You’ve Been Remade

When I was young, we had a wood burning stove inside our house. It was one of those that protruded from the wall with a step up from the floor. There was an open area of the hearth on either side. Even though we lived in Arizona, it still was chilly during winter mornings and nights. One of our favorite games to play was to run up to the stove, turn so our butts were facing the stove, and stand as close as we could until our butts and the back of our legs were roasting. Then we would run and sit as quickly as possible on the couch so that heat gave us a nice little flash burn. What? Some kids eat paint chips. We tried to see how close we could get to fire without getting third degree burns.

My little sister and I always took our baths at night. Cool temps and wet hair do not a comfortable situation make. Once we were done with our baths, we would race from the bathroom wrapped in our towels – no streaking allowed – to stand on either side of the stove. We would then proceed to rotate like a hot dog on those convenience store rollers – to make sure to distribute the heat evenly. One evening we ran our usual race to the stove which was stupid because there were two sides to the stove and only two of us. We didn’t have to race; we were both going to “win”. On this particular evening, I must not have been paying attention or was super cold and misjudged the heat and the efficiency of my towel coverage. I had no sooner stood next to the stove to bask in the warmth when I heard a sizzle and felt an instantaneous shot of pain. My right thigh had not only slid out from underneath my towel but also got a liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiitttttle too close to the stove. I jumped back and looked. Sure enough, there was a perfect line of skin that had been burned off.

I didn’t want to get in trouble so I never said anything to my parents. Falling in accordance with children’s logic, I believed that if I left it alone and just forgot about it it would go away.

It took awhile to go away, but it did heal. The only thing was that it left a weird white line of scar on my leg. What was really funny was that as I grew, the scar changed it’s position on my leg and progressively moved towards my hip. It was a constant reminder to be very cautious around that stupid stove.

So, at this point, you may be asking yourself why I’ve just made you read a random memory about a careless moment from my childhood. Recently, I had a conversation with someone I love very much who has been going through a tough time. There have been some major things that have happened to this individual. The recent struggles, truthfully, would completely crush the average person. As I listened, all I could think of was there was no way I could have made it. When discussing a particularly heartbreaking event, this beautiful person asked, “How do you get over something like that?” At the time, I did not have an answer but just offered a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on.

Since then, that question has been looping through my mind -“How do you get over something like that?” It made me reflect on some major obstacles in my life that I’ve overcome. Man, they sucked. I had moments when I really didn’t know if I would make it. There were things that happened that changed me but I don’t think I ever “got over” them. However, I don’t think we are supposed to. I don’t think we suffer a heartbreak, work through sorrow, and then move on like nothing ever happened. Heartbreak, trials, death, betrayals – those things leave a mark…but that’s okay.

I have lots of scars on my body. Besides the line from the stove, there’s the one from when I fell off my bike and tried to make gravel angels with my knee, the one on my forehead when I tried to head butt the fender of a moving pickup truck, and the one on my lower abdomen where they had to retrieve my breech-positioned son. I also have scars that you can’t see. Ones that reside within my heart and mind. There’s the one from when a childhood friend died of cancer, another from when my parents divorced, ones from numerous heartbreaks and lost loved ones. No matter where the scar may be, I need them. I need them to remind me of where I’ve been. One of my favorite quotes is from the book Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. She had a scar that she hated and was a little embarrassed by it but her husband “said it was interesting. He used the word ‘textured’. He said ‘smooth’ is boring but ‘textured’ was interesting, and the scar meant that I was stronger than whatever had tried to hurt me” (1). I need scars to remind me that I am stronger than I think I am.

Scars are kind of cool. You see, when we get cut, or burned, or whatever, our body forms new layer to fix the wound. That new protective layer becomes a scar. “That new scar tissue will have a different texture and quality than the surrounding tissue” (2). So think of that question again – “How do you get over something like that?” When something truly horrible happens to us, we get a new protective layer. Sometimes that layer is self-produced. Sometimes that layer is produced through the love of others. It doesn’t matter how it is produced what matters is that IT IS THERE. Just like any other wound, when it’s fresh, it’s hard to see how it will ever be healed. It’s hard to know exactly what to do to treat it. What do I put on it? Should I just ignore? If I don’t pick at it it will go away, right?

