Joy is tricky, a complicated emotion
tossed around like a hot potato from hand to hand.
It's beautiful and full of promise,
a bright birthday balloon swelling in your chest.
But the thing about balloons is, they pop,
Sometimes quite unexpectedly, and tattered pieces
fall haphazardly to the ground.
I suppose you could go your whole life,
never trusting it, always questioning,
waiting for the BANG.
But where's the fun in that?
Embrace the joy while it is swelling, growing
forming a beautiful light air feeling,
knowing that the let down is inevitable,
but there will always be more balloons.
It's so easy to get sucked up into the fantasy of an Instagram feed. Look at that, she's so pretty, her life is so great, now there is a woman that has her shit together. And we a are equal parts impressed, intimidated, and jealous of extremely successful women. Have you ever thought, wow, I wish I could be that successful? But then shut down the idea all together, because you've just put this complete stranger in a league entirely above you?
I think it's part culture, part society, and part human nature that we classify ourselves, sometimes without even realizing it. We have quietly decided exactly what we are capable of and what we deserve and then relegated ourselves to the corresponding corner. We see a wildly successful, confident woman and think, that could never be me because she simply has something I don't. But that's just not true.
Sure someone can have certain resources that put them at a perceived advantage, but, at the end of the day, it's about figuring out what you really want and believing that you deserve it. That you are every bit as capable and worthy. And then digging in with both heels and not backing down till you get it. This is the message I hear echoing from almost every single book and Instagram feed created by a successful woman. This is what is meant by the phrase empowered women empower women.
It's not about fighting for limited seats at the table, but about brining a folding chair and making your own damn place. Because you deserve to have the life you imagine. The one you dream of in the quiet hours before everyone else is awake. You are worthy and capable. And it does not matter what someone else thinks. Period. You know what sets your soul on fire, don't ever let someone steal your flame. Go out there and decide what it is you want and fight for it.
You want to to know the secret to success, to having it all, to living the life you dream of? It's refusing to quit. It's grabbing every available resource to learn and grow. It's pivoting when you hit a wall (or figuring out how you can climb over the damn thing). It's about evolving over and over and taking pride in your infinite growth and self discovery.
Don't be envious of those women in your Instagram feed, admire them, follow them, read the books they are reading, be inspired. You don't reach your dreams by sitting in the corner waiting for them to come to you. Do a Pinterest search for positive affirmations, find the ones that speak to you, stick them to your mirror, and say them every single day while brushing your teeth.
Decide what you want and commit to it with your whole heart. Take classes, read books, listen to podcasts, watch YouTube videos, devour every available resource and then go out there and try. Be afraid and do it anyway. Fail and learn and grow. Be your own biggest cheerleader. Because behind every successful woman is herself.
Tomorrow is International Women's Day, and I'm here to drop my favorite F word, feminism. Have you run screaming for the hills yet? Too many people furrow their brows and get out of sorts when this particular f-bomb is dropped. Full disclosure, I was raised in a culture where "feminist" was synonymous with "radical, bra burning, man hating, liberal bitches". And it's a sad, tired, grossly misinformed idea that we're going to hit head on right now. First, feminism is about equality in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Too many people get their underpants in a twist and start railing when they hear the term equality because their assumption is that to give rights to one person means to take them away from another. And this simply isn't the case. Equality means that we share the same rights and privileges regardless of our gender, race, or sexual orientation.
I have had people tell me point blank, "But Deedre this is 2021, women are equal, this isn't a real problem anymore." So, I did some digging to see if maybe I was misinformed, maybe I had somehow misconstrued the whole issue, but in my search, I found a Gloria Steinem quote that pretty much hits the nail on the head, "The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off!"
My search started with the basics: what percentage of the United States population is female? The answer is roughly 51%. So, basically half of us here in the US are women. Ok. Next search, how many CEO's of fortune 500 companies are women? For those of you who might need clarification the Fortune 500 is an annual list compiled and published by Fortune magazine that ranks 500 of the largest United States corporations by total revenue for their respective fiscal years. The list includes publicly held companies, along with privately held companies for which revenues are publicly available. So out of 500 CEO's, I discovered that 38 are women. Thirty eight are women (and according to a CNN article that's a record number!) That is less than 8%.
