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?!

Lace up

I lace up. It’s been a while. This will hurt.

I know the pulsing aches that will come afterwards. I recall my “clear the cobwebs” cough and that feeling that my lungs might implode.

I’ve been in this exact spot so many times before… knowing the pain, resisting yet relishing it. A strange mental tug of war goes on. I hate taking those initial steps before my muscles have warmed, my rhythm kicks in and I feel the wind on my cheeks.

In that moment, nothing can motivate- not new kicks, catchy tunes or a cool wicking tank. That step over the threshold only happens as an act of sheer willpower. I will run today.

But once that first step is surmounted, the momentum builds along with my adrenaline. I look forward to the exhilaration, that sense that I can glide across the pavement like a fleet footed gazelle. I crave the endorphin rush because in that moment I feel like Super Woman.

This is life.

Sometimes, the season is a grueling marathon- 26.2 arduous, never ending miles. You long to give up, content to be a non-finisher. But somewhere in the back of your mind, a voice says keep going.

Some days, the wind is at your back, you’ve consumed just the right amount of carbs and your twitch muscles are twitching just right. You’re out of the blocks at the gun, setting a PR for your fastest 5K.

Only rarely is life like one of those fun color runs where you feel just peachy because at the finish line, your sweat serves to attract the billows of colored powder, making you look like you’ve been to a rave.

The truth is, we are all running an ultra (in runner’s speak, that’s 100 miles- only the true hardcore crazies attempt these). Within this ultra are hundreds of little milestones, (some good, some bad), roadblocks and refreshment stations. How do we manage? Training and groundwork- in every form- faith, self-talk, someone to run with, conditioning, proper clothing, understanding the terrain, etc.

No one is going to hand us the victor’s medal. We have to run hard, fight for it and keep going even when it feels like the race is extremely rigged or when our muscles feel like burning sinew. Rest assured, there’ll be wafting breezes and down hills along the way. Then there are those people who run alongside us for short or long periods of time, speaking into our lives, words that carry us to the next rest station.

Some of the legs of this ultra will be gladly forgotten, others cherished for the sheer feeling of invincibility. All add up to the race we were meant for.

As for me, I intend to run my very hardest.

Ode to Depression

Lately, I’ve heard of so many women who are plagued with anxiety and depression.

I get it. I spent the better part of my adult life, being under the influence of that great, unshakeable, black cloud. I also had a fair share of hit you out of nowhere, heart-racing, palms-sweating anxiety.

Perhaps it is our curse or society’s creation of the noteworthy female- the perfect woman- super woman- who deals with her monthly roller coaster ride of hormones with finesse, who balances the growing and variegated demands of modern life with a perennially cool head, who gives and nurtures, asking nothing in return, who tends to her outward appearance with poise, who accomplishes lots and lots of stuff.

Whatever the cause, when this sadness or panic overtakes us, we feel helpless, possessed by it, even. Some of us hide it. Some of us self-medicate. Some of us try and struggle and fight against it- to seemingly little avail.

This ode is for all the women who understand the battle; all who wish it might be different and don’t give themselves permission to get rid of this demon on their back. And for those of you that don’t deal with either of these things- read this. You need to understand and have sympathy.

To hell with you, depression!

You can sink right back

Into the deep, dark hole that you are.

 

Heavy, my chest rises and falls

Like an incredible weight pressing down

That makes each intake a struggle.

 

I hate you, depression!

You steal days away from me

Like a languishing, wasting disease.

 

Slippery, I grasp to hold on to something,

Anything to climb up from the bottom

Of this dank, slimy pit.

 

Leave me alone, depression!

You hang over the top of me

Like a dark cloud that shrouds the sunlight.

 

Gripping, your tendrils have wrapped themselves

Around my legs and arms

Keeping me prisoner from movement.

 

You don’t own me, depression!

You try to trick me into believing

That I’ll never get through life without you.

 

Menacing, your influence lurks,

Like an invisible evil spirit

Whose black soul sucks the life from me.

 

I take my life back, depression!

