Sunday, February 23, 2014

I Know a Woman Like That

(Reposting from my Facebook page just 'cause I like it)
July 26, 2011 at 3:19pm
Last night I attended a local networking event. It was a smaller group of about 16 women. The venue had a peaceful vibe, and I enjoy meeting new women. But I’m writing this piece because there was something I noticed that nagged at me as the night went on. 
I first perked up my ears during early introductions as I heard 3-4 women laughingly make mirror references. Most of the comments were about intentionally avoiding looking at themselves in the mirror, or doing it very quickly, if they had to. The implied message was that they couldn’t stand looking at themselves in the mirror because didn’t like what they saw.

Much of the talk for the remainder of the evening was about products and discoveries related to health and longevity. That’s a good thing, right? But something was buggin’ me. Later in the evening as I stood ready to leave, women saying their goodbyes and closing conversations, it finally came to me. 
I was hearing a deep underlying message that said we are not okay the way we are. We (women) must continue to seek out products, remedies, solutions to alter and yes even hide our age. I had the sense that it was a deeply unconscious message, but there none-the-less. If I can find the best creams, the best vitamins, the best anti-aging treatments and put all I can find to work on improving me, thenI will be acceptable.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in good health. I want to live a long, vibrant, radiantly alive life. But where is the line drawn? What drives my motivation? Am I driven by a desire to look and be different because on some level I believe I am not acceptable as I am
Why is it that so many women cannot bear to look, and I mean really look at themselves in the mirror? I’ll tell you why. It’s because they cannot bear what they see. And why not? Because we are told over and over again from culture and media alike that we are not okay as we are. We are supposed to look a certain way, and it is a very narrow margin.

So yes, I want to feel good in this body I have right now.  Not the body I will have. I want to own these lines on my face. They mean something important. I want to treat them with value. Imagine that.

These lines represent the life I’ve lived; the joy and the struggles. The struggles have been great discovery times for me. They are part of what makes me the incredible, vibrant, radiant woman that I am. Yeah, I just said that. Out loud. I say it loud and proud.

The extra fat deposits on my hips and my arms are soft and curvy and FEMININE. These fatty curves are juicy and full. They represent my juicy and full life. Slap my ass and it jiggles. I point with momentum in a sleeveless shirt, and my arm waves with me. When I walk up the asphalt road in my neighborhood, I feel my tummy jiggle with the impact of my feet on the pavement.

When do I get to love ALL of me? When are we as women going to model for the rest of the world what it looks like to be “a woman like that”, a woman who knows who she is and doesn’t try to cover it, change it, improve upon it because SHE IS ENOUGH. Women are the ones who need to lead this radical movement, this kind of radical self-acceptance.

My husband is attending a film festival in California. He saw a film while he was there called I Know a Woman Like That. He said it was an incredible film about women in their 70’s who are vibrantly alive and passionate and beautiful. Women who are living their lives perhaps even more  fully now than when they were 40 or 30 or 20. 
Afterwards he talked to one of the women involved in the making of the film. He told her how much he enjoyed the film and spoke to its powerful message. Then he said, “I’m 36. My wife is 53 and she is a woman like that.” When he told me that, I shrieked and cried. I felt such joy and gratitude. Do you know why I felt such joy? Because it’s true! I am a woman like that. I felt gratitude because I can allow myself to know it and he knows it. How brilliantly awesome is that?!

Do you know a woman like that? Are you a woman like that? A woman who is vibrantly alive… a woman who is radiant. A woman full of soul. A woman bawdy, laughing, inhabiting her body in this moment as it is. A woman who wears her years proudly, unabashedly. A woman who can look into her own eyes and love, truly love, what she sees. This is a woman who inspires social change. I invite you to be that woman. Make no excuses. Love who you are, exactly as you are right now. No dress rehearsals. This is it. Do it now.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Asking For What You Want

In my family needs were not okay, much less wants. Wants, or personal desires, were considered selfish. You know that dirty word selfish. Nobody wants to be that. 

I grew up with the message that I *should* be Superwoman. No Needs. No wants. Take care of it on my own. Independent. Not needing anything from others, because God knows how unattractive a needy woman is. And in the mean time, be sure to take care of everyone else's needs. Be nice. Be sweet. Don't rock the boat. Be a good girl. Act like a lady. Don't make a fuss.

Good southern stuff.

Well, today I bumped up against some of that and won. Yes sir-eee, indeedy I did! I won, and I'm proud of myself.

You see, I had been commissioned to create a sculpture for a woman who lost her daughter in a horrific and tragic incident. I was to sculpt an angel wing out of clay and carve the daughter's name on it. What a beautiful idea! I was delighted. What I didn't expect was how it would touch me and my own grief, my own vulnerability.