 

Here’s the deal though, you can help to aid the healing process. When I burned my hip, I never told my mom. I really should of. Luck must’ve been on my side because it could have gotten all nasty and infected. Not only would that have lengthened my healing time but could have caused more damage along the way. My problem? I’m a teensy bit stubborn. (Everyone who knows me well just rolled their eyes and that slight understatement.) I don’t like asking for help. When you are hurt, don’t rely solely on a self-generated protective layer. Turn to someone to help you build a protective layer. Let them help. Don’t let your wound cause more damage along the way because you are ignoring it in hopes it will just go away. Once a protective layer is in place, build it up and rely on it. And, when the scar is formed, own it. You were stronger than what tried to hurt you. Because of that, you have another layer of texture and another layer of quality. Smooth is boring and texture is interesting.

When you find yourself lost and questioning, just remember: you don’t get over something. You throw on that protective layer and let that something get over you. You will not be the same. There’s nothing wrong with that. You’ve become upgraded…

 

Sources

  1. Walls, Jeanette. GLASS CASTLE: a memoir. S.l.: SCRIBNER, 2005.
  2. “Scars and Your Skin”. WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/scars

I Still Can’t Fly But That’s Okay

When I was growing up, I loved watching “Bewitched” reruns. I was convinced if I just practiced I could tap into my own magical powers. For what seemed like hours, I practiced my nose twitching skills hoping for some kind of results. Alas, the soap in the dish never moved. My room was never spotless when I returned to it. When it was clear my nose held no power, I moved on to reading minds. I know what you’re thinking – such a silly girl. Maybe not so silly since I knew what you were thinking just then. Anyhow, after realizing mind-reading wasn’t one of my powers, I moved on to flying. I won’t go into all of the details but by the time I was done, I ruined a couple of  umbrellas, fell out of a couple of trees, twisted an ankle or two, and ripped up a good pair of jeans. Miraculously, I never broke any bones. I think that is because I was never foolish enough to try and jump off of the roof of my house. That would be crazy! I’m was (and still am) too afraid of heights to do that. That realization along with my failures cemented the fact that flying was just not my thing. I kept trying and trying different things in hope of tapping into any dormant powers. Then something truly horrible happened – I hit puberty. Even worse? I started to care what people thought of me.

I forgot all about my undiscovered powers. My new quest was to try to fit in. As the third of four children, I felt like the oddball. It didn’t matter if it was true – I mean I did try to fly – it made me feel very unsure of myself. Everyone in my family was athletic or at least coordinated. I’ve been hopelessly awkward from the word go. I tried basketball, softball, volleyball, and track. How did I do you ask? Please view this painfully accurate portrayal:

faceplant-giphy

Any other questions? I’d like to say that by the time I hit high school I figured things out, but I’d be lying. Matter of fact, I still haven’t quite figured myself out, but I’m getting to the point where I’m okay with that.

So what about my special powers? Well, it’s only been in the past 10ish years that I’ve started thinking about all of that again. I’ve refreshed my love of super heroes and magical beings. I love Harry Potter, Lord of The Rings, basically anything magical and mythical. As adult as I may be, I guess my desire to tap into any undiscovered powers hasn’t died. My quest just changed a little to find a hero to look up to. The main reason? I have two daughters. From the time they were very young, I have wanted them to have an example to emulate. There had to be someone out there.

About a year ago, I had the opportunity to ask author Deborah Harkness some questions regarding her book Discovery of Witches. We were discussing strong female role models and she stated that we all are strong and powerful we just haven’t realized it yet. She went on to say, “Often, though, [we] are afraid of [our] own power and try to be invisible. We all do that. Owning your own power is a scary thing.” ¹ Wait. What?

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It was an amazing conversation and we discussed the idea of being afraid of ourselves. She finished her comments to me saying, “We all have power. But most of us are frightened to use it and own it. Find yours. It’s there. And it won’t look like anyone else’s power. It’s all–and only–for you!”¹ I was almost in tears. Oh how I wish my 12 year old self could have had that conversation. It’s not that she was telling me that I may have the power to fly, read minds, or be able to shoot laser beams (yeah…I forgot to mention that one). It made me realize that we discount ourselves when we try to be like someone else.

