Last night, I was watching the documentary Miss Representation (which you should totally check out on Netflix) and something was said that stuck with me - women are hard on each other. It's such a simple assertion, but the more that I think about it, the more I realize just how true it is. We have been conditioned from birth to be hypercritical of not only ourselves, but other women too. We criticize physical appearance, fashion choices, parenting techniques, life choices - everything. We are judgmental and often distrustful, but there is hope.
All around me, I see women making a conscious effort to lift up others, but while posting empowering messages on Facebook and Instagram is a good start, it's not enough. We can do more, we have to do more if we truly want to empower the women around us. So where do you start? How can you be the change you wish to see in the world?
First, shut down the negative feedback. Think before you speak: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it helpful? Is it kind? Name calling, judging, and catty underhanded comments don't serve anyone. In fact, according to an article posted by the Mayo Clinic, "There's a science behind that phenomenon called "loving kindness." And research shows that learning and practicing loving kindness can profoundly affect your attitude, outlook and even your health."
Second, be supportive of other women. An article from the Boston Globe sites a study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which found "... that the most successful female job-seekers from a top-ranked graduate school relied not only on a wide network of contacts, but also on a close inner circle of other women who provide support and gender-specific job advice." In other words, when women support women, incredible things happen. Reach out and look for like minded women in online groups like Conk's Community or start/join groups where you work. Be receptive when other women reach out to you by being welcoming and inclusive.
Third, spread the love. I know that might sound like something out of the hippie movement of the 1960's, but they didn't have it all wrong. When you have the opportunity to compliment someone, do it. And let's work on pointing out more than just a great haircut, weight loss, or a rockin pair of jeans. Let's give kudos to academic achievements, business wins, and artistic accomplishments. And share this news with others. Share inspiring stories about female entrepreneurs, about women who are killing it, about the women who matter to you.
At the end of the day, it is up to us to create a positive, supportive environment that lifts women up instead of tearing them down.
When I was teaching high school English, I'd often have students share the wildest information with me. Did you know that if you drink a soda and eat pop rocks you will explode? You can't get pregnant on your period. Spiders can lay eggs in your brain. Sometimes, it was easy to tell that they were misinformed - other times, not so much. So, every time a student would come to share the latest tidbit of information with me, I always countered with the same question, "That's fascinating! What's your source?"
In a world where we are constantly inundated with information, it can be hard to tell what's real, what's true, and what we should believe. Even as adults, it's a struggle to wade through it all. Most of us are intelligent, rational human beings and we think, I know what's true and what's fake. For example, if I told you that standing on your head and drinking a coke after intercourse will prevent pregnancy, most of you would laugh at me. But what if that same information was presented in a full color infographic that had a John Hopkins University logo on it? Might make you do a double take.
So, how do you decide what information is true, kind of true, and flat out false? Here are 5 things you should do when you encounter a surprising new piece of information:
1. Ask yourself, what is the source? Where did this information come from?
This sounds simple enough, but sometimes you have to do a little digging. In this day and age it's really easy to create and share graphics on social media. Just because your cool infographic says it comes from John Hopkins University doesn't mean that it did. If the official organization made the post that's one thing, but if it's a shared piece of information without the original source material or article, you definitely want to do some further investigation.
2. Ask yourself, what is my source's authority?
Once you've established the source, find out the author or sites credentials. A reputable research university has more authority than a tabloid news article designed to sell papers. I'm a blogger, so you could go to my about page to find out more information about me. You can also check to see if I site sources in my articles, and go check out the sources that I site. The importance of a source's authority will vary depending on whether you are reading for entertainment or for specific, credible information.
3. Ask yourself, what is my source's bias?
Once you've established the source, decide if they have any biases. The way information is presented can be colored by religious or political leanings, regional ideologies, personal feelings, or even corporate interests. Bias is not an immediate disqualifier, just be aware that the information you are getting might have a slant.
4. Ask yourself, how recent is my source's information?
Information changes at the speed of a mouse click in today's super digital environment. Researchers, scientists, politicians, and pretty much anyone publishing content are in a constant battle to provide the most up to date information. Always check the publication date when deciding if your information is relevant. Sometimes, especially if you are reading for entertainment, this might not be as important. But, if you are trying to determine the latest numbers on the stock market, information from two days ago is already out of date.
5. When in doubt, check multiple sources.
Sometimes it can be hard to determine what you should believe or how you should feel even after you have fully vetted a source. At the end of the day, this is a free country and you get to form your own opinions. Check out multiple sources on the topic and come to your own conclusions about what you believe based on the information you have gathered.
