Tag Archives: stories we tell

Beauty is Not Determined by Our Pants Size!

1950's beauty1950’s Ideal Woman’s Body

Who says a size 12 is Fat! Who decides that generous curves are not beautiful. I grew up believing that a size 12 was an marvelous size for a woman, and that this model was sexy and gorgeous. A woman had a soft belly, flesh on her arms, and hips that she could swing. Mae West allegedly once said: “Cultivate your curves they may be dangerous but they won’t be avoided.” Did Mae West or this model worry that she wouldn’t be loved or liked because of how she looked? There is definitely beauty in a smile, in sparkling eyes, and open arms In the next few blogs I want to explore what Beauty means to all of us now. We can use words to hurt ourselves or use those same words to build our self-esteem.

Today I am a size 12 and I have to stop myself constantly comparing myself to the size 2 woman and thinking I am enormous. I have quite a few more scars than this model, but we are not shaped so differently. I am decades older than she is in the photo, and my belly bulges a bit more than hers and there’s extra flesh on my arms that swings. My ass maybe a little more generous, and my thighs rub when I sweat. But how am I not still beautiful?  My negative self-talk says that my beauty is only on the surface. My self-esteem says what matters most is literally seeing the beauty in myself and other people.

I did a casual survey on FB on what people thought was beautiful. All ten women who responded said that beauty was in the eyes, the soul, and the heart. One woman said that developing and holding onto a moral integrity was beautiful. Another woman said that being pretty was very different from being beautiful. One woman said “I may look and feel like an arse, but my hubbie, and children make me feel beautiful.” Everyone of them made a distinction between outward appearances and how we feel inside, or how others love makes us feel. How do you define beauty? When do you feel beautiful?

 “Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.”

excerpt from “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou

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New Moon in Gemini – Curioser and Curioser

new moon From Alice in Wonderland: “Alice: Well, when I was lost, I suppose it’s good advice to stay where you are until someone finds you. But who’d ever think to look for me here? [sigh] Alice: Good advice. If I listened earlier, I wouldn’t be here. But that’s just the trouble with me. I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.”

Sound familiar? Alice is talking to herself and during this moon phase we will hear our contrary voices clearly speaking. One part of us wants to stay home and write all day holed up in our office, another part of us is ready to socialize. Or one part of us may say yes to a new situation, while the other quieter voice may say slow down don’t move too fast. Or even simpler, do we exercise or not?

Do we always listen to the contrary voices? Probably not. We often train ourselves to block out the dialogue we don’t want to hear. However, sometimes those contrary voices are really angels in disguise. They may be warning us of trouble ahead, or coaching us in better self care, or suggesting that the relationship we are thinking of dumping is worth saving. Truly the river in Egypt is not the only form of denial that we swim in, and accepting all parts of ourselves is a spiritual journey. Sometimes those contrary voices may be very, very quiet and we need to slow way down to hear what they say.

With this new moon we are given so many choices. That is both what’s fun and what makes us feel a little crazy. Really! Every once in awhile going a little crazy is good for the soul. Have fun with friends and get your work done. With the dual nature of the moon in Gemini you actually can do both.

Faced with new choices how do we choose? What do we do? Communication with ourselves and those involved is the key to coming through this moon more or less intact. Even saying, “well a part of me wants this, and a part of me wants that” is a great exercise in allowing those contrary voices room. And the best part of this moon is everyone is feeling the same way!

So go ahead and talk to yourself today, no one will notice and think you are off your meds! They are probably doing the same thing. Talk it out, share with those you love and the solution will appear.

You and I are Not Damaged Goods

Owning our story B Brown

How we can cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection to go to bed at night thinking, ‘Yes, I am sometimes afraid, but I am also brave. And, yes, I am imperfect, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am enough, and worthy of love. I am enough! What a concept! Would I rather think I am enough than think I am damaged goods? You bet. Would you rather feel worthy and loveable? I am sure. What stops us from feeling whole, brave and accepting all of who we are? What will help us to realize that we are not damaged, or that there are no mistakes? What are the tools we have or can create to change those beliefs?

