Positive Self-Talk and Girl Power #InternationalWomensDay2020

I like to think that I’m a strong woman, but even strong women falter. Fortunately for me, I’m also surrounded by a legacy of powerful women beginning with my mom and continuing on in my sister and myself.

It’s a message I was fortunate to be taught at an early age, and as I got older, I began to realize just how important something I’d always grown up with was as I met other people and made friends. Not everyone had my innate confidence and belief in myself. In fact, I started to realize that while I was raised to believe I could do anything and be anything, many of my friends were unsure…and my mission was born.

We women hear so many things about who and what we’re supposed to be. Many of these expectations are unrealistic, but it doesn’t stop us from beating ourselves up or calling ourselves names. How many times have we called ourselves “dummy” or “stupid” or just gotten plain angry at ourselves? And don’t get me started on all the times we apologize whether we need to or not.

That kind of negative self talk has such a strong impact on our psyches. And the thing is, even in the world of romance novels, the wilting violet heroine in need of rescue is pretty common. I’ll be honest, as much as I’ve always loved romance, these were my least favorite characters.

It’s why I gravitated to authors like Julie Garwood and Nora Roberts and the late, great Johanna Lindsey. Their characters were strong, powerful, and empowered women who rescued their men as much as their men did them.

When I began writing I knew I wanted my females to be strong and empowered both emotionally and sexually. I also wanted my female friendships to be the kind I’d been blessed with. Encourage-rs, supporters, and empowerment mongers. Sure, there are haters, but we make the choice if our lives are going to be hater free zones by not allowing that behavior in ourselves or the people we surround ourselves with.

And I make it a personal mission to try to help build up the women around me. To support them. To remind them of their power when they may forget. To be the friend I’d want to have. And to remember that what makes ups great is having faith in ourselves and those around us no matter how bleak a picture the media may try to paint of our world. I truly believe we can create a world we’d want to live in, but it all starts from within us.

Positive self talk is important and powerful. So is the message you put out to those around you. You are important. You are powerful. You matter. I’m grateful to have people like you who stop by and read my love (and self-love) letters.

What message do you want to share with the women in your world? Yes, these messages are important not just today, but everyday…

Who Defines Your Beautiful?

It’s been a while since I’ve jumped up on my soapbox, but longtime followers of this blog know my hot buttons…and my lack of filter (hopefully in a good way).

Today I saw something that made me furious enough to write this post; something that hasn’t happened in a while.

An author friend of mine shared a “what-the-fuckety-fuck-is-this-shit” kind of promo privately. She was angry, and rightfully so! She was asking about the trope this “person” was writing in. I wish I could say I’ve never heard of that theme or that it didn’t exist, but it’s as old as time and pisses me off every time I see it.

When did being overweight or “ugly” translate into being undeserving of love? Because the way some of these stories are written, these women are undeserving of these so called heroes and their attention until they either become skinny and gorgeous or have a complete makeover and wardrobe overhaul. And then they’re finally deserving of being noticed and/or loved.

I call bullshit.

What makes a person truly lovable and beautiful, in my opinion, rarely has anything to do with physical appearances. In fact, some of the ugliest people I’ve seen are aesthetically pleasing and/or proportioned to societal standards, but don’t have heart or character. For me, it actually diminishes their physical beauty as well.

Now intelligence? A sense of humor? Empathy? I find those traits sexy as hell! Kindness? Not nearly enough of it in the world, so it beautifies a person just as much as a smile does.

Here’s my take on that lame-ass book trope. It’s right up there with the overuse of “billionaire” heroes. Old and tired.

My exception? If it’s the herione’s own insecurities that prove to be the stumbling block, not the hero’s lack of character and depth. Because here’s another sad truth. When people say “you can’t love someone who can’t love themselves,” there’s a grain of truth, but probably not in a literal sense. People who don’t love or believe in themselves don’t believe themselves worthy of the emotion when others try to give it. They may be receiving it, but they can’t be forced to accept the gift.

That’s something within themselves that they’ll need to fix, and no fault of the hero.

So if you’ve ever been made to feel like you were less somehow, I hope you realize that the deficiency is in them. Not you. You’re amazing just the way you are. BTW, it happens to all of us at some point… Even me. Hell, someone once offered me $1000 to lose weight and another one offered to buy me a boob job so I could fit their versions of beauty. Too bad I like who I am and I know my worth. I hope you know yours too, and shut that shit down. No one needs that kind of undermining negativity in their lives, agreed?

Know what I think makes me beautiful? My belief in the best in people and my willingness to battle for people not powerful enough to fight for themselves. (AKA don’t fuck with an underdog in my presence unless you want to bleed.) I also think my loyalty and intelligence may me a pretty decent catch. ūüėČ

What about you? What makes you a beautiful person? Has anyone ever tried to make you feel less? How did you handle it?