Have you ever felt off, miserable, blah like you just can't muster the strength to do what must be done? I'm feeling that right now. I'm behind on my group posts, my business paperwork, my chores. I'm not even sure I've got enough clean underpants to last the rest of the week, and it's only Tuesday. Lately, I've had a lot of health issues and they've been dragging me down like swimming with brick shoes and "self-care" has been the furthest thing from my mind. You know what I've been doing instead? Racking myself with guilt.
I've been beating myself up for being tired, for not accomplishing things, for falling behind. Sound familiar? I feel like women are taught to forgive everyone but themselves. What would I say to my best friend if she were feeling this way right now? How would I comfort someone who is sick and overwhelmed? And why do I extend this love and generosity to others but not myself? Stop. Take a deep breath.
It is OK to be human. It is normal to get overwhelmed or feel sick and like you are failing everyone, but when you do, you MUST stop and take a deep breath. I am saying this to you as much as I am myself. Look in the mirror and imagine your best friend. Imagine they are telling you everything they are feeling right now. What do you tell them? Say what you say to them, out loud, and say it to your reflection.
"It's ok. Just breathe girl. I've got your back. You are beautiful, and kind, and amazing. Things are really tough right now and it's totally ok to feel your feelings, but I promise, this too shall pass. You are not a failure, you are not a bad person. No one hates you, and if they do, to hell with them - anyone who can't see how amazing you are isn't worth your time. So cry if you need to cry, yell if you need to yell, just let it all out. I see you girl. I accept you. I love you. It's gonna be ok."
How does it feel to be on the receiving end of your own love and acceptance? Pretty powerful stuff. You and me, we got this girl.
Thoughts on "Let That Sh*t Go: A Journal for Leaving Your Bullsh*t Behind and Creating a Happy Life" by Monica Sweeney
I'm so excited to share a review of our next book club book for the Pure Romance by Deedre VIP Community. If you're a woman age 18 or over and you haven't joined our community yet, you can click here to sign up for my emails and get exclusive access. We'll be starting the discussion over this book in February, so dive into this review, then join the community for a free PDF reading guide and bookmark.
Let me start by saying that this is not a book you read cover to cover ( I mean, I suppose you could, but that's not really the point). It's an interactive journal with exercises that involve both introspection and coloring. That's right, I said coloring.
Monica Sweeney is funny and irreverent while inviting the reader to really break down some serious topics. It appears that her purpose really is to help us "let that shit go". Stop taking yourself so seriously, stop overthinking, stop feeling guilty, and stop feeling overwhelmed. This journal is designed with very short to the point exercises that don't take that long to complete, but still leave you feeling a sigh of relief when you've finished. From the Swippy Swap that focuses on diversions for bad habits to Not Today, Satan! that helps blast through anxieties, this journal is chalk full of insight and naughty words.
I would recommend making Let That Sh*t Go part of your daily routine. Whether you start or end your day with it, or just squeeze it in over the lunch hour, there are enough prompts to keep you going for almost two months. And, if you need more, rest easy knowing that Sweeney has two more journals: Find Your F*cking Happy and Zen as F*uck.
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So, you've had a hysterectomy but you have the sinking suspicion that you weren't adequately prepared for what comes after. I'm here to tell you that you are not alone. Hysterectomies occur for extremely varied reasons and even the procedure itself differs from woman to woman, but one thing I have found almost universal among the women I've met is the inconsistency in information. This is your body and you deserve full disclosure and a safe, understanding environment to discuss your questions and concerns. If I can impart any wisdom at all, it would be this, advocate for yourself and never stop.
I've had issues with my reproductive system since puberty. Horrible cramps, excessive bleeding, nausea, bloating, and the list went on and on. I was diagnosed with endometriosis in my early twenties and poly cystic ovarian syndrome in my late twenties. I tried every prescription, herbal, and over the counter remedy you can think of and nothing helped. At 36, I developed a cyst the size of a goose egg on my right ovary and it wasn't going away. Due to massive internal scaring from multiple mostly unrelated surgeries (I was born with a birth defect of my right kidney), the doctors were concerned about performing an operation. I get it, honestly I do, but what transpired was nothing short of exasperating.
