I really AM a Feminist!

Words I found myself shouting as I was washing dishes after cooking an amazing batch of enchiladas.  Not necessarily something I would hear myself saying, but not necessarily something that would avoid either. To be honest it is a word and a movement I have struggled knowing if I belonged or if I didn’t.  So many ways I have heard the term used and the movement promoted that I just decided not to think about it.  It seemed complicated and full of crazy extremes that beginning to sort through it just wasn’t worth it.  More detailed in its components than being a Republican and more divided than the many denominations of Christianity where could one even begin.

There I was listening to one of my FAVORITE Apps these days (Umano-gotta love an app that will read to you), when I stumbled across this article, “8 Myths About Feminism Debunked.”  Just as I was worried that it would be dripping with things I didn’t agree with or aspects of politics I don’t agree with, I was pleasantly surprised.  And it all began with the definition of feminism:

The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes... someone who wants equality can’t hate the people with whom they want to be equal.

Yes… YES THAT!!! And without even getting further in the article, my thoughts announce, “I really AM a Feminist!” For as long as I can remember, I have been wrestling with boys for permission to do what they do.  To step up to the starting gate to compete with them on their level.  To challenge them skill for skill, talent for talent, award for aware.  To be measured the same by my work, contribution, and effort as just as good or even BETTER than the men I work with.  I remember this constant theme of my life, “You can be what ever you want to be, even if only men have ever done it.”  I remember stories of many women being the FIRST in many different positions of leadership in sports, in space, in politics, in business; and knowing I wanted to DO that.  I wanted to work that hard to stand out, be better, accomplish AMAZING things.

There have been moments in my life where I feel that intense desire to be a model in life of things a woman can accomplish.  That even though there are set backs and things aren’t perfect, there is a fulfilling life in hard-work and successful accomplishments that can be obtained as a woman that exist outside of marriage and motherhood (Both good things… I have MANY MANY amazing friends who are both). That there are accomplishments to be achieved as an individual based on effort and skill and drive; not gender and position.

I completely believe in marriage, I am hoping to be married one day.  I am falling in love with femininity and what it is like to feel sensual and pretty and glide through life in pretty girlie clothes and makeup.  (Something I didn’t think I could do and be competitive – I am learning more and more how false that is.)  I love gallantry and am extremely inspired by courtesy and chivalry not matter where it comes from.

This article really gave me the opportunity to explore some of my own myths and beliefs about feminism; as well as allow me permission to explore something I have been afraid of JUST because of what other people have said.  But don’t worry I won’t start acting ANY crazier or more hysterical than I already do; and I won’t be adopting the Feminazi title any time soon… IF EVER!!!

This post inspired by the #blogging101 task to Be a good Neighbor by commenting on other people’s blogs.

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Beliefs equal Certainty

I hope I can, I think I can, I hope I can… begins many a conversation with myself when it comes to making changes to my life in a SIGNIFICANT way. While HOPE has often brought me a positive inspiration, I realize only HOPING for something is not a STRONG or COMMITTED as BELIEVING.

Today, this jolted me to attention:

A belief is nothing but an idea with a feeling of certainty…

So what have I felt CERTAIN about in life?  What are those things that I have walked into a room with confidence, clarity, and an UNWAVERING belief I knew, what I knew, what I KNEW?  The first thing that comes to mind is my work.  I have developed a confidence in my ability to train, teach, educate people.  So when asked to present, teach, train, speak in front of a group of people I may get the initial stage fright before the curtain comes up; but I KNOW I can do it and I’m EXCITED TO DO IT.  I know I’ll be good, and I KNOW I’ll enjoy it.

The next memory that rushes to mind is my most confident audition EEEEEEEVER!!! In High School, my senior year, we did Oklahoma! and our Drama teacher showed us the movie prior to the auditions.  It was in that viewing, that I saw the Aunt Eller character and in the core of who I am I said, “That one’s MINE!” And I worked as hard as I knew how to: prepare the audition, study the lines, practice singing, bring my personality into her character, be full of ENERGY, and PROJECT! PROJECT! PROOOOOOJECT!!!  And when I stepped on stage, I was so full of confidence I could touch each corner of the auditory with my voice.  I even forgot a few of the words during the song (Simon Cowell would NOT have been impressed), but I stayed in character and brought to life an aspect of Aunt Eller that the director had not seen in any of the other 8 callback actresses.  It was exhilarating, it was amazing, it was a belief I had developed, nurtured, produced in me so deep that even through my mistakes it didn’t deter my resolve.

