what would you do?

I’m reading this book right now called The Frog Prince. It’s listed as a romantic comedy and I guess that’s what it is. It is pretty cute so far.

One of the characters is (or would be) a Prince of Austria if the monarchy still existed. He’s an “Almost Royal.” The Almost Royals get together once per year and party. Some of them long for the monarchy of wherever they’re from to be reinstated. Some have normal jobs. Some seem to be rich.

I guess my question is what would you do? You’ve lived a relatively normal life (except when you visit your country of origin) and let’s say the monarchy is reinstated. Do you go back? Would you want that life?

I never felt that the life Princess Diana led was very fairytale. I had dreams of being a famous singer or a movie star or probably even a princess when I was a little girl. I think most of us do at some point. But now, as adults, would you want that kind of celebrity?

Advertisements

words

I’m feeling stuck. I feel stuck in my writing. I feel stuck in my life. I feel stuck in my ongoing goals. I feel stuck making changes.

Two things that are making me think this morning, Maura’s words project. I like the way she is approaching desired feelings. I like it but I’m not doing it yet.

And Ally Bean’s thoughts on encouragement. She doesn’t understand the discouragers in her life and wants to be a more authentic encourager.

My first response to reading Ally’s thoughts was very much my usual. I know about the discouragers. I grew up with those people who believed that discouragement was motivation. Try something new? Let’s say, try a new diet. Those discouragers told me I would fail. They made sure I knew that I had always failed and I would fail again. This was motivating, they said. Motivating because I would try harder to prove them wrong. Which didn’t happen. Do we see a pattern that carries on to today? Does it work?

So I started thinking about what I need as far as encouragement goes. It’s still easier to look at what I don’t need. I have had the false cheerleaders in my life as well as the – what should we call them? The negative motivators? I don’t know. The false cheerleaders are nearly as bad. But they are very, very hard to describe. I think you know them when you hear them, but since I also know that I cannot always trust my perceptions, it’s possible that they are truly trying to be encouraging. Perhaps we can think of them as the “everything is going to be fine” group. That’s not realistic, that’s a pat on the back. Not what I need either.

What do I need?

I think encouragement begins at home. I think I cannot continue to flail at myself with the discouragement masked as motivation. I can’t continue to tell myself that I’m going to fail as if that is going to make me try harder. I already know it won’t. I can’t continue to believe I will fail if I am going to get myself to try at all. On the other hand, I can’t pat myself on the back and say “there, there, everything is going to be okay.” That is how it feels when I try to change.

I think I either have to live with things the way they are, to totally accept them, or do something truly different.

Perhaps Maura’s word project – a change of perspective.

I am, however, going to continue to work on my ongoing goals. I think they do make a difference. Change is just much slower than I would like.

lessons we learn, lessons we teach

Nearly a month ago – when I decided to stop being overly philosophical for the holidays – I wrote this:

The definition of female beauty – or the you can never be too thin mentality – is based on a male dominated society which seeks to repress women’s power. Or so some people think. I’ve got mixed feelings about this. I get where the idea is coming from but I’m not sure it’s still true today. But then again, when models are pre-pubescently thin and featureless is that a way of saying women should be children? Small, weak, powerless?

This is a big part of at least the beginning of When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies. I mean, I get that we come from a male dominated society, particularly looking at it from the early 20th century. But is it really reasonable to say that our issues with our bodies are “an outgrowth of a culture that makes women feel inferior” or is that a thing of the past?

Apparently I live in the land of wishful thinking. I want to believe that we are past that period of our history where women feel inferior. We don’t pass that on to our daughters anymore, do we? The world – at least within our culture and similar cultures – would agree with me, right? Women are equal, at the least, and certainly not inferior. Okay, so I am aware there is still a serious problem with pay equity. So, okay that part is still an issue. But I don’t want to focus on that part. I want to just skip ahead to fixing my own thinking.

But then I ran across THIS. It won’t let me embed the video but please do follow the link. It is so worth it.

This young woman could easily be my daughter. What would I be teaching my daughter, if I had one, with my fixation on weight and eating and seeing my size and appearance as a measure of my worth? What would my daughter learn about herself from watching me?

“You have been taught to grow out, I have been taught to grow in.”

I know you won’t all watch the video, so read the text but know you will be missing a vital piece. Hearing those words makes me cry. Hearing these words reminds me of the lessons I learned from my own mother.

