Archive for September, 2008
So, here’s the deal. Love Your Body Day is 2 weeks away and my goal is to get all of you to sign a pledge to be your own body champion. Below, you’ll find The Body Warrior Pledge that I drafted earlier this year. Pledge your desire to champion yourself by hitting the comments section below, sharing with us which statement will take the most determination from you to embrace, and then signing off with your name (check out the comments– I’m first!). Then, send this link to all of your girlfriends who should also be championing themselves and start a mini revolution amongst yourselves. Twice a week, I am drawing prize winners from all of the folks who have signed the pledge. The first drawing is this Sunday so go ahead and get you and your friends in the drawing. And no fear: if you don’t win a prize the first time around, your name will stay in the bucket for the subsequent drawings!
The Body Warrior Pledge
Because I understand that my love and respect for my body are metaphors of my love and respect for my self and soul, I pledge to do the following:
To stop berating my body and to begin celebrating the vessel that I have been given. I will remember the amazing things my body has given me: the ability to experience the world with a breadth of senses, the ability to perceive and express love, the ability to comfort and soothe, and the ability to fight, provide, and care for humanity.
To understand that my body is an opportunity not a scapegoat.
To be the primary source of my confidence. I will not rely on or wait for others to define my worth.
To let envy dissipate and allow admiration to be a source of compassion by offering compliments to others.
To gently but firmly stand up for myself when someone says to me (or I say to myself something harmful.
To change the inner-monologue in my head to one that sees possibility not problems, potential not shortcomings, blessings not imperfections.
To give my body the things that it needs to do its work well: plenty of water, ample movement, stretches, rest, and good nutrition, and to limit or eliminate the things that do not nurture my body.
To see exercise as a way to improve my internal health and strength instead of a way to fight or control my body.
To understand that my weight is not good or bad. It is just a number, and I am only good.
To love my body and my self today. I do not have to weigh ten pounds less, have longer hair, or to have my degree in my hand to have worth. I have worth just as I am, and I embrace that power.
To recognize my body’s strengths.
To no longer put off the things that I wish to experience because I am waiting to do them in a different body.
To understand that a body, just like a personality, is like a fingerprint: a wonderful embodiment of my uniqueness.
We’re talking sex and parenting over at Fierce Women Dish. Join us there!
October 15th is Love Your Body Day. One day where NOW wants us all to concentrate on loving our body– not because of what it looks like but because of what it allows us to do. Between now and October 15th, we’ll talk about bodies and body image, turn up our noses to phony beauty standards and celebrate our own unique way of being in this world. And you’ll have the change to win some prizes for coming along for the ride. And if we’re going on a ride, well, then, we need some road trip music. So head on over to Itunes and check out I Can Rescue me, a soundtrack to female empowerment I created last year.
And mull over these stats, compiled by the folks at NOW.
- More than 80% of 4th grade girls have been on a fad diet (Social Issues Research Centre).
- The body type portrayed in advertising as the ideal is possessed naturally by less than 5% of females (Social Issues Research Centre).
- The average weight of a model is 23% lower than that of an average woman; 20 years ago, the differential was only 8% (Social Issues Research Centre).
- Each year the U.S. spends over $33 billion on weight-reduction programs, diet foods and beverages (HealthAtoZ.com).
All sorts of stuff going on this past week in the world of body image. Here’s some stuff I came across in my readings:
By Monica Herrera on Latina.com
Madrid Fashion Week Shuns Too-Skinny Models
Special Movie Premiere
with the producers
Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar
Marriott Charlotte Executive Park Hotel
Saturday, October 4, 2008 at 5:30pm
Sponsored by the Latin American Coalition and Community Investment Network
Question & Answer Segment with the filmmakers immediately following the viewing
Free and Open to the Public
Visit the sponsors websites:
Latin American Coalition – http://www.latinamericancoalition.org
Community Investment Network – http://www.thecommunityinvestment.org
So, there is an appalling urinal in Charlotte that has us fired up over at Fierce Women Dish. There’s also a lot of other great recent posts there, too, to check out. So bounce on over there!
Here’s another excerpt from the speech I gave at Ridgeview High School’s summer reading celebration last week in Columbia, South Carolina…
If there is just one thing that reading has taught me, it is to believe in the power of a single voice. That in telling our stories, in giving voice to that which seems small and that which seems enormous and everything in between, we begin to claim ourselves. And in hearing these stories we begin to become better, we expand ourselves into being even more than what we thought we were capable of.