What about the government? This is a bold year for women with our first ever female Vice President. There are 100 senators, 24 of them are women (and only 11 are people of color). There are 435 members of the House of Representatives, 119 of them are women. So, to be clear, women make up 51% of the United States population and only 24% of Senators and 27% of Representatives (and these numbers are historically high).
And let's not leave out Hollywood, because, let's be honest, we've all consumed a lot of Netflix during this pandemic. The yearly Celluloid Ceiling report by San Diego State University found that women accounted for 16% of directors working on the 100 highest-grossing films in 2020, up from 12% in 2019 and only 4% in 2018. Martha M. Lauzen who conducted the study said, "We have now seen two consecutive years of substantial gains for female protagonists, indicating the beginning of a positive shift in representation. That said, it's important to note that moviegoers are still almost twice as likely to see a male character as a female character in a speaking role."
We are no doubt making immense positive strides in the right direction, but search after search produced the same results. In positions of power, decision making, money, politics, education - women are grossly underrepresented. And women of color are at an even more significant disadvantage. So I'll say it again, louder for the people at the back, equality means that we share the same rights and privileges regardless of our gender, race, or sexual orientation.
So how do we make more seats at the table? How do we make our voices heard? Be educated. Buy from women owned companies. Pay attention to politics, know who is running for office, and go vote. Watch films written and directed by women. Give your binge watching hours to movies and television with strong female leads. Read books written by women. Diversify your life. Follow social media accounts for women and women of color. And be sure to check out the official website for International Women's Day and support their 2021 campaign #ChooseToChallenge and "Celebrate women's achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality."
Some people come by a sense of self naturally. They just know that they are worthy of love, respect, and happiness, and they own it. This has never been me. I've had to fight and claw and scratch my way to this understanding, and after 39 years of being alive, I'm finally getting to a place where I have balance more days than not. Truth be told, I still struggle with voicing my needs, especially when I feel like my needs inconvenience someone else. But, here's the thing, my needs matter, and so do yours.
Stuffing your feelings down and suppressing your voice to avoid rocking the boat or to make someone else happy will always backfire in the end, trust me. Either you end up miserable and quietly resentful, or you explode at some unspecified, and most likely inopportune, moment in the future. There absolutely is a such thing as compromise, but please don't confuse compromise with shoving your needs down the garbage disposal. You matter, and what you want matters too.
I can't think of a better way to illustrate my point than the relationship between me and my husband. I love that man - like would fight rabid badgers for him. He really is my best friend and my soulmate and all that jazz BUT we both have some serious baggage from past traumas and sometimes we come up against that shit hard. We both have a tendency to shut down and curl up inside ourselves stewing on our resentment when faced with the prospect of actually voicing our needs out loud. And I, in particular, tend to take every sigh or brow furrow or slight intonation of frustration as a personal assault on my character. So, when I really want a nice long scalp massage and he exhales, I just say never mind and walk away assuming that I'm a horrible burden (very melodramatic I know). But the thing is, I really wanted a scalp massage. And the next time he asks me for anything, like a back scratch or a sandwich, I comply because I really do love him, but I've still got the lingering resentment of never getting my scalp massage.
And he's such a night owl, and I'm totally a morning person and when I'm waking up he's still happily asleep and visa versa. So when he wants to chat about all the things that are important to him, I just want to go to sleep, and the resentment builds. Two people who love each other, building up a volcano that could burn the house down, and for what? I mean really. He's my best friend (and my very sexy husband), why don't we just communicate? Because, years of trauma and cultural bias have taught us that love is suppressing what you want to make someone else happy. For me especially, it's the still small voices that whispers "You're not worthy. You're not important. You don't deserve love." And so, instead of compromise, I shove my needs down the garbage disposal and give him whatever I think he wants because isn't that love?
No, still small voice, that is not love, that's something more akin to masochism. Because the truth is, I am worthy, my needs are important, and I do deserve love (and so does he and so do you). Loving yourself, loving someone else means being honest. It means standing up for yourself and communicating what makes you happy and what doesn't. It means respecting yourself enough to believe that you have a right to speak up, and if the other person respects you too, they will listen. And if they don't, to hell with them. They aren't worthy of you.