My Sappy Sentimental Side this Season

I admit it. I’m a total sap around the holidays. Remember those Folgers commercials where the son who lived far away would show up on Christmas morning and wake the family up to his surprise by brewing coffee? Yeah. I cried. How could I not? He made coffee!!! And he showed up for the best surprise to his family ever.

So maybe it’s the sap in me, or maybe it’s the storyline, but The Carpenters song Merry Christmas, Darling hits my softy button. First, it was my mom’s favorite Christmas song while I was growing up. Second, Karen Carpenter had a beautiful voice and died way too soon. Even the most beautiful person can¬†battle with self image issues. Karen Carpenter, with her beauty, talent, fame and money still struggled, and she’s not alone.

One of the bravest, most wonderful friends I’ve come to know on here has her own very inspirational story of recovery and self acceptance. If you’ve never been to August’s page I encourage you to stop by. Between her candid discussions of her battle with anorexia and her Girl Boner posts, she’s someone I’ve become honored to be friends with.

Anyway, in honor of all the lovers and all the folks who may be struggling…here’s a beautiful song from a beautiful lady.

Toe-tally Loved!

Every person, no matter how beautiful, sexy, in shape or “with it”¬†they may be has some part of them that they are or have been ¬†insecure about. As often happens with me, a comment got me thinking about it.

Someone once asked me–If you could have cosmetic surgery and change anything about yourself, what would it be? My answer? My feet. More specifically, my toes. So when Renee asked to see my toe rings and I told her I’d share. I also decided to share a bit about how I overcame my insecurity.

Gold flower on the right, gold dolphins on the left.

Gold flower on the right, gold dolphins on the left.

These are my toes…and maybe you can’t see them very well, but those are only a couple of toe rings. The flower was a gift. The dolphins were purchased at a jewelry kiosk in¬†a mall. As you can see, they’re not perfectly symmetrical. Although my feet are a little wide, it was the lack of symmetry that bothered me.

You see, I was always the “perfect” daughter. Not so much in the sense that I was actually perfect. It was more that I was blessed. I’ve always had the cute, exotic face (and I don’t say this in conceit, but rather what has been told to me most of my life). Growing up I was petite, outgoing, smart. I made friends easily and rarely had to spend much time on studying. Then I’d look down and see my less than perfect feet.

White gold band with light pink stones

White gold band with light pink stones

 

My sister, who was a bit shy and had to study long and hard to do well in school has perfect feet. Back then, in a house where sibling rivalry abounded, it was the one thing she had that I didn’t. Oddly enough, I didn’t begrudge her the perfect feet. I just hated that mine weren’t. (By the way, that, too was purchased at one of those kiosks.)

Thanks to my insecurity I rarely wore sandals or opened toed shoes. That included flip flops. I was too self conscious to get a pedicure. Rarely did I paint my nails because that would mean touching them, looking at them. To me they were hideous.

Sometime in my late teens¬†I started seeing¬†a¬†guy. Okay, so “seeing” may be a bit strong for what we were to one another. He was more like a boy toy. A friend with limited benefits.¬†He knew I was a virgin and wouldn’t have actual intercourse with him, but we sure flirted with those boundary lines.

Why am I bringing him up? Part of our “play time” together was spent with him doing things to my body to try to convince me to give him my virginity. One day, laying naked in his bed, he trailed kisses down the center of my spine, down my buttock and legs (yes, including the backs of my knees…Yum!) until he got to my feet. I started to pull away…but the feel of his tongue on my ankle stopped me. I told him he didn’t have to touch me there….and he laughed. He obviously knew something I didn’t. As he teased the underside of my feet, I found myself squirming….and feeling very hot. When he sucked my toes into his hot mouth one at a time…I almost lost my mind. He worshipped my feet. Didn’t even hesitate.

His actions and my responses had me rethinking my feelings about my toes. No, they weren’t perfect…but they didn’t bother him. Then I had my first pedicure. It wasn’t as horrible as I thought it would be…and no one looked disgusted or said mean things. Then I moved to Florida…and flip flops became my favorite kind of footwear.

My favorite flip flops and toe rings

My favorite flip flops and toe rings

Somewhere along the way I met a foot fetishist who wanted me to wear sexy open toed shoes and walk all over him (literally). Maybe it was that moment when I stopped worrying all together. Shoot, if a connoisseur of feet could enjoy my feet, why shouldn’t I?

Above is a picture of me in my favorite flip flops…they’re sequined Dallas Cowboy flip flops. The toe ring on the left is white gold with pink stones all the way across….also picked up at one of those kiosks. The one on the right…that’s my favorite ring. I think I picked it up at one of the beach shops (maybe in Venice or Sarasota). It has a clear rubber wrap around so it looks like a flower floating on your toe.

So now you know my dirty little secret…the insecurity I’ve harbored about my body. I’m so glad someone helped me face my “ugliness” and overcome it. These days I don’t really care what other people think. I believe that every part of me is beautiful…and made just the way God intended me.

