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. 

perspective

Doctor Doctor

A not-so-well-known fact about me: I’m a doctor. No, not the kind of doctor that prescribes medications or carries a stethoscope. I’m a doctor of the mind – a PhD. Earned in 2012 in Language and Literacy Education from the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!)

Why do I bring this up? Recently I read an op-ed and surrounding arguments about our incoming First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, and whether or not she should own her “Dr.” title. The author raised all kinds of small-minded reasons why she should drop the Dr. title, even calling her “kiddo” at one point, as if her using the title she earned was childish and deserved a patronizing pat on the head. The arguments he made only showed his own shallow thinking and aren’t even worth reviewing here. Still all this made me mad, and also made me reflect on my own title.

I’m not going to bother to defend the work it took to earn my title. Six years, countless courses, teaching, publications, awards, etc. I have an obnoxiously long academic vita that does that. In some ways the PhD is a measure of stubbornness and I earned that through and through. I also won’t argue that all Dr. titles are worth the same. Especially now, when we see even more brightly how health care is heroism, I can’t even begin to equate what I have with what they can do.

What my PhD shows is that I have learned how to think. I have learned how to collect data, analyze it, theorize it, and write about it at length. When I earned that title, I knew that it was one of the few things no one could take away from me. I am one of the two “Drs.” in my building. Maybe it won’t surprise you that a school actually makes a big deal about a doctorate. Yes, my kindergarteners call me Dr. Friese. (Sometimes, with a wink at Southern custom, they call me “Miss Dr. Friese.”) For a while I wondered if the students should use my title or if it really mattered, but now I think it’s good for students to see that thinking is valuable in all areas of life. If they love that kind of advanced-level thinking and intellectual work / play, it can be pursued in countless contexts. Doctoring isn’t just in an office or hospital. We don’t all wear scrubs (and special props to those who do!) The more people see different possibilities, especially kids, the better.

On the flip side, Dr. has its downsides. I can be a total snob about things. I can’t unsee typos on a professional document. I ask too many questions at times, which can lead to the “analysis paralysis,” or being so stuck in overthinking I don’t get anything done. (I’m trying to remedy this with my OLW this year: DO!)

I also know that titles aren’t everything. Several people I know are much smarter than me learning from the school of hard knocks or lessons from in the trenches. I’ll be the first to argue that my classroom smarts doesn’t always help me “in the streets.” I embody the absentminded professor stereotype in many areas of life. Many will make a better living and a happier life taking paths that don’t necessarily lead to titles, certifications, or initials. So a Dr. isn’t everything, but it is something and it was the right challenge for me. Whether it’s initials or just more digits in your bank account, I’ll honor what you have earned.

What bothers me most about how this writer treated Dr. Biden is the tone and the underlying sexism of it all. As if being First Lady should make anything else she does or has done take a back seat. As if prioritizing her work as a highly educated educator is sort of laughable. As if the title conferred by marriage is the one she should favor over the one she earned for thinking, writing, and persisting. How many times have I gotten mail directed to Dr. and Mrs. instead of Mr. and Dr. or even Dr. and Mr.? Why does doctoring default to men? Why should women minimize what they earned when it takes nothing from anyone else? Sometimes I even minimize what I have earned myself, if I let the opinions of others invade my mind and erode my confidence.

When I taught at UGA, my students called me Beth. It was a personal choice and I had my reasons. These days, if someone calls me Mrs. Friese at work, I don’t correct them but my bosses often will if they hear it. Although my interests have taken me elsewhere, all this has revived my thinking about that title, what it means, and what it’s worth. Some might say I don’t use my doctorate, but in many ways I use it daily. I think. I write. I argue. I reason. I plan. I observe. I analyze. Every. Single. Day.

So yes, you may call me doctor. If you don’t, it doesn’t change who I am or what I’ve earned. In the mean time, I won’t waste energy worrying about what you think of me or my title. I’ve got too much to plan and DO to fret over small-minded guys.

challenges

I’m Not Afraid

I’m not afraid of burpees anymore.

I am no longer dreading 72 burpees in workout because I’ll be the slowest to complete them.
I am no longer completely wiped out by burpees. 10-15-20 easy peasy.

It might have taken me over 1,200 burpees in a short period of time to realize this. I learned practice makes perfect or it definitely builds confidence in your weak or feared movements.

In the past, I would do pushups instead of burpees in a workout. It wasn’t that I couldn’t do them. I didn’t want to do them. I would just prefer not to do burpees. I took the easy way out time and time again.

Then one day I said yes to a burpee challenge online. Little did I know that burpee challenge would teach me to endure in many ways. Little did I know it would help me stabilize my breathing while doing burpees with other movements. Little did I know my fear wasn’t worth fearing anymore.

I slowed down enough to take it all in. To practice vs. rush through. I am still not fast at burpees and never will be thanks to my hip mobility but I can get them done in much larger sets. I am not that graceful when I do burpees either. They are what I call sloppy burpees.

Nonetheless I can drop and do 5-10-15-20 or more at my pace without hesitation. I may not love to do them but I can and I will because they have provided many benefits in a short time.

