Should you Whole 30? Vol. 1

 

I just know this is a question that has plagued you for years.

Should I try the Whole 30 Program? Do I want to be miserable for 30 days straight? Do I hate myself so much that I will forego all the yummy food and beverages the world has garden 2to offer me? Well, if you’re crazy, love your body more than food, or have regular diarrhea, then yeah, you should try it.

My husband and I get into these ambitious moods about 1 time a year where we want to try something new and challenging. Well, this year, its the WHOLE 30. For all of you normal, sane human beings out there, you may not have heard of it, so recap: for 30 days you eat nothing but meat, veggies, and fruit. Sure there’s eggs and good fats you can eat…but no bread, dairy, alcohol, nuts, legumes, or SUGAR.

CHEESE….I WANT CHEESE.

Now hear is the thing, this isn’t a “I hope I lose weight diet”, but rather a “I hope I feel better and learn more about how my body reacts to food.” Because at the end of these 30 days, I will be adding things back in, one at a time, to see how my body responds. WINE AND CHEESE…come to momma!

Except…we are only on day 9. : ( Yeah, day 9. I have never been more sleepy or grouchy (sugar withdrawal much?) in my entire life. We went to buy a car over the weekend and I had a constant and strong desire to stab things, including my new car (which I love). I slept an average of 10 hours a night over the weekend, and I found myself staring at food commercials like a starved dog by a dumpster. They say the grouchiness and cravings go away as your body finds its “center” once again.

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What’s CRAZY though, I am eating awesomely. Shrimp omelettes, homemade lamb meatballs, carnitas bowls, sweet potatoes and homemade sausage, fresh salsa…you get the idea. I’m eating like a boss. And you know what? I haven’t had one upset stomach, bloating, etc. I have lost weight while eating a ton, my husband and I have gotten to cook together more since well…we have to, and everything going into my body is being used.

Side note: I have GERD. I don’t take meds for it, and I haven’t had one flare up since starting Whole 30. Its amazing considering I usually get 1-2 a week!!!

So, on Day 9, would I recommend it? Yes. But ask me again on day 20, I may be foaming at the mouth as we drive by fast food joints or ice cream parlors by then. : )

If you so choose to do the Whole 30, here are some tips to get you started.

  1. Plan, Plan, Plan- set a date in the future. Not tomorrow, you will fail.
  2. Buy the Book. It is worth it! When you have your day where you want to kill people, you will look up day 4 in the book and realize that’s entirely normal.
  3. Do it with someone. I know I need the motivation and help. Its hard being the only one eating natural, whole foods.
  4. Meal plan weekly and only buy what you need for that week.
  5. Do Online grocery ordering…it is torture walking through the grocery store seeing all the things you cannot eat.
  6. Use your Sunday or Monday night to cook a bunch of stuff for your week so you can rest later in the week. Especially prep for breakfast and lunch.
  7. Break it into 10 days at a time. Way more manageable than 30. Tomorrow will make my 10 day mark! That is success right there.

So should you whole 30? Eh, its not for the faint of heart…but yeah, maybe? Who knows?

I’ll be back with vol. 2 closer to the end of the 30 days. Check back to make sure I am still alive and haven’t stabbed anyone.

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Get it! You Deserve It!

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Today, if you are reading this, there is a good chance that you woke up this morning in your own home, drank at least 2 cups of coffee that you made with delicious and clean water, you then ate something sustainable for your morning before heading off to work, school, errands, etc.

( I am assuming most of you drink coffee before eating….just a guess)

Hopefully this morning, you didn’t get yelled at by a complete stranger or be discriminated against for the color of your skin or your sexual orientation. (however, if you are reading this and that did happen to you today, I am sorry. It should not have happened.)

I think most of us would agree that we deserve to have a home, food, and water. But why? Do we deserve those things because we worked hard for them? Well, I guess that means you didn’t deserve it when you were 6. Definitely weren’t working then. Okay, do you deserve it for doing the right thing and being a moral person? I mean even prisoners get those basic things. Maybe you deserve it because you’re an American and we are the best (cough cough sarcasm cough cough). Well there are many countries who are doing much better than us in terms of housing, food, and having clean water for their whole population, so I don’t think being an American really does it.

So, questions of the day:

  1. Why do we deserve the basics of life?
  2. What are the basics of life?

To answer question one, we deserve the basics because we are human beings. It really is that simple. All human beings have the right and deserve the same basics of life regardless of country, age, gender(s), race(s), beliefs, morals, etc. There is nothing I can do in this world that would make me deserve less than my neighbor. Nothing at all.

