Why I’m Not Bringing Sexy Back

What you do in your bedroom is your business. I won’t ask and PLEASE don’t tell.

Stay with me.

But how you think outside the bedroom is my business, actually it’s humankind’s  because we live in a world where cheap sex and sexy backs are commonplace- so common that there is a slavery business just for that.

Human trafficking is a worldwide, human rights, moreover women’s rights problem. And here in the US at least, we mostly have ourselves to blame.

Hold up.

Like, did you know that we spent $7.6 BILLION on pretty little lacy, barely there sexy things bearing the VS insignia last year?!

I choke on that figure. Think of what that amount of money could do.

Don’t freak out- a pretty panty or racy bra is not the problem, but the life-size glossy of the collagen-lipped model wearing them is. Here’s why: we accept THAT as sexy, no- desirable, no- easy (sorry- old fashioned word), no- achievable, how about the gosh darn freakin’ standard of being a modern, “with it” woman?!

I know this is strong language but it has to be said. Playboy, SI swimsuit issue and hundreds of thousands of websites are EXPLOITING WOMEN EVERYDAY- and we tolerate it, we support it, no, we sustain it- all of them- by believing that we have to strive to be that- that sultry, lusty female that entices all.

I reject sexy (and you should too).

We are exploiting ourselves, then we are appalled at the rise in sex trafficking. To be sure, there are much greater evils at work, but:

HEAR ME OUT.

Our “outside the bedroom” thoughts should be: How strong are we? How capable are we? How smart are we? How clever are we? How can we advance ourselves? How can we dream bigger dreams? How can we be ourselves? How can we achieve amazing things?

The notion that a woman’s body is a free peep show, feeds into the insatiable need for fulfilling a man’s desire, which feeds into the slave trade in which so many women are lured, which in turn leaves every woman degraded, disrespected and undervalued.

I stand against the sexy tide. Who is with me?!

One Word

A few months back, I posted how we like to hear ourselves talk about this or that. This is also known as, venting, blabbing, gabbing or (if you’re of the female persuasion), bitching.

Since that post, my desire to write became wrapped in something mysterious. It was a little like fear, something until the events of this summer, I had never before experienced. Me, afraid of words? How could this be?

After some evaluation, I realized I wasn’t afraid at all; I’d simply become more cautious, more reserved. I want what I say to be reflective and impactful. Every breath matters and I don’t want to waste mine.

You see, over the summer, I met a woman who had an aura about her so divine and spiritual, her words burned into my soul. She was simple yet authentic in prayer, with pauses that were downright uncomfortable, each word deliberate and thoughtful. She didn’t waste breath, yet what she said hung in the air like a beautiful fragrance.

I guess I learned to be okay with silence, actually, not just okay, but to invite the quiet, to bask in it. And strangely when I did that, both in prayer and in life, a single word would come into focus. The prominence of that word would overcome every other thought, flickering like a neon sign until its full brilliance was illuminated.

Now I can put my finger on it: that is what has changed.

A powerful word can linger on the tongue like one bite of a decadent dessert or savory appetizer. It stays with me throughout the day, simple and beautiful. Words like:

 Lavish

Exquisite

Marvel

Array

Bountiful

Steadfast

Long-suffering

Unshackled

Enraptured

I read a statistic that women speak up to 20,000 words per day while men only 13,000. We are word gluttons, gobbling them up and spitting them out with great rapidity.

I intend to change that. Starting one word at a time.

30 Days Without

 

sugarspoon-5ee1d9cf2615c976d34480051e0cba6762f7cf81-s6-c30I did IT! I really did not believe I could, but I did AND I LIVED to tell about it :).

For a variety of health related issues, I decided to do something radical (for me):

Cut out all forms of sugar- yes, even honey, agave, stevia, et al. Cut out all white things- rice, flour (wheat and white). Cut out all dairy- my beloved cheese and even butter. Cut out all alcohol- yes, I live in NAPA after all.

Here are my take aways from 30 Days Without:

~ Week One… was pure torture- genuine bona fide food withdrawal hell. I went sulking around, feeling sorry for myself, questioning why on earth I would decide to do such an absurd thing!! I wasn’t trying to get in touch with my Neanderthal relatives by eating paleo (as if I could even do that- I choke most meat down as it is). I drug myself around with zero energy and a hungry tummy. My family shook their heads at me. Opening the pantry, I’m pretty sure the chocolate chips would whisper my name sometimes.

