Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Ladies, you've embarrassed strong women long enough.



Lately, there's a certain group of women consistently in the spotlight. Women who really love talking about their genitals. And, I'm just going to say it, they're humiliating the rest of us.

Where do these pussy hat wearing, free contraceptive demanding, abortion-on-demand glorifying, public breast exposing, poor me whining, nasty woman celebrating, genital obsessing, free bleeding females come from? And do they talk to their mother with that mouth?

These women revel in dropping the word "vagina" into any conversation. They brandish it like a talisman, capable of bestowing undisputed relevance.

Stephen Colbert: "Cate Blanchett, what is your moral compass? Where does kindness and humanity sit in a brutal world? Because those are important questions right now." 
Cate Blanchett: "In my vagina." 

That sounds uncomfortable.

The Apple Has Fallen Far


I'm baffled anyone - the media, the culture, Stephen Colbert - takes these women seriously. When did we start mistaking vulgarity, shrieking, and anger as strength?

Some will blame it on political viewpoints, but I disagree. My girlfriends with differing political or religious viewpoints than I are all classy and kind, funny and joyful, giving and intelligent and successful and just...cool. None wear genital costumes.

What women are actually facing is a crisis of identity. Being a female has become nothing more than a thought. Even a man can be one if he so chooses.

It's way past time for strong women to take our gender back.


The Strong Woman Manifesto


Strong women have been beating down the mangled, overgrown path ahead of me my entire life.

I've watched them face unbearable pain with nobility and charm. I've watched them struggle through financial destitution; the loss of marriages, spouses, parents, and children; the challenge of single motherhood with disabled children; the ache of loneliness; the heartbreak of infertility; the mortality of life in all its shades and tints and textures. And still they do it while enchanting us with their heart and laughter and that incorrigible wink of mischief.

I know what strong women look like because I know their names.

In honor of them, and because they deserve better representation than what they've been getting, here are 8 of the many life lessons they've taught me: 

Strong women don't feel sorry for themselves.

Bad things happen to strong women. It's actually the rough edges of their life that have shaped them into the curvaceous, bodacious Amazonians that they are.

That doesn't, however, mean they don't have their weak moments. It means they take those moments, recognize them for what they are, accept they come, soak in the unfairness of it all, then refuse to be defeated by it.

Strong women face challenges with determination, not self-pity.


Strong women respect their bodies. 

Self-respect cannot and will not happen without respecting your body. It's the outer presentation of your inner self. Pretending otherwise is a lie. So it must be protected. And honored. And clothed.

Do you want to be viewed as a chalkboard? Then don't expose your breasts to write messages on them.

Strong women use posterboard.

Strong women love strong men.

Dear Lord in Heaven, yes.

Please.

And thank you.

Strong men are beautiful creatures. We need more of them, not less. I've never seen a single strong female be intimidated by a strong man. In fact, they thrill her. Strong women know that strong men are their equal, while gloriously different, counterparts. They support them, encourage them, respect them, because she knows true strength never needs others to be less.

Only bullies push others down to feel powerful. Strong women admire strength wherever it is found.


Strong women control their tongue.

You don't have to say everything you think. Really, it's best not.

You also don't have to infuse your verbal dictionary with excessive descriptions of your reproductive organs. The women I admire in my life are always worth listening to because they always have something of value to say. And when they don't, they shut up.

They also keep talk about their private parts private.


Strong women welcome opposing viewpoints. 

Disagree with her. She really doesn't care.

A strong woman won't agree with people often. Because she has her own mind. She's a maverick, a pioneer, a free thinker. But she also knows she can gain insight and wisdom from hearing differing opinions...about everything!

What she doesn't do is send f-bomb tirades on Twitter when someone says something she doesn't like.

Want an easy test to tell a strong woman from a weak one? Disagree with her. Then stand back and watch.


Strong women are hard workers.

I've never known a single strong woman who doesn't want to work. Not a single one.

Whether their job is with a company, for their family, or raising the next great generation, strong women embrace the hard labor of life because they want the rewards - self-respect, education, discipline, achievement, better life, more options, sense of fulfillment, and a chance to show off, baby.


Strong women are survivors, not victims.

I've seen this too many times, in too many glorious ways, to believe women cannot and do not overcome some of the harshest circumstances in life. The strongest women among us never see themselves as a victim, even though society would gladly approve them for the label.

They refuse.

They want to be more, prove more, and have more than what victimhood provides. Yes, they have obstacles to face and tears to cry. But they face them. They cry them.

Then strong women go kick ass.


Strong women are more than their gender.

Being a woman is fabulous. And strong women are nothing if not fabulous. They love indulging their relational nature, delighting in their femininity, celebrating and displaying beauty, and exploring all the ways their minds work differently than men.

A strong woman takes great pleasure in being female, but she does not worship it.



The next time a woman starts dropping the v-word, tell her to stop embarrassing herself. And while she's at it, stop embarrassing the rest of us, too.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The storm your meteorologist isn't talking about.



It's March in the heartland.

That means it's time for Oklahomans to burrow into the ground with our water, flashlight, and battery-powered radio. Park our vehicles in a garage or under the awning at Sonic. Gather our family so everyone is ready to take the situation seriously when that fifth tornado siren goes off. Check into social media every ten minutes to write funny posts so it doesn't sound like we're scared. Charge our phone battery so we can record video when the floods come and hail falls.

And go one more round with Mother Nature to see who wins.

Of all our standard severe weather practices, the most important one is that we never let a tornado take us by surprise.

