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.

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:
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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.