I can hear some of you going…what, you think a sexual offender deserves the same things as your kind, elderly neighbor? Yes. Bluntly, yes. As long as we are human beings, yes. There are certain intrinsic rights all humans have and they shouldn’t lose those rights based on someone else’s moral, political, whatever agenda.

 

So what basic rights or basic necessities do all human beings deserve?

  1. The right to dignity and respect. This means the right to live in a world without discrimination, sexual harassment, racism, abuse, exploitation, etc
  2. Clean water– to drink with, bathe with, and to cook with.
  3. Shelter. Housing that a person can rest in safely.
  4. Food that meets nutritional needs.
  5. Access to affordable healthcare that matches the level of care needed. Health care that doesn’t discriminate against the sick, elderly, women, etc A person shouldn’t have to fear getting sick, not getting meds, getting pregnant, long-term debt, or dying simply because they can’t afford GOOD healthcare.
  6. Freedom of Choice. I think a lot of people would disagree with me on this one. I often hear from people that if a person in poverty is on Medicaid or Food Stamps, they should have less options available to them. (they don’t say it that way, but that’s what they really mean) I’ve heard people say welfare recipients shouldn’t be able to buy junk food or pop. Because they need help financially, they should have to take classes on how to eat healthy and on how to properly use the healthcare system. My issue here is it seems being poor gives others a right to take away their choices. If one is successful and wealthy, its okay to eat shitty food leading to a heart attack since tax dollars aren’t paying for it. Instead they get insane tax write-offs for going on a charity booze cruise and getting totally smashed. We live in a world where many of us think that because we give something to someone for free, we then have the right to dictate what they do with it. Which, what does that say about us and what we think people deserve? Freedom of Choice is a basic right. I don’t think systemic poverty changes that. 
  7. Love and Safety. This is harder to gauge, because how do you measure love? But, I believe every child deserves and has the right to be kept safe, be nurtured, and to know they are loved. We know developmentally this is what kiddos needs. That doesn’t change as an adult, it just looks differently. I believe no child should have to wonder their worth or value, because I believe no human should have to. Humans deserve to be looked in the eye and actually seen.

I hope you read this list and thought “I have all of those!” That is awesome. You deserve it! Maybe you read this and could check off some boxes, but not all. I hope you fight for the pieces you are missing, you deserve it! You might have checked all the boxes but know others can’t: advocate! They deserve it. And maybe you read this and disagree, I hope you share your thoughts. I am one voice of many and would love to hear what you have to say.

 

 

It’s Time to Party!!

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Okay, I am totally switching gears on everyone. So far my posts have been more on the emotional, reality check side of life. Today, I am going to stray into the “let’s have fun and throw a party” side of life…literally.

Summer is upon us. Warm days. Long nights. Friends who sometimes stay way past their welcome: you know who you are! I get really excited about summer. I love warm weather, water, being outside…and I love throwing a kick-ass party. You can ask anyone who knows me….I throw a damn good party.

Maybe you’re reading this and you think…”I’m introverted, I hate parties.” New flash, me too! Our issues:  the mood is off, the amount of people we don’t know, the unknown of how to make so many people comfortable, and the lack of escape. You extroverts might be thinking, “Doesn’t everyone just have fun at parties…why would I need to plan?” Everyone isn’t as comfortable as you. Chances are there are introverts, ambiverts, and extroverts at a party. Their needs and likes warring with one another. I can help with that. There some basic rules, pointers if you will on how to throw an excellent party that every personality will love. Here we go!

  • Have a theme.

    • I don’t understand the point of a theme-less party. This is important because it gets people excited. They start thinking about the party before they arrive. They also take a certain ownership of the party when they have to dress or bring something according to theme.
    • Also, as a host, this is so helpful. You can easily decorate, plan, make games all around your theme.
    • Speakeasy Party: old time music, fake cigars, cocktails, people dressed in 20’s garb, dancing, lounge area, etc. DONE.
    • Batman Party (yes I threw this for a grown adult): Yellow and black plates/decor, people wore superhero shirts, Joker Juice, DC comic labels and signs, etc. DONE
  • Decorate: 