Your voice is precious. Don't give it up for anyone. And when someone else speaks, give them the same courtesy. Protect your fellow humans. Because we are all deserve to be heard.
When I was little, I dreamed of weddings and flowers and a handsome princes as much as the next girl, but my mom gave me a beautiful gift. She encouraged me to be strong and independent, "Go to college, have fun, live your life, find yourself and then find someone you love to share it with." I didn't properly appreciate that admonishment as a teenager. I saw all the girls around me wearing make up and growing into their bodies and building a shrine to Valentine's Day and boys who bought them gifts or held their hands between classes. And neither of my dads gave me a good example of how a spouse should treat their partner. I was adrift in a sea of teenage angst wearing combat boots and blue lipstick with my dresses. I never wanted to fit in or be popular, but I did want to be loved. I wanted so badly to find my other half. My soul mate. The one person who marched to the beat of the same drum.
I settled a lot, and put up with shit that I really shouldn't have, on my search, but props to mom's wisdom, because I never stopped being me. I was a girl with goals, and passion, and great big dreams, and I'll be damned if I was going stop wearing polyester pants and pink flamingo bowling shirts for anyone. So much internal conflict. What was wrong with me? Where was this person that was going to complete me? It took me years to realize what some people still haven't. I AM NOT HALF. And you are not half either.
We are complex, diverse, amazing very whole human beings all on our own. Much to my chagrin, mom's right about this too. We don't have to get married or have kids or a white picket fence to be complete. If you feel like something is missing, I promise it's not a mate.
Sure, we can desire companionship, and love, and sex, but none of this really means anything if we can't love ourselves first. In the immortal words of RuPaul, "If you can't love yourself, then how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?"
Believe me, I have been through my share of shitty relationships to figure this out. I'm allowed to blog, podcast, travel, party, make money, have adventures and absolutely love my life with or without a partner. Don't believe anyone who tells you otherwise, because they're probably trying to sell you something. The media is great at this especially for women. Our culture has traditionally given the same one size fits all step ladder to every little girl. Be desirable and socially normative so you can get married and raise a family.
But what about the other million possibilities? What about women who don't want to get married and settle down? The ones who would love to find a partner but haven't met them yet? The ones who want kids but can't have them? The ones who have loved and lost? Are they somehow less than? Sad, derelict ships endlessly sailing with no safe harbor?
Absolutely not. Because you are whole and worthy of loving yourself, of divine love (however you interpret it), and of all your dreams. It took me years to realize this and truly embrace it, but I'm eternally grateful that I did, because when I got married to the most amazing human being at the age of 32, I was a whole person sharing my life with another whole person. And I didn't settle, or give up who I am, I shared the life I already loved with the person I loved and I wouldn't have it any other way.
My mother and I have a pretty solid relationship (after barely surviving my tumultuous teenage years). There have been a lot of struggles over the years, and I know she stays awake some nights going over all the ways she's failed me, or how things could have gone differently, but the truth is, she is one of the strongest women that I know. She's taught me me about bravery and tenacity, and how to never apologize for who I am or what I want. She's showed me how to be giving, and forgiving even when I might not want to be. And some of my best childhood memories (in a childhood swamped with trauma and uncertainty) are of her.
She used to have this marvelously 80's night gown made of rayon or polyester that was baby blue and went all the way to the floor on me. It had roses and lace embroidered on the collar and (I think) short billowy sleeves. I used to put it on with a pair of her beige heals (which were too big and flopped as I walked) and a teal pearl clip on earrings. I remember looking at myself and thinking that I was the height of sophistication and elegance, and dreamed of the day that I could be as lovely and glamorous as my mother.
I also remember watching her apply her makeup in the bathroom, and once I asked if I could do her makeup - she let me, and I felt like I had one the lottery. She ended up looking like a clown that had gone on a bender, but she told me that it was beautiful anyway. Mom's teeth are tinted grey because of medicine she took as a kid, and she's always been self conscious about it, but I never noticed, because all I could see was her beautiful smile, and that I hoped I would grow up to be pretty like her one day.