This past April a friend of mine shared a conversation she overheard between her daughter and a classmate. The classmate asked her daughter who her favorite superhero was. Her daughter’s response was (and still is) the best thing I’ve read all year: “Myself.”

superhero-b

At 10, “B” (we need to protect her secret identity) already knows what I still am trying to work out at 40. WE ARE OUR OWN SUPER HEROES. That is the attitude we need to be teaching our children and more specifically to our daughters, granddaughters, and nieces. I had a conversation with a seven year old girl about who could get Thor’s hammer if he died or retired. (Hey…it was a very serious conversation.) She told me I couldn’t have Thor’s hammer because I was a girl. I, of course, cleared that misconception. Girls all around us don’t realize how powerful they are. Women all around us have given up because they don’t think they are as powerful as someone else. Stop comparing yourself to someone else. Stop trying to be a “new” version of someone else. That’s not how it works!!!

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Let me repeat Ms. Harkness’s words:

We all have power. But most of us are frightened to use it and own it. Find yours. It’s there. And it won’t look like anyone else’s power. It’s all–and only–for you!”¹

We are all so uniquely powerful. Why are we so afraid to be different? No little girl should ever be told she can’t do something because it’s just for boys. No woman should ever be ashamed of “just being a mother” or being career woman. Your power doesn’t look like anyone else’s.

I want to issue a challenge for us all. You are your own superhero – find your powers. I’m still working on mine. I still can’t fly but that’s okay. I’m doing my best to help my girls realize theirs. Don’t be afraid to try. Don’t be afraid to be different. Don’t be afraid to be a girl. And most importantly, please remember that “ you’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” ²

Sources:

¹ Harkness, Deborah. “I’m Deborah Harkness, Author of the #1 Bestselling ALL SOULS TRILOGY and Professor of the History of Science. AMA!” Reddit, 2015, http://www.reddit.com/r/books/comments/396671/im_deborah_harkness_author_of_the_1_bestselling/cs0w1r9/?context=3.

² Pooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin , Karl Guers, director. Walt Disney, 1997.

What My Dad Taught Me About Being A Strong Woman

Confused? Some reflection on childhood memories made me realize that my dad actually taught me some good lessons on how to be a strong woman. And, come on, if you really do know my dad then you know that there is always a lesson to be learned in EVERYTHING.

“Walk it off”

My siblings and I joke a lot about my Dad’s usual advice to walk it off. One time my youngest sister didn’t seek his advice and just assumed she’d get the same counsel as usual. Unfortunately, she was wrong and had actually pulled a muscle.

walkitoff

For the most part, the words of wisdom ring true. Too often we whine and complain. Contrary to popular belief, women are NOT the weaker sex. We are not men but we are strong in our own right. I’ve watched some coddle and pamper (to the extreme and not the sweet way) their daughters to the point that their girls don’t realize it’s okay to toughen up. My dad could never be accused of babying us (may not sound like a compliment but it is).

“Life is tough. It’s tougher if you’re stupid.”

Okay. He stole this one from John Wayne but it still rings true. Let’s face it. We are ALL gonna be stupid from time to time.

regret

The important thing is to learn from our mistakes and move on. No matter how entertaining it is for everyone else, you’re only truly stupid if you keep repeating them.

“I don’t care if it’s 6 am on Saturday. There’s work to be done.”

My dad taught me the value of hard work. He also taught me to REALLY appreciate sleeping in on Saturday mornings.

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Every Saturday, he would wake us up, feed us breakfast, and put us to work. If we’re being honest, we live in a world where women still don’t quite get equal pay as men. Sometimes we have to work a little harder to prove ourselves. The best way to do that is to work hard and work well.

“Go ahead and cry. Once those tears are gone, move on.”

I have the tendency to hold on to things – to let them fester. We are all going to be hurt (physically or emotionally).There is a good chance that someone is going to do you wrong. It’s okay to get mad, sad, devastated or whatever. Take the moment you need, yell, swear (a lot if necessary), cry but after that, move on. Do not let someone else’s actions dictate how you live the rest of your life.

let it go

“I love you.”

We need the words. We need to hear them and we need to say them. In a world where hate is prevalent, deceit is around every corner, and there are more jerk-wads than you could shake a stick at, we really need to know who loves us. There is something truly powerful about being loved and knowing it. Love doesn’t make you weak.

Oh…and a bit of advice from me. If someone you love tells you that they love you, please don’t pull a Han Solo.

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(If you don’t understand the reference, we need to reevaluate our friendship.)

“You’re a survivor.”