This message of being damaged goods is pervasive and insidious. It can also be a self-fulfilling prophecy. We may say to ourselves, “I think I am damaged therefore I act like I am damaged. And if I act like I am damaged then I don’t have to act out of self-respect let alone self-esteem.” Thinking we are damaged may be at the root of casual violence, drug use, or any form of self abuse. The thought that we are damaged is wholly based in shame. When we create awareness of how we carry shame in our lives we take our first steps towards freedom. I am, and hopefully you are, ready to change that message.

Do we carry shame like some kind of emotional genetic code? Does our parents shame becomes our shame? Maybe it doesn’t look exactly the same. My mother was ashamed of her immigrant mother, my father was ashamed of his hillbilly father. My shame  comes out in second guessing and berating myself for apparent mistakes. Are we carrying shame around as if it is the sweetest smelling nosegay when actually it is a “hot mess” as the teens are saying these days?

Awareness of these messages of shame is the first step. Maybe the second is the realization that shame is carried forward through our families. My mother was ashamed so therefore she shamed me. If I can let her off the proverbial hook, then maybe I can do the same for myself. And only THEN we can create a tool that addresses these beliefs at the unconscious level. To simply notice something may or may not change it…however, when we interrupt the negative pattern and consciously reprogram the unconscious change is more likely to occur.

Most of us ‘try’ to change our idea of being damaged goods at the level of willpower. As in “I won’t think that way anymore…I will not think that way anymore…I will not think…oh shoot! I am back there again.” If we are still doing the same thing, can we continue to be surprised when we get the same results?

I had a conversation with a mentor the other day. We were talking about the pattern I still have after all these years of therapy and recovery of being upset by little things that did not go as planned. I used to call them mistakes and grind them into me like a broken record. She and I were talking on the porch of a grocery store, and just inside the door was a large sign that said, “Thank you!” And I realized that I could say thank you, when I have turned left instead of right. Thank you when I did not have the answer to a clients question. By saying thank you I am acknowledging that there might have been a reason for the left turn, or for saying “I don’t know”. I can be grateful that each time these alleged mistakes happened they  provided me with a chance to do something different. The first time I said thank you rather than berating myself the feeling of freedom and internal space was sublime.

You may already know that you are not damaged. You may already realize that you are worthy and loveable. What do you do to change your beliefs around shame, being damaged or making mistakes? What do you do to claim that you are indeed “Enough”?

Memory, Fear and the Magic of Awareness

6526_1_661ccaI wrote my first book when I was 10, a fact I had forgotten until recently.  Something in my current life, I’m not sure what, triggered a memory of a favorite childhood book, Mr. Mysterious and Company by Sid Fleischman.  The memory then took me down the path to the “knock-off” story I wrote, illustrated and bound in a little handmade cover as a project for one of my teachers.  Fleischman’s original story is one of a traveling family of magicians and their adventures. My story was about me joining that happy band of nomadic performers and leaving my current life behind.  In my story, I was free and happy and no longer bound by the life I was really leading.  It was a fantasy I translated to paper.

It’s a good memory, and one that always reminds me of my earliest passions for writing.  But the memory is also laced with terror, and the minute I go deeper, troubling, fearful emotions of my early childhood begin to arise. That crude little book was my first attempt to deal with those stories, real and imagined, that pop up when we least expect them.

Memory and the stories we tell ourselves about them are like that. They are not just snapshots in time of what really happened to us, but a complex patchwork of multiple, sometimes unrelated experiences that can shape what we remember, and more importantly, change our present reality.  Sometimes the stories are buried, unreachable, running in the background of our lives without our conscious awareness, but affecting us immensely anyway.  The can keep us mired in fear, anxiety and unable to move forward.

The good news is that scientists and healers know a lot more about memory and the impact of the stories we unconsciously tell ourselves.  We can change how memory and fearful stories about what might happen rule our lives.  It’s a process of excavation and revision, but with care and awareness we can rewrite the stories that keep us tethered to fear.   And that’s real magic.

How do you own your fearful memories?

Everything Changes…

KBK_cover_68K“The anguish at my mother still having pictures of a man that hurt us so profoundly dissolves as quickly as it welled up, the bitter bile of wishing my life had gone differently ebbing out on each breath. I now know the suffering we endure and inflict on others, the precious resources we strip away as we claw and scratch through life, aren’t meant to be held tightly or remembered accurately. Everything changes, and to believe we can know the beginning or the end of the story is the only true madness.”

Excerpt, What My Heart Saw: Untangling Memory and How the Brain Heals

Available on amazon.com