It is so easy to be impatient with each other. To think that whatever we have planned to do next is so much more important than the person that is in front of us right now with a story to tell. When I was a first year teacher, I would arrive at school every morning at 6 am so that I could have a quiet hour before the first bell rang at 7:15. But about a month after school started, one of my students, John, discovered that I got there at 6 am and he began to come to my classroom every morning by 6:10. He’d come sit in his desk and talk to me. The entire time that I was writing notes on my board, collating papers, or recording grades in my grade book, John talked. I missed my quiet hour. I thought about telling John that I needed that time to quietly get ready or closing my door so he wouldn’t know that I was there. But something kept me from doing that. I’d like to say it was intuition. I think it was just that I didn’t want one of my kids to think I was mean. And then John’s dad called me. It turns out that John’s mother had died when he was a boy. “Thank you so much for talking to my son every morning,” John’s father said. “He told me yesterday that you have the types of conversations that he thought other kids have with their moms.” I was speechless. And you can bet that ever since, I have been grateful for every conversation that any one of my students wants to have with me. Being receptive to John’s stories—the ones he told me and the one that his father shared- made me an infinitely better teacher. Those mornings with John did not only impact him or me. They impacted every single kid that has ever walked in my door because John’s story made me want to be that person over and over again- for every kid that ever walked in my door. And that person is the finest version of myself that I can conjure up. There is not anything I wanted to do any of those mornings, it turns out, that was more important—for John or for me—than listening to his stories. I just didn’t know that yet when it first began.
I believe in the power of voice, yes, but, as John taught me, I also believe that we as people have a responsibility to give each other attention, to give each other respect as we unravel the meaning of our lives in the telling of each of our stories. Reading is one of the earliest ways that we can prepare ourselves for that act of unselfishness, for the act of patient listening that we must give to one another, for the understanding that we are each due. And it is also one of the first ways that we can experience new things.
Finally, I took matters into my own hands and made my camera talk to my computer again. If you are wondering what taking matters into my own hands looks like- well, it means that I stuck the camera in a drawer for almost 2 months and then took it out today to see if it was now willing to talk to my computer and not disagree. That’s my sort of technological problem solving. All this to share some very untechnological goodness with you.
BF and I planted the front beds this weekend, and they look glorious (well, glorious if one is not a green thumb). We spread mulch on top of them so they smell literally like poo, but they’re fabulous. It’s just a shame that I have to hold my breath to look at ‘em.
The orchid that I was given at my Hijas book launch party last year has bloomed again. I thought it was dead– because of my lack of watering it. Sorry, orchid.– and was about to toss it a few weeks ago when BF pointed out that it looked like it had a little bud coming out. Sure enough, it did and that bud opened last week. Now, it’s got another bud that’s thinking about lighting up our living room. Sweet!
And, finally, who doesn’t love some recycled yard art (well, maybe many of you don’t)? The goat was BF’s pick and the rooster (BF insists it’s a chicken but I am calling it a rooster) was mine. I had to have the polka dots. The rooster is right next to the gate to walk into our back yard and the goat is by the side door to our house in the ivy patch that my brother and I planted earlier this summer (check out the ivy behind the Billy Goat Gruff). But my favorite piece of yard art is this stained glass window I found this past weekend at a shop I just love. We hung it on our front porch, and I am crazy about it. It’s a gorgeous tree, and it sits right in front of one of our old oaks. Now, if only I could just sit out there and stare at it without wretching from the mulch!
Look at that cute man. That’s my papito. He’s just about the cutest thing there is in the world. But I am a little bit biased. Anyway, I spoke at a high school assembly in my hometown in South Carolina last week to celebrate their summer reading program. Here is an excerpt of my remarks
My family came to Columbia because of the army. My father was stationed at Fort Jackson and as an enlisted soldier, he didn’t make much money. But every single Saturday morning he and I did two things. We went to the grocery store together and then he took me to the library, allowing me to take as much time as I wanted to choose my books. I would leave that library each week with a stack of books that was almost too heavy for me to carry. And I read my way through every day of my childhood, coming to understand the world and what it had to offer. Reading created in me a thirst for knowledge, a desire to understand, and a love of listening to people’s stories—it is this that has allowed me to be good at what I have had to do in my life from battling my father’s cancer to keeping my students from dropping out.
If there is just one thing that reading has taught me, it is to believe in the power of a single voice. That in telling our stories, in giving voice to that which seems small and that which seems enormous and everything in between, we begin to claim ourselves. And in hearing these stories we begin to become better, we expand ourselves into being even more than what we thought we were capable of…
It is not the stories that I have heard before that profoundly change me, and I suspect that is true for all of us. It is the story that I hear or read for the first time that really has the possibility of altering my world. That’s why it is so important to reach for a book that is about something we would not customarily read. That’s why it is so important to sit for the telling of something you don’t want to hear.