My mother died from cancer a year ago this past Christmas. Being the 1 year anniversary of her death made it a bittersweet time, filled with loss and memories. It wasn't just the loss of my mother. My beloved companion, my black lab, Max, also died 23 days after my mom. I'll tell you, it kicked my ass.

Grief is a funny thing. It's not done in a day, a month, or a year. It becomes a part of you. I am wise enough at almost 57 years, to honor that truth. So when my own grief surfaced again while creating and carving this angel wing, I let it come. I welcomed it. It an odd way, it sort gave me permission to create this soul piece for this woman I did not know and may never meet. I poured my heart and my tears into the wing. I thought about my mother as I worked, and my Max.

Finally, after the lengthy process of two firings and a pearl-white finish, it was ready to be shipped. I headed to Fedex with my precious creation carefully wrapped in thick layers of bubble wrap. It was to be double boxed and packed carefully. The young woman totaled up my price and set it on a counter in the back. I could see it just lying there. Still. Untended.

I was anxious. Should I leave? Will she box it correctly? She doesn't even care about it. She has no idea what has gone into this piece. This piece is irreplaceable. Even if I had to create another, it wouldn't be like this one. It would be a different one.

I decided to tell her. I approached the counter where she stood. "I'm feeling vulnerable, and I'm just going to be honest with you." I then told her about the sculpture and that I was the artist that created it. I told her an abbreviated story of what it was created for, this girl's memory … for her mother. I told her I was worried about it, and would she mind if I watched her box and package it right now? She replied, "Well, I put it back there because we wait until it's not busy and wrap it then." It wasn't busy. There was no one else in the store. Truthfully, I don't think she wanted to wrap it just then.

She said, "I can start, but if a customer comes in, I will have to take care of them", to which I responded, "Oh, of course. No problem. I totally understand." You hear that good girl in there? You hear that sweet, "Oh, I don't want to be a bother…"

The young woman began wrapping and packing. She wasn't using the little air pillows or peanuts, just lost of tiny bubble wrap. I asked, "Are you going to use the little air pillows?" "No. Just this. This is the way we do it." I was growing more anxious. I had shipped artworks before. Some broke in the shipping.

I texted my husband with my concerns. He texted back SEVERAL texts about power. "You have the power. You are the customer. You are in control. You can ask for what you want" that kind of stuff. All this I knew on an intellectual level, but here was an opportunity to live it. I could ask for what I wanted. I could express how I was (God forbid) not happy with the packing job that this young woman was doing. I could make a stink, upset the apple cart, make a fuss, not comply. I could go against all that passive southern good girl programming and ask for what I wanted.

I could and I did.

I found the manager. I read her name on her badge and stuck out my hand, speaking her name and introducing myself. I told her about the sculpture and spoke honestly about my fears and hesitations. I was clear and direct. It felt good. I felt empowered. She explained to me how they pack and why they do it that way. What they have discovered works best and what doesn't. 

I was so grateful for this information. It made sense and helped me let go and trust. I asked her if she would be willing to personally oversee the packing of my sculpture. With enthusiasm, she said she would be happy to, then walked with me over to the counter where the young woman was boxing my artwork. The packing was examined and the two of them talked about the best way to move forward.

I did it! I asked for what I wanted. I broke free from old programming and stepped into a place of personal power, and man it felt GOOD!

It might not sound like much to you. But I'll wager there are quite a few women out there who know exactly what I'm talking about. To those women, I raise my glass!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Women I Know

Truthfully, I don't know a single woman who has not struggled with the internal messages of not enough; not pretty enough, thin enough, smart enough, successful enough, you fill in the blank. It can also can come in its opposite form of too fat, too thin, too tall too short, too old, too pimply, to wrinkled, etc. 

From the time we are girls we are taught to be hypercritical of ourselves. We scrutinize every detail with an unforgiving eye. We are taught to reject our woman bodies. This creates a disconnect from an exquisite resource. 

Most of us don't think of our bodies as exquisite in any way, but they are. An invaluable resource for our instincts and intuition. For important messages about when we need to say yes, and when we need to say no. A resource of personal power and creative expression. 

When we disconnect from the wisdom of our bodies, we forget that "no" is a complete sentence. We let the Good Girl Archetype rule in our lives, seeking approval and love outside of ourselves. We become out of balance with giving and receiving. 

On the WBW retreat we will address this issue that permeates our culture as women. We will begin the practice of extreme self care.