~ The second week was better. I went to Peet’s Coffee and ordered an almond milk latte’ and it was delicious. (NO, I refused to give up my beloved cup of coffee.) I began to notice how sweet ordinary things tasted- lettuce, peas, carrots. I felt less deprived, but still craved a piece of bread- just one little whole grain piece with just a wee bit of butter perhaps. SIGH… I finally figured out how to feed myself alternatives and I cannot tell you how copious my almond and cashew intake was. Raw almond butter was my everyday rave.

~ Week three- I kind of hate to say it out loud, but I felt good and pretty darn proud of myself (although you can’t know how many times I wanted to just grab a spoon, pour some honey in it, and savor the pure ecstasy). The big test came- baking chocolate chip cookies for my dad, who had come for a visit. I solemnly do swear that I did not have a granule of the dough or cookies. (I might have snuck a lick from the spatula of the peanut butter pie I made though- SHHHH.)

~ At the beginning of the fourth week, I finally discovered there are alternatives for “baking”. After a run to Trader Joes for coconut flour and flaxseed meal, I whipped up my own banana bars, using NO sugar. Although the texture was not a satisfying buttery baked goodie, the taste was surprisingly sweet. Even my oldest son partook and thought it was decent. This week found me resolved and steadfast- and UBER SICK OF SALADS WITH VEGAN DRESSING. Ok, but truth be told, I was not missing the cheese, or wine or butter any longer.

I was an addict going through a sort of detox. After the initial feeling like I might die, and the looking longingly into the bag of chocolate chips, I dug in mentally (See, stubbornness IS good for something!)

Then, the 30 days was over and I ate my first chocolate chip cookie. I wasn’t that impressed. In fact, I kind of thought, “What’s the big deal?”

And I thought of a parable for life: We often think we want something. Maybe do this one thing or get this other thing because we think we deserve it or it makes our lives better. It turns out to be not that great after all. It takes our focus away from something much, much better.

Do I intend to eat this way forever? Heck, no. But I learned a thing or two about will power and the bewitching affect something like sugar can have in the mind and body.

I’m actually looking forward to baking up some healthy vegan muffins AND sinking my teeth into a decadent chocolate brownie topped with sea salted caramel from time to time!

60 day challenge- Smash Fear!

Sitting near the edge, I could feel the immense upward pressure. Parts of my body had gone numb. My heart palpitated like I had just completed a 100-meter dash. Above the din of the plane engine, I knew my instructor was assuring me, reminding me of the procedures we had been over and over, but I only heard every third word. They had warned me of this exact moment- panic, fear, apprehension- far beyond anything I had ever experienced; something that took over my mind and body relentlessly. My eyes met the vast expanse of sky- that’s what they said, “Never look down”- and I didn’t. Suddenly I saw the pilot give the signal, my instructor grabbed my arm and we jumped…

That would be me, conquering one of my greatest fears and strangely I am drawn to it. It is on my “bucket list”.

At the beginning of the summer, I stumbled across this book at the library that made me come face to face with a few realities:

  1. I have more fear than I like to admit.
  2. I have not worked through the “why” behind many of my fears.
  3. These fears have held me captive for too long. It was time to do something about them.

I am no super woman. I am no risk taker (by nature). I have spent the greater portion of my adult life caring for others, carefully avoiding those things which would interfere or impede this job. In short, I didn’t want to rock my boat of hum-drum duties or my “safe” life.  But this book challenged me to stop and LIVE, not in a self-consumed, “I AM WOMAN. HEAR ME ROAR” kind of way, but in a “what’s stopping you besides this huge obstacle called FEAR” kind of way.

And so I began writing my book and training for a half marathon- small steps towards a bigger process of facing fears like rejection and limitation.

So here, dear readers, is our new 60 day challenge (because 30 days is just too unrealistic and being realistic is key to this):

Face your fear. Confront it. Overcome it.

Some day, I want to skydive. Some day, I’d like to climb an impressive mountain like Mt Fuji in Japan. Some day, I’d like to be the speaker at a women’s conference or be sitting at a table signing my book that people bought and were helped by.

But right here, right now, there are much smaller fears that I have- smaller only in the less daunting fashion of doing something about them- but just as large in the paralysis that results because I am conquered by them, instead of me conquering them! These are the fears that hold me back, that keep me from accomplishing things, that make me unable to enjoy life.