My bench press one rep max has improved. All those extra burpees have caused me to push my body weight up from the ground repeatedly, increasing my pushing strength without me noticing. On that same line, my push ups have improved drastically. My overall form. My endurance. My strength. My ability to do unbroken sets with strong form in my core.

When we mention core muscle, I recently started doing more planks. Not a movement I’ve feared but one I really don’t like to do: well guess what I noticed my time for holding the plank and the the firmness of the plank itself has also improved. Crazy to think how much consistency plays a role in success.

Consistent and persistent are two words that are forever defined in my life in many ways. Sometimes you need to slow down in one area of life to see how you can adapt consistency and/or persistence in other areas.

Trust the process of life. Absorb the learning experiences around you. Test your limits often. Growth comes when you are stretched, fatigued and out of your norm.

Change your surroundings. Try something new. Challenge yourself to do hard things you fear. Growth is a mindset. Sometimes it takes practice. Consistent practice yields results. 

challenges

A New Wall

I hit a new wall today. A mentally exhausting wall. One I didn’t initially bounce off and spring ahead like normal.

This wall was different. It started out as me being tired. Then it shifted to me being irritable. Then technology flipped a few switches that set me off kilter.

Moving on to mid-day a teenager rattled my cage. Then the rain hit. All the while work was super busy. It’s the end of the month. The end of the fiscal year. Emergencies by phone and mail.

I wanted to dish out numbers like they do at the meat counter but that’s not reality. It all needs to get done. You need to be four places at one time. It doesn’t matter if it’s pouring rain let alone if you are tired. 

When you are in the hot seat. The driver’s seat. The most relied upon seat, nothing matters. You are just expected to balance it all. But what happens when you hit the wall and don’t bounce back?

For some it may take one into a dark place in mind and body. Luckily for me I have some friends who can crack me up during the day with a funny text to lighten the load. I have some go-to gals who can be a listening ear when I want to punch everyone.

And then I can always change my scenery. For me, today I took a car ride. Got a coffee. Drank it away from people. Talked to a friend by phone. Took some deep breaths. Ordered dinner to-go. Planned an early bedtime to mentally let my brain rest.

I took to writing. This blog of course. Writing is a therapeutic outlet for me for many reasons but sharing stories of walls is important for people to read. It’s life. It’s real. It’s not filtered. There are no amazing pictures.

My wall is the beginning of what may be a long road of walls. It’s midlife womanly adjustments. The yucky m word. The one you want to be over so your cycle is history but the one you dread because of its uncertainty.

Let me just type the damn word. Menopause. Menopausal. Resident psycho to some. Bitch to others. I’m sure I’m missing a few descriptions but owning the word and its side effects is step one. One of God only knows how many steps.

Pray for me. Think of me. Lift me up in spirits if you see me against the wall. Plastered to the wall. Mentioning the wall. Or anything resembled the wall symptoms. Baggy eyes. Disheveled look. Short fuse.

The worst thing you can do is ignore my hot mess as that will make me want to isolate you. As a giver and doer I help many. Unfortunately many won’t see that need for help. That struggle at that damn wall. 

Is there a magic tea for menopause? And why the hell is the word “men” embedded in the word itself. That is just crazy because they are clueless when it comes to dealing with a menopausal woman. Just sayin’.

mEn-oh-PAuse: your lady friend is about to go batshit crazy. Clear the fuck out now. Don’t pause. Run. Hide. It’s safer that way.
If the DICtionary doesn’t say that it really should. Fun fact!

coaching

Kindness Note

I received a note of kindness or gratitude a couple of weeks ago from a previous person I coached. It was unexpected and full of sweetness from a young lady. I was over the moon excited that day because I was happy I made an impact.

Then just a few days ago I received another note of thanks but this one was a little different. This was from a player who didn’t make my team but worked hard as an alternate and continued to work on themselves to grow. They didn’t make my team but they made the next team they tried out for. They were appreciative of the coaching, development plan provided, and belief instilled in them despite my short interactions. I was literally swept away by a second young person.

I was again over the moon excited that whole day because I made an impact. It got me thinking about the depth of our relations, impacts and so much more. Many of the kids I coached have reached seniors in high school. Some will go on to play in college while others will enjoy their last years at the high school level.

Whatever their path I’m still cheering for them from afar. Who knew when I coached first graders, fifth graders, or high schoolers how deep my impact would go? I was doing a volunteer job. One I took pride in and invested not only my time but my everything in. It seemed thankless on some days yet it was all worth it when I look back.

There are days I miss coaching. There are also days I’m glad to not be coaching due to politics. At the end of the day I have years of coaching to look back on and I have years ahead to cheer for those I coached as they grow even more. This is the fun part or the added benefit of being a coach. The gift that keeps on giving.

As college commitment times are upon us, I am looking forward to seeing who gets invited to play at the next level, aka college. Not all may desire this path and that is okay. I will just cheer for them when they reach their own milestone, whatever they set in their mind as their next big thing.

I am forever grateful for my coaching time, families that have become friends, kids who have grown to adults and everything that goes along with coaching. The smiles, high fives, tears, wardrobe malfunctions, silly stories, etc.

If you have a chance to mentor or coach a person at any stage in life, go for it. You will receive an abundance of pride in helping another reach their potential that they may not see in themselves.