At a very turbulent time in my life, my dad said those words to me. First, I thought he was off his rocker (more than usual). Then I realized something. I am a survivor because I am smart enough to know when to lean on others. Being strong doesn’t mean you don’t ever ask for help. Being strong means knowing it’s okay to need help to go on. We survive because we know how to best utilize our resources.

don't let me fall

My dad is one of my best resources. He always believes in me, pushes me. He is always there when I need advice. Even though I’m well into adulthood (ask me my age and I’ll ask you your weight…), I still need him. He’s my friend…my burly, sarcastic, lovable, forgetful, buzzcut-wearing friend. I know some of my friends have dads who have passed on. I bet every single one of them could tell you lessons their dads taught them about being a strong woman. Some friends never had a dad in their lives. I bet every single one of them had some sort of a father-figure who taught them about being a strong woman. For those of us who still have our dads around, be sure to let them know how awesome they are.

I love you, Dad. You’re pretty awesome. Each night I thank Heavenly Father he placed me in your care. I wish we lived closer and that our conversations were face-to-face and not over the phone, but I will take what I can get. Wear your Father’s Day present proudly and think of me when you do.

If you’re curious what I bought him, see the picture below. (Yep. I’m a pretty awesome daughter.)

yoda best

 

 

My Mom Owes Me

Today, I made an interesting discovery: my mom totally owes me. Earth shattering, right? I read through one of my old journals and was quite enlightened by my youthful observations. Now, I know my timing may seem a bit tacky with Mother’s Day coming up but bear with me. I think you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

My mother used to force me to eat HORRENDOUS THINGS. Horrendous food numero uno? Ham. (Say “ham” and add a gagging action to understand how I feel.) She made me try it baked, glazed, sliced, cold, hot, shredded, and even in some weird pickle-mixed sandwich spread. I. Gagged. Every. Time. I began to refuse to eat it. Unfortunately for me, the rule was you didn’t leave the table until you finished your food. I spent MANY long nights at that dinner table. (…and many long nights in the bathroom yacking up said ham concoctions…) My lone savior was the the potted plant/tree/thingy next to the dining room table. I quickly learned I could hide a bit of my food in it at a time until my plate was cleared. I would then try to sneak back, gather the food, and throw it away. There were times when I didn’t make it back to clean up the evidence. My mom never said anything but after a short time, the plant/tree/thingy disappeared.

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When Mom says we’re having ham for dinner…again.

Mom (and ham) = 1

Me = 0

Plant/tree/thingy = Rest in peace

At times, my mom was down right mean. There was this one time I wanted to go to the movies with my cousin but didn’t want to bring my pesky little sister along (sorry Nat…[bats eyelashes] I love you…). My mom told me if I went then I had to take Natalie. I may have told Nat that there wasn’t enough money for both of us, got in the car, picked up my cousin, and then went to the movies with the intention of getting back BEFORE my mom got home to figure it out. Want to know what my mom had the nerve to do?! When the movie got out, I got to the car, went to open the door and had the fright of my life! My mom was sitting in the driver’s seat not looking all that thrilled to be there. I guess when she said I had to take my sister, she actually meant it. I may or may not have been grounded for a span of time after. A bonus lesson was learned; I now NEVER get in my car without making sure there isn’t someone inside. (I swear the woman took 10 years off my life!!!)

Mom = 1

Me = 0

Natalie = right to go to any movie she wanted to from there on out [I’m sticking my tongue out at you right now.]

Beyond that, my mom ALWAYS thought she knew what was best for me but she was way off base. I remember when I told her about a boy who I knew was the one for me. (I was only 16, but seriously, I had it all figured out.)

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Spot on…except I was 16.

She was all “You’re too young”, “You need to try all the flavors before you decide on your favorite” (I swear to you, she actually said that…scout’s honor…never mind that I’m not a scout.), and “This isn’t real love. Just a crush.” I mean, really, what did she know, right? I knew when we would get married, how many kids we’d have, what they’d be named, how rich we’d be, and that we’d live happily every after. Just because he started dating someone else a month after she told me all that does not mean she had it figured out. I totally decided I didn’t want him anymore before he decided he to go out with someone else. She just *sniff* didn’t get it, *sniff* you know?

Mom = 1

Becky = 0

My first crush = totally potbellied and balding…not really but it would make a better story.

Believe me. There are soooooooo many more instances like this. So I realized my mom totally owes me.

