and the power that dance can and does bring to so many girls and women. Activist and playwright Eve Ensler joined in for this celebratory launch, as did a number of famous Indian musicians and many, many others.

This month, Dare to be Fabulous features a personal story from Sohini about her early decision to become an independent woman in a traditional Indian culture where that wasn’t considered “normal.” She also ends her story with a brief DTBF video message for women (in Bengali with English subtitles).

Click here to read Sohini Chakraborty’s DTBF story, “An Independent Woman.” 

Also, watch Kolkata Sanved’s “Dance for Revolution” campaign video below:

DTBF!

Johanna