How about you? What are YOUR fears- the things or situations that you wish you could overcome to have an experience or accomplish a goal? Maybe socially, you have always wanted to sing in front of a crowd or go see a movie by yourself. Perhaps intellectually, you have always desired to learn more about math or sociology. Physically, you have always wanted to run a race or take up swimming.

You get the point. So now for homework:

Make a list of fears you have in several different areas. Pick two of them. Then list tangible solutions for ways to overcome them. Be realistic. Be purposeful. Be brave. Be FEARLESS!

Doing this just might change your life forever and we can do it together. That is what makes it fun! Share this challenge with as many friends you can! We can be a team- rooting for the underdogs, encouraging each other, keeping it real. We will dub ourselves: THE FEAR CRUSHERS.  Nothing is too silly or small to conquer and we each have unique fears.

So, holler back if you are with me. Let’s start this weekend. Ready? Set? GO!

white flag

I threw in my little “corner of a napkin on a toothpick” white flag, yet deep down I knew it wasn’t enough. That was a paltry excuse for surrender but it was all I could muster.

I had to be broken and emptied of all my own efforts before I would give in. Or was it give up? Yes, that was the word I was frightened of; the word that would convey that I had somehow lost my control or even {gulp} been overcome. In my mind the words surrender and defeat seemed synonymous. And I don’t go down easily- never without a fight.

Try as I might, I was unable to manipulate circumstances to my liking. I came at it from the guilt angle. I came at it from the fear angle. I came at it from the “learn form me and my mistakes” angle. Nothing worked.  The longer the battle drug on, I found the one thing that made me feel better- anger. I would shun him. I would stand in my corner with my guns drawn- my words were weapons and I used them unrelentingly. If I could injure enough, would he come back- hurt, defeated, humiliated? Would I conquer and overcome?

No. Just the opposite. Right before my very eyes there was withdrawal and disengagement- but not the kind you want. He was sauntering away from the battle lines with a self- satisfied kind of grin on his face. He was through with my antics and was about to walk away victorious- the one that was happier, more satisfied with life and in cool headed control. (Or so it would seem.)

That is when I did it. I picked up the white surrender flag and waved it furiously and unabashedly. My agenda was smashed. My will was turned. My battle plan- to control the situation, to have things turn out MY way, to put up my dukes and fight like I meant it- failed. He didn’t win though. God won. God had his way with my heart- finally.

Maybe this is your response in a trial or life situation. You are, like I did for so long, flicking in the itty-bitty white flag, thinking that’ll suffice; that all God needs is that little corner of your heart and will, not the WHOLE thing. To wholly surrender would be to lose: to lose your identity, your own dignity or self-satisfying sense of accomplishment. It would change everything and leave you feeling uncomfortably vulnerable, open to something that is scary and unknown.

Yes, that was me. That has been me so many times in life and for certain, I will be there again; grasping for control, asserting myself over something, someone or a situation. I will have to surrender to a holy plan, one that may not suit me or seem to make sense. But I know deep down that only wholly surrender will be the place of true solace, the place where the battle is not mine, but God’s, the place where giving in does not mean defeat, but true soul quenching rest.White Flag

30-days to a WISER YOU

It’s summer. School’s out!  No more work (for me at least)…

June brings these things, which are both good and bad. Good because I love summer. Bad because I lose my routine and I thrive on routine. (Bet you couldn’t have guessed that! J)

For some of you, the thought of lazy days basking in the golden rays of sun or lazing around some pool somewhere brings a smile to your face. While I do enjoy relaxing, my MO is more about structure, order and getting things done; therefore I look at summer a bit like a black hole of wasted time. Trying to get past these issues. Don’t judge!

Anyways, I was thinking about this lack of structure and how it sometimes means a misplaced time in the Word of God. Why do we do this? Why do we somehow feel comfortable taking a vacation from our daily feeding? Yes, I DO consider my bible reading like a daily meal, my spiritual sustenance. I must have it. I must- or I quickly stray from the path of any semblance of righteousness (which I have a hard enough time with just being ME!)

 And so, my new 30-day challenge:

Read with me through the books of Psalms and Proverbs- 5 Psalms a day and 1 Proverb a day.  This wisdom literature is chock full of practical, heartfelt life applications. We will hear the wise, learned Solomon as well as David’s heart poured out to God. We will explore the themes of redemption, repentance, our present and future hope, the value of seeking God, treasuring His word and what to do when we are beaten down, depressed or afflicted. I NEED this. What about you?

