Thursday, March 12, 2020

Polar Bears

Several weeks ago, my husband picked my daughter up from school and asked her how her day was. She replied, “Terrible!” Surprised, he dug a little to better understand what was so terrible. She told him she’d explain when we were all home together.

Without warning of that interaction, I got home and saw my daughter lying on the couch looking exhausted. I asked her; “Nora, are you ok?”

She sat up. Slowly. And announced that she could now explain why her day was terrible.

She then began to educate us on the danger the polar bears of the world are experiencing through climate change. She had tears in her eyes as she asked me what we could do.

We talked about the ways our family could make a difference and set out to do so. She reminded her brother constantly that leaving the lights on when we weren’t in a room would hurt the polar bears. I even caught her telling a character in a movie that their situation wasn’t “as bad as the polar bears'!”

This girl was feeling this pain deeply.

A few weeks later as the snow began to melt outside our Iowa windows Nora showed up in the bathroom announcing there was an emergency outside. We had litter in our yard. Stuck under the melting snow and what would this do to the polar bears?!?

I cannot make this stuff up.

***

A few days ago, I completely lost control of all my emotions. Alone in my car.

You see, this year, #internationalwomensday came and went. I was angry on that day, so I didn’t really acknowledge it.

But, a few days ago, I was listening to Glennon Doyle’s new book alone in my car and couldn’t believe my ears when a chapter in her book told an identical story about her daughter. In kindergarten. Learning about the polar bears.

It hit me. All at once. The devastation and lethargy I had been feeling over the last few weeks had run deep. I’m watching my daughter grow into herself and admittedly have had the urge to tame her into what we think a woman should be. I have been guilty of taming. Because I see all around us that untamed is not yet accepted by the masses.

Me. Someone who believes fiercely in women. Someone who has been angry for days as I watch our choices dwindle for the next leader of this nation to one of three men over the age of 75.

We must go against all our instincts to tame these girls who learn about the world and feel deeply the injustice. We must let them forge their own paths as untamed girls who turn into deeply feeling women who won’t abide by the old rules. If we can do this job, if we can raise enough girls into women who are unapologetically sensitive to the world’s issues, maybe just maybe, we can shock this system we’ve created.

Because, we need them!

"First, it’s the polar bears.

Then, it’s us."

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The Front Row

This picture was snapped of a group at a recent event for my talented friend’s book launch. And, I keep coming back to it.

I’m 35. You guys know that. I wrote about it here.

At 35 I’m starting to understand exactly who I am. And, might I say this picture very well may define it.

***

Last week another dear friend was speaking at a women’s luncheon. This friend’s bravery is quite astounding. She shares her story to spread light and love. But her story is scary and vulnerable. As so many of ours are when we are telling the truth.

She asked if we’d sit up front. Us friends. Right where she could see our smiles and knowing nods.

So we did. Or, we tried our best. We sat right by the screen.

Turns out when the speaking began, the screen was in fact as far back in the room as one could get. We were disoriented by our excitement.

So, we scarfed our food down and rushed to the front. Causing a bit of a scene, maybe, but hell-bent on being in the front row for our girl.

***

I hope that’s who I am. The girl in the front row for the people I care about. Trying my best. Smiling. Giving them knowing nods. Causing a scene, disoriented by my excitement, and eating a cookie. 

Image may contain: 12 people, including Nate Klein, Amanda Wendling and Emily Flowergarden, people smiling, people standing
Photo by Ed Kempf
Cheers, my friends!

Friday, January 10, 2020

Thoughts on 35

I turned 35 recently.

If I’m honest, I’m not quite sure how I feel about that number. Maybe it’s because my birthday falls directly after the holidays, and this holiday season I made sure all recipes I made included cream cheese frosting. My pants are still reminding me of this delicious decision. Or maybe it’s because I’m perpetually 26 in my own head. And, 35 isn’t 26.

Anyway, as a practice to guide my thoughts and energy, I jotted down a few lessons I’m still learning.

***

Hannah Gadsby said in her Netflix special, Nannette; “our stories hold our cure.”

A few years ago, I shared my story of getting burnt out and walking away from a job I once loved. This story helped other brave women come forward and admit the same. Sharing our stories is not only a powerful way to connect, it’s a crucial human function.

***

If you’re wandering around a tailgate looking for a beer and a brat, and you find a handsome man who has both; marry him. Life is tough. And, the kind of guy who can offer up a beer and a brat feels like a safe place to land when it all gets to be too much.

***

I learned recently about a method psychiatrists use to reprogram trauma in the brain called EMDR. I’m no medical professional but my layman’s explanation is as follows; while you visit traumatic events in your head, the psychiatrist has you hold something that buzzes. The item buzzes first in your right hand then in your left and back and forth. This action allows the traumatic event to move from your right (emotional) brain to your left (logical) brain. It allows you to process the trauma and move forward.

Someone once told me running doesn’t cure everything, and this new-found information regarding EMDR makes me stubbornly reply with; “not so fast!” 

I truly believe, with all my heart, while you watch your right foot and then your left foot pound the pavement on a long run while thinking through your pain, your mind reprograms that pain.

So, in fact, running may cure everything.

***

Sometimes self-care looks like a glass of wine and relaxing your mind and body. But it also looks like combining all your to-do lists. It looks like mind-dumping that shit on however many pieces of paper required and taking a hard look at it. It looks like delegating, crossing off the easy stuff, and deleting the stuff that isn’t yours to get done. Self-care sometimes looks like doing the work you don’t want to do.

***

A good song can change a mood. And a day.

***

Keep those who feel like warmth close. Keep close those who have known you forever, and are brave enough to call you on your shit. But, find the people who love the you, you’ve grown into, and challenge you to be the person you’re continually becoming.

***

Fear is contagious. But, so is kindness. Choose to spread the latter. Especially when it’s hard.

***

And, finally, the Harvard Business Review did a study on Collective IQ many years ago. The summary, in short, is when measuring a group’s collective IQ not many things raised it. There was little correlation, in fact, between a group’s collective intelligence and the IQs of its individual members. But if a group includes more women, its collective intelligence rises.

Draw your own conclusions.

***

Scones also help. Especially the savory ones from Dash!

Cheers, my friends!

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