My gynecologist, now not so affectionately known as Dr. Douche Canoe, proceeded to tell me exactly how this was going to happen. I would have a total hysterectomy and I would take hormones and that would be that. Now, I had advocated for a hysterectomy for years, but I was fought every step of the way because of my age. But, I wasn't all on board for hormones. I've read conflicting research on the subject and wanted to try my luck without them first. Do you know what he said? He proceed to talk down to me like I was a petulant child and pretty much told me that my vagina would shrivel up and stop working if I didn't take them. Seriously? DO NOT take everything your doctor says at face value. If something feels wrong to you, get a second opinion.
In the end, Dr. Douche Canoe was not qualified to perform the operation due to my extensive scarring and I had to be sent to a specialist. Guess what? She DID NOT recommend hormones unless my quality of life was severely impacted because hormones can cause more harm than good in patients with endometriosis! Did you notice I said she. My family doctor is also female and she agreed that hormones were not necessarily a one size fits all prescription.
Turns out, for me, hormones were not necessary. You absolutely have to do what feels right for you. Ask the questions, weigh the answers, and speak up when something doesn't feel right. If Dr. Douche Canoe treats you like an idiot, there is absolutely nothing wrong with finding a different doctor.
In the hundreds of Google searches and subsequent rabbit holes I fell into, I found so many women who have the same story. Women who have been pushed aside, ignored, misdiagnosed, and told it was all in their head. Women who have cried, been frustrated, and fought for answers they may or may not have found. This sounds disheartening, but in the age of social media, smart phones, and the internet, women have the unprecedented opportunity to share their stories. To find support in each other. To make our voices heard.
If you have had a hysterectomy, are going to have a hysterectomy, or are facing the prospect of having a hysterectomy, I strongly suggest checking out the HysterSisters website. It's a woman to woman support group with a wealth of articles and resources for helping you make the most informed decisions, understanding the changes in your body, and connecting with other other women who understand what you are going through. Always remember, it is your right to advocate for yourself. Never let anyone take your voice.
Have you ever felt overwhelmed by everything going on in your life, everything that has to be done in a day? You sit there in your unwashed stretchy pants ready to pull out all your hair because making one more decision feels impossible. There's just too much laundry, too much cleaning, too many errands, too many people who need you to figure out what comes next. It's like the cartoon character who's head explodes and all that's left is a little burned match stump.
Take a deep breath. No, really. A deep breath right now, in through your nose and out through your mouth. According to an article in Healthline "Taking deep breaths can help you voluntarily regulate your ANS, which can have many benefits - especially by lowering your heart rate, regulating blodd pressure, and helping you relax, all of which help decrease how much of the stress hormone cortisol is released in your body". Deep breaths help us to refocus our attention so we can slow down and take stock of what's really important.
Ok, now that you've taken a few deep breaths, let's take Anna's advice from Frozen II and "do the next right thing." Don't over analyze it, or get in your head, just listen to your body. Do you need to pee? Then go to the bathroom. Do you smell like a swamp yetti? Then take a shower. Are you thirsty? Then go get a drink. Don't think about what comes next, just go do the very next thing that you need to do to bring yourself a little balance.
Now, grab yourself a pen and paper and make a list. Break it into three columns - must do, should do, can wait. The "must do" column is for things that require your attention right now, that really must be done today. Feeding the dogs, feeding the kids, paying the bill that is due today, putting out the grease fire in your kitchen (you know, all the things that will unquestionably be problematic if they are not finished ASAP).
The "should do" column is for things that you should try to get done, but the house won't burn down if they're not. Finishing the laundry, meal planning, household chores etc. And the can wait column is for everything else. If you struggle with knowing what goes in the can wait column, ask yourself the following question, "What is the worst that will happen if this is not done?" If the answer doesn't involve a crisis or emergency, then it probably can wait.
Before you go to execute this list, I want you to do one more thing, and it's really, super important, ok. In your "must do" column add one task or activity that brings you joy: take a bubble bath, paint your toenails, color in a coloring book. This absolutely can't wait. I don't care how important everything else in your life is or how many people insist that they need you to do something else, this is non-negotiable. Remember that burned little match stump? The only way to truly find balance is to make your mental and emotional health a "must do" item every single day. If you can't carve 20-30 minutes out of your day to take care of you, it might be time to delegate some of your responsibilities, or to talk to friends, family, or even a professional about how to make sure your personal needs are met.
Starting every day with a few deep breaths and breaking down your must do, should do, and can wait will help you start to put things in perspective. You absolutely do not have to do it all. You do not have to be everything for everyone. All you have to do is breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth and do the next right thing.
