Two Bossy Dames is brought to you by: the fabulous foursome of The Imposters Podcast.
Each Imposters Podcast episode is kind of like eavesdropping on four hot-mess-creatives as we figure out our stuff and try to make the world a better place. We celebrate our triumphs and talk through our impostor syndrome, which we loosely define as:
When kickass people doing kickass things feel like they’re big fat frauds who don’t deserve to be here.
Our podcast exists to debunk this garbage.
And who are we? (from left to right above)
Amma Marfo, like Alexander Hamilton before her, writes a lot of things down and says what she thinks. Also like Alexander Hamilton, she truly hopes it doesn’t get her shot. Her saying things comes in the form of her speaking career, three books, writing online for outlets like Pacific Standard and The Interrobang, and budding career in comedy - that last one was largely on a dare set forth by her fellow podcasters. She divides her time between Boston (where she hangs out all too infrequently with Dame Margaret) and airport terminals worldwide. *reads everyone else’s bio, realizes she left out food/drink* The other week, I was panicked at the Apple Store thinking my laptop was dying because of the groaning noise it was making. The culprit? A sprinkle (yeah, like on a cupcake or donut) caught in the fan. That incident says everything you need to know about who I am.
Becca (Fick*) Altimier is a writer, reader, and explorer. She’s the only extrovert in the group and frequently references the friends she knows from the internet, including this bunch of brilliant ladies. She loves untangling knotted necklaces, unjumbling Christmas lights, and generally sorting out chaos into something a bit prettier and more organized. Yoga and running with her handsome mutt Conrad balance out her love of wine and charcuterie. *She’s also very recently married and still changing her name in about a bajillion places.
Mallory Bower is a writer in transition and a career coach who sometimes needs coaching. She’s a beer and cheese enthusiast and an old millennial who won’t apologize for her avocado consumption. She’s forever trying to find a way to be a stay at home dog mom. She’s free but she’s focused, she’s green but she’s wise.
Sue Caulfield is a maker, most commonly known for telling stories with pictures and not words. When she’s not training doctors of tomorrow, she can be found at her favorite coffee shop, going on foodventures with her better half, and convincing her three best galfriends to record their hilarious, creative, messy lives to share with the world. (You can get to know her favorite crunchy snacks by catching up on seasons 1 & 2.)
Bonus Dames #Content! Ask Two Bossy Dames: HOLIDAY DILEMMAS EDITION!
Real-time footage of Your Dames balancing responsibilities like pros.
As the WINTER GIFT GIVING and PARTY ATTENDING and LOGISTICAL MANAGING season is well underway, Dames Margaret and Sophie are over on SoundCloud answering some reader questions about the best way to handle the stresses this time of year so often presents! From where to wear a great red velvet dress to how to generate cheer in a world that's gloomy, Margaret and Sophie have THOUGHTS ON THOUGHTS! And, thanks to their generous supporters at Patreon, they are able to share them with you in their SPEAKING VOICES on the newest episode of their QUARTERLY PODCAST! Listen and let them know your thoughts over on Twitter!
But NOW: The Imposter's ORIGIN STORY!
Like all wonderful ideas, this podcast started with a group text, escalated to Google Hangouts with wine, and evolved into time spent slightly tipsy with stomach cramps from laughing too much. Soon after hanging out for a few weeks, the girl gang decided that they wanted to record their conversations and figured, what the hell, why not share them? The Imposters Podcast was born.
A little over a year ago, this female foursome holed up in Sodus, NY to tape our live Season 1 finale (and drink wine, and try to paint along with Bob Ross. It went...fine?) To celebrate our Anne-iversary, so named for our gracious AirBnB host, we want to revisit some of the questions we fielded in that giggly, new shirt-clad episode.
How do you find/create a community while not becoming jealous of one another or comparing yourself to others? Do you have strategies on how to put together or join creative communities so you have accountability, support, etc.?
SUE: Okay, I’ve confessed this MANY times, but I’ll cop to it again. Here are a few easy steps to finding your own podcast co-hosts/creative mastermind group:
1) Make some close friends using the internet.
2) Get those friends on a hangout a few times every month. Require wine and nachos.
3) Casually suggest (content required) recording these conversations for about 60-90 minutes “just to see where it goes,” fully knowing you’d like it to be a podcast.
4) Figure out all the technical shit that’s WAY harder than you thought.
It’s that simple! :)
Okay, maybe it’s not THAT simple. (Did I mention, not a fan of words? REALLY not a fan of shortcuts and quick steps.) But it sort of is? When I met Amma, Mal, and Becca, our friendships were very much deep-dive-ships, real quick. We talked about shit that was hard to talk about. When I think about our little group, I think about something like this:
We are alike enough to have big common goals and dreams, some of which are creatively driven. We’re different enough to provide balance to the group (like how I am not allow to number or organize our Google Drive). We are close enough to provide honesty that is SO crucial, in life, but to allow art to progress too. We essentially provide ourselves some bliss stations and some messy discomfort via our relationship.
