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:

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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.”

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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.

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.)

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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”.

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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.)

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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.

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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].

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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).

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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.

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Rey & BB8

 

An Open Letter to Cancer

hey cancer

Dear Cancer,

I have had enough of you. I’ve been patiently waiting for you to just slip out of existence, but you just keep going after people I love. Take a hint. I HATE YOU. I don’t think I ever hated anything until you came along. I tried – really tried – to give you the benefit of the doubt. I’ve blamed illnesses on lifestyle, age, or just the luck of the draw. No more. It’s all you. You and I are done.

When I was twelve, you came after one of my cherished, childhood friends. I didn’t really understand what was going on. You were so brutal; you took her before I had a chance to say goodbye. She was beautiful, talented, and sweeter than anyone I knew. She was my best friend. I needed her. You took her. She did NOT deserve to die. So, I repeat, I HATE YOU.

As a teen, you made one of my best friend’s mother suffer. You drug out her illness for what felt like years. You gave us false hope and then broke our hearts all over again. She had three beautiful daughters and a loving husband. They needed her and you took her. They still hurt. You are cold, uncaring, and selfish. I HATE YOU.

After I had my babies, you thought it would be fun to give me a little scare. I lucked out and you left me alone. But, you know what? Even before I knew you weren’t going to hurt me, I decided I wasn’t going down without a fight. I’d had enough of your crap. You were not taking me from my babies. You cared nothing for me, but I HATED YOU.

Last year, you decided to go after my friend. How dare you! He has a wife and a beautiful daughter. You seem to take joy in taking him bit by bit – piece by piece. You’ve taken his energy and some of his abilities. You want your victims weak and helpless. Guess what? He may be weak, but he’s not helpless. He’s fighting back, and that pisses you off, doesn’t it? HE HATES YOU TOO. You may eventually get him, but he is a fighter. When he is too weak to take a swing at you, we will be his arms. When he can no longer yell at you, we will be his voice. We are coming for you.

Three days ago I received a phone call…apparently you just can’t leave my loved ones alone. The beautiful woman who you are trying to take? She is NOT going to let you win. WE are not going to let you win. She has a husband and kids pulling for her. She has sisters and brothers to lean on. She has us, and you CANNOT have her. You may have taken some of her sight and even some of her strength but the tumor is gone. Surgery was successful. She may be weak, but you WILL NOT TAKE HER. You are not going to win this one. You CANNOT take another piece of my heart. I HATE YOU.

You have taken so many people I have loved – so many people who have touched my life. No more. I’m serious. You are on notice. I am pissed. I will do anything and everything I can. I may not be a doctor or a scientist but I can help charities and research. I can help promote good health in myself and others. I can help raise awareness. You are evil and sneaky, but YOU are the weak one. I’m coming for you and, yes, you should be scared. I may be small, but I fight dirty. Watch your a$$. You’re going down.

Kiss off,

Becky

Love and Relationships: Looney Tunes Style

My little sister and I watched A LOT of cartoons when we were kids. We have discovered our behavior and vernacular have been greatly influenced by those hours zoned out on TV. The other day at work it occurred to me that The Looney Tunes taught me quite a bit about love and relationships. Go ahead and laugh. I’m totally serious. I wrote a piece addressing that influence and posted it to my BuzzFeed account. You can get to it here: http://www.buzzfeed.com/rph36/love-and-relationships-looney-tunes-style-1lgfr

IMG_0584You really should check it out. I mean, it’s The Looney Tunes. Who doesn’t love The Looney Tunes? If the answer bubbling on your lips is that you DON’T, you might want to keep that tidbit to yourself. We Looney Tunes lovers tend to be a bit impulsive. Something about anvils, dynamite, and falling off cliffs come to mind…

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Mirror, You Can Kiss My (Looking Gl)ass

The mirror and I have a Hate Relationship. Yes, I said it correctly. There is no Love between us. I have perfected the art of looking in the mirror without truly seeing myself. I can do my hair and avoid looking at my face and body. I can put on makeup and focus on sections of my face at a time. I can check my outfit without taking in the whole view. The mirror is a necessary evil and the camera is its malicious cousin. I don’t think I know one person (…it’s not just women…) who actually enjoys mirror time. Well, maybe Caitriona Balfe. Have you seen her?! I mean if I was her, I would take my time to appreciate my exquisite gorgeousness. Long legs, flawless skin, beautiful mouth…things just got weird, didn’t they. Sorry. Anyhow….