Because I can and I will

Because I want to live free

Because there is more to life than this

Because a smile looks better than a frown

Because this is a fight I can win

Because bondage becomes no one

Because I am worth something

Because my strength outdoes yours

 

Because YOU DON’T DEFINE ME.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look Here

Perspective.

In light of this recent cold snap, I was reminded that so much of life truly is perspective. The word, as defined by good ol’ Webster means:

~the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance

or

~the interrelation in which a subject or its parts are mentally viewed

You see, I say, “I’m freezing. It’s so cold outside”, then I hear that the town we used to live in in Idaho is exactly 0 degrees and I stop complaining. Later I read about parts of Montana that have a wind chill of 50 below zero and I think that you might have to be part crazy to live there!!!!! I’ll take my 27 degrees any day!

I remember the first time I really grasped the meaning of this concept (although at 17, it would be years until I was able to really apply it to life). It was my first semester of college and I was FORCED (note that word) to take an art appreciation class. While attending a field trip to the L.A. art museum, we were instructed to write observations on all kinds of paintings. There was one that I’ll never forget. It was an idyllic fall scene of a sleepy town. The rich golds, crimsons and oranges still stand sharp in my mind, but it was how the light morphed that really struck me. I had to view the painting from a variety of angles and distances and as I did, the canvas evolved before me. It was as if light was coming alive inside the painting. As my perspective changed, so did the scene before me.

Throughout my life this has happened time and time again. I have been sitting around, wallowing in a large vat of self-pity filled with stinky stuff like: financial woes, child-rearing woes, health woes etc. then BAM, I hear about a friend’s problem or a natural disaster that trumps my vat o’ crap by 10,000 stink points. I immediately admit that things could be much worse. Conversely, I’ve been sitting prettily atop my high horse thinking “I’M ALL THAT”, when BAM, someone rides by on an even higher horse. All at once I get knocked flat on my derriere, taken down by pride. I am forced to look straight up from my new perspective lying on the ground.

You see, no matter where you are, in the valley or on the mountain, you know by now that things can and DO change in a heart beat. Not only that, there is, in the wide world over invariably someone out there better or worse off than YOU! (The nerve of some people that seem to continually fall into the “better off” category!)

So here’s my challenge for you and myself:  Change your perspective. Shift your focus. Embrace where you’re at. Try to change where you’re at. Step back. Step forward.  If you get knocked down, lie there a little while and take in the view. If you are at a pinnacle moment type of place, look out into the distance and realize where you came from. See the bigger picture, the sum of the parts. Find the beauty in the broken, the meaning in the muck, the purpose in the plight. Recognize and appreciate the fractal light features that appear as you shift your perspective.

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!

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? 🙂

Swallowing Poison

It’s like a poison- just not a deadly one- well, at least not most of the time. It crosses all kinds of boundary lines- social, economic, cultural, racial. It has been responsible for countless divorces, suicides and many ruined lives. It can go down, deep down into the inner core of the soul and barb its way in, never to be removed. Sometimes it goes in, then comes out quickly, passing through like the change of a season, hardly noticed. Most often it steadily bears down on the human heart and mind leaving scars in its path.

I am talking about depression.

A couple weeks back, I read this story and was heart broken. It is not often you hear of a highly successful woman jumping 8 stories to her death- with her precious baby in her arms. It nauseated me to think of but when I read the circumstances surrounding her decision, I immediately thought of postpartum depression. (This was before I even read the article that further examined the possible reasons she chose this.) It just seemed to fit. How very sad that she saw no other way out.

I have experienced depression firsthand to an intense degree. I have felt the poison go down deep into my soul, tainting all emotion and thoughts. Far from understanding all the psychological issues that bring someone to this terrible place, one thing is certain- it is hard to get rid of. It begins like a bad (cancerous) cell, undetected at first. Then it grows and turns other cells bad and gathers more momentum inside the heart and mind. One day you wake up and realize that something is not right- you are not quite yourself and yet, you can’t tell why.