    • Maybe this is a super chill party with no huge theme. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to decorate!! But having a theme helps!
    • Pick a color and run with it. Make everything black and white. Use teal plates. Set out colorful mason jars with straws.
    • Put fresh flowers everywhere
    • The easiest thing you can do here is use your dinnerware and food to decorate. Intentionally set your plates out, have a theme to the food or cocktails, buy cute straws, set sparklers in a mason jar, arrange the cups with name tags.
    • Label your food or drinks. This simple item goes along way to classing up a party.
  • Create independence for you and your guests: 

    • Have things for your guests to do that aren’t a group game or require host initiation.
    • This helps the host not have to entertain.
    • It helps the guests to party at their own pace. 
    • Examples: Set up yard games outside, have an art table, write in a scrap book, create an event #hashtag so people take pics and post online
      • If you decide to to a group game, it needs to be something that fits your crowd and theme. Science trivia might not be the best idea at an outdoor party. Volleyball or a scavenger hunt might be better options.
    • As a host, know in advance what you want to be responsible for. Are you making drinks or will you leave out recipes? Do you want to host a group game part way through or are you mingling all night? Plan for what you feel comfortable doing, and then only do that.
  • Mood Music: 

    • I hate going to a party or hang out that doesn’t play music. Honestly, it doesn’t make sense to me. Those awkward spaces, the lack background noise, and the overall discomfort when music is absent makes my introverted self go crazy.
    • SO PLAY MUSIC. and be intentional about it.
    • If you are having a batman party…don’t play James Taylor. Play fun music, maybe 90’s when we all grew up watching batman. Don’t play rap music at a speakeasy party. ya know?
    • Music sets the tone for your party. So pick accordingly, take that extra 30 minutes to make a playlist, and let it rain.
  • Have a Photo booth

    • Everyone just loves them and they are so easy to make.
    • Go on Pinterest, get some ideas, and make one for under $20.
    • People love taking pictures of themselves and feeling special. Check and Check.
    • If you don’t have someone designated to take pics, that’s ok, leave a selfie stick or just let them figure it out. They will.
  • Don’t Do It All Yourself

    • It is okay, in today’s party climate, to ask your friends or attendees to bring things.
    • When I throw a party, I usually commit to either making food or providing drinks and ask guests to bring the opposite.
    • If people have fun games, applicable party decor, extra chairs, or a table, I ask them to bring it. A party doesn’t have to be expensive.
  • Get a Co-Host

    • This is sooooooo helpful! Hosting a party alone sucks. Everything falls to you, and you probably are exhausted half-way through.
    • Spouse, partner, friend, whoever…throw a party with someone and split the duties. You will not regret it. (Unless you get into a huge fight and never talk to each other again, but I’m going to guess that was about to happen no matter what.)
  • Invite the Right People

    • You do not have to invite everyone you know to your party.
    • Invite the people you want there, actually enjoy, or who you want to get to know better

The bottom line is to be intentional about the party you throw. People will remember it, have fun, and probably look forward to the next one. The little things like colors used, music being played, and entertainment options will take your party to the next level. See below for some fun party themes and pictures.

The Black, Gold, and White NYE

 

The Roaring 20’s (Murder Mystery)

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Batman!!!

 

Dude, Let It Out.

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About a year ago, I had an epiphany. It had been a pretty crappy week, and I was either too busy or too tired to really comprehend how I felt about it, let alone actually feel what I was feeling about it.  I sat down on our little L-shaped couch and started scanning through all the movies. Not sure what I was in the mood for, I just assumed that one would jump out and scream “You want to watch me, yes you do!!”

Well the jumping, screaming movie I landed on was “P.S. I love you.” Yeah….. I have a bad week and decide to watch one of the saddest movies ever made. ODD…or stupid. You pick. (If you’ve never seen the movie, see brief summary at end of blog)*

About 20 minutes into the movie I just start bawling my eyes out. I literally had to pause the movie because I was crying so hard. And no, I wasn’t crying at the movie. The sadness of the movie had catapulted my suppressed emotions into action and finally allowed me to grieve my week and all that I had experienced. (It was at this point my husband came home. He thought someone had died.)

The epiphany: There are things we can do to help our body and emotions process and feel so we can move towards health.