Across from me at the kitchen table, my mother smiles over red wine that she drinks out of a measuring glass.
She says she doesn’t deprive herself,
but I’ve learned to find nuance in every movement of her fork.
In every crinkle in her brow as she offers me the uneaten pieces on her plate.
I’ve realized she only eats dinner when I suggest it.
I wonder what she does when I’m not there to do so.

Maybe this is why my house feels bigger each time I return; it’s proportional.
As she shrinks the space around her seems increasingly vast.
She wanes while my father waxes. His stomach has grown round with wine, late nights, oysters, poetry. A new girlfriend who was overweight as a teenager, but my dad reports that now she’s “crazy about fruit.”

It was the same with his parents;
as my grandmother became frail and angular her husband swelled to red round cheeks, round stomach,
and I wonder if my lineage is one of women shrinking,
making space for the entrance of men into their lives,
not knowing how to fill it back up once they leave.

I have been taught accommodation.
My brother never thinks before he speaks.
I have been taught to filter.
“How can anyone have a relationship to food?” he asks, laughing, as I eat the black bean soup I chose for its lack of carbs.
I want to say: we come from difference, Jonas,
you have been taught to grow out,
I have been taught to grow in.
You learned from our father how to emit, how to produce, to roll each thought off your tongue with confidence, you used to lose your voice every other week from shouting so much.
I learned to absorb.
I took lessons from our mother in creating space around myself.
I learned to read the knots in her forehead while the guys went out for oysters,
and I never meant to replicate her, but
spend enough time sitting across from someone and you pick up their habits-

that’s why women in my family have been shrinking for decades.
We all learned it from each other, the way each generation taught the next how to knit,
weaving silence in between the threads
which I can still feel as I walk through this ever-growing house,
skin itching,
picking up all the habits my mother has unwittingly dropped like bits of crumpled paper from her pocket on her countless trips from bedroom to kitchen to bedroom again.
Nights I hear her creep down to eat plain yogurt in the dark, a fugitive stealing calories to which she does not feel entitled.
Deciding how many bites is too many.
How much space she deserves to occupy.

Watching the struggle I either mimic or hate her,
And I don’t want to do either anymore,
but the burden of this house has followed me across the country.
I asked five questions in genetics class today and all of them started with the word “sorry.”
I don’t know the requirements for the sociology major because I spent the entire meeting deciding whether or not I could have another piece of pizza,
a circular obsession I never wanted, but

inheritance is accidental,
still staring at me with wine-soaked lips from across the kitchen table.

Lily Myers

I learned I should be invisible. That I should never ask for what I want. I learned that I should not push my own needs forward. That I should sneak. That I should hide. That I should not appear to eat or want to eat. That I should jump on whatever the latest fad diet is. I learned that people would judge me based on how I looked or how clean my room was. I learned that the superficial was more important than what was inside me and that intelligence was not valued.

Why did I get fat? Did I rebel from those lessons? Did I simply find that the sneaking food, hiding what I ate, was somehow satisfying? I shouldn’t take up space in your world. I should be ashamed of the space I need. And where did my mother learn those lessons? From her mother? Is it the mother’s fault? Is it easier to blame the women for me than to accept the inheritance from a male dominated society?

Things are changing, but they aren’t finished. The past isn’t gone. It lingers in our beliefs about what we should look like, how we get our needs met, who we want to become. It lingers on in little girls believing that Barbie is the ideal and that they should let the boy win when they play tennis so that the boy will like them. Do we still teach our little girls that lesson?

I’m afraid we do.

I don’t have a daughter. If I did, my obsessions, my behaviors, would still teach that lesson. I’m not good enough unless I’m beautiful. What you – society tells me is beautiful is what I will believe.

I don’t want to focus on those things as I strive to change them. I want the easy answers. I want to learn to eat when I’m hungry and not when I’m not but never have to address why I don’t even know when I’m hungry. Never have to think about why I need this space around me. I have created this space. I have padded this body. Don’t look at me, don’t judge me, just stay away and I know you will because my body will disgust you. Maybe I will never understand this part but I hope that it doesn’t mean I can’t change the behaviors.