Let’s do this together. I will try to update my Facebook page with thoughts on what I read. I would UBER LOVE it if YOU would do the same. Let’s not just read and forget it. We can discuss and share, challenge and edify one another, like iron sharpening iron.

This will end July 2nd. Who is with me?!

Mary Poppins Confessional

So… remember that little phrase on my “about “ page that I am a “recovering perfectionist”? Yes, me too.  Well, pull up a chair. I have a confession to make.

Comfortable? Good. Excuse me for being a bit fidgety but, you know, I am about to “come clean”, so be nice and bear with me? K?!

I DID say recovering, nor recovered. Some habits die hard, they say. Well, I am thinking that ALL habits die hard.

I am a doer- a worker bee extraordinaire.  Busy, busy, busy all the time- buzzing around- finding a corner to dust (wait, why did I just say that- I LOATHE dusting!!) or a counter to wipe or an email to type or a cookie to bake. Talking on the phone pains me unless I am doing the dishes or folding laundry while talking. Multi-tasker is my middle name.

Have I ever gone to coffee with you? If I have, I enjoyed it. Trust me. I love coffee and talking with a friend makes it twice as nice. Oh, how my mind does wander though… My husband pokes fun at me because he asks a question and sometimes it takes me awhile to answer. Be nice, now! I have to shut off a million other thoughts before I can get to your question. I like to think of my mind as a “old-fashioned” pinball machine; my thoughts like the shiny metal balls pinging all over the place, bouncing up to proper order when I hit them into submission with my little “get it together” levers!!!

Rest and Relaxation rarely find their place on my “to do” list. You might as well replace those words with “idleness” and “laziness”. Call it a generational curse- my mom (bless her heart) was my teacher. Her theme was: “A man’s work is from sun to sun. A woman’s work is never done.” Literally, that’s what I heard my whole growing up years. She was always working, busy and active, that is until she got very sick with cancer and was forced to rest.

Back to me…

So why, you may be asking, the confession? Am I trying to assuage a guilty conscience? Am I trying to make all of you who are NOT this way, feel like slackers? No and No. As a matter of fact, I have fallen under the heavy hand of conviction (if you will) to:

 Stop the glorification of busyness!

Because you see, as I also mentioned in the “about” page,  I am also, hmmm, just a teensy-tiny bit STUBBORN. The lesson to slow down, relax and enjoy life has been pounded into me for years. I resist. It comes back to haunt me. One of the last words of wisdom spoken by my mom was that she wished she would have spent less time cleaning and more time “playing”.

Being busy is my habit and in itself is not a bad one (better to be a hard worker than a lazy one). When it comes right down to it though, I guess you could call it my idol. Yikes! That sounds ugly and it is.

So here’s what I am learning:

  • Rest and relaxation are GOOD things. God “created” the act of resting.
  • They are necessary- not “necessary evils”- but actually needed for greater productivity in the end.
  • I have ADD and I am ok with that!:)
  • Relaxing makes me a happier, more peaceful person. (Which I am quite sure my family would nod in hearty approval to!)
  • When I don’t rest enough, I get resentful of other people who are relaxing and I expect others (meaning hubby & kids) to be right alongside me- busy, busy.
  • In my buzzing, I am likely to miss “hearing” opportunities to help or give to someone or something of a much greater value.
  • Working hard does not always mean working efficient– as brought to my attention by my ever-loving, sweet, “managerial type” hubby, in a very kind way of course!

Recovering, yes. RECOVERED, no. Learning, as we all should be, to become a better version of me. Striving to be a more “things that matter” person. Thankful, that I have energy to get things done. Remembering, that without my Master, I can do nothing of my own accord to change myself.

Thanks for listening. I hope that, maybe, just maybe if you are like me (even a little bit), you will consider this a challenge to rest. Oh and please, would you put away that chair you got out? 🙂

I’ll Race You

I stood slightly hunched over with a concentrated anticipation. My ears rang a little from the clamor of the crowd. I might have appeared poised and ready -in a solid runner’s stance- but my legs were all wobbly. My heart felt as if it would convulse right out of my chest. My mouth was dry like the desert in June.