What about you? What part of you have you hated? Do you still? If you’ve overcome it…I’d love to hear how you achieved your success. If not, I hope one day you find a way to believe that you’re beautiful…inside and out. (I know you won’t believe me, but I hope this helps to show you that it CAN be overcome.)

In the meantime…I’ll leave you with some fun music by Zac Brown Band about Toes.

Message Sent

I was talking to a friend yesterday. She’s the mother of three very active children… But, as we know, every child is different. Those differences extend to personality traits, clothing styles, and even appearances. Genetics can be funny in that you can have two siblings who look nothing alike…sometimes one takes after the father’s traits while the other mirrors mom. (And sometimes traits skip generations altogether…)

Why this biology lesson? Because she’d voiced her frustration about trying to find ways to reflect being a “fair” parent in the eyes of her children. Here’s where it got tricky. One child is at the perfect weight to match height and age, one is a bit underweight…the third one has tendencies towards being overweight regardless of how active the child is (and the child is active).

As we were talking she explained to me that with the underweight one she was having to find new and different ways to try to help him gain. These things included snack bars high in protein, etc. The problem was that the sibling who is a little over would see this and want one…and, unfortunately, sometimes her answer had to be, “no, baby, I’m sorry. This one just has way too many calories.”

The thing is, she struggles to find that fair line…and keeping her kids healthy and active. She’s a loving, attentive mother. It frustrates her because all she wants to do is keep her kids healthy, teach them proper eating habits and encourage things that she knows will help them with their self image in the future. She’s also been teaching them the importance of moderation…that there is nothing wrong with certain foods, but not to overindulge.

With all her careful coaching (through education on the ‘why’s’ behind the decisions she makes…in a positive, wholesome manner…which isn’t easy to do), she was quite taken aback to overhear a conversation between another mother and daughter the other day.

As she explained to me, the daughter was slender (maybe even a bit underweight) and an adorable pre-teen. She’d asked her mother if she could have something… I think maybe it was a kid’s cereal. The mother snapped at her daughter…”Do you want to be a fat cow?”

Now please don’t misunderstand… I’m okay with electing to have or not have certain types of food in the house. In fact, we don’t have soda in mine. I also grew up a vegetarian till I was about ten years old….and never felt like I was missing anything. What concerned me was the positioning of why the food wouldn’t be acceptable in the home. To me, it felt like she was sending the message to her daughter that she was either heading towards being overweight or was already there. Again, that’s just me.

It’s amazing how important a parent’s role and actions can be in a child’s body image perceptions. Am I a parent? No. But I do have a story to share… Shocker, right? ūüėČ

I used to work with this woman. She was beautiful… Tall, willowy, blond…great shape (and boob job…that she was hugely proud of). She had a body builder boyfriend, so she made sure that she was in the kind of shape she deemed someone in his “fitness style” would have. How did she do this? She worked out like a crazy person…and she popped diet pills like they were candy. In fact, I later found out that she carried an extra pair of slacks in her car in case of an emergency. I asked the question some of you may be asking…what do you mean, in case of emergency? Well, apparently, one of the things these diet pills did was “cleanse your system”. That meant that sometimes she’d have “accidents”….that required her to change her pants!

No thank you! I don’t ever want to be that much a slave to “beauty”.

Here’s where the problem happened. She sat down across from me one day and began to vent.

Her: (big sigh) I just don’t know what I’m going to do!
Me: About what?
Her: My 12 year old is driving me crazy?
Me: Oh, being a pre-teen, huh? Those little rebellions or boy crazy?
Her: I wish! She’s doing well. She looks great. She made cheerleading this year.
Me: So what’s the problem?
Her: She’s been asking me if she can have some of my diet pills. I keep telling her she doesn’t need them! She looks great just the way she is!
Me: (tongue in cheek) Hmmm. Tell me something, Mom…. Where do you think she got the idea that she has to do all this stuff?
Her: What do you mean?
Me: Come on, Sweetie. Think about it… You look incredible…but what are you always doing? You don’t think she sees that? What message do you think you send to her every time you pop one of those pills?
Her: Well she doesn’t need them.
Me: And neither do you…but that doesn’t stop you. She looks up to you. She’s picked up on the message you send. She may be talented, smart and beautiful…just like her mom. But all she sees is all the things you do to your body.
Her: Hmmm.
Me: Just think about it….

The thing is, here in the States….we’ve got two extremes, and not enough in the middle. My buddy The Modern Philosopher tackled the issue of kids who aren’t active enough…and the opposite end of the spectrum (from a very unique point of view, I might add).

I guess my thoughts are…those of you who are parents…you have so much more influence on your children than you think, just not always the way you think. You can talk until the cows come home…but it’s what you do that people notice (and emulate).

As always, I’d love to know your thoughts. What things do you think are some tough issues that parents have to tackle? Have you seen/heard anything that’s made you kind of cringe inside? What kinds of examples have really wowed you?

For all you parents out there…you have a tough job. No one is ever perfect, but I sure do respect what you do.