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.

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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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What Sam Heughan Caused 400+ Women To Do

…and it’s not what you’re thinking. (Although, you’re probably right with wherever your train of thought was going.)

January of this year, Sam Heughan (Outlander actor) issued a fitness challenge – My Peak Challenge. I’d been trying to find motivation to make a change, get moving, lose weight, and get healthy. I figured if a Scottish hottie couldn’t get me motivated then there was something wrong with me. Case in point….

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Ummm….what was I saying?

I signed up for My Peak Challenge but found myself not sure how to proceed. I needed more…I just wasn’t sure of what. On Twitter (yay social media!), @MyPeakChallenge mentioned a Facebook group called ThePeakPosse who were helping each other with their challenges. I looked it up, asked to join, and got so much more than I bargained for – in a great-life-changing-these-women-are-AMAZING- way.

ThePeakPosse is the handiwork of Ms. Bonnie Terbush, aka Queen B, aka Bonnie, aka Thou Glorious Goddess of All (I may have made the last one up but it still applies.) Inspired by Sam’s (…oh yes, we’re on a first name basis now…) My Peak Challenge, Bonnie created an email group where several individuals could communicate and motivate. After the first 24 hours, she knew there was NO WAY email was going to cut it – too much interest. Being the organizational genius she is, she created a Facebook group that exploded with interest. As of today, there are 432 freaking awesome women. We talk, motivate, laugh, cry, blush (…what happens in ThePeakPosse, stays in ThePeakPosse…), support, debate, and strengthen each other.
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 FYI: We call that color “Heughan Blue”😘.

Our Queen B had a vision that went above and beyond fitness and motivation. She foresaw us being a force to be reckoned with. What happens when you get a group of focused, determined women? Pure awesomeness. Sam’s charity was the perfect place to start.

Sam’s My Peak Challenge ran from January to March. During that time, ThePeakPosse worked together not only on our separate challenges but also to help raise money for Sam’s charity – Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research. The purpose of the challenge was to inspire good health and strength all while raising money for LLR. According to Sam’s Twitter page, MPC raised over $100,000 for the charity. ThePeakPosse’s contribution? $25,588.5. Holy crap, right? Just wait…there’s more.

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Once MPC was over, ThePeakPosse’s fearless leader, Ms. Bonnie, decided it was time to do something for the lovely Caitriona Balfe’s (Outlander actress) charity – World Child Cancer. Were ThePeakPosse on board? Faster than you could say “Sassenach”! So, from April through May, we gave it our all. What did the efforts of our tremendous group of women bring? Oh, only $17,402.58. You need a minute to appreciate our awesomeness? Go ahead. I’ll wait….cue Jeopardy music… You okay now?wcc

Following the end of the campaign for WCC, we held to the whole “rolling stone gathers no moss” theory – no idleness here. The decision was made to focus on Graham McTavish’s (Outlander actor – are you seeing a pattern here?) charity – Action for Children. You can bet your sweet corn-grinder we are all on board with that idea. So, from July to the end of August, we are doing what we can to raise funds for Action for Children. What are we doing and how can you help? Well aren’t you so sweet. I’m glad you asked.

  1. You can make a donation at www.justgiving.com/ThePeakPosseActionForChildren  SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS: The donations on this site are being generously matched by Macquarie, the employer of Heather Lee Ying (ThePeakPosse lassie). In order for the match to occur, please include the following statement within your donation: “IN SUPPORT OF THE FUND RAISING EFFORTS, THEPEAKPOSSE/HEATHER L.Y Macquarie has matched our donations for other charities. They are beyond amazing!
  2. Enter to win the basket at www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/7c3e22083/  Seriously, the basket contains MIND-BLOWING-AMAZING GIFTS. Everything has been donated by the actors, Mr. Ron Moore and Outlander fans, including members of ThePeakPosse.
  3. We have a Zazzle store (which will stay open indefinitely) with very awesome items (t-shirts and flip-flops and key chains, oh my!): www.zazzle.com/thepeakpossegear
  4. Bonnie created an awesome Action for Children shirt/tank. The best part? It has Graham McTavish’s signature. (Printed – he can’t sign every shirt…that would be so amazing though!!!) You can find it here: www.zazzle.com/action_for_children_graham_mctavish_shirt-235856622228502729
  5. We also have an embroidered hat campaign through Booster featuring ThePeakPosse’s official logo. If you want a hat, you’d better hurry. The hat campaign closes August 7: www.booster.com/thepeakpossehat

All proceeds from Zazzle and Booster go to Action for Children.

Phew! That was a lot of info. We are hoping for a repeat of our prior successes. We would love for you to help out. It’s for an awesome program. They provide wonderful support for children. (Yes, that was a moment of shameless emotional blackmail. Did it work? Maybe a look at what’s in the basket will help…)

whats in the basket

So yes, it all started with Sam’s fitness brainchild but ThePeakPosse has become so much more. I asked Bonnie why she did what she did. Her own words explain better than my paraphrasing ever could:

“I wanted to go beyond Sam’s charity because the show [Outlander] is extraordinary and, in a way, this is my way of giving back to the them. I mean, what can I give them that they don’t already have? I know it sounds a bit corny but if it wasn’t for Diana’s books and the series, I wouldn’t have met so many extraordinary women who have brought me so much love, laughter, support and opportunities to my life. It’s also phenomenal to interact with people from the organization and see first hand where the money is going, how it’s helping the various organizations.”

ThePeakPosse girls feel the same about you, Bonnie. All I can add is that ThePeakPosse has given me so much more than I had planned. It has helped me with my health and not just physically. It has reminded me that one of our purposes in life is to help others along the way. Even though we were inspired by Outlander and spurred into action by a hot Scot, sisterhood and charity are our foundation.

To my sisters, my circle of women, thank you for allowing it.

circle of women

For more information (and all those important links):

Facebook page: Outlander – The Peak Posse Charity Fundraiser

To donate: www.justgiving.com/ThePeakPosseActionForChildren

To enter to win the basket: www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/7c3e22083/

Zazzle store: www.zazzle.com/thepeakpossegear

Graham McTavish/Action for Children tee: www.zazzle.com/action_for_children_graham_mctavish_shirt-235856622228502729

Booster campaign (Ending 8/7/15): www.booster.com/thepeakpossehat

https://www.actionforchildren.org.uk

http://www.worldchildcancer.org

https://leukaemialymphomaresearch.org.uk

Sam Heughan Photo Credit: Getty Images

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.