She OWES ME the opportunity to say “thank you”. Like the time when I was little, fell down, and scrubbed up my hands. Never mind the fact that I was running around even after I had been told to stop and then tripped and fell like she said I would and then slid on the cement carport like a MLB player trying to get safely home. I never had to call her name. One second, I was eating sand and in the next she was there with a washcloth and band aid at the ready. Those soothing words and soft touches have never left me and I realized that amid my cries I never uttered a “thank you”.

She OWES ME the opportunity to say “I need you”. It seems like I spent most of my younger years pushing her away – always assuming I knew what was best. I would roll my eyes at her trying to take care of me. I was independent and strong. As no stranger to pain and heartbreak, I knew where my two feet were. I knew how to stand. I knew how to do it alone. Yet in those dark moments when the pain was too great, when I was utterly lost, or didn’t know who I could talk to, she was there. No sound needed to be uttered on my part, she just…knew. Many times words weren’t needed. A mother’s embrace is the universal balm to any child’s soul – no matter how old. I may be 40, but Mom, I need you…so much.

She OWES ME the opportunity to say “I love you”. So many times when we argued or when I accused her of being wrong she never left me with out telling me she loved me. How dare she! What a way to suck the mad out of someone. She made sure there was NEVER any doubt where my place was – in her heart. Those hugs and the power behind her sentiments have brought me back to the surface more times than I can count. I realized that between my temper and pride there were times I didn’t say “I love you” back. I guess, I’m trying to say I love you more than I can say…does that make sense?

If I took an actual tally, there is no way I would be able to get an accurate count of how many things my mother has given me. I’ll admit it; I’m a very selfish, self-centered individual. Sadly, it has taken me this many years and having four of my own kids to truly realize the sacrifices my mother made (and still makes) for me. It has taken me living across the country for 17 years to realize how much her closeness means to me. If you can, take the opportunity to see what your mom “owes” you. If your mom has passed on, I’m so very sorry. But, if it makes you feel any better, I’m positive she is on the other side listening every time you whisper how much you love and miss her. She’s there still supporting you and cheering you on.

I’m lucky. Mine is still within reach. So, if you’ll excuse me, it looks like I have a debt to collect.

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Birthdays, Stripping, and Avoiding Donald Trump Hair

I’ve been dreading this day for months. Today is my 40th birthday. (I actually cringed while typing that.)

crap

This birthday has been hard for me. I feel old. I don’t like it. I’m not sure what I thought life would be like at this point. I don’t think I thought too much beyond 30. Between kids and working and life in general I lost ten years. After much reflection and agonizing, I’ve decided that for my birthday, I’m going to strip.stripping giphy

No, not that kind of strip (but I can appreciate the way you think)! I figure it’s time to strip away a few things that aren’t doing me any good. I may not be happy about being older but there are things I’m letting hold me back. It’s time to do some internal disrobing…

Don’t be tense about the past and the present

Guess what? I am not 23 anymore. I loved my twenties. They were so much fun. I could survive on two hours sleep, eat anything and everything and still stay skinny, and only had to worry about myself. Now, if I get less than seven hours sleep I look like I belong on The Walking Dead. I ate a piece of birthday cake tonight and jumped two pant sizes before I finished my last bite. (Please don’t ask me how big of a piece I ate.) Thinking of myself is a luxury. My thoughts are almost completely occupied by the beings in my house who call me “Mom”.

turning 40

I’m okay with all that (well, maybe not the weight thing – c’est la vie…). I take much better care of myself now. However, I will admit to the occasional I’m-just-going-to-read-one-more-chapter-until-I-realize-it’s-2AM incident. And let’s face it, those beings I referred to? They are freaking awesome. I’m better because they exist. When you look at everything that way, they don’t really look like limitations, do they?