Royal Family LogoThen I began to search my life for a more recent example, and I IMMEDIATELY pictured CAMP.  There is a Strange confidence that fills my soul when I think about doing camp and preparing for camp.  The confidence I have in regards to working with the kids.  I KNEW I was going to enjoy them, I KNEW I was going to focus all my efforts on doing it for the kids, I KNEW that this was my niche, strength, skill set, gifting, natural fit (however you want to put it), I BELIEVED: “I got this!”

Now most of the time, I was in constant prayer asking God for help, support, peace, wisdom, words, and ideas for how to survive.  But I don’t worry about Him not answering me.  He always gives me answers at CAMP, I feel his presence there and I am completely confident that success was right there within my grasp.  When the very next moment arrived, I would have the answers I needed. And this is the ONE place I am at peace that EVEN if it’s not perfect it’s not wrong.  Even when conflict arises and I didn’t do things perfectly, its ok because God knew and knows what’s next.  There was the general nervousness about the week, worrying about the new responsibilities (I was responsible for directing the drama) and whether I was gonna do it right, whether people were gonna like it, enjoy it, approve of it; but outside of that part of CAMP, my BELIEF that this would be a success was unwavering.

There truly is a shift in the inner most part of your being when you KNOW you are doing the right thing.  When you BELIEVE you are in the right place at the right time doing what you were created to do.  Insecurity has no place, worry seems to fade away, and negativity just seems absurd.  That is how I feel when I am AT Camp actually doing it.  I don’t just HOPE it will work out, I BELIEVE it will be amazing.  Of course, I work with a FANTASTIC team of people that allows me to flourish in my strengths and experiment with my ideas and support me in my imperfect moments.

So in my struggle with food, weight, exercise, new habits… How can I become certain about anything before I do it?  Need to create certainty for success.  Remembering my past does not equal my future. Actually view the success, feel the success, imagine the success.  What is it like to EXPECT that success?  How would I spend each day KNOWING I will have victory with my eating each day?  How would I feel if I BELIEVED I cannot fail, I am CONFIDENT that I will make good choices for myself to build a healthier life?

Is it Really Worth Getting Annoyed?

Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.  – Prov 12:16

Some days when I don’t know what to read, I go to the chapter in proverbs for the day of the month.  And today as with most days there is confirmed wisdom and subtle reminders of whom to live.  This one seemed to have a lightening bolt attached to it.  A jolting reminder with “Oh yeah!!!” qualities.  There was  a time not so long ago when I hear someone say, “People don’t MAKE you feel miserable, YOU make you feel miserable.” And with RADICAL fervent objection, I argued with myself and God about its truth.  Only to come to the all to startling realization… Yeah that’s true.

Why was I believing other people had the control or influence over me like that?  How was I allowing people to make me FEEL miserable?  And before I had even made it through the first day did I realize it began with the little annoyances.  I would start with the stupid drivers on the way to work, followed by the lazy people I worked with, interrupted by the selfish friends I had, and topped it off by the rude people I lived with.  (HORRIBLE overgeneralizations I agree as well, because life really isn’t that bad and people really aren’t that awful.)  But it was so easy to come to those beliefs just by a few actions that people said, did, expressed, or didn’t do in connection with my world that I would spiral down into a pit of anger and frustration without even blinking.

So what can I do? Surround myself with better people, change my outlook, move to another state to start fresh?  But what if I could CHOOSE to NOT let others frustrate me, not allow the things I don’t like bother me, or not feel people’s actions as an intentional affront to my goals. I didn’t think it was possible, I didn’t think it was changeable, I didn’t believe there was a way I could reprogram my mind and emotions… but I was wrong.

Upon reflection of my life I have noticed: I have changed a lot.  I have grown a lot.  I have overcome a lot.  And there was a huge credit to many people who coached me, taught me, mentored me… but what I have forgotten is that I let them in.  I let them change my way of thinking and operating.  I told myself I could do things differently, I could do things better, I could do things RIGHT.  So even though I may not have known HOW I did it… I did it all the same.