If this speaks to you on a soul level or intrigues you in any way, then join us July 18-21 for this transformative weekend. 

There are women in need who want to attend and may not have the financial means to do so. Therefore, we have created an Indie Gogo campaign to create a scholarship fund for women in need. Click WBW for more info.

If you know a woman who may be interested, please help us by re-posting and spreading the words via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and word of mouth. Anything you would be willing to do to get the word out about the WBW project would be *greatly* appreciated!

Thank You!

Saturday, February 15, 2014


Everybody does not get a trophy. Don’t even get me started. Working as a teacher in the public school system, this topic circulates with strong emotion and opinion. I am adamant about this, because I am convinced that in making sure everyone gets a trophy we fail to teach children how to deal with disappointment. These children become adults ill equipped to deal with life in the real world.
I believe this practice is fear driven. “Oh no! If little Brittany or little Evan doesn’t get a trophy then they will feel sad and left out! Their “feelings will get hurt”, whatever that means. Feel human emotions like sadness and loss? God forbid a child would be uncomfortable! What happened to our faith in children, our faith in their resilience and ability to adapt, learn, and grow? What happened to our faith in our own ability as adults to teach them how to respond to disappointment?
So what does this have to do with beauty? I’ll tell you. I believe our culture has the same kind of resistance to disappointment about being not-beautiful. There is a message I am hearing more and more that all women’s bodies are beautiful, no matter what shape or size or disfigurement. It sounds good on the surface, but I am beginning to see this kind of thinking, without examination, can be dangerous. 
Let’s break it down.
Is it really true? Is every female physique, every body type, no matter what, beautiful? 
Consider this: Is every kid gifted? Is every child an athletic champion? No. 
Yet we want everyone to feel included and valued. Not an unreasonable goal. Does that mean we give every child a trophy so they can feel better about themselves? Is their feeling better about themselves dependent upon receiving a trophy?
Likewise, is a woman feeling better about her body dependent upon being seen as culturally beautiful? I am speaking solely about physical beauty. And yes, it does depend on how one defines beautiful, but we will get to that. For now, I am going to state vehemently and adamantly that a woman feeling good about her body is absolutely not dependent upon her being seen as beautiful. Being seen as beautiful by others and me feeling beautiful in my body are two different things.
There is a Facebook page I follow which posts some thought provoking articles about women’s body size and their acceptance of it. Many of these blog pieces and written works are women in celebration of fat-women bodies. Even the word “fat” which was taboo for many years is now being claimed with great pride. Wonderful pics are posted of women defiant, proud, and celebrative in their largeness. It’s a beautiful thing, in my opinion, an important step.
However, a recent blog post and a discussion with my husband got me to thinking. One blogger’s point in particular was to encourage fat women to see themselves differently in regards to what kind of men were available to them. She encouraged her female readers not to “settle” because they thought no one would want a fat girl. I get that. I think it is sound advice.

The blogger wrote about moving from an attitude that says "nobody wants a fat girl" to the place of "I refuse to settle". But here’s where I got hung up. With great enthusiasm this self described “Fat Girl” blogger shared her discovery, “I was the one who had to sift through [available men] and pick the hottest of the hot.”
My fat husband, who prides himself in being a realist and is totally comfortable with referring to himself as “Bigfat”, by the way, made a good point. Isn’t the action of picking through the “hottest of the hot” the same action many of these posts protest? How can you say, “all women are beautiful”, out of one side of your mouth and then refer to your choice of men as “the hottest of the hot”? Aren’t you saying some men are hot, some are the “hottest of the hot”, and some are not? If so, then the same is true of women. Again, we are talking about physical appearance here, and it is factual to say that it varies. 
Attaching our worth and value to that fact is the problem.
Fact: I am not “beautiful enough” to be a Victoria’s Secret model. Can I live with that fact? 
Does this fact diminish me in any way? Absolutely not. 
Am I beautiful enough to win a Miss USA beauty contest? No. 
Do I care? Fuck no. 
Do you see where I’m going with this?
There will be times when my physical appearance does not in any way fit the word “beautiful”. 
Can I, in that moment, love and accept myself in spite of that truth ... or perhaps even because of it? That, my dear sisters, is the million-dollar question.
 (excerpt from my upcoming book, The Forgotten Relationship)

**My husband just read this blog post. What he said in response is insightful, beautiful, and I love him all the more for seeing it and speaking it.

He said, “What’s true is I don’t have to be a body builder, an underwear model, or an MMA fighter in order to know my worth. I know my worth. The difference is I don’t have a culture pounding into my head the message that I do have to be those things. There is some of that for men in our culture, but no where near what it is for women.”