Untangling my “nots”

We all have nasty, gnarly “nots”. Ever find yourself saying, “I’m not thin enough”, “My hair is not pretty enough”, “I’m not good enough”, “I cannot do that”? See, you’re totally “notted” up. Now that I’m older and wiser, I’ve decided it’s time to do some untangling. My biggest “not” always revolves around my weight and/or my looks. I constantly compare myself to others. Wisdom tells me now is a great time in life. I should feel great in my own skin. I’m established and if I have an extra 10 or [cough] 20 pound cushion, good for me. As far as not being good enough? Total crap. I totally need to unravel that nonsense out of here. If you see me getting kind of “notty”, feel free to give me a comb over. (Just please don’t let me end up like Donald Trump [shudders]..)trump cMIuBz

Losing “wait”

I’ve always told myself to wait for that right time. While I can agree that timing is a huge factor in the success of things, the worst thing we can do is wait. When I was in junior high, I decided to run the hurdles in track. Go ahead and laugh…not that hard…I didn’t think it would be that funny…you okay now? Anyhow, I quickly learned that in order to make that jump you could not stutter step or hesitate.horse giphy

The horse feels my pain…and is way more graceful than I ever was. At 40, I’d like to think I have a bit more perspective. It’s time to reevaluate. It’s time to take some chances. It’s time to lose some “wait”.

Keep your affirmations “Smalley” and simple

Years ago, Al Franken played a character named Stuart Smalley on Saturday Night Live. He was a hilariously needy un-licensed therapist who just wanted to help others and himself. Time and time again his own faults would resurface as he was interviewing or helping others but that…was okay. He would always begin and close with, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.”Stuart_Smalley

Watch Stuart at work: http://www.hulu.com/watch/272735

No one is perfect. At some point we just have to own who we are. I’m just barely starting to grasp this. It’s going to take time for me to really be okay with who I am. At 40, I still have my work cut out for me to realize that I am nice enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, successful enough, just altogether enough, and doggone it, people like me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Rey Of Hope

There was a distinct lack of strong women (TV & movie) characters when I was growing up. There was She-Ra but she was kind of a sissy. If I ever found myself in a dark alley with The Evil Horde, she would NOT be the first person I’d call. I preferred He-Man, but I always wished someone could have gotten him something other than those pelt-Speedos he wore. Don’t even get me started on the boots with the fur. (Go ahead and sing the song…I know you want to.)

classic_he_man_wallpaper_by_themightyjbowski

At least he coordinates well… (Photo: mmorg.com)

There was Wonder Woman. I do love her – even to this day – but did she really have to run around in a glorified bathing suit and high-heeled boots? It must have taken super powers to keep “the girls” steady and secure in her strapless…er…um…outfit. I can do some damage in stilettos, but I’d rather have Docs if there’s butt kicking to do.

What’s a girl to do? Who should she look up to? Luckily, I grew up watching the original Star Wars episodes (IV, V, VI). To say I loved them is a gross understatement. I was (and still am) fluent in Yoda-speak, could talk back to a Wookie like a pro, and fake-light-saber-fight with the best of them. Did I prance around sporting a double-bun hairdo? Nope, but I did ask my mom to try it on me once. Man, how can you expect someone to do that to her head on purpose? Yoda was always cool. A little person full of enormous power? I totally identified with that. I once spent an entire day trying to move my bed with the Force. The results were less than satisfactory.

yoda

Photo: minecraftforum.net

When it came down to it, I desperately wanted to be Han Solo; however, I kept that part to myself. I already was the weird girl (again…still am) and didn’t feel comfortable enough letting that bomb drop. Still, Han was the man. I mean, come on! He had Chewy and let’s not forget the Millennium Falcon.

Fast-forward quite a few years (no exact number needed, thank you) to the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I about wet myself when this movie was announced (sadly, that is not an exaggeration…) I do admit to being a bit skeptical after having been subjected and tortured by Jar Jar Binks [shudders].

mtfn5

Photo: imgflip.com (odstcrafter’s images)

I really, REALLY, wanted this one to be great. When I saw promotional material of a young girl, my fingers crossed for the hero I’d wished for so many years ago. I could not wait to see the movie.

Last Tuesday, I was finally able to see the movie. I was most definitely NOT disappointed. ATTENTION: The rest of this will include potential movie spoilers. Read on at your own risk.

Rey, I love you. You are amazing. You are everything I want my girls to be. When you were flying the Falcon and did that maneuver where you flipped and pulled up to vertical so Finn could shoot? I. Was. Hooked. You exuded strength through your insecurity. You did not NEED anyone (though I think this something you need to work on). Your feelings of loneliness and loss struck a chord, as did the resilience you drew from that. My girls need someone like you around. (Do I realize I’m speaking to a fictional character? Yes, I am aware. Don’t kill my vibe.)