You see, I clearly needed to cry. My body and mind were aching for it. I felt so much better after getting that out (minus the stuffy nose and red eyes).  I didn’t realize how tense and tired my body was feeling until I cried. Afterwards, my body felt lighter, relaxed, and relieved. I imagine some of you reading this are thinking, “Yikes, she’s a mess. I just get over things and stuff them down. That works for me.” or “Good for her, but I don’t get emotional.”

griefThe thing is, our bodies carry our emotions whether we allow ourselves to feel them or not. According to an article on NPR, just having an emotional thought or response triggers parts of our body. Stress will be manifested in the gut or chest. Anger often creates tension in the arms and hands. We carry emotions in different areas, shame for example, literally stays in the body’s core. People carry the emotion of shame in their core. Can we let that sink in? Imagine stuffed shame…where does that sit in the body? Happiness on the other hand spreads warmth throughout the entire body…people talk about feeling all tingly when falling in love. That is because our body reacts to emotions.

So what happens when we stuff our emotions or don’t give ourselves time to process what is coming up for us? According to Familydoctor.org and many other experts in the field, here are some physical side effects that emotions can have on the body, especially when not dealt with:  ulcers, high blood pressure, loss of appetite, overeating, addictive characteristics, development of an addiction, lowered immune system, stiff neck, sexual problems, insomnia, headaches, excessive tiredness etc. The list goes on and on. I bet most of us can point to something on this list that we currently have, have had in the past, or have been cautioned about. Just because you refuse to feel it, doesn’t mean it isn’t affecting you.

People have this false belief that they get to pick and choose which emotions to feel. The lie here, is people believe they can squelch all “negative” emotions and only feel the “good” ones. If we continue to stuff or ignore one emotion, we are lessening our ability to feel all the other emotions as well. If we never let ourselves experience full grief and sadness then we won’t actually feel full joy and happiness. We have stunted our mind and body’s ability to feel emotions.

We experience emotions all day, every day, and the problem is, we have been conditioned to only show and express the ones that feel good, the ones that are acceptable. If you are excessively happy or joyful the majority of the time, you will never be called emotional, but if you are showing your sadness or grief the majority of the time or even twice in a year, you are called emotional. How is it that only people who are in touch with and express all facets of their emotions are called emotional, even though joy and happiness are also emotions? What we are really saying as a culture is that only certain emotions are acceptable to feel and show.

WHO got to decide what emotions are acceptable for us to feel? AND, since we live in a world of cultural and societal norms, what do we do with all these other emotions? Because stuffing them isn’t working. Letting them build up to a disaster surely isn’t working. We become resentful, walking zombies, reactive, and unable to make deep connections because we don’t even know how we truly feel.

14051642_892375536893_2995524260551460566_nI get it, we all want to keep our jobs, so showing anger in the workplace, maybe not great. I also get that if you sat in class and cried all day long, you may be sent in for a psych evaluation. There are norms and appropriate places to deal with things…but we have to deal with them.

SOOOOO here are some ideas on how to connect with, engage, and feel your feelings so you can relieve what’s happening in the body and ultimately live a healthier life.

 

Engaging Anger: 

  1. Punching bag
  2. Breaking glass (This should be done somewhere safe, and please clean up afterwards). (Also, goes without saying…don’t throw someone else’s belongings…like the person you’re mad at)
  3. Running while processing
  4. Take a walk or hike
  5. Journal (Writing what you’d like to say or how you really feel can really help get it out, instead of taking it out on someone you love)
  6. Go yell and scream somewhere (Preferably where none of us have to hear you)

Engaging Shame: 

  1. Talk about it with someone (This is the hardest one. Shame internalizes, so we have to talk about it, or it stays)
  2. Make amends with someone if necessary
  3. Self-care. (Something that is loving towards self. See my article on ‘Self-care’ for some ideas)

Engaging Grief and Sadness: 

  1. Put on a sad movie. Nothing helps me cry or feel grief more than a sad movie.
  2. Journal or do art to work through pain
  3. Take a walk
  4. Bubble bath
  5. Reach out to a safe person to talk to about it (Ask for help)
  6. Listen to music that either is sad and encourages crying OR listen to music that helps you feel comforted and wrapped up. Cecie’s Lullaby by Steffany Gretzinger is the song for me.

Engaging Stress and Anxiety: 

  1. Breaking glass can feel great here as well
  2. Deep breathing and grounding
  3. Ask for help with whatever is stressing you out
  4. Process with a friend or family member
  5. Exercise or yoga
  6. Get a massage
  7. Acknowledge what you can and cannot control in the situation. Let go of what you can’t control.