When I was in tenth grade, my father made me go with him and my mother to Washington DC for veteran’s day. On a list of 1000 things I was willing to do that weekend, going to Washington DC for Veterans Day didn’t rank. I had a boyfriend. I had a job. Heck, I had homework. But nothing got me out of this trip to Washington DC and the Vietnam Memorial. I knew that my father was a Vietnam war veteran. I knew that he had done two tours and that his duty in the war was indescribable. And its indescribability was just fine by me. I had no desire to know about war, especially war with my father as a main character. So I was not prepared for DC. I was not prepared to arrive at the memorial and to have broken men all around me. I was not prepared for the oxygen masks, and the wheelchairs, and the amputations, but, most of all, I was not prepared for the tears. For the way these men- who gave their country so much- wept openly with one another. It was like they were being seen for the first time—like whoever they were back in their real lives was just an illusion—and this, this brokenness- was the truth and that the only people that could understand it were the people who knew the stories. And those people were fellow veterans. Maybe you have noticed this as you moved through your own life—that veterans have an affinity for each other that goes deeper than anything I have ever seen. The weekend destroyed the little bubble of understanding that I had of my dear, dear father but it also inspired me. I learned everything that I could about the Vietnam War. I read books and novels and watched movies and I became conversant in the defining event of my father’s life even though he never really talked about it.
I had no idea how important this would become almost fifteen years later when my father was diagnosed with an aggressive and rare lymphoma- a lymphoma caused by Agent Orange exposure. As I navigated my father’s healthcare, we could not help but talk about Vietnam because the war was the source of what we were fighting. Finally, all the reading I had done, was paying off. I could talk to my father about his experiences and understand. When I would bring him home from chemotherapy and the answering machine was filled with get well wishes from his fellow Vietnam veterans, I could put the name with a story. By being willing to take in as much as I could about the war, I was granted access to a part of my father that I had never known.
After the assembly, I went and had lunch with my parents. Over homemade vegetable soup and homemade tuna salad sandwiches (thanks, mamacita!), we visited. When my dad was helping me load my car (they can’t help but send me home with stuff, even now when I am a bonafide adult), he asked me what my speech was about. Inspired, I pulled it out of the folder and gave it to him, telling him he could read it if he wanted.
He emailed me the next day to say he loved the speech. All I could write back before breaking into tears was, “Oh good, I am glad you liked it. Thank you for taking me to the library every week. It’s the best gift I’ve ever received.”
Guest blog by Debba Haupert, Girlfriendology.com
Allison, Dana, Jill, Katie, Lisa, Amy, Holly, Terri … just some of the many reasons I started Girlfriendology. My friends mean the world to me. They’re my chosen family, my confidants and advisors, they make me laugh and sometimes cry, and they stand by me, like I do them, through thick and thin.
But where did it really start? (I get asked that a lot!) Maybe it was moving around so much when I was growing up. I always missed my girlfriends when we moved and wanted to stay behind to be with them. Perhaps it was college and my roommates and friends with whom I bonded, grew and learned life with.
But the specific point at which I recognized that I actually needed my friends wasn’t quite so fun. My college girlfriend Dana found out she had cancer. Then another friend, Allison got the same diagnosis. Fortunately both are fighters and strong survivors, but when that news first hit me – it hit me hard. It made me want to spend time with my other girlfriends – to learn from each of them how to care for my girlfriends who were facing fears I can’t comprehend. It caused me to appreciate all of them even more. And it actually made me stop to consider why my friends became so important to me.
So, I started blogging about it. I called it “Girlfriendology” and I wasn’t sure where it would lead, if anywhere. In doing some research, I came across a book titled: The Tending Instinct, by Shelley E. Taylor. She shares amazing findings that show that we actually need our girlfriends. These social ties actually help us be healthier, happier and less-stressed. Men and women are wired differently – we know that. This book shared what those differences are. One enlightening example – men deal with stress with a ‘fight or flight’ response. Women respond to stress with a need to ‘tend and befriend’ – we want to take care of our young/children and to be with our friends.
Through the discovery process, leaning on my girlfriends was exactly what I needed to do to survive. Along the way, starting Girlfriendology gave me a way of acknowledging my girlfriend gratitude and hopefully inspiring other women to recognize that too. Girlfriendology became the online community for women based on female friendship. It created a home for inspiration, appreciation and celebration of girlfriends. And, as it grows, women everywhere tell me amazing stories about their best friends and how their friendships are so special.
Do you have girlfriends that you appreciate? Have you told them lately? Any special women in your life who have gone out of their way for you and you would do anything for them? Celebrate these friendships on National Women’s Friendship Day (Sept. 21) or for that matter, any and every day of the year. Then stop by Girlfriendology.com and share your stories. Who’s inspired you? Tell them! In the process, you’ll inspire others, and then they’ll be better friends. We really can make the world a better place, one friendship at a time.
Thanks Allison, Dana, Terri, Amy, Anne and all the other wonderful women who have inspired me to start Girlfriendology and to cheer me on every day with your support and friendship.