We have forgotten it is okay to be a girl AND be strong. We have somehow been left as beggars on the outskirts waiting for the scraps. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to be a man. Let’s face it; they can be kind of smelly and gross (Apologies to my husband – love you Babe!). I like being a girl but “girl” should not be equated with second-class status. Nor should “girl” be associated with weakness. When was it decided that if you are a girl, you must be fragile, submissive, and agreeable? I feel like hope has been kindled. I pray Hollywood realizes we want to see more of girls like Rey. We want to be Rey. She’s a fighter. She doesn’t give up. When life knocks her down, she scavenges to survive and makes her way home on a car hood sliding down a sand hill (a FREAKING huge sand hill). She is loyal even at the expense of her own starvation/salvation. She has an innate sense of right and wrong. She stands up when needed and protects those who can’t do so themselves. She instinctively knows how to roll with the punches – literally and figuratively. Is she perfect? Nope and that’s why she has so much appeal.

I’m starting to wonder if the powers-that-be (I have no idea who they are but they are VERY misguided) feel threatened by her. Did they anticipate her influence? How could they not? They had to know we would attach ourselves to her like a gold-bikini-cladded-Princess Leia chained to Jabba the Hut. (Perhaps not the best analogy considering the subject, but you get the idea.) Why then is she missing from so much of Star Wars’ merchandise? One excuse I read is that companies didn’t want to include her at the time of release for fear they would spoil major plot lines. Pfft! Someone made an error in judgment. Someone thought she wouldn’t draw enough of an audience. Girls aren’t into Star Wars, right? (Enter forehead smack here).

worf

See! Even Worf gets it. (Gif: Giphy.com)

Star Wars is for boys AND girls. It is a universal story.

Now, I know some will read this post and consider sending me advice or directions to the nearest mental health counselor. It’s all just a movie, right? I see it as more. Our girls need some amazing characters to look up to. I’m not saying Finn, Han, Poe, even Iron Man, Thor, Captain American (I could keep going but will reel in my Geek Flag a bit) aren’t great characters, but it’s nice to have a girl in the mix.

Rey has a quiet strength I so desperately want my girls to have. She fought off Kylo Ren more than once. In the end, his assertion of the fullness of his powers was loud, brutal, and forceful (no pun intended). How did Rey conquer? By not fighting his brutality with equal force but with THE Force. Yep. There’s a difference. She did not thrash in an attempt to mutilate or brutalize. She paused, centered, and drew on her strength – a small package with an unexpected powerful punch. Perfection.

Interestingly enough, the dictionary defines a “ray” as “an initial or slight indication of a positive or welcome quality in a time of difficulty or trouble.” Ray and Rey…coincidence? I think not.

Rey BB8

Rey & BB8

 

The Best Prize of All…and It Ain’t a Candy Bar

My youngest sister, Natalie, and I are only two years apart. There is a large age gap between us and our older siblings. Because of that, Natalie and I pretty much spent our childhood stuck together. If I went to a friend’s house, she came with me. If I got a new dress, she got a matching one. If I got a treat, she got one too. My mom said I was fortunate because I didn’t have to find a friend; I already had one built-in. At the age of 9, that was not how I saw things.

NBC/Wifflegif.com

NBC/Wifflegif.com

Just like every other kid in existence, I lived for the summer. No school, sleep in, play outside until you were likely to get second-degree burn on your feet (if you grew up in Arizona, you know what I’m talking about…). I loved summers. The highlight of each summer was the Ward Camp-out. Every summer, our church would have a camp-out one weekend of the summer. We all would head to Mt. Graham and sleep in tents or cabins. We were one of the lucky families that had access to a cabin. I love the mountains, but I’m not a fan of using a tree as my toilet. No way was I taking my chances of getting smacked around while trying to do my business. We all know trees are the guardians of the forest. They also have a wicked mean streak. Case in point:

MGM/FYEAH-WIZARD-OF-OZ.TUMBLR.COM

MGM/FYEAH-WIZARD-OF-OZ.TUMBLR.COM

Anyhow, I digress…the absolute highlight of the camp-out was the Saturday morning breakfast and games. Everyone would get together, pitch in, and make an awesome pancake breakfast. Afterwards, the kids got to play games.