Engaging Happiness and Joy:

  1. Share it!
  2. Record it through video, writing, picture, Facebook, etc
  3. Say “thank you” or express your joy to those around you
  4. Engage in self care and activities that feel good for you. (Who said you can only take care of yourself or splurge when you feel crappy?)
  5. Meditate on it and let it sink in to your body

The thing with ALL of these, is you first have to own what you feel. “I feel angry, so now I will do…engage…etc”

Hope you get out there today and feel how ya feel, no apologies. : )

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*P.S I Love You- Long story short. The husband dies early in the movie, but leaves behind love letters for his wife. These letters help her to grieve, send her on adventures, and ultimately lead to healing. However, they also trigger extreme grief as the wife journey’s through the grieving process and deals with his absence in her life. The movie is great despite the sad theme, as it has lots of humor and Irish music.

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Codependent Raindrops

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Its Day 2 of driving across the United States. We somehow thought it was a good idea to pack everything we own, including our dog, into a U-haul to move from Washington state to Ohio. Those 40 hours spent in the truck gave us ample opportunity for endless thoughts and imaginings. It created space for a little daydreaming and reflecting. Here is one of many thoughts:

It is hour 16 of driving, and it has been raining or snowing for the entirety of that time. I am riding shot gun as my husband is as determined as the rain to drive the whole trip. My dog is wedged between us on the floor, and I notice he keeps inching closer to me with every bump and turn. His wet nose is resting against my foot, and I’m both disturbed and comforted by the warmth of his breath. I could move my foot, but its being used to stake my claim on the floor space in front of my chair. He’s a sneaky dog…I just know he’ll take over the second I move my foot.

Our truck sounds like a whirlpool- I can hear”shhhhrrrrrr” from the rain outside while also hearing “t-t-t-t-t” from the shaking of our U-haul. It creates a rhythm almost comforting despite the cramped space and long hours. As I stare out the window, I am distracted by the racing rain drops. They are moving at what seems like warp speed, across the glass, blurring out any chance of seeing the Montana landscape. (not that there was much to see at that point). Two raindrops in particular catch my eye. They are racing side by side. Each doing there own thing and going so fast. I feel anticipation, like a dog right before their owner walks in the door, as I wonder who will get to the edge first. They are pushing each other as one inches forward and then another. They are dancing, waltzing upon the glass. My child heart aches in wonder.

It was so slight as the truck rounded a curve, but I felt the wind shift and the two drops collided. These two independent, racing drops of water collided into one fat, perfectly round drop. “No!” I thought to myself. All their fun was over:  their dance, their independence. They had collided into this big, wobbling orb, smack in the middle of my window. I continued watching as the once lively drops were now burdened and trapped by one another. They no longer moved quickly and wildly, but instead trudged along the window pane. The joy they had exuded separately was diminished to weariness as they were now intertwined. The drop strolled along until the edge of the window where it disappeared.

I felt grieved by what had happened. I felt a loss because I enjoyed the dancing rain drops, and I did not want to see them go and look so trapped. Because I was in a truck, driving endlessly, I started thinking about the raindrops and how they reminded me of people I see all the time. I watch thriving, mature adults live in codependent, burdensome relationships. I watch them lose what they need, who they are, and what they want, when they deserve to be living in health and freedom.  People trying to dance, not realizing they are tied to the other person, unable to move.

I imagine, when we hear the word co-dependent, we all go “Not me!” I know I have said that before, and yet I found myself doing the things found in books and articles on codependence. I have also observed that many people think codependence can only occur in romantic or familial relationships, and yet I have witnessed people struggling with it at work, with friends, children, at church, and with people in authority positions. Codependence doesn’t discriminate. People may only be vulnerable to codependence* in one area of their life or all areas.

Okay…so if codependence is common and people are affected by it more than they realize, how can we know if we are vulnerable to codependence? Great question! Some ideas: read a book on it, ask people who know us well, see a therapist and explore relationships in our lives.  Taken from both personal and others experiences, I created a set of questions below that may get the ball rolling. If you answer yes to any of these questions, you may be vulnerable to codependence in a relationship.

