awareness

I Am

In today’s episode of “words matter…”

Watch how you speak about yourself.

A family member of mine recently had surgery. It was pretty major, requiring him to take a serious step back from his hard-working, able-bodied lifestyle. He went from working 60-80 hours a week in a physically demanding job to passing most of his waking hours sitting on the couch, healing. He went from managing many tasks for multiple businesses and family members to needing help tying his shoes and buttoning his shirt. It would be a long recovery.

A couple of days after the surgery, as he slowly slumped up the stairs to move from couch to bed, I heard him clearly mutter “I am pathetic.”

To which I responded, no…you may not feel well or energetic, but you are not pathetic. You are healing. You are making progress. You are doing the best you can. You are doing what needs to be done.

I hear it in the words of my friends often, too. I am so stupid. Why am I this way? I am such an idiot. I am such a dumbass. Whatever insult you feel you deserve in the moment.

Does this gloss over every mistake? No. But it’s the “I am…” that we have to look out for. Don’t mistake how you’re feeling for who you are. Don’t confuse an error you made with your identity. Watch how you speak to and about yourself. Don’t put that energy out into the universe.

Instead, tell yourself you are strong. You are on the right track. You are figuring it out. If you screwed up, own it and vow to do better. “I am ready to learn and improve.” Whatever you need to say to and about yourself, keep it positive. If you make a mistake, you can remark about the action, not about who you are as a person.

Words matter, use them wisely, even when you’re just talking to and about yourself! Today’s healthy mindset hack. Watch your language!

perspective

Body Envy

A recent conversation between friends turned to observations about an acquaintance of ours. In the past year or so she has become incredibly fit and muscular. The comments jumped back and forth: “Have you seen her?” “She is just a solid rock.” “I might have body envy.”

I thought about it and, remarkably, I totally don’t have body envy. At all.

I can look at her and think wow, she looks great. She is lean and strong. So it’s not that I don’t think she is in amazing shape…it’s more that I don’t have body envy of anyone.

Maybe there was a time when I looked at bodies and wished mine were different. But not now. Am I perfect? Nope. Mine is a body that has carried as much as 314 pounds (or more.) There is flab and extra skin hanging down that no amount of clean eating and gym work will ever take away. It’s me. It’s my story. Even though I am proud of my shoulders, if I lift my arms up there is a ton of deflated balloon skin that just drapes down. It is what it is. It is me.

It’s a choice for me. A choice to be comfortable in my skin. I’m pretty proud of where I am and what I can do. So no, I don’t have body envy. I wouldn’t change my story.

You know what I envy, if anything? A person’s spirit. Their soul. Their joy.

People with endless kindness. People with hearts for so many. People who always seem to find the bright side, even in the darkest of times. People who are caring, lively, giving.

Bodies are great. Goodness knows we need them and need to keep them healthy. But there are limits to what we can do to change them, especially after years and decades of experience (and, in some cases, enjoyment or abuse, depending on how you look at it.)

The spirit can always be made more beautiful.

celebrations

Let’s Talk Music 2021

On January 25, 2020, I wrote a random blog post on music. This was not long after I laid out my 2020 goals which included an anthem or song for the year. Some choose words each year, for me I chose music last year. I’m pretty sure it was the first time I ever acknowledged music in this way but it was a symbol in the crazy world of 2020.

So here we are in January 2021. I reviewed my most played songs of 2020 and there were a few consistent as I spent many hours driving in solitude. Of course my anthem was the #1 played song but it had me thinking about what my anthem would be for 2021.

Not much thought after that until today. Boom a text was received and it all changed in a moment. A moment like this, as Kelly Clarkson would belt out.

Some lyrics that fuel me:

I am healthy,

I am wealthy

I am not going to take your shit

I am protected, well respected

I’m a queen, I’m a dream

I do what I wanna do

I’m who I wanna be

‘Cause I’m me

I’m fly as bees

I drive

I’m independent

Everything on me

I’m a queen

Not every word applies but the ones above ring true to my strength, my confidence, my gait, and so on. I am me. No carbon copies. A queen in my own world. Which all seems appropriate since my song of 2020 was Queens Don’t by Rae Lynn.

A queen’s gonna rule just the way she was made…
Queens don’t hate, queens don’t fight….
Every jewel on my crown, you better believe I earned..

Thank you ladies for putting out some amazing lyrics to keep me focused on 2020 and 2021. I just add. No need to confuse me my confidence with arrogance. I work for what I deserve. I work hard. I play just as hard. I treat others the way I would want to be treated.
This year’s song is a symbol of my attitude as I attack 2021 with vim and vigor.  ‘Cause I’m me and this is my style.