Today I have to talk to you about a topic that tends to get me on my soap box and ruffles a few feathers. It started off innocently enough. I was reading an article about how plus size models are currently a novelty and don't receive equal respect or representation compared to their smaller sized competitors. But then, I did the the thing you should never do if you want to remain calm - read the comments. Let's just say, I wasn't adequately prepared for what came next.
There was a litany of hate, spite, and even seething anger. Many of the commentators lashed out about the photographs of plus size models featured in the article, in particular, a photo of a woman in her underwear who wore a size 22/24. One comment in particular is still seared into my brain. The person raged about the obesity epidemic and how it was the fault of fat, lazy slobs like this underwear model who glorified being sick and unhealthy. Moreover, how dare she pose her underwear? No one could ever find this disgusting sack of lard attractive. Fat people, the commentator noted, are biologically sexually undesirable.
First I was appalled by the hatefulness and over generalization of their statements, then, I had an epiphany. Internally, I had said every single one of those things to myself at some point while looking in the mirror and I know I'm not alone. For the longest time, I refused to buy "sexy" undies or wear lingerie, or even wear makeup and clothes that were beautiful because I did not feel beautiful. I did not deserve to feel beautiful and I absolutely was not sexy.
As women, we are constantly bombarded by images of what beauty is supposed to look like. We internalize what we are fed by the movies, television, advertisements and it permeates our lives carrying over into what we talk about with our girlfriends, how we view ourselves, and how we view the women around us. It has to stop and we have to be the change.
We are all sexual creatures, it's part of our genetic code and being overweight or having stretch marks or lumps doesn't suddenly erase that. You should not feel ashamed of your body or ashamed to feel sexy because what you see in the mirror doesn't match the lies you have been feed by the media. Because what that hateful commentator doesn't seem to realize is that there are people who find a size 22/24 woman in her underwear beautiful and sexy and desirable.
When you stop focusing on things like your weight and your lumps and your stretch marks and start focusing on things like your mental health and your happiness and your emotional well being, everything changes. Understand this - you are beautiful now not when. When I loose 20 pounds, when my abs are toned, when my thighs are smooth. No. Now. This very minute, you are beautiful, and sexy, and desirable. So go buy those scandalous underpants, or wear that sequin party skirt, or do that boudoir photo shoot. And next time you look in the mirror, strike a pose, you sexy beast.
I'm so excited to share my review of our very first book club book for the Pure Romance by Deedre VIP Community. If you're a woman age 18 or over and you haven't joined our community yet, you can click here to sign up for my emails and get exclusive access. We'll be starting the discussion over this book in January, so dive into this review, then join the community for a free PDF reading guide and bookmark.
So, I think the best place to start is how I found this book in the first place. One night, after falling down an Instagram rabbit hole, I stumbled upon Caroline Dooner's page - @thefuckitdiet. A friend of mine and I had been bouncing between diets with minimal success and the title gave me pause and a chuckle. And I really, really liked so many of the positive messages in her feed. Naturally, I followed the link to her book, and then landed on Amazon and read through the reviews. Let me tell you - it's a mixed bag.
There are tons of glowing comments, and then there are the negatives. People up in arms calling her everything from irresponsible to outright dangerous and scandalous. I immediately downloaded a preview on my Amazon Kindle app and I was hooked.
My first thought was "where has this book been all my life?!" But as I started to share with others, I was met with a lot of skepticism and more than a few eye rolls. The thing is, this isn't a diet book. It's not another weight lost plan wrapped up in a clever and witty title. It's not even about loosing weight. So what on earth is it then?
As one of my therapist friends said, it's really cognitive behavioral therapy. Caroline Dooner is asking us to forget absolutely everything we have ever been taught about weight and diet and the culture surrounding it. She's leading the reader on the long and sometimes painful journey of healing their relationship with their body, with food, and with hunger.
There are two parts to the book, and part one is entirely dedicated to breaking down the myths surrounding diet culture and the science behind her claims. This section is extremely radical and for many, very hard, if not impossible to accept. Whether you find yourself a fan or not, this section is absolutely worth the read for chapters like "The Minnesota Starvation Experiment" and "Your Diet Might Be a Cult". Rather than giving diet advice plus meal and exercise plans, Dooner encourages people to eat what they want, rest when they need to, and be kind to themselves in the process. Maybe it's possible that loosing weight isn't the Valhalla we've chalked it up to be.