Despite all the things that could have gone differently, or all the times we butted heads, I always saw how much she gave for me. There was always a magical Christmas no matter how many presents were or weren't under the tree. There was always cake on my birthday. And she always helped me with my sewing projects, no matter how difficult the task. I remember more than once going to bed frustrated with a collar I just couldn't get right or an invisible zipper I couldn't get to line up, and in the morning, I woke up to a finished garment that made me feel like the bees knees.
Once, to show my undying gratitude, I saved up my money to buy her a Rod Stewart CD and some scented bath soaps (the height of luxury in my opinion), and put them in a shoe box I decorated with unicorn wrapping paper. I even made her a cookie cake, which raised over the sides of the pan and all over the bottom of the oven. I tried to clean up my mess, but it was late and dad told me we could clean up in the morning. Mom woke up pissed as hell that I trashed her oven, but when I showed her the cake and her special gift, she cried for getting mad at me, hugged me, and told me it was wonderful. I later caught her jamming out to Rod Stewart while washing dishes, suds flying off her hands as she danced.
Yeah, me and mom have had our disagreements, and strongly worded arguments, and even a few all out spats, but the truth is - I am who I am because I learned how to be the best kind of human from my mom. It's been hard this year with her living three hours away and the pandemic keeping us apart, but on days like today, I look back on all the good times and smile. This is for my mom, with love.
This has been a rough year, so rough in fact that I have seen numerous t-shirts that have "2020" painted on a dumpster fire. Sometimes it's more cathartic to have a little laugh about misery than to dive in and burrow down, but the truth is this has been an extremely rough year for everyone and doubly so for those struggling with anxiety and depression.
I'm a people person, through and through. I love to travel and have adventures, I love visiting friends. I go stir crazy when I'm cooped up for too long. And I've been very fortunate thus far to have a job outside my home that I can go to and keep getting paid (I'm deeply thankful for this reprieve). But, this year, I've missed Comicon and PowWow get together with my WGB girls, a trip to Moab that I was so craving, and Sunday night card games with an older couple we've played with for years.
I've watched the news unfold with so much pain, suffering, violence, unrest, and division. I've seen families and friendships torn apart. I've listened as my anxiety tells me that there's no point anyway because it's all going to shit just like it said it would. And some days it just doesn't feel like there's an end in sight. And I'm here today to tell you that it's ok, to not be ok. Feeling scared, or angry, or frustrated, or out of control, or all these things at once is perfectly normal and we are going to be ok. Because, here's the thing, no matter what happens, life is only lived one day at a time. One second, one minute, one hour at a time.
Anxiety lives in the past or the future not the present. It pulls up all the worst memories of what has happened or what might happen and makes it very hard to focus on what is right now. Be kind to yourself, always. Know that it is normal and ok to let yourself feel and process all the emotions you are having, good and bad. Focus your energy on today, and what you can do right now. If you are able and have need, I highly recommend talking to a therapist. Not enough people realize just how important it is to have a mental health professional in their corner.
Be mindful: color, do arts and crafts, meditate, practice yoga. Find something that gets you out of your head and draws your focus away from the things you can't control. Do things that make you happy and don't worry about people's opinions. Use the good china for no reason on a Tuesday afternoon. Wear your formal dress while watching Netflix. Sculpt with clay even if you have no idea what your doing. There's so much uncertainty in the world. Life is too short to worry about matching socks and getting everything right on the first try. Let yourself be, let yourself feel, let yourself live in the moment.
And remember, it's ok to not be ok right now. Take a deep breath, hug your cat, call your therapist, and never stop doing the things that make you happy, because this is not the end.
Carrying a load of bricks on my back,
so far, so long.
Everything in me aches,
tired, sore, very nearly broken.
No matter how many times I readjust,
can't get comfortable, no relief
from the wary feeling, the pain
of carrying so much weight.
One for mothers, one for fathers,
one for each mistake, each regret,
each heartache, each unmet need.
Bricks, and bricks, and bricks
Until I fall to my knees and stare at the sky,
The sun so warming on my face.
Has the sky always been so beautiful,
Slip one arm free of the satchel,
then the other.
A thud, and then relief.
Finally stretching my unencumbered body,
I'm taking a moment to get out some thoughts before I turn off the damn computer. If it sounds like I'm a bity edgy, that's because I am. It's been a rough year for all of us and the last week has been immensely stressful, but you know what, it's time to stop and smell the roses. I know, that's a cliché, but it's just so true. How many of you have been glued to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, your television for what seems like every waking moment of your day? (I'm raising my hand very enthusiastically over here.)