I hear, by the way, people saying that they only want to teach their children how to be healthy – to eat healthy, to respect their bodies. And there is not a thing wrong with that. I just fear that there is a very fine line between encouraging healthy behaviors and reinforcing fat shaming and body hatred. I don’t have the answers, however. I haven’t even found them for myself yet.

Oh, and by the way, if you enjoyed listening to the poem – the next one is well worth listening to as well. In fact, if you like this kind of slam poetry, just keep letting them play for a while.

42

I have decided to ban Deep Thought from the blog for the remainder of this year. I just want to relax and have fun for the next couple of weeks.

I have been thinking and if you want to spend a few odd minutes thinking, here are some of the things I’m thinking about.

  • The definition of female beauty – or the you can never be too thin mentality – is based on a male dominated society which seeks to repress women’s power. Or so some people think. I’ve got mixed feelings about this. I get where the idea is coming from but I’m not sure it’s still true today. But then again, when models are pre-pubescently thin and featureless is that a way of saying women should be children? Small, weak, powerless?
  • Maura posted THIS about what does she want to feel like – as opposed to what do I want to look like or what job do I want to have. I like the idea and I plan to give it some thought.
  • The new Kellogg’s commercial about fat talk … I feel really torn. On the one hand, the superficial message is something I agree with and I’m working on. But after our various discussions this fall, I can never look at just the superficial message. Kellogg spent years telling us that if we could “pinch more than an inch” we were too fat and even while they are telling us not to fat talk, they’re selling us diet products. That’s what they want to do, sell us diet products. So they’re shaking our hands and telling us not to “fat talk” but hey, buy these products to help you lose weight. It’s confusing me.

And now, back to trying to relax. I’m off to Cassville to do the end of my shopping and to drop off gifts at the nursing home for tomorrow’s party. Tomorrow I’m back there to go to Family Night. I really should stop and get that x-ray today. We’ll see. Gotta get stuff done while the weather is good.

I hope everyone out there is doing well and finding time to relax and enjoy the season. Be careful out there.

what do you think?

I have this friend… This is a friend that I truly care about. Every so often, I get the silent treatment from her, usually after I have said something that doesn’t entirely agree with her.

You know how you have friends who you just agree with no matter what they say? I think of them as fairly casual friends and they are people that if you don’t just agree with them, an argument ensues. Your role in the friendship is to take “their side.” I am okay with that but I don’t consider them to be close friends. It’s not that I don’t care about them, it’s just that my role doesn’t feel very genuine. Plus, I rarely discuss my own concerns with them. The fact is, most times this type of friend will respond to your issues with their own opinion, with which you are expected to agree.

Come to think of it, why do I consider those people friends? Well, we probably have other things in common or something.

But then there are friends that you really care about, that you think are worth more than a pat agreement. These are the friends that you are willing to say, usually in a gentle way, “have you considered this other perspective?” And sometimes, you’re even more direct and say something like, “Don’t you think maybe you’re over-reacting?” Not because you want to start an argument or insist that they agree with you, but because you care enough to give them that other perspective. Maybe you’re wrong but maybe it’s worth thinking about.

This is a friend that I care about. She’s going through some difficult things but from my perspective, she tends to react very predictably to the situation. I try to be supportive but I am also willing to say once in a while, “What about if you look at it like this?” Sometimes she agrees, sometimes she thinks I’m funny, sometimes I get the silent treatment.

Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I should always agree. is that more supportive? It’s just that that feels so phony. I appreciate it when my friends call me on my bullshit. It’s not like they are that direct, but they point out when I’m feeling sorry for myself or I’m stuck in seeing something from one direction. Not everyone wants that, I get that. But it feels very all or nothing. A not very genuine constant agreement or risking losing the friendship by being seen as not supportive.

But maybe I should move this friend into that “always agree” category. It’s hard to know. So far, eventually she returns and we never mention whatever was going on. I have tried a couple times and asked whether I said something that upset her. No, she always says, she was just busy. Maybe she was but it feels like a pattern to me. I would very much prefer that she just tell me if I say something stupid, if she feels something I’ve said is hurtful or whatever. I don’t intentionally hurt people and if something I’m doing or saying is causing her pain, I’d rather not do it.

Is there something in between? Can you not say something that disagrees with your friend’s perspective without feeling like you are just constantly patting them on the back? Would it be better to just ignore those things? Not say anything at all? It seems that being a good friend is harder than I thought. Maybe I’m just doing it wrong.