So this time I tried to change my mental thinking: whenever something would irritate me, I would talk myself out of being irritated.  Who knew words from the inside to the inside could be so powerful.  They could have such an effect.  That just telling myself this annoyance wasn’t really annoying me THAT bad, or that in the grand scheme of life what does it matter that I didn’t like how someone did that, or ever What does it matter to me that they are doing it WRONG?  Just to name a few of the mental challenges…

And amazingly enough it was fruitful.  I found my frustrations lessening, my annoyances reducing, and my stress level falling.  So this verse just reminded me that I can choose the way of the prudent and overlook insults.  I can choose the way of the wise and believe I can be changed from the inside out.  There is hope that growth still occurs, change is still possible… this dog can still learn a few tricks.

You are one of the strongest women I know…

Was received as both a compliment and a contradiction quite some time ago. But this statement likes to make a reappearance in my brain from time to time to remind me it was said. To fill my emotions with the security I felt the day it was mentioned. To almost tawnt me into the ring of life with an “are you chicken?” kind of tone. I know there are times I exhibit strength. I know there are times I have been stronger than others. I know I have pushed through certain types of pain that would melt the average individual. But all this pales in comparison to the massive list, I have in my mind of the times I have been anything but strong. Where I have been weak, weaker, the weakest. I give in to what others want, I sacrifice a dream because of fear, I look the other way because I don’t want the hassle, or I am afraid of what people will say or think of my choice.  So in the picture of the tipping scales, most of the time, I do not SEE myself as STRONG. So when I come face to face with one of my battles, I hear the second part of the conversation:

“…Are you going to let THIS define you?  Are you going to let this one thing defeat you?  This is nothing, this is minor, this is such a minute part of life; I cannot believe for an instant you are not strong enough to overcome it, defeat it, master it.” 

And there is was… a statement of BELIEF in who I am as a person.  A statement that reminded me of how much BIGGER and HUGER I have made this whole food, exercise, weight issue in my life.  Why isn’t this as straight forward as every other challenge I have undertaken?  Why has this habit, lifestyle, perspective taken up sacred untouchable territory in my subconscious?

For me it is simple… because I allow it.  I have decided that there are enough excuses, reasons, allowances for me to be this way, eat this way, live this way that it is OK to given in, give up, throw in the towel at a moments amount of pain.  People will understand, its okay, sometimes its just too hard, life just can’t always be won.  Everyone has something they struggle with.  But I must say I am tired of this being MY THING… I am ready for a new challenge.  I am ready for God to reveal to me something ELSE in my character I can master and correct and improve.  So no more excuses, no more permission, no more reasons it is acceptable to give in.

Make decisions now for the outcomes you want later.  So I am making decisions now that will give me the outcome later… In the center of my decision making process is the fear of pain, embarrassment, rejection, humiliation.  And I have determined that it is better to hide behind the physical boundary of weight than to deal with the world without it.  I heal my pain with food, I reward my pleasure center with food, I hide away in my room away from life and activity for fear of the pain mistakes bring, judgement holds, and life distributes.  But that is not the life I want, that is not the life I can have, that is not the life I am meant to experience.

Only one way to change direction… change actions.  It is time to build character, strength training for the soul, kick that belief out of command central of my feelings, and do things that hurt.  Do things that will stretch my heart, mind, & soul to new places.  I’ve tried easy, I’ve tried grace, I’ve tried one step at a time; but now its time to take command of my life.  Tell my inner self it’s time to get in line soldier… because we are going to the high places, we are going to change our name, we are going to do as the Shepherd says because the time of living as Much Afraid is over…

There it is!!! The Voice inside my Head is…

Is it amazing how one conversation with a Parent can change your ENTIRE perspective on the voices in your head?  I am currently in the never-ending debate between RENT or BUY.  I am not completely out of debt, but I am tired of moving, I am tired of sharing, and I am tired of getting 30-60 notices because someone wants to sell their HOUSE (that I am living in).  So I am kicking around the idea.  There are pros… there are cons… There is going to be money spent EITHER way.  But I started to get excited about the prospect of actually buying something… for ME.  NOW MIND YOU… I did say JUST getting excited about the prospect.  I haven’t looked at anything in person, I haven’t applied for loan approval, I am simply toying around the idea in my head like a young girl shopping for a new dress before the first day of school.  Does it fit? Do I REALLY like this color? Do I have the right shoes to go with it? Does it make my butt look too big?  But I digress….