Hope you find your theme song for the year if it strikes your fancy like it did mine. I am truly lucky to have many in my life who see me as having the shining light of a queen. The commanding personality of a leader. The attitude of an independent thinker and so much more.

Off to live my best queen life. Today, tomorrow and the next day. 

face blowing a kiss
awareness

Listen Again

Sometimes KT writes a line that really sticks with me. To be clear, many of her posts make me think differently and many prompt me to make a change in how I approach life or how I act. This is a little different…here’s my take on her recent post about listening and what a gift it is.

Here’s the line (and I encourage you to read the whole post): Listening is the greatest gift you can give to another human.

Being a more intentional listener found its way into my goals this year. A series of conversations made me realize that I don’t sincerely listen to people as often as I should. I reflected on the fact that although people ask me all the time “how are you?” and I answer, I don’t often ask them how they are. I’m often so caught up in what I’m doing I don’t even look up. I may make a brief comment but not much else.

What am I telling people as I just let them walk by? I don’t look them in the eye. Sometimes I don’t look up from what I am doing. Sometimes I probably seem annoyed at the interruption.

I’ve been trying to reverse since since it caught my attention. When I think about it, I take the time to put down what I am doing and ask the person how they are. And then follow up with another question.

What I have noticed is that more people than I realized are hungry to share. Excited to connect. They want to tell me a bit about how they are.

I thought I was a decent listener. Now I see that I need work. The invitations to listen are everywhere. How many have I blown off because I didn’t make time or was just too into what I was doing to notice them? From my friends, my co-workers, members of my family?

Among the other unfolding lessons, the pandemic has taught me that people matter more than pretty much anything else. We can’t replace people or the opportunities we have to share with them. I have missed many, but I am committed to doing better moving forward.

I’m also on the lookout for the people who are dropping out of sight. Who haven’t I heard from in a while? Different schedules and limited opportunities to be out and about make those happenstance meetings less frequent. Who is telling me through their silence that they may need a friend? Who can I text to check in with? Who can I lift up with a funny post, a quote, a kind word? Who can I (re)start a conversation with? As KT often says, hope is free.

The motto of the StoryCorps podcast is: listening is an act of love. Who can I love today by listening to them? Who can you?

challenges, family

Body Shaming

Where to start with this one? I’m confident in my body and its outward appearance to others. I may not be a size two with an hourglass figure but that’s okay. I wasn’t built with that frame.

I’m thicker. I have more padding. Some muscles. Some fat. For years I didn’t always make the best eating choices. Those minutes on the lips last a lifetime on the hips is a true statement. Since I can’t change history, I live in the skin I have. The weathered skin. The unbroken shell. The thick-by-design to ward off all those who try to poke at my body image.
This is me as an adult. Have I always been this strong? Probably not, but it’s where I am today. Now for a young impressionable girl, she may struggle with body image. Why? Because the digital world is an unforgiving place. Let me just share a few examples:

  • You are a female athlete. A boy can feel intimidated if your body is stronger than theirs. What do they do? Bash you online. Why? To feed their own ego or soothe their own inferiority complex.
  • You are a female with some meat on your bones. Thick thighs. Big booty. Full chest. Are you different from others your age? Maybe. Does that make you a target? It could. Others may feel the need to pass judgment on you only because they are not confident in themselves. This isn’t always a male. Sometimes females act negatively.

What is wrong with kids today that they think it’s okay to ridicule another female’s body? Body shaming they call it. When the girl cries herself to sleep at night or does not eat for a year, who wins? Nobody.

Words hurt. Pictures tell stories and mark journeys. They should not be used to target somebody’s ego in a negative manner online. Unfortunately shallow folks choose the latter. As sad as it sounds. It happens. 

I am a social person. I’m also an online presence. One can take my pictures and poke fun for them. I am okay with that as it takes all types to make up a world. However a young impressionable girl may not have the same mental strength to do the same when their photos are misused.

If you have a son, raise them right. Teach them to respect women/females. If you have a female teach them that they should lift up other females not degrade them. Neither action is progress. Don’t allow your kids the ability to body shame anyone. It’s not right. It’s hurtful.

Every parent has the responsibility to talk to teens as they approach teen hood to young adults and let them know how the internet can be a tool as well as a weapon. Without that conversation they may not realize how their keystrokes can be damaging.

The repeat convo over and over is the next step. Teens need constant reminders from adults. Their brains are still developing. They may not understand that their actions have consequences. 

If this message reaches you, do your part if you are a parent and have the difficult conversation. If you are in the teen to young adult age group. Read and reread this post as many times as you need to. If you are not in either age group, pass in on or share the overall knowledge.