Mirrors can be scary but looking is imperative. No one wants to walk around with a bat in the cave (booger in your nose for those of you who don’t speak immature-13-year-old) or leftovers in his/her teeth (I’m all about not wasting food but broccoli stores better in styrofoam than it does stuck to the side of your incisors). I do have moments when I can look and think my kangaroo pouch (what I lovingly call the stomach four pregnancies gifted me) doesn’t look too ginormous. For the most part, I leave the house thinking I’m doing okay only to come home, glance in the mirror, and notice a zit or the fact that I have half-deflated hair. Any of that sound familiar?

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This past week I was part of a wake-up call conversation. Someone posed the question, “Have you ever looked in the mirror and been truly ashamed at what you saw?” The fact that the question was asked wasn’t what made me pause. The fact that I silently answered “Yes” to myself did. That really made me think. Has there ever been a time I’ve looked in the mirror and have actually liked what I’ve seen? I honesty could only think of two occasions. That is a BAD thing. I have two teenage girls. How am I supposed to prevent their self-assessments from being grossly distorted when I can’t do that for myself?

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After I reflected (I swear, pun not intended) on that startling conversation, Through The Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll came to mind. I know what you’re thinking – BOOK NERD ALERT! Stay with me. I’m about to make a point…at least I’m going to try to. The beginning of the story has Alice pondering on the reflections in the looking glass. She eventually goes through the looking glass to discover things are very different – opposite – of what they “should” be. I looked up the word “looking glass”. (You’re not snoring are you? Seriously, hang in there…) A looking glass is defined as a mirror; however, (and more importantly) it is defined as “being or involving the opposite of what is normal or expected.” Thank you very much, Google dictionary. We don’t need mirrors; we need looking glasses.

Unfortunately, when we look at our reflections, we bring expectations, hopes, definitions, and standards with us. What’s even worse is that 98% (…probably closer 100%) of the time those expectations, definitions, and standards come from some outside source AND ARE TOTALLY UNREALISTIC. My husband tells me on a daily basis (sometimes numerous times within a day) how beautiful I am and how sexy I am (..kids, if you’re reading this, you can stop the eye-rolling and gagging noises…). After 16 years, I don’t know if I’ve ever truly believed him. That seriously is ridiculous, right? What about you? What do you do when someone compliments you? That’s what I thought. Time to get a looking glass.

Fashion magazines tell us skinny (dangerously so) is normal. Ads tell us perfect, firm boobs busting out of our tops is normal. Society tells us long, tan legs and perfectly, round butt cheeks peeking out of our shorts is normal. Well guess what? I’m not skinny. My boobs haven’t been perfect, like ever and they sure as heck aren’t firm anymore (another token from four pregnancies). I have NEVER had long legs (hard to accomplish at 5’2″). I definitely have never been tan…sunburned, but never tan. If I wore short enough shorts, my butt cheeks would be peeking out – not because of the length of the shorts but because of gravity. So, according to most fashion and Hollywood standards, I’m a pale, saggy, gravity-victimized, Hobbit-like freak. For those of you who know me, is that how you see me? We need to see ourselves for the awesome creatures we are. Please, pull out the looking glass.

We need to go from seeing ourselves like this:
Silly_Mirror

To seeing the truth like this: funny-cat-look-mirror-540x600

It’s not going to happen overnight. Self-depreciating humor is my forte. I can belittle and make fun of myself like nobody’s business. Seriously, if I could make a career of it, I would be a bagizziolionare (That’s a word, right?). We need to stop seeing the horrible ugliness and inadequacies that we have grown to expect. Take your mirror and stomp it in to a million little shards (metaphorically speaking – I REALLY hope you saw the metaphorical part before moving on…). It’s time to use the looking glass. It’s time to see what is opposite of what is “normal” or expected. Now, if you are one of the fortunate few who actually like (or at least not really mind) what you see in the mirror, keep it up. You rock!! You have perfected the art of using a looking glass properly. Use your powers for good and try to pass those skills to another. For everyone else, when you are confronted with your reflection and those nasty, negative, self-judegments start to flow, I want you to repeat after me, “Mirror, you can kiss my (looking gl)ass.” (I cleaned it up for the kids…feel free to alter to your needs.) From here on out, your only problem should be:

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That’s right, you sexy beast. YOU. ARE. BEAUTIFUL.

Outlander Life Lessons From Season One

Now that season one is over, I thought it was a good time to reflect on some important Outlander Life Lessons. Instead of putting the full post here, I submitted it to BuzzFeed’s website. If you are in need of a few laughs, head on over that way: http://www.buzzfeed.com/rph36/outlander-life-lessons-from-season-one-1lgfr

WARNING: Post contains a few profanities. Do not read if such things offend you.

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