Often it can grow to the point that one’s life seems somewhat unrecognizable. Thoughts and feelings have morphed, like a black cloud that looms surreptitiously. Sometimes the manifestation is physical- your body can begin breaking down or perhaps you just start to feel like you are going cuckoo. For real.

Help must be found. If you ingested poison, would you not go to the hospital and have your stomach pumped? So, why do we hesitate to get help when this poison is inside of us?

Depression is a serious problem that has plagued not only myself, but many, many people I know and love. If you are reading and you’ve never felt this way or don’t really “get” depression, take note and don’t ever forget to love someone who might be going through it. Thankfully, I found hope and help (and clung to God’s grace). I didn’t jump out of a window with my baby. I didn’t leave my husband. It took an admission of my own failure and inability to “fix” myself to begin the healing process. It hurt my pride- but that was what I needed. It was a painstaking process of sifting through the “junk” that got me to where I was emotionally and spiritually. God was gracious to me. He loved me through the dark days and so did a lot of friends and my husband.

How I wish that someone would have recognized the signs in the New York City woman that left her husband without a wife and her son without a mother. If only someone would have reached out to her in her pain. Maybe things would have turned out different.

Meet Karen

Broken and hurting, she sat week after week. At greeting time, she turned and shook hands, smiling weakly. What else could she do? Stand there pouring out her pain, confessing her struggles, laying her soul bare? “I’m Karen,” she managed. “Welcome to our church.”

 After the casual greeting, came the tears. They welled up hot and stinging in her eyes. She blinked them away quickly. No one knew. “No one would know”, she thought.  Her eyes dried and anger replaced the sadness.

This place was touted to be a solace. Here, people were supposed to find unconditional love- no matter what they were going through. But the shallowness of most, drove her mad. Karen clung to her faith like a thread but frayed and thinning. It was the only thing that kept her from the self-destructive thoughts that forcibly pervaded her mind lately. Who could she turn to? All she did was pretend to be happy outwardly, while inwardly she felt afraid and broken.

Karen really exists. She is the lovely wife to a hard-working husband, a sweet mother to her  children and a woman who wants more than anything to follow after God. Yet at the moment, her world is crashing down. Her marriage has morphed into a scene of disillusionment and violated expectations. Even though she loves her children passionately, they are not turning out the way she’d hoped and her energy is sapped by the demands of a toddler who never, ever quits. Add to that the stress of financial woes and economic bleakness and it seems without hope.

There are so many “Karens”, sadly, sitting next to us or a couple rows over at church. I know. I was her once; terrified to be transparent for fear that I might find wagging fingers in my face or “How to be a better wife, mother, Christian” books unhelpfully shoved at me. I felt hollow inside; guilty for not having it all together, shameful for not being able to pull out of my slump, deceptive for not allowing anyone to see the real me.

This should not be happening in our churches. The very love and grace poured out to us through Jesus, is being withheld from those who most desperately need it.  There should not be hurting people hiding behind a façade, afraid of the malicious words from someone who refuses to love in every season- good or bad or downright ugly.

We must choose to be the hands and feet of Christ, reaching out with the balm of healing in our hands, the soothing words of grace and peace on our tongues and the loving actions that do good to those who need it- always.

 

Super Glue Connections

Dizzying.  Astounding. Bewildering.

 The choices we have to stay connected with friends new and old, family near and distant, and (even) almost strangers are practically limitless.

But sometimes, every now and then, step back and consider what it all means. All the notifications, likes, comments, loves, shares, subscriptions, shout outs, upvotes, et al . What value do we feel or worth do we derive from it all?

Are we like a drug addict that needs a fix? Are we like the athlete that needs a medal? Perhaps we need applause, award, recognition or accolades to make us feel accepted.

I fight it, yet sometimes I am over taken. Pride creeps in. Self gets the best of me. I’ve abused the very tool that was meant to help connections, facilitate relationships, bridge communication, and share news.  Instead I have used it to feed my ego, waste my time, squander opportunities, miscommunicate thoughts, dwell on unsavory images, etc.

This video says it masterfully. Hoping you and I will thoughtfully pause to listen to what David Bowden articulates.  

David Bowden- “The Inner Net”