Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Empowering Women and Girls to See Themselves as Empowered

My friend Deirdre posted this on her blog and I thought it was amazing. I plan to show it to my girls. As much as we all like to be cute and attract adoring looks from cute boys, we need to be the smart women that we are, and continue to model that behavior for young women. 

It's a huge opportunity for us to break away from the shell of the ego. We may like being women, or men, or white, or black, or Latina, or European, or from Texas, or from Canada, or that we have curves, or that we're tall, or that we can roll our tongues, or that we're double-jointed, or whatever... but deep inside we are something entirely different, just a mass of energy that found a nice package to inhabit for a lifetime.  We are more than just what's on the outside.

Check out their site http://missrepresentation.org/ and pass it on.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Falling in Love Again

I have been tossing around the idea of self-love lately, spurred on by my latest birthday and the recurrence of a single spoke on the cycle of my life.  I noticed recently that I’ve been hearing that voice in my head again, the one that likes to try to compare me with other people.  This voice, which doesn't even sound like me (and really, I wouldn't take ownership were it not inside my own head), likes to say things like, “Look at your thighs.  Probably time to start running again,” and “Why did you buy/keep that dress? It makes you look fat.”  I’m serious!  This is not someone I would entertain in my circle of friends and the fact that she is as close to me as my own thoughts is deeply troubling.

The thing with this voice is that it tends to crop up in a seasonal cycle.  Bathing suit season is a given – but I love summer too much to really give into it, preferring to throw media ideals to the wind in favor of beach days and back dives.  Then there’s the cusp of late summer to autumn, when I feel overwhelmed by obligations to the girls’ schools and teams, my own expectations for my writing and creativity, and the pressures of upcoming holiday plans.  So it wasn't too surprising when the voice came back a few weeks ago, out of the blue, like an old boyfriend breezing through town, not caring about how much wreckage is left behind by the visit. I found myself hearing those old stories again, about how I really ought to cut out all sugar, need to join a gym, have to add at least another hour of cardio to each day (Where would I find the time? Well, the voice said, I should just wake up an hour or two earlier…).

As the ugly voice continued, my stronger self wondered why it had come back to visit in the first place.  This is where age comes in handy – the longer I’ve been around on this planet, in this body, the more experience I’ve had with these cycles.  And one thing I remember is that when my writing and creativity is being stifled in some way, pushed to the back burner or placed “on hold” (as it tends to be during those first few crazy months when school starts up again), then the part of my brain that is usually too occupied with my creative thoughts to worry about petty things that are beyond my control opens up, allowing enough space for the voice to creep in and make itself at home. 

This time, however, fortune was on my side.  My girlfriend Christine (of Belle Femme Gazette and Dollybelle’s Peepshow) had called to ask a favor: would I be interested in opening up my closet and wardrobe to her camera for a quick style video for her blog and webzine?  I had to swallow the voice and just allow myself to get excited instead.  What could be more fun than spending a day in my closet, going through clothes and talking about style?  Christine has a gentle approach and looked at my clothes without judgment, focusing on pieces I might like to add to my wardrobe.  More importantly, she worked with what is: my figure, my style inspirations, my lifestyle.  She didn't talk about the latest trends and celebrity bodies.  She spoke to me.  When she sent me the video links (one for a cute side bun and one for my closet), she was ecstatic with the results, calling me a “glamour mom.”  

As you can imagine, this isn't how the voice sees me.  I found myself questioning which voice I wanted to hear... and the answer was clear as day.

I watched the videos and was surprised at how much I loved seeing myself through Christine’s lens.  Sure, I’m lumpy in a few spots (the voice made sure to point that out); I’m 40 and I have three gorgeous kids and a full life and I like to drink wine occasionally and I can rarely pass up a piece of homemade pie.  But I was shocked that I could finally see myself as a “glamour girl” – that the beauty I’ve tried to cultivate on the inside has found a way to live on the outside as well, despite the voice.

I’m re-reading Louise Hay’s “You Can Heal Your Life” as a refresher and something I read last night resonated so loudly, the voice finally relaxed and subsided.  Under a passage titled “The Real Problem,” Louise outlines her work as a life coach and how she asks her clients to explain why they've come to see her.  After they’ve listed all their problems, pains, issues, etc., they all come down to a single bottom line, over and over again: “I am not good enough.”  To this, Louise says:

Hurrah, hurrah!...Now we do not have to bother with any of the side effects such as body problems, relationship problems, money problems, or lack of creative expressions.  We can put all our energy into dissolving the cause of the whole thing: “NOT LOVING THE SELF!”

Well, voice, it’s been a good run for you, but I’m afraid that I’ve outgrown your negative, petty thinking. I’m starting a new love affair with my self and there’s no more room for you.