One of the most important parts of the group dynamic to me is the honesty. We DO get jealous of each other, but I think we are all cool with it. It comes from a place of motivation and accountability (which we all NEED). My favorite part of the group? Hands down, our group text. I don’t know if it’s because half of us are night owls, or just rockstar women, but I shit you not when I say that I feel like I could send out a Bat Signal any time, any day, and someone would be there for me. If you’re thinking about a group like this, make sure you find your poop friends.
AMMA: I am an unapologetic hypewoman for the people around me doing cool things. The answer to “should I apply for/try/do...” is always an enthusiastic “YES! YOU SHOULD!” And it’s that orientation to receiving the work and efforts of my friends and dream collaborators, that kills the jealousy.
I feel prickles of envy reading announcements of book deals or high-profile speaking gigs. But if those prickles come from brushes with other friends’ success, I’ve learned to - just as my mother would scold me about - not scratch at them. When you scratch, they spread. The itch gets stronger. You might create small cuts that take awhile to heal. Like Sue said, we’re all different. What’s more, we don’t want the same things. And I’ve become accustomed to the idea that what I have to offer doesn’t fit everywhere.
I also want to addresses “levels of creativity.” I don’t know that there are levels, or degrees, or quantities, of being creative. I think it’s about how often you indulge those impulses, and what the end result looks like. For my first book, I came to a point in writing where I knew I needed pictures. And while I believe in my ability to do lots of things, I knew that readers should not be subjected to my visual representation of my thoughts. But I knew that I could trust Sue with that task. So we teamed up. In that process, I learned I’m not less creative because I can’t write and draw; I learned that my best contribution comes from one medium, and finding a like-minded but differently talented teammate would be my best shot at success. I invite people into my circles (largely using Sue’s #1- I’m a semi-professional introvert and the Internet makes that bit easier) because I love learning from people who can do things I can’t. Or do things that I admire. Not more or less creative, but who use their creative impulses in different ways.
Lastly, I have loved having a circle that dreams bigger than I do for myself. Am example: If the standup “thing” was an unplaceable impulse, the other Imposters escalated it to a “triple dog dare” scenario a la A Christmas Story. After two consecutive 100 Days Projects centered around joke writing, they told me to act on that impulse. They did so in precisely the way I needed them to: not with excessive force, or blindly because I mentioned it once in passing. They helped me see where I was ready, held me accountable, and cheered like mad when the debut came. Take stock of what you want, as well as the people around you. Do they want it for you with the same fervor as you want it for yourself? Will they support you during and after you achieve it? Find those folks - and do the same for them. Support their big dreams. And stand up and cheer at each step they make toward it.
If you had one small trick you would implement into your daily life to combat imposter syndrome, what would it be?
MAL: How do I combat impostor syndrome? Let me walk you through a day in the life.
Sunday: it’s the day we decided we’d have a draft of this thing finished and I’m just sitting down to write. I know that Amma and Becca, the two professional writers in our quad, will come up with witty and thoughtful contributions that are accompanied by the perfect .gifs and content links. Sue (who doesn’t think she is a good writer, but totally is) will knock all of our socks off with the funniest captions to her impressive drawings. The whole week I’ve been wondering where I fit into all of this. My heart knows that my words belong in this shared Google Doc, alongside the art of these gals that I love so much, but somewhere in my brain, the inner voice whispers, why even bother?
So instead of sitting down to put words on a page, I start ripping apart my closet Marie Kondo style. I have way too many hoodies and nautically striped shirts, but they all bring me joy, so I decide to keep them. I retreat from the closet explosion to watch three episodes of Bob’s Burgers, including the one where Bob runs out of inspiration for his “Burger of the Day” puns and takes Yoga to forget his woes. I’m inspired by his lack of inspiration. I think about doing yoga for less than a millisecond and decide to go grab a cheeseburger instead-- it’s no “Head Shoulders Knees and Tomatoes” burger, but it’ll do. I clean the bathroom. I finish my holiday shopping. I think about deleting my website where all evidence of my writing habit lives. I start texting friends I haven’t talked to in a while. I nap. I go see Coco. I finish grading end-of-semester papers.
After about a week of what I call ritual procrastination, I sneak downstairs before my partner and puppies are awake. I light the fireplace, make a cup of coffee, and open my laptop and just... write.
So how do I combat imposter syndrome?
The obvious answer? I don’t, really. I think getting over imposter syndrome will always be a work in progress for high-achieving, Type-A-types like you and me. Sometimes you have to muck your way through your own version of ritual procrastination (we’ve all got our thing). And sometimes you have to recognize your insecurity and tell it to go fuck itself so you can sit down and do the thing you’re supposed to do.
BECCA: What Mal said, but with one major differentiator: I do yoga. I’ve been practicing for over five years and still feel like I don’t belong in the studio sometimes. I’m bendy, but also curvy. And I can’t do a lot of the fancy upside-down, twisty pretzel stuff. So, I convince myself to stay home and wallow in my Old Navy leggings. But when I do go? That’s where the good stuff happens.
