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Smile How You Want, When You Want

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Axel Muench/imdb

This lovely girl at left is Rowan Blanchard, a fourteen-year-old actress from a current Disney Channel show.

I saw last night that, according to an article on HuffPost Women, she gets a lot of flack from media and fans for not smiling more often. She has in response made a statement, simply saying, she’ll smile when she wants to!

I get it. Because why is a smile the obligation? Who is that important to, and for what reason?

My two daughters — just a bit younger than Miss Blanchard — have close-lipped, sweet smiles. And every fall, every year, the school picture photographers require that they bear their teeth for the camera, which is not natural for either of them on command. They end up feeling self-conscious, then unhappy with their pictures, and every year I resent those photographers for accepting nothing short of a huge, unrealistic expression based on what I can only assume are rote and rigid ideals, which don’t at all capture my girls in the way they want remembered. Again, for what reason?

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See? My girls are smiling. And beautifully, I might add.

Why can’t children — those in the public eye — everyone — choose for themselves when to smile and how?

It’s Simple: Heart and Mind

I have only a suggestion to share today, but I think it’s an important one.

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I’ve tried to go on and break this down, talk about what it means to do both, how we might accomplish a soft heart and a strong mind, the benefits, whether such things are inherent or fought for, but it’s not for me to say. It’s different for each of us.

We find our own journey of heart and mind.

Here’s to yours. And mine.

Loving Ourselves — and Our Bodies

Show me a woman with no insecurities and I’ll show you a cat with a dog’s personality.

Even those most confident and successful with self-image, I feel sure, see bits about themselves they pick apart from time to time.

My arms are flabby.

I’ve got to lose weight.

I’m not tall enough.

The pores on my face aren’t small enough.

My stomach is not sexy.

My ears are too huge.

My boobs are too tiny.

I’ve got a weird mole. A gap in my teeth. Hairy forearms.

And so on… These things are said under our breath, or are common in our thoughts, and they become more than detached observation. They grow big enough and strong enough to feel wrong, and to distract us from our greater beauty, and our wholeness.

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

We spend unnecessary amounts of time fixated on our blemishes, when in truth, we’re usually the only ones who absorb them.

Why are we so critical of ourselves?

Think about your daughters. Your sisters. Your best friends.

Does Becca Jane’s double chin overshadow her tried-and-true integrity?

Is Sonya’s Comedy Central-worthy sense of humor threatened by her overbite?

When was the last time you rolled your eyes at Tina’s thinning hair, or crinkled your nose because of Dominique’s funky toes?

Why should our own imperfections be so big? Weigh so much? We shouldn’t love ourselves any less, or be any less forgiving of our flaws than we are of our daughters’, sisters’, friends’ imperfections. It’d be pretty duplicitous of us.

On our favorite people we see tummy rolls, pock marks, wrinkles, with only detached observation. It doesn’t figure into our assessment of them, because we love them regardless. We love them for their loyalty, for their excellent listening habits, for never hesitating to help, for mad creative skills. Their giant blue eyes catch our attention. We ogle their gorgeous hair. We appreciate the softness of their voice, the strength they show when tested, the way they juggle so much in life like the best of experts.

We see our loves ones’ physical flaws — if even aware of them — as only a small part of their whole being. It’s part of their realness, that’s it, nothing more. And this endears us to them.

Who would Nina be without her trademark frizz? Would anyone recognize Sabrina if she laughed without the snort?

I would never want my girls to be as hard on themselves as I’ve been on myself over the years. One of my daughters has some warts, the other some scars from a childhood virus. These are physical flaws they’re aware of — much in the way I’m aware of the keloid on my ear, and the excess of my body that I see before anything else when I look in the mirror — but my girls are so much more than their “defects.” And so am I. None of those things should get a second thought from us. They add up with lots of other things to make us who we are.

Loving my girls for so many reasons, definable and not, and knowing the kind of confidence I want them to have as they come into their own, has taught me to go easy on myself. Why would I ever talk to myself in a way I’d never think to talk to my sweet girls or my dearest friends?

Why would you?

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” — Buddha

What We Should Have, What We Should Know

It turns out I’m one of those chicks who hangs onto things, like paperwork, for too long for no reason. Statements and receipts and printouts of interest. Stuff you keep because you just might need it, but then you never ever do.

During my family’s recent move this error of mine became all too clear, since I’d had several boxes filled with the stuff that we had to tote along. And so I spent a few evenings having a sorting-slash-shredding party. No better time than now to get rid of what isn’t absolutely necessary for record keeping, I say. (I’ve decided to change my ways from here forward, too.)

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Image courtesy of fotographic1980 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Among the papers I found something I’d run across some years back, made a copy of, and kept, I suppose, for inspiration or guidance. It was neat to reread the list, now that I’m on the downhill side of my third decade.

I give you:

30 Things Every Woman Should Have

and Should Know by the Time She’s 30

By 30, you should have:

  1. One old boyfriend you can imagine going back to and one who reminds you of how far you’ve come.
  2. A decent piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in your family.
  3. Something perfect to wear if the employer or man of your dreams wants to see you in an hour.
  4. A purse, a suitcase, and an umbrella you’re not ashamed to be seen carrying.
  5. A youth you’re content to move beyond.
  6. A past juicy enough that you’re looking forward to retelling it in your old age.
  7. The realization that you are actually going to have an old age—and some money set aside to help fund it.
  8. An e-mail address, a voice mailbox, and a bank account—all of which nobody has access to but you.
  9. A résumé that is not even the slightest bit padded.
  10. One friend who always makes you laugh and one who lets you cry.
  11. A set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra.
  12. Something ridiculously expensive that you bought for yourself, just because you deserve it.
  13. The belief that you deserve it.
  14. A skin-care regimen, an exercise routine, and a plan for dealing with those few other facets of life that don’t get better after 30.
  15. A solid start on a satisfying career, a satisfying relationship, and all those other facets of life that do get better.

By 30, you should know:

  1. How to fall in love without losing yourself.
  2. How you feel about having kids.
  3. How to quit a job, break up with a man, and confront a friend without ruining the friendship.
  4. When to try harder and when to walk away.
  5. How to kiss in a way that communicates perfectly what you would and wouldn’t like to happen next.
  6. The names of: the secretary of state, your great-grandmother, and the best tailor in town.
  7. How to live alone, even if you don’t like to.
  8. How to take control of your own birthday.
  9. That you can’t change the length of your calves, the width of your hips, or the nature of your parents.
  10. That your childhood may not have been perfect, but it’s over.
  11. What you would and wouldn’t do for money or love.
  12. That nobody gets away with smoking, drinking, doing drugs, or not flossing for very long.
  13. Who you can trust, who you can’t, and why you shouldn’t take it personally.
  14. Not to apologize for something that isn’t your fault.
  15. Why they say life begins at 30.

 

So, how do your accomplishments (as per this list) stack up? There are a few things I still need to do…

Do you think this is a fair list? There are some suggestions that don’t register on the scale of significance for me.

How else should we measure ourselves and our successes?

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See the original content HERE, courtesy Glamour.

Big Change, Simple Advice

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