Singular She

Singular She

Back in March of 2016, the founder and writer of a wildly (mildly) popular blog suddenly and unceremoniously shut it down, leaving her readers with the promise of a timely retool, rename and relaunch. A promise she did not keep. But this past Friday night, when most of the world had forgotten her and her blog were ever even a thing, she quietly began her desperate attempt to return from oblivion. So today, I will be catching up with Janice Wooten (me), the founder of what was once The Miss League. I’ll ask her (me) the tough questions about the shutdown, the long absence, why she’s returning now and what’s up with that new name.



Janice, thank you for joining me today.
Yeah, of course, thank you for having me!

So let’s get right to it.
My thoughts exactly.

So what the heck?
What?

What the heck? You start a blog, you run it for two years and then you just shut it down. What. the. heck?
Well, I didn’t shut it down, I just… I mean, I did shut it down, but it wasn’t a “shut down” shut down, it was just a break.

Seven months? That’s just a break?
Has it been seven months? Wow. I did not mean for that to happen.

So what did happen? Did you get a boyfriend? And then he broke up with you and that’s why you’re back now?
No.

So he didn’t break up with you? You have a boyfriend and you still feel qualified to write to single women?
I think we both know I never had a boyfriend. I mean, not never, but not in the last seven months.

Dang girl, that’s sad. So that’s why you shut it down, because you were sad?
No – I wasn’t sad! My relationship status had nothing to do with the blog.

Nothing at all?
Nothing! Well… maybe a little.

Yeah. Thought so. Please elaborate.
Look, I loved The Miss League, I started it for women like us – single, Christian women over the age of 27; but the more I kept writing and talking with more women, the more I realized that a lot of the things I was grappling with didn’t suddenly start at age 27 and they weren’t limited to just Christian women or just single women.

What kinds of things?
All kinds of things! Struggles with confidence and what it means to be a woman, fears about not being enough – pretty enough, interesting enough, feminine enough; worries about the future and running out of time, all the issues and shame around sexuality, feelings of being overlooked and looked down upon in church circles. So many women are fixated on a relationship as a fix, but marriage is not a catch-all cure for any of that.

So realizing that struggle was more widespread than you originally considered, you thought it would be best to just pack it all in. And leave everybody hanging.
No. I realized that I needed to find a way to widen my base and be more inclusive.

So?
So I knew that the first thing I needed to do was find a new name.

Why? I thought The Miss League was a great name.
It was.

Thank you.
What?

Nothing. Continue.
It was a great name, but one of the most common questions I got from the beginning was “Well what happens to the blog when you get married?” And I always said that it wouldn’t matter. I would still write The Miss League, even if I wasn’t a Miss anymore, but… I didn’t like that it was such a black and white term that was so tied to marital status. So I started praying and searching for a new name.

And?
And I ran across this word. This amazing word that means “exceptionally good or great and remarkable.” This word that has a list a of synonyms like extraordinary, exceptional, outstanding, noteworthy and it was like a rocket went off in my heart because that word? It’s Singular.

Singular.
Yeah! And I love it because it sounds so close to single and one of it’s other definitions is as a reference to something individual, but it has nothing to do with marital status. Me being single? That can (and hopefully will!) change some day –

Dear God please.
But me being singular? I pray that NEVER changes.

So the new name…
Is “Singular She”.

And who is the “She”?
She is me. And you. And whoever. She is any woman, of any age, stage or marital status.

So the blog is back?
It’s back.

And who is it for now?
Well, it’s still being written by a Christian, single woman in her 30’s so that will always be the homebase, but I’d love for all women to read it. And be part of the conversation, because honestly… in a lot of ways, it’s too late for me – I wish I had known in my 20s, not necessarily what I know today, but that the things I was worried and afraid about weren’t isolated to just me. I think it would have saved me a lot of angst and anxiety if I could have heard more honest conversations. I mean, I survived and I’m okay, but I would love to save the women right behind me from as much of that shit as possible.

You, uh, wanna watch your mouth there?
Nah. I’m good.

But you just said you were a Christian.
Yes I did. And I am.

Mmmhmm.
Look, this isn’t your mother’s (my mother’s) blog. Which isn’t to say she can’t read it, but this is my space and I’m trying to build something as authentic as possible, so I’m going to be as authentically me as possible. Everything in moderation, ya know?

Okay. Well… good luck with that.
Thank you.

So Singular She. It’s here, it’s authentic, it’s live. What’s next?
Well, I’m excited to be writing again and seeing what comes up, I’ll also be editing and re-releasing “classic” posts from The Miss League and I’m gonna try out some new things — I want to start Singular Reads, a book club where we’ll be reading some of the books that I love and have helped me. And I i’m excited to do some Singular Meets, where we’ll be getting together in real life!

And doing what?
Well that remains to be seen. But uh… it’ll be great.

Okay then. Is there anything else you’d like to say to the people reading this, any final thoughts to finish this up?
Yeah, I just… I’m sorry it took so long, but I’m really excited to be back and moving forward and I hope you decide to come along with me. So please – subscribe, share and be part of this thing. Decide to be singular. Because the truth is that you already are.

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And there you have it folks. “The Miss League” is so yesterday and Singular She is on the move, with it’s sights set on encouraging and empowering all women. So if you’re into that kind of thing, get into it. And let’s see how it goes.