Yoga isn’t about the poses: it’s about the practice. For me, time on the mat is a time to connect with my body, feel all of my feelings, breathe deeply, and let myself be away from wifi and likes and deadlines for an hour. This kind of connection and introspection are the training grounds for my defense against Imposter Syndrome. Yoga brings an awareness to the body and mind that lets me see it coming. Does it still show up? Hellz to the yea. But I recognize it now and I know that it’s temporary, bullshit, and just society and/or my own dumb brain practicing some not-so-stealthy subversion.
And I’m usually a better writer after. It was after a particularly sweaty yoga sesh that I sat in my car feverishly penning the beginning of my weekly-ish newsletter, Works In Progress.
“Text Ya in Five”: A Look Inside Our Group Text/What We’re Reading and Liking Lately
MAL: Phew. So a lot of life has been happening and admittedly not a lot of writing. Some of this I’ll talk about in our upcoming season of The Imposters Podcast. My priorities have been slowly changing so I’ve been focused a lot on decluttering things, people, and responsibilities so I can make room for the new stuff.
(Over) analyzing my impostor syndrome helped me to understand that physical clutter makes my brain shut down and want to watch Netflix for 12-hours straight (while we still have the option). Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up has resurfaced in my book rotation and I’m tackling some major in-home purging projects. I’m always dreaming of that perfect capsule wardrobe, but I always end up keeping the donate bags in my trunk for too long and end up shopping there when I haven’t done laundry in a while. Less stuff equals less decision making and more white space equals more space to breathe and create. I’ll see ya on the other side.
SUE: Something that’s been on my mind for basically the entire year is how to take action and use my creative superpower to drive purposeful political conversations (Alabama, thank you. Black women, thank you.). Some of this comes from my favorite political podcasts. While I know this is an area where I actually do need to practice my words, I am eager to ‘speak’ about the impact using my suedles. Speaking of making an impact, some of my favorite organizations as of late are She Should Run and Run for Something. They are also some of my favorite organizations to invest in, because girl power, ya know? Another one of my recent past-times is scouring Instagram for new art like these Picasso-like feminine beauties and this tran-artist using comics to tell her story. I also am a dedicated Birth Hour listener (no, I am not pregnant, Mom, Instagram ads, and everyone else asking).
AMMA: Apologies if you heard gross sniffles as you approached my section. This animated film fanatic is still crying over Coco, Pixar’s latest triumph (yes, despite its short-lived companion “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure.”). And I’m not a movie crier. If you’ve seen it, you likely know the most emotional points. But my heartstrings were also tugged pretty early on, as Miguel stole away to his handcrafted ofrenda to his hero Ernesto de la Cruz. Playing along to his “Best of de la Cruz” VHS tapereminded me of all the dog-eared pages in my Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary books as a kid, my scribbled notes in the margins of novels in high school, and my notebooks full of inspirational notes pulled from my current reads. That feeling of a note or phrase or color combination so good your heart strains? It was a beautiful thing to see on-screen.
P.S.: if Coco was anyone’s introduction to Gael Garcia Bernal- welcome, glad you made it. He is a treasure, and has been for years now.
P.P.S: was anyone else reminded, as Miguel sang hoping to jog the memory of his aging grandmother, of Guatemalan-American heartthrob and “People’s (Champion) Sexiest Man Alive” Oscar Isaac hoping to do the same for his father in Inside Llewyn Davis? Making that connection in the theater only made the tears flow harder.
P.P.P.S: Sorry, last thing. Speaking about Pixar films that seem determined/engineered to turn on the waterworks, one of my yearly re-reads is Owen Gleiberman’s piece on why Toy Story 3 was having such a powerful emotional effect on the young men watching it. I cried at this piece before even seeing the movie. And again, that’s very much not my style. Your turn- I’d advise grabbing a tissue.
BECCA: Sometimes I avoid the internet because it makes me angry. Other times, I remember that’s exactly why I need it. The SheSpends newsletter and Facebook group have been improving my money smarts. I’m a big fan of money – learning how to get more of it, save it, donate it, invest it, and spend it smarter. The Girl’s Night In newsletter is all kinds of good hygge and coziness. The makers over at Witchsy are making and selling some weird stuff (and sometimes very NSFW stuff, fair warning) and I’m super into it. They also made headlines for creating a fake male cofounder to dodge sexism. [Spoiler: It worked] I’m also trying to figure out how babies are made (I was at Disney World the week my 5th grade class got the talk) and this book is as funny as it is informative.
We end each of our episodes with a Fucks Given Count. AKA Becca counts the times we say fuck in any given episode. (Sorry, Becca’s Mom. It’s all in the name of creativity.) Frankly, we all thought Mallory would be the biggest dropper of f-bombs, but she consistently proves us wrong.
At the risk of sounding like an after school special, swearing is cool, but caring is cool too. We give a lot of fucks around here. We remind each other to call, write, and fax our reps. We hold each other accountable. We use our art to make changewhere we can. We share what we’re reading, feeling, thinking, and making. And we show up for each other.
We want to show up for you, too. In Season 3, we’ll be interviewing guest creatives to pull back the curtain on their processes. Know someone who’d be a good fit? Let us know.