The summer I was 9, it was announced that there would be a race. The winner would earn bragging rights for a whole year AND a giant-sized 100 Grand candy bar. From the moment I heard about the race, I started training. Go ahead and laugh but I REALLY wanted to win. You see, I was never very athletic, but at age 9 I was pretty fast. Everyone around me was athletic, musically talented, super-smart, but I was just run-of-the-mill-so-plain-it-hurts ordinary. I HAD to win this race. I would run laps around the empty lot next to our house. I even ran up and down our basement stairs until I got yelled at for making too much noise. I kept working at it. I was determined. It was going to be the best summer ever. I was going to win. I could totally see it. Cue “Chariots of Fire” music please…

giphy.com

giphy.com

You’re probably asking yourself, “What does this all have to do with her sister? Should we tell Becky she’s babbling again?” I’m getting to it…just be patient. Oh, and it’s not babbling. It’s called creative wordsmithing (…it could be a word…) So, as I was saying, I was ready. The camp-out Saturday breakfast and games arrived. I quickly ate my breakfast; I was too eager to take my time. In agony, I had to wait for them to play the little kid games first. How could they not know just how major this race was?! Finally, the moment came, and they called for the older kids to line up. I got in my place and started to focus – every good runner gets in the zone before a big race. I was just about there, when I realized there was someone standing annoyingly close to me – that should have been my first clue. Who could it be? Yep. You guessed it. Natalie was standing next to me ready to run the race. She saw me lining up, so she wanted to line up too. I tried to argue with the adults that this was a big kid event, and she was a little kid but that didn’t get me anywhere. I resolved to just suck it up and focus. This was my summer. I was determined. I was going to win.

Once we were all lined up, one of the adults went down to the finish line with a flag to give us the start signal. I crouched down – poised and ready to bolt. “On your mark. Get set. Go!” I shot out of there like a speeding bullet. This race was mine and I knew it. All of my hard work was going to pay off. I was ahead of everyone!! I was so far ahead it was like I was running at light speed. I was UNBEATABLE!

giphy.com

giphy.com

The finish line was in sight when I heard a cry. It was a cry I knew all too well. It was Natalie. I quickly looked behind me and saw that she had indeed fallen and scraped her knees up pretty badly. I’d like to say that I immediately ran to her, but I’d be lying. I did have a moment when I just continued on to that finish line…but I couldn’t. I turned around and ran back towards Natalie. While I did, all of the rest of the kids crossed the finish line. Someone else was getting my win. Someone else was getting my bragging rights. Someone else was getting my candy bar. I got to Natalie, helped her stand up, and held on to her as she hobbled back to my mom. Once my mom had her, I sat back and sulked. While my mom was fussing over Natalie’s knees, I was watching the other kids surrounding the winner. Man! It should’ve been me.

I was so bummed. Natalie walked up to me – bandaged knees and all – and gave me a hug. “What’d you do that for?” I grumbled at her. “You picked me up.” With that reply, she bounced on her merry way. While I was trying to digest that moment, the adult who was in charge of the race, came over to me, and put a 100 Grand candy bar in my lap. Confused, I asked her why she gave me the candy bar. I didn’t win the race; therefore, I shouldn’t get a prize. The adult looked at Natalie and then looked at me and said, “Actually, you got the best prize of all.” Then she walked off. What kind of weird kung fu moment was that? I wondered if she was coming back to tell me to I could go “When you can take the pebble from my hand”. Whatever, Master Kan. I had my candy bar and I was going to enjoy the heck out of it.

SOURCE: M-HELENAPINTO.TUMBLR.COM

SOURCE: M-HELENAPINTO.TUMBLR.COM

At least that was my plan…as I sat down to eat that candy bar, Natalie was by my side asking for me to share. Like the good sister I was (and still am…I hope…), I split it in two pieces and, of course, gave her the bigger piece. With chocolate on our hands and faces, we went off to play and that was that.

It wasn’t until years later that I understood what “the best prize of all” meant. What I understand now, that I didn’t understand then was that the love of my sister was (is) the prize. Natalie and I have been through more things than I have time (or inclination) to mention. We have endured more pain and heartache than I would wish on anyone. The reason that we made it through (relatively) intact was because we had each other. Numerous times, she has said that I saved her, that I carried her, that I was the reason we made it – that is not the case. We saved each other, carried each other, and each was the reason the other made it through. Why? How? The answer is simple. We both had the best prize of all – the love of a sister.

Is that cheesy? Perhaps. If you don’t have a sister (or a brother), you may not get it and that’s okay. All I know is that even after all these years, I will still always give her the bigger piece of the candy bar…because that’s what sisters do.

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