When I shared just a fraction of a comment with my father about looking at buying a home; and without warning, without fail, without so much as a consideration I get THAT LOOK and those CAUTIONARY words that should seem so harmless, “…a house can be a burden, you have to take care of the yard, you don’t want to have to mow a yard do you? If something breaks your responsible…”   There must have been something on my face or maybe it was the way I started defending the fact that I LIKE MOWING THE LAWN (thanks to Dan’s gift of a faithful lawnmower) and working in the garden (and I Know how to hire a gardener).  When the all too late, but ever so vigilant retraction, “It’s not that I want to be negative….” BUT that’s EXACTLY what he was doing.  Raining on the parade, I wasn’t even HAVING YET!!!

And in the time it took me to drive home, I started to piece together years and years of conversations.  Phrase after Phrase of precautions, warnings, potential pitfalls that swarmed around my brain like pollen in the spring time.  Each and every phrase generating worry, doubt, fear, which then snowball into DISASTER!!! Yes I am a smidge dramatic, but then again so is my brain.  So these little comments that on paper could seem harmless and inconsequential start to completely derail me from a mere idea of something.

This is when I REALIZE… This is where they came from… This is the source of their existence… It is his comments throughout my life that have shaped a certain amount of how I do things almost out of habit.  Here I thought it was just my High – C, practical, fearful personality that was the creator of my cautiousness.  Here in living color and familial discussions, did I discover a significant piece of my WORRY.  I didn’t use to think I worried, I didn’t think I was fearful, I didn’t think I was holding myself back.  But in the last couple years, I have been seeing my life in a new light and there is Fear there I think… Worry… & trust issues.  I thought I was applying practical caution as someone who needs to take into consideration all the options before making a decision-that is going to be wrought with negative out comes anyway-but responsible well thought out decisions none-the-less.

But here it was, for the first time LOUD and CLEAR a part of what is holding me back.  The voice in my head giving me all the things to worry about before I even try.  I have seen the failure before I attempted, I FELT the rejection before I opened my mouth, I experienced the AGONY of defeat without the rewards of beginning the challenge.

So it is in this revelation that I propose a new perspective, a new voice per say: I am stronger than that, I am better than that, I am done lying low, I don’t need to play it safe, I am finished waiting to see, I am ready for a challenge, I can endure anything.  Well, almost anything, after all I don’t want to get my new dress dirty. 😉

Its Just December Its not the End of the WORLD…

So we are just beginning the last month of the year.  The time when we are supposed to be relaxing into the holiday spirit, enjoying the fact that the end is near, and telling ourselves that we should put off those goals and changes until January of NEXT year.  But for some reason I am just not feeling that this year.  It’s not that I have accomplished so much that I don’t think I need to make the traditional New Year’s Resolutions, it is because I am finally in a comfortable track of working on MY weight loss I don’t want to take a break for the Holidays.

It reminds me of the first year I started this program with Medifast because I was spot on, no cheating, no breaks for the entire month of December and I was perfectly fine.  I didn’t feel that overwhelming desire to eat sweets, over indulge, or test out the treats of the season; and with it came an amazing accomplishment of actual weight loss in December.  Now don’t get me wrong I had a nice Thanksgiving dinner, and I enjoyed asparagus with Hollandaise sauce, ham, and scalloped potatoes for my Christmas dinner.  BUT I did not write off my ENTIRE month of December in belief that I couldn’t make it through the holidays. 

So this year, I have been back on plan for 7 weeks and it has had its challenges, and I have not be completely successful BUT I have had a general positive movement in getting healthier.  I haven’t been agonizing over being hungry.  I haven’t been stressed out over how boring the food is.  I am even finding myself lost in certain days where I have forgotten to eat my full calories because I am deeply focused on life and not food.  It is finally nice to feel like food is just ONE area of my life and not EVERY waking thought. 