Clearly, I was out of my league, surrounded by collegiate looking athletes- the kind that run a sub 4 minute mile. All I could think was: “What were you thinking, signing up for this wave of the race? Remember, this is just a personal goal thing. Don’t kill yourself. Ignore the fact that you are in a sea of 20-somethings who are literally going to leave you in the dust.”

POP! The gun startled me even though I was ready for it. The mass of amped up humanity moved together– but only for the first 30 seconds- to complete this one-mile race. It would be over in less time than it takes to eat lunch.

By the first corner, I realized that most of the pack had passed me. When I rounded the second corner, into the straightaway, I saw an almost empty street.  My heart sank.  Was I really going as slow as that?

My legs were feeling like the legs of a Barbie doll- rubbery and stiff. Then before I could process what was happening, they buckled under me. I almost fell to the ground if not for the arm of a friend that held me up. She looked at me worried and said that I should quit. Determined, I stood.  I would keep going. (Hey, my stubbornness has to count for something, right?!) 🙂

For the next minute or two, all I remember is seeing people cross the street in front of me, acting as if the race was over, the ringing in my ears- the kind you hear when you are about to pass out, my parched throat and the burning in my chest.

But as I rounded the next corner and finally the last, my eyes saw what I came for- the finish line. I had to gather every ounce of strength to cross it and I prayed that I would not be the very last to do so.

At  9:39, I finished the one-mile loop, fourth from the last runner. Exhausted. Depleted. Weak. Embarrassed. Perplexed. It was one mile and I totally bombed it.

What happened that day, I am still unsure of. I had trained for weeks and hoped to achieve a personal goal time. I felt prepared, but failed. My mind said yes, but my body said no.

Even though it didn’t feel like it at the moment, I realize that I did achieve what I set out to do-run the mile race. It just did not happen the way I expected it to. Did I fail? No. I finished after collapsing. I competed against myself that day- and WON!

Lessons were learned that I have not forgotten.

~ No matter how prepared you are, sometimes things do not go as planned. Readjust your expectations for the moment you are in.

~ Trying with all your might at something doesn’t always bring about what you thought it would, but realize that success has many faces.

~ You can do more than you think you can when push comes to shove.

~ Comparing ourselves with others is a dangerous and often destructive tool. It strips us of being able to recognize the value of our own accomplishments.

~ If you run, make sure you sign up for the wave of the race where all the other 30-something, moms (with hip diseases) are so you are in the company of 9-12 minute milers instead of sub 4-ers!

 

30 Days Without

Recently, I have been careful to listen to myself. Have you ever tried it? Not as easy as it sounds! Even harder is an honest self-critique about the words that come tumbling out. How easy it is to hear what others say. And the easiest “task” of all? To pick apart the words of someone else.

The past two weeks, I have been sadly aware of a problem of epic proportions- not only in myself, but in society as a whole:

~grumbling and complaining~

Here are some of the most common complaints I’ve heard:

  • unsuitable weather
  • uncooperative hair
  • not enough sleep
  • unsupportive husband
  • fussy baby
  • not enough time
  • flaky people
  • rude people
  • too much work
  • too little money
  • complaining wife
  • unappealing food
  • slow service
  • unfairness
  • naughty children
  • And the list goes on….

Two things have spurred me toward this challenge. One, is the season of Lent. Yes, I am a Christian and I’m observing Lent. (If you are curious as to why, check it out here.) The other reason was a challenge I read about here: https://www.reviveourhearts.com/resource-library/30-day-challenges/.

I’ve heard of and read about many 30 or 40 day life changing events and causes. You (and I) can do anything for that amount of time, right?! 🙂

So, dear readers, I am proposing a challenge of my very own for you and I. Ready?

30 days of no complaining

If this sounds like an insurmountable task, pick one area of grumbling and work on eliminating just that. What that means is: for 30 days, we will deliberately, purposefully, determinedly, NOT COMPLAIN. If you mess up, don’t give up! If you feel like you can’t do it, write me (or pray)! We will do this together. Be of good cheer, friends! My hope is that by making mental admission of our complaints, it will result in less grumbles coming out of our mouths in due time.

It is often said that habits can be broken or made in 30 days. Let’s break this epic propensity of voicing negativity. Just maybe, we will influence friends, family members and society to shut up already with the complaining and instead find something to be thankful for or be happy about.

Who’s with me?