Part two of the book is aptly titled "How the Hell Do I Actually Do This". It's broken into four parts: The Physical Part, The Emotional Part, The Mental Part, and The Thriving Part. If you truly embrace her method, it requires a lot of introspection. Dooner provides a multitude of writing prompts and a supplemental PDF guide is available through her website when you sign up for her email list. She calls on readers to evaluate their relationship with food, with their body, and even with exercise. There's a whole section dedicated to "feeling your feelings" and Dooner says that this may require professional therapy.
All in all, "The F*ck It Diet: Eating Should Be Easy" is an incredibly worthwhile read. Whatever your end feelings about Dooner's ideology, this is sure to provoke some insightful and important discussions about how we view our bodies and our relationship with food.
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If you look in the mirror right now, what do you see? Wrinkles, cellulite, a saggy butt, the last few pounds you've been struggling to loose? Do you love who you see or have you been promising to love her as soon as she measures up? Hey, I've been there. I get it. And every single day, I fight to love who I am now and there is nothing easy about it.
As women, it's like we've been programmed to believe that we should be thin and smooth and hairless and constantly apologizing for or trying to fix our perceived faults. Next time you're scrolling through your social media feed, count the number of ads you see for weight loss, hair removal, and slimming underpants. If it were a drinking game, I'm pretty sure most of us would be under the table before too long.
So how do I do it? How do you do it? How do we love ourselves and our creases and dimples and stretch marks? There are 5 real things you can start doing this very second to shift the narrative and start embracing the body you're in.
Fill your feed with positive vibes. Follow businesses like @letsjoyn and @knixwear who celebrate our beautiful bodies just as they are. And follow influencers like @snacinbus and @curvyhipsandtintedlips who rock their style un-apologetically.
Join groups like my Facebook Pure Romance by Deedre VIP Community that strive to empower and educate women focusing on sexual and mental health and self-care over diet and appearance.
Get a set off dry erase markers for glass and write positive self talk on all your mirrors. It sounds silly, but surrounding yourself with positivity can really start to re-wire your brain. Seeing "I am beautiful and worthy of love" or "I am an unstoppable badass" every time you look at yourself really puts things in perspective.
Imagine your best self and write down a list of all her qualities - the catch, you can't include anything that has to do with weight or appearance. So instead of saying, "My best self is 30 pounds lighter" you could say "My best self has a degree in business" or "My best self doesn't let people put her down". Then make an action plan. What tangible things can you start doing today to make sure you show up as your best self?
Dress for yourself. If you love sparkly eye shadow and wild pink leggings - wear them! If you crave the comfort of a flannel tee and the perfect pair of jeans - rock it girl. You do you and to hell with what anyone else thinks. And the next time you look in the mirror, number 3 will be there to remind you of just how awesome you really are.
So I know I've mentioned at least once before that I have a little side business in direct sales, but I've never really just come out and said what it is. See, I've got this alter ego who is exactly like me except for braver and a lot more organized. I've been trying to keep her and my blog separate, but the thing is, I've been thinking about writing a blog for my business and that got me thinking, why do the two have to be mutually exclusive? I'm not really planning on selling anything in the blog, just talking about the topics that matter to me and that I feel are super important to share. So again, why have I been so reluctant to bring those topics here? Because I sell for Pure Romance.
I get so much side eye when I first tell people that. Don't get me wrong, there a plenty of people who are really cool about it, but there is so much stigma and myth surrounding this company. "Oh, you do those parties." Why yes, I do. I always said that I could sell something that I really believe in, and I absolutely believe in this. The companies motto is "Empower. Educate. Entertain" and as a former teacher, I'm all about all three. So why am I telling you all this now, after I've been with Pure Romance for more than a year? Because I'm merging into my alter ego and becoming exactly who I've always been meant to be. A brave and unstoppable manatee who isn't afraid of boats (refer to the about section of my blog if your scratching your head about this metaphor).
I'm growing and changing and doing a whole lot of internet surfing and reading so many articles and have come to the conclusion that there are important things that we just don't talk about. They get shoved under the rug and marked as not polite for dinner parties and so the myths and stigma continue. Well, not today Satan, not today.
I talk all the time about accepting and loving yourself, mental and physical health, and now I'm telling you, SEXUAL HEALTH MATTERS. There I said it, sex. Because sex and sexual health are not dirty words. Understanding our bodies and accepting things like menopause, endometriosis, libido, and hormones is all part of living a happy and healthy life filled with empathy for our fellow humans. Empowered women empower women. And now you know. My name is Deedre and I sell Pure Romance. And I'm cutting through stigma one myth at a time.
I'm an entrepreneur, educator, blogger, and Pure Romance Consultant breaking through stigmas and helping women find their voice.