Lessons in Badassery: Some Thoughts on My Journey

The word “badass,” as a descriptor, is popping up quite a bit these days, both in my personal and professional life.

Back in May, my daughter gave me this Mother’s Day card:

It ranks as the best card ever (except maybe those early hand-made ones covered in dyed, dried up pasta).

Badassery also came up at a photo shoot last week. The photographer, make-up artist, and other stylists and clients milling around kept saying: “you’re such a badass.” Then when I posted a behind-the-scenes pic on Instagram, it happened again. Several comments included the word.

So what is a badass? I’m not sure I know. But the label feels right on my 61-year-old self.

Being called a badass made me think of all the women who inspire me and how they emulate their badassery. So I thought I’d share a few lessons learned on my journey.

E’s Lessons in Badassery

#1 Go with your gut.

Earlier this year, I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to change my hair color. It was something that I thought about for several years. But the only way to get rid of all the red was to go for a super-short pixie cut. And this changed my life. First off, I feel liberated. The shorter ‘do takes at least ten more minutes off my morning routine. Second, people notice my new-found freedom and compliment me on my style–which my superficial French soul adores. Third, everyone assumes I’m a badass for sporting this look. (No, short hair is not brave, but evidently, people think it is when worn by a woman.)

New ‘do means new headshots. Selfie of me and my amazing photographer, Mickel Healey. But why is she pointing at my boob?

#1 Get out of your comfort zone.

Years ago, I took to the stage to do a faux breast self-exam on a male volunteer from the audience at a burlesque revue. I was scared to do it, but as it turns out, had a blast. When I went to thank the producer and explain how this performance was WAY out of my comfort zone, she replied: “that would be the point, wouldn’t it?”

Doing stand-up also forces me out of my comfort zone. Getting up in front of a room full of strangers and attempting to make them laugh is so hard, everything else seems easy. Once I started performing at open mics and festivals, I was less anxious about writing my blog or finishing the edits on my book. Plus, it’s a way for me to spread my potty-mouth badass message to the world. (Warning: adult language ahead.)

#1 Be true to yourself.

When I was younger, I was told to conform to succeed. But whenever I tried, I felt uncomfortable and inauthentic. As I’ve grown older, I’ve found greater joy, happiness, and even success, by being my genuine self — warts and all. After all, no one can give the gift of “E” to the world, except me. I do me and nobody else (as is evident from that video clip above, lol).

Pole dancing in my Harlow & Fox kimono.
E being E.

#1 Be a lifelong learner.

It could be trying a new lingerie style, switching up long-held habits, or exploring new foods or parts of the world. That’s what happened when I put all my possessions in storage and relocated to Los Angeles for three months. That was nearly six years ago, and I have no plans to leave. And I’ve grown in immeasurable ways since I took the chance to: go with my gut, try something new, and adapt to a different environment. I remember telling friends at the time, “moving to LA is like getting my Masters in life.” I’m still working on it.

#1 Hard work pays off.

I keep learning this one over and over again. There’s no easy way or shortcut to reach my creative goals or complete a project. I’ve simply got to put in the time and effort. Knowing that doesn’t stop me from procrastinating, though.

And, yeah, I still get scared shitless each time I go up on stage, publish a blog, or put myself out there to the world (like making my first comedy clip public).

But then I remember: I’m a badass. I got this.

All photos copyright The Breast Life.

This post originally appeared at The Breast Life.