  1. Do I often not say what I am really thinking or feeling for fear of upsetting others?
  2. When someone is upset with me, am I unable to function in that tension? Am I a mess until it is resolved? 
  3. Do I make it my responsibility to keep my boss happy or stress free: I don’t go to them with what I need, I don’t actually say what I mean for fear of upsetting them.
  4. When I experience hurt feelings from someone, do I expect them to come to me to fix it, even though I am the one who is upset? 
  5. Do I get upset or feel controlled if someone asks for what they need from me?
  6. When my partner and I are in disagreement, I feel that we must think the same or come into agreement in order for there to be peace and harmony?
  7. Do I ignore what I need or not ask for what I need because I am afraid of how someone will respond? 
  8. Do I dislike my close friends having other friends or other opinions. I feel threatened by that. 
  9. Do I feel threatened if someone does something in a different way than I would do it? Example: raising children, recovery, wedding, budget, etc
  10. If someone comes to me with their hurt feelings (from me), do I often feel attacked by them?
  11. Do I say “sorry” even when I didn’t do anything wrong?
  12. Do I try to maneuver my spouse, friend, partner, etc into what I think is best for them, even when I have nothing to do with it? 
  13. If someone does not like a certain behavior or personality trait, do I try to alter it for them, even though it is not wrong? ( loud talking, reserved demeanor, laughing, crying, etc)
  14. Do I continue to hang around or remain in relationship with people who compromise my physical or emotional safety? 

If you answered yes to one or several questions, you may be vulnerable to codependence in a relationship. It may help to read that book** or reach out to that therapist you heard about. However, I am not your therapist or living your life, so you may not be vulnerable at all. I hope regardless, this post gets you thinking and raises awareness in your life or in the lives of those you love.

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*I do petition people to not label yourself or others as codependent. I like the phrase “vulnerable to codependence” or “struggling with codependent relationships.”, the other way can be very judgmental or stigmatizing.

** Book ideas: “Codependent No More” by Melody Beattie.  “Facing Codependence” by Pia Mellody,  “The New Codependency” by Melody Beattie.

Feeling Empowered Yet???

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I was recently talking to someone…a male identified someone who said to me “Doesn’t seeing Mylie Cyrus swinging around on a wrecking ball make you feel so empowered as a woman?”

Let me start this off by saying NO.  Seeing a half-naked or fully naked person swinging on a ball and chain in no way makes me feel empowered as a woman.* My mind was blown by this question and I started asking my own questions:  Do people really think that is empowering? Is that what men think a strong and confident woman looks like? Is that what women and young girls feel empowered by today? I only have my own experiences to draw from…I can’t speak for, nor do I represent women everywhere…so speaking for myself: no, I do not find that empowering.

It really got me thinking about empowerment. What famous women and cultural icons make me feel empowered? Who are those people I look at and see strength, beauty, vulnerability, and courage? Who are the women of this time that raise me up and call me forward?

This blog actually took me awhile to write. Not because it’s long or wordy, but because I really struggled with identifying women who empower me. Women who I look to as a beacon of strength and empowerment. After much thought, talking to others, and a little soul searching, here are women, alive today, that make me feel empowered. Make me feel inspired. Women that make me proud to be a woman.

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Brene Brown- She calls us to deeper and more wholehearted living. She asks us to be vulnerable in our lives and lives vulnerably. She empowers me to dream bigger and fall harder.

Susan Cain- Susan challenges mainstream societal views around introversion and what we introverts can do. She thinks differently and encourages others to see the other side of the coin. She is bold in her thinking and gives voice to many who didn’t know how to find their way through a loud and extroverted world. Thank you for challenging the status quot.

harry potterJ.K. Rowling- Harry Potter…need I say more? Well yes…why? Because Rowling not only writes beautifully and uses her gift to change lives, make people dream, and provide hope through story telling, but she also writes important characters. Real characters. Characters that fail, succeed, doubt, struggle, hope, form friendships, are smart, and are loyal. She also advocates for marginalized populations. Love it.

Meryl Streep-  Classy, outspoken, courageous, privileged, legendary. All words I would use to describe Meryl Streep. I respect her because she uses spotlight moments to raise up and call out others with privilege like her own. Most of us hold privilege and that’s not inherently wrong…its what we do with it. I like what she does with it.

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Sophia Bush– Some of you might find this an odd addition, but here is the thing: Sophia Bush calls BS on the harmful things in society affecting women: sexism, eating disorders, unrealistic beauty standards, etc. She literally calls their bluff. Sophia Bush speaks out frequently against companies like Urban Outfitters that has t-shirts encouraging girls to “eat less.” She has raised my awareness on certain things and I appreciate it. Way to call BS when you see it girl!