Paperwork

Paperwork

Right around this time last week, 4 out of 5 people on my Facebook feed were posting and sharing this song. And rightfully so. It’s legit. Even I posted it. And I generally shun doing anything that everyone else is doing. I’d say I’m a rebel, but too many other people already have so… #itsdeadtome

Anyway, I had that song on repeat all day at work. And at one point, I was sitting there at my desk with tears in my eyes. Not because I was moved by the beauty of the song, but because everything about my life at that moment was so opposite to touching the sky. Far from soaring or dancing on the wings of anything, I was going through boxes and boxes and boxes of paperwork for one of the company heads. And if there is one thing that I hate, it’s paperwork. And the only thing worse than paperwork? Is somebody else’s paperwork. So I was miserable.

But there I was. And I realized that moment was basically a summary of most of my life. I have all these high hopes, dreams and beliefs and they are great and they are encouraging and they lift me, but most of my life? Honestly… it just looks like paperwork. It’s boring. It’s mundane. I don’t even know why most of it is happening. And it feels so far from everything I’d rather be doing.

But it’s happening. So it’s gotta mean something. Or be worth something. Or be building something in me that means something or is worth something. Right??

I certainly hope so. Because yesterday I had a moment. A friend of mine texted me with some great news. An awesome door is opening for her. A door that I pointed her towards. Which I don’t say to take any credit for, I only mention it to highlight how stilted my life sometimes seems. People are walking through new doors all around me and meanwhile, I feel like I’m forever outside and forever knocking. Forever filing paperwork. Forever given the jobs that no one else wants to do. Never asked to do what I want to do or what I’m good at… except… that’s not 100% true.

Because I am good at paperwork.

A few hours after shedding those workday tears, I was adding the printed labels to the stupid folders I had just spent all day organizing and filing. And I felt… pleased. Proud even. I would never have asked for that task, but I finished it. And I finished it well. And when looked at in the right light, that’s actually a good sign for my future, even if it looks like it’s going nowhere fast.

I think back to the parable of the talents in the Bible (Matthew 25:14-30), the short version is that three servants are given a certain amount of things to handle for their boss – one gets 5, one gets 2 and one gets 1. The boss goes away and then comes back at some point and has a debrief with each of them. The first two servants doubled what they were given, but the third servant has nothing more to show for the time that has passed. So the boss gives the first two more and but takes the little from the last servant. Whomp whomp. Anyway, because of the use of the word “talents” it’s really easy to romanticize this story and imagine that each of the servants was given something good or that they liked to start with. But what if it was all just paperwork and filing?

What if it was all something  that they could do (obviously), but wouldn’t typically choose to do? What if there were other things they would have much rather been given?  It makes it a lot easier to understand why that last servant flamed out so spectacularly. And how easy it would be for me to do the same. To look at what I’ve been given and do just enough to maintain it, but invest nothing of myself and add nothing to it. Saving all my energy for when the door to something I really want to do opens. When what I should be doing is using what’s being given to me now to build up my stamina, strength and resolve for whatever is on the other side.

For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance.”

So note to self: Whatever you have now – whatever time, whatever relationships, whatever tasks, whatever paperwork – even if it’s nothing you would have chosen, it’s something you’ve been given.  Not to keep you from what you really want, but to build and strengthen you for something more. 

So play that song a million times more and cry if you need to, but don’t stop filing. Get that paperwork done.

The Odds

The Odds

Truth telling time: I’m tired. And kind of losing hope.

And not even really about being single. That is what it is. I’ve tried everything I can and everything everyone has suggested and nothing has “worked”, so it’s cool. I’m cool. It’s not on me. But writing… that is on me. And where I go with it, I feel that’s on me too. And I’ve got all these impossible dreams that keep creeping closer and closer to the realm of possibility. And it’s freaking me out.

My entire life feels like it’s heading in the direction of too much for me. And the more I find myself believing in the impossible, the more I find myself losing hope in me.

And I’m pretty sure that’s right where God wants me.

I’ve been reading the story of Gideon lately. It’s in Judges 7 and the superfast version is that God called him to lead an army into battle. He started with an army of 32,000, God said “Nope. Too many.” and cut it down to 10,000. Then God said that was still too many and took that number down to 300, and then sent that 300 up against an army of 135,000 (Judges 8:10). And the 300 won. The odds were 450 to 1. And the 300 won. Which is amazing. And crazy. And miraculous.

But here’s the thing: a victorious outcome in that battle was always going to be a miracle because the odds were always against Gideon. That original army of 32,000? The odds were still 4 to 1 against Gideon. But 4 to 1 just feels more plausible, doesn’t it? When it came time for the pre-battle pep talk, Gideon may have been sweating a little, but he could convincingly say “It won’t be easy, but we can do this.”

But a pep talk to that army of 300? Where each one of them would be personally responsible for taking down four hundred and fifty soldiers?  I think it would have sounded much less convincing but much more sure. Sure that they were going into the fray and sure that they only way they were going to make it through was by the grace of God.

So I don’t know where you are in your battle plans, but if the odds don’t feel like 450 to 1 yet, just wait for it. Because if you’re sweating, but still feel like you can plausibly accomplish what you’ve set out to do, then there’s probably still more to it.

But if you, like me, feel like the odds weren’t great before, but are absolutely impossible now — congrats. You’re right. And also right? Those fears that you can’t do it and can’t handle it and can’t make it. Because you can’t. But you will. You totally will. By the grace of God.

So brace yourself. And may the odds be never in your favor.