Which means we live in vigilant fear for one season and constant dread the other three.

Keep an Eye on the Forecast


We don't actually. We're just aware that bad weather does come. It always comes. We won't make it through this season without it so being shocked when it arrives would seem...well...stupid.

Spring comes every year. And bad weather comes with it. Every. Year.

You cannot separate the two, just like you cannot separate life from problems. The former doesn't come without versions of the latter. Believing we can get through life without facing disappointment, difficulty, challenges, or struggles would seem...well...stupid.

But I do it anyway.

You?

The only thing to fear is schizophrenia itself


I'm that person always warning others there are rumblings on the horizon. It's obnoxious. Trust me. But I can't seem to help myself. I see patterns in life my friends believe is a side effect from all those drugs I took in the 60s.

But I've been doing it forever.

My guess is it's leftover hypervigilance from a few traumatic experiences of my childhood. You don't get tossed off the roof of a burning house as a child and it not make an impression. Or get yanked out of a church building on an Easter morning while the floor is collapsing under your feet and not wonder if you're a marble and the planet is a Hungry, Hungry Hippo.

For years, my life was so exciting I didn't need an imagination.

Beware the Ides of the Other Shoe


Accepting that life can be an obstacle course has rarely been my challenge. For me, it's believing that life isn't only an obstacle course.

But if I can do it, anyone can.

Yes, we must face the harsh realities of life. When we don't, we become those people who sob on the front lawns of universities when we realize anything of value costs money.

Let's never be those people.

But acceptance doesn't mean obsession. Or fatalism. Even though the weather, our circumstances, life itself, often tries to convince us the struggle will never end. It does. It will. Just hold on.

Because, outside, the weather is going to do its best to convince us every day is nothing but another chance for the wind to draw blood. But that isn't the weather always and won't be the weather forever. As most Oklahomans know, not every breeze turns into a storm. Not every storm turns into a tornado. Not every tornado causes irreparable damage.

Eventually, the new norm changes into another new norm. The winds die down. The sky stops churning. The thunder rumbles off. And spring, each and every year, turns to summer.

So, while we wait for this tumultuous spring season to pass, whether that's the weather or our circumstances, I'll leave you with a blessing my grandfather often repeated that's been a comfort to me:
"May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace." Numbers 6:24-26
And I'll add: May your storm shelter be fortified, roomy, and have wifi.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

7 Unwanted Emotions and the Uncommon Advice To Overcome Them


You don't want to feel what you feel, but you do. You don't want this emotion, but you've got it.

Oh, I've been there, am there, was there, will be there again. Rotten feelings are normal and expected. But that doesn't mean we have to like it. Or succumb without a fight.

When negative emotions get their hook in, we need a way to yank them out.

Carefully.

Painlessly would be groovy.

At the very least, thoroughly.

First and foremost, I recommend prayer and honest, quiet, focused scripture reading. But, sometimes, we need to add some fresh perspective to the mix. We need someone not in our head to give us a new viewpoint.

Recently, I had a series of meet-ups with friends. All of whom are brilliant. Brilliant and interesting. A necessary combination.

After each conversation, it struck me how all their insight, advice, or just conversational thoughts - collectively - touched on a variety of negative emotions all of us face. And usually repetitively.

It was stuff too good not to share. So...my friends...here's some words from...my friends...on dealing with 7 of the most common negative emotions:


When you feel Defeated: 

“You’ve got to live your life. Not anyone else’s. That means it moves at your unique pace. And there’s nothing at all wrong with that."
I loved this freeing thought because I'm definitely at war with time. I have exactly one clock in my house. One. That's all I can stomach. But, even though time is rarely our friend, it doesn't have to be our captor.


When you feel Jealous: 

“The way I look at it, I still have something to work toward that others with more than me don't. I haven’t achieved everything I want in life, yet. That means I have desires that motivate me to keep moving forward and gives me something to look forward to experiencing." 

This thought reminds me of a scene in Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael, a movie my girlfriends and I watched too many times in our teen years.


Gerald Howells: Gosh, I want to kiss you so bad, Dinky.
Dinky Bossetti: It's good to want things.


When you feel Anxious: 

“Your shoulda’s will kill you. I should’a done this, I should’a achieved that, I should’a had that by now. That’s what builds anxiety. You have to stop setting these rules and simply accept your pace of life.”
Those shouda's really will kill you.


When you feel Confused: 

“We don’t see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." 
Acceptance is the first step to recovery. And clarify.


When you feel Disappointed: 

“When you look at the horizon, all you can see is a comparison of where you are and where others are. And you’ve got to let it all go. God wants to step in, but He’s waiting for us to move out of the way.”


That song from Frozen got stuck in my head for a solid four hours after.


When you feel Hopeless: 

“The relationship was dead. I’d given up. There was no saving it. But God showed up and, I tell you, it’s amazing what He can do.”
Hope until the end. Hope with your last breath. Life is simply too mean, too harsh, too cruel to face it without hope. And, make no mistake, holding on to hope may be the hardest thing you'll ever do.


When you feel Offended: 

“Don’t you need confrontation to face things you haven’t faced on your own?”
It's time for brutal truth to make a comeback.

***


I'll leave you with one of my own favorite quotes. I honestly don't know if I compiled it from a compilation of scripture and other quotes or I stole it verbatim. But it's awesome so I'll take credit until I'm challenged:

When you feel Despair:

"God loves doing the impossible because He's the only one who can." 



Until next week.