Jen Hatmaker– If you are reading this and a Christian, you’ve probably heard about Jen Hatmaker’s recent interview where she talked about privilege, race, and LGBTQ rights. Oh yes…she also talked about holiness. Many people were very upset by this interview. Well…I loved it. It is so hard to question what we believe, to admit we might be wrong, and to open up to other ideas even if they aren’t popular. So she is someone I respect and admire. She was willing to ask questions and find her own answers. She stepped into the uncomfortable.

Those are all the women you probably know of. But these are the women I know personally…Kim Hazlip, Caiggy Roth, Cathy Barthelmas, Jodi Main, Lindsay Davis, Casey Brett, Kathleen Aren, Noelle Cothern, Lindsay Webster, Abby Meysenburg, Tracy Mowery, Devin Mowery, Monique Hubbard, Kenzie Gentry, Delyse Lawless, Heather Lawless, Vicki Canan,  and so many more…the women in my personal life who show courage, compassion, drive, love, fierceness, joy, pain, and loyalty. The women who have raised me up as a woman. Who have bared their hearts and scars.

These are women, real women who make me want to be better, try harder, dream bigger, and rise stronger.

What women in your life empower you? What does empowerment as a woman mean to you? I hope you comment below!! I know I would love to learn about the awesome women in your life and who you admire…I’m sure others would too!

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*This article was in no way bashing Miley Cyrus. I find her humor, confidence, and joy all very refreshing.  She is a power house artist and a go-getter. I simply don’t find her nudity to be empowering to me…but hey, others might. You do you.

 

 

Our Castle

I create for the sake of creating. I create because I need to. I was inspired one day leaving therapy, as I remembered where we all come from. We come from children. Children who deserve to be protected and free. Children who believe in tomorrow. I went home and I wrote this short story…this snap shot. I hope you enjoy!

castle

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Our Castle

It was in that moment, with perfect clarity, that I could see all that we would have been. What we would have conquered had it not all been stolen away. I could see the children we were when our parents protected us and innocence was written on our faces,  before war ravaged our land.

He’s smiling at me like I am the sun after months of rain. I feel a yank on my arm and my hand is spirited away to chase butterflies. So swiftly and lightly we run through the tall grass and I hear music. I hear the music of our little kid laughter. It chimes like bells and squeals with delight.

There’s no purple and blue on those little faces. No scars around their ankles. They are free and untouched. I feel a warmth around my shoulders as his arm settles there. I turn my face towards his and he whispers, his breath tickling my ear, “I’ll race you to the top.” Before he can take a step toward our castle, I stick out my leg and hear a “whoomp” as he topples to the hard, dirt ground. “You’re on” I say and take off for our tree, our mighty castle.

My long golden hair is streaming behind me, my dress a blur of red in the wind, my lungs are full as I breathe in and out. The air is dancing and whirring, and above all that noise, I can hear him gaining. With a thud we reach the tree at the same time, and for the briefest second, our eyes meet: the grey in mine seeing the blue in his, and he winks. His mouth slightly curves up on the right and then I find myself in a heap on the group. He pushed me!

“Ha ha, two can play that game Muir! Catch me if you can!”  He yells as he shimmies up the tree grabbing each branch to pull himself up. Lucky for me I’m faster. I begin to climb. My hands run over the bark, and I notice its smooth from years of climbing. This tree knows my hands and feet better than anyone I think to myself, and I know this tree better than anyone too. Sweat is dripping down my nose, my red dress is turning brown as dirt smears all over it. I’m going to get in trouble when I get home, but I can’t let him win. I stop climbing and instead start swinging. Like a monkey,  I leap from branch to branch using my arms like ropes. As he sees me gaining on him, his belt loop snags. It was the small window I needed and I climb over him using his own shoulder as a step. He grunts with agitation and then joins me in our tower.

Air moves in and out of our lungs as we try to regain a normal breathing rhythm. The moisture on his face grabs his hair and won’t let go. I know I don’t look much better, but up here, no one cares. As we sit down and I watch my legs dangle at the top of the tree, we eat from our secret stash. It once housed toffees, and caramels, but now it only contains nuts and seeds. He pops them in the air and we try catching them with our mouths. I’m feeding the birds with how many I catch. Looking out over our little world he says “I like sitting on top of the world with you.” The smile that splits my face is like gold. In that moment with him, we were kings and queens, and we can do anything.
The vision leaves just as fast as it entered my mind, but I can’t forget. I can’t stop seeing us, and what we could have been, could have felt. Now I remember what I’m fighting for. I remember who I am fighting for and she is worth it. Yes, they are worth it.