So as I begin to get my mind focusing on those things that are important to me… Yes I am still trying to figure that out, I am confident that food will become less and less important.  Although I can promise you WAY more posts about my struggles and victories as I work through this process.

I even exercised TWICE!!! Now that may not seem like much to most people, but for me that is progress. 

I even got a little giddy and excited when I noticed they are coming out with 2 new food options.  I mean how focused am I?  Now granted it is a chocolate chip cookie bar and what looks like Orange Juice… so how can a girl NOT be excited?

Independence over relationship

Somehow my entire adult life, I have been striving to achieve independence. Independence from my father, independence from debt, independence from food, and independence from men. Now please attempt to take those as they are intended which is a stand of strength, confidence, and accomplishment (not that I was trying to be an island or hide away in a cave). So the decisions I currently make are all based on the intent to further my independence, to prove that I can DO IT myself. In the past I have found myself to be quite competitive in this department, which has led to quite the conflict with most of the men in my life.  Which at the time I found fun, enriching, and exciting; for the men NOT SO MUCH. 

I believe I have generally been driven to  be that capable, confident woman who can live out in the real world and survive. Not necessarily by myself, but that I can do the things I need to do when they need doing. And in my humble opinion and the opinion of some of my trusted advisors; I haven’t done to shabby. I have a job that is in the field of profession I was seeking (not perfect but about 75% there). I live in a house with roommates where I manage the finances, pay the bills, and keep the lights on (now the cable is a completely different story-hee hee hee). I am striving to get my finances under control and I will be debt free (except my student loan) in less than a year. My food is beginning to see the signs of management and control, but alas I am working on it (some days are better than others). Each of these things I have done myself-the independent woman. I have reached out for prayer, support, help, connections, ideas, and a ride from time to time; but in my mind it was still done myself.

So the idea of releasing my independence over my life is a completely foreign, abstract thought that has no place in reality. The idea that this whole time I have been working towards a counter productive goal seems just silly and completely off balance. As I continue my trek through the book, The Shack, I find myself in a state of confused agreement. Why is it that when I read that independence takes us away from God and out of relationship; I admit I was dumbfounded? The idea that this goal of independence in my life, in ALL aspects of my life, has taken me out of relationship with God and maybe even out of relationships with others, has my psyche chasing its tail. It really began when I read:

“When you chose independence over relationship, you became a danger to one another.  Others became objects to be manipulated or managed for your own happiness.  Authority, as you usually think of it, is merely the excuse the strong ones use to make others conform to what they want.  In your world the value of the individual is constantly weighed against the survival of the system-political, economic, social, or religious.  One… are easily sacrificed for the good and ongoing existence of that system.  Unencumbered by structure and stress to simply be in relationship with me and one another.  If you had truly learned to regard one another’s concerns as significant as your own, there would be no need for hierarchy. Broken humans center their lives around things that seem good to them but will neither fill them nor free them.  They are addicted to power, or the illusion of security that power offers.  When a disaster happens, those same people will turn against the false powers they trusted.  In their disappointment, either they become softened toward me or they become bolder in their independence.”

How is it that this seems so DIFFERENT than anything I have ever heard, but rings so true to my core. Maybe this is why so many people speak of this book’s value. The idea that independence translates so quickly to manipulation caught me off guard. I have this EXTREMELY negative aversion to the concept of manipulation in word and in deed. But the more I am becoming aware of my surroundings the more I am realized I am manipulated every day without my consent (between the internet and my television not to mention my well-intentioned friends, I am beginning to wonder how much the marketing machine is winning). So if I am independent, I am manipulating and managing people for MY own happiness. That sounds so vulgar and cruel. It sounds controlling and deceptive. It represents something I had strived my whole life not to be.

It even becomes a stronger thought when he writes of hierarchy because that is something I have learned to trust. Official political, business, or even church levels of authority is to be respected and honored because that is how you (we) know who is right. My goodness this sounds familiar. It doesn’t just stand in the way of the circle of relationship, it really does put the will of one over another. But some how I always believed that is how things NEEDED to be in order for us as people to work together at ALL. 

Some days it is amazing to read new ideas and thoughts on the world or even ones own perspective, but other days it just makes me think I have been doing this life thing all wrong.  So how do I make such a significant change to things?  Am I the only one who finds this fascinating and disturbing all at the same time?