There's plenty of brain science out there to suggest that our over dependence on technology and social media isn't doing anything good for our neurons. Does this mean that we should all burn our phones in a bon fire, strip off our clothes, and go be one with nature? No. I mean, not unless that's your thing (then by all means let your flag fly). It means that we need to consciously set aside time without tech. A digital detox (such a buzz word these days). But, seriously. Set aside time every single day that is a 0 tech zone. No phone, no tablet, no laptop, no television. Just you and the sweet smell of possibility.
I know that this often ends up being very difficult for me. What if I miss something funny or important? What will I do to entertain myself? How will I live? (ok, now I'm just being dramatic.) But really, we really need to take time to let our brains rest from the constant barrage of information and stimulation. Color, sculpt with clay, read a book, do some gardening, give yourself a pedicure, gasp and egads, clean the house. Whatever it is, give yourself time away from your devices. To listen and observe the world around you, to feel your feelings.
Today, I'm forcing myself to go no tech until at least noon (after I publish this blog of course). And, to be truthful, I'm probably going to have to put this laptop and my phone in a drawer because if I can see them, the temptation is just too great. The internet and social media can be used for a great amount of good, but they can also become a distraction and an escape from all the things we really should be doing or dealing with. So, take a deep breath, put your phone in the drawer, and go rediscover the joy of being alive (or just the restoration of a little peace and quiet).
I was surfing my Pinterest boards this morning looking for a jolt of inspiration, and I got a high five to the face when I stumbled on this beauty, "Old ways won't open new doors." Touché Pinterest, touché. I'm immediately picturing myself wearing my heavy duty, pink patent leather Doc Martins and kicking down a door with reckless enthusiasm (seems like someone is full of piss and vinegar this morning).
I don't know about you, but I definitely needed to hear this today. Too often, I get stuck in a brain rut and end up doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. So far, I have discovered that the kitchen does not clean itself and that constantly telling myself I'm a failure has produced little to no satisfactory results.
So why do we humans have this innate tendency to get stuck? Because it's comfortable. Even if your situation is less than desirable, there is a certain soft fuzzy comfort to routine. There's no scary outliers, it's just exactly what you expect over and over and over again. We know what is behind this door, every. single. time. But that door? The other door? It could be a sweet pair of spandex leggings and a bucket of money or it could be the sweet smell of napalm in the morning. You just don't know.
But here's the thing, being comfortable isn't the same as being deliriously happy. It's not the same as being passionately fulfilled. And there are some days that comfortable is fine, but for me, I want passion and adventure and the thrill of being alive. And that means that I have to stop over analyzing every tiny little detail and just fly by the seat of pants. Case in point, I need a new coat. I've outgrown my old one and it's unpleasantly chilly this morning which reminds me, that I need a new coat. So, I go online to my favorite shop armed with my fistful of birthday cash and I'm gonna buy an amazing coat.
This experience should have been joyful, and short lived (I already knew which coat I wanted). But then, the hamster wheel started. Well, I can still zip my old coat, mostly, so do I really need a new coat? Will this one fit? Is it too orange? What if I pick the wrong size? Should I really be spending this money? Ok. Stop. Let's just stop. There are only two questions that really need to be answered here. Can I afford it? Does it bring me joy? Quick, go with your gut before your brain can over rationalize. Yes. and Yes. I can afford it, and it brings me joy. So, what does any the other stuff matter? If it doesn't fit, I can send it back and find another coat.
Sometimes, kicking down a door may lead to scary, unfamiliar, or weird experiences. But, it can also lead to the best freakin coat you have ever owned. And I get it, sometimes you've got more to lose than a fist full of birthday cash, but here's the thing, we're all going to die someday and we get this one life, with this finite amount of opportunity, and most of the time, kicking the door down is going to change you as a person. It's going to lead you places you didn't even know you needed to be. So the next time your stuck in a rut, ask yourself, am I comfortable, or am I happy?
Entrepreneur. Blogger. Eternal Optimist. Helping people find their happy, encouraging others to grow.