Sometimes, We Create Our Own Box


It’s been a while since I’ve written, and it feels a bit strange to be tapping away at the keyboard again, but I want to make sure that this blog stays relevant and updated as much as possible–and plus, I know that you guys must miss me terribly. ;o)

There are so many things that I could discuss right now, but something that has been on my mind today has been the concept of staying inside the box–coloring inside the lines–following the recipe exactly.  No matter how you say it, the concept of keeping up with society’s expectations has forever been a a sticking point with free spirits and a never-ending hamster wheel for devotees.

Yes, as I have realized the past couple of weeks, sometimes it’s not society’s expectations that are keeping you prisoner, but your own.

For example, I never felt like I had pressures on me to go to college or get a high-paying career from anyone around me (which obviously worked as I chose teaching as my profession–the big bucks called me).  However, now that I have chosen my career, I simply cannot see myself doing anything else.  Not just because I love my job (which I do–most of the time), but because the thought of trying something new is legitimately terrifying.

A couple of weeks ago, I tagged along with a friend to a meeting with a big time producer about a movie that he wants to have created.  I was introduced as his assistant, and I turned out to be the person the producer talked to the most, giving notes and pointers, and calling me the “MVP” since I was so organized and on top of it (shameless self-promotion).

That experience made me think–I could be damn good at producing.  Or at event planning.  Or at representing people.  Or any other myriad of careers where organization and communication skills and not being an asshole allow you to shine.

The point is, I have simply never allowed myself to think about other career options because I had stuck myself in a teacher box.  I went to school for education, therefore I must stay in education, and I couldn’t possibly do anything other than teach children.  Yet I am the only one who is keeping me in that realm of thought.

A second example of this is also fairly recent; I used to go the to gym faithfully, after school, at least 4 days a week.  The past three months I have stepped in the gym perhaps four times, focusing instead on going on runs or walks.  I have been enjoying this immensely.  Yet there is a part of me that is insisting that I return to my previous habits, as I am a GYM PERSON.  I don’t do endless amounts of cardio-I am a WEIGHTLIFTER!

Again, however, this is only me talking to me.  No one else gives a shit (pardon my french) whether I lift weights once a day or once a month.  And perhaps it IS time to switch up my routine–change is always good for the soul.

Sometimes, the things that we tell ourselves that define us are good things, such as being a caring person, or a good friend, or a responsible adult.  But if we have a part of ourselves that could possibly be changed or opened up to new and exciting possibilities, don’t keep that experience from yourself simply because you have erected the cardboard walls around you all on your own.  Boxes have their moment of usefulness, but they certainly shouldn’t stay around after that moment has passed.

For me, one area that I have been stubbornly seeing cardboard on is this blog.  I have a pattern that I follow: publish once a week, make sure that the posts are around 1000 words, and make sure that it always includes a life lesson.

However…it’s been 2 1/2 weeks since my last post, and no one has died…no one has commented about it….no one really seems to care.  And the 1000 word goal is only a goal in my head; everyone else would probably be happier, honestly, if I wrote less so they could read it faster.  And as far as the life lesson?  I still like that aspect of my writing but would anyone really care if I peppered in a humorous piece here or there?  Or practiced my fiction skills with a short story?  Or simply vented about my day?

This is my blog, but it doesn’t need to fit into a box.  And with that declaration, I am going to stop writing with only (gasp!) 800 something words on the page, and I’m going to tell myself that it’s alright.

What about you?  What boxes can you break today?  Grab that hammer and go to town–I promise you, not only is it not as scary as you always imagined, but it’s completely liberating.  You got this!

The Power of Love


With all of the heated aftermath of the Valentines Day massacre still swirling around the atmosphere, I have been seeing multiple different perspectives come forth.  The ones that have stuck with me the most, however, are the ones that demonstrate the power of love, either by its presence or its absence.

One video in particular that stayed with me was of a man who was reading a pre-written speech, filming himself in a bathroom mirror.  He revealed that he, too, might have been a school shooter if he had access to guns, simply because he felt unloved and left out.  His life circumstances sucked, and his experience at school did nothing to build him up, but rather everything to tear down what little he had left.

As a teacher, I see several students like this on a daily basis.  Many of them may not be severe cases; friends that are outside of school, loving families, a super-resilient kid, all of which can be the deciding factor between going haywire and just feeling momentary, normal bouts of sadness.

But there are some kids who don’t have that.  Children with parents who outright ridicule and hate them.  Children with parents who are so wrapped up in their own lives they don’t notice when their children begin retreating inward.  Children who then come to school and, because we as a human race are sensitive to the energy other people put out, have problem after problem there as well.

Even I have found myself naturally avoiding certain students or people because the vibes they give off are so off-putting I feel the need to protect my personal state of being.  Yet it only takes a small bit of light to dispel darkness.  If we keep the need in our minds to SPREAD the positivity after it has been cultivated in our hearts, we can do a lot of good.

The power of positive love is demonstrated most harshly when we look on a life where it has been conspicuously absent.  Babies who do not get cuddled and held simply do not grow and/or are in actual danger of dying.  Senior citizens who don’t get visitors are noticeably more depressed than those who do.  Even a garden, when neglected, is overgrown with weeds.

Love is a powerful force, subtle when it is present, but alarmingly potent when it is absent.  We should make it our mission to make sure that everybody who shares a moment of our lives feels a least a small morsel of love from us.

Whew….just thinking of the amount of effort and presence that would take is exhausting!  But like anything, repetition lends itself to ease. Not to say that there won’t be days when you fail….but consciously thinking about it will dramatically improve the amount of positivity you are able to spread, not to mention the benefits you will feel personally.

And the effort is well worth it.  I am reminded of the power of love each time a student writes me a note, or tells me that I’m they’re favorite teacher, or comes up at the end of class for a hug.  I know that I am not the greatest teacher in the world; my lessons can be boring, my planning is sometimes rushed, and I don’t always give the feedback to my students’ writing like I should.

And yet, I will forever and always be proud of the types of relationships I can have with my students because, being energy-sensitive human beings, they can TELL that I love them.  As much as they drive me nuts, I love being able to spend time with them and make an imprint on their lives.  And they naturally are drawn to that no matter how  terribly long the minutes in my class may seem.

So I turn to you:  What can you do in your life to ensure that you are properly using the power of love?  What are the things that get your positive energy flowing?  How can you harness those awesome vibes and not only hang on to them for yourself but spread them around to the people that you come in contact with?

For me, it’s usually the simple things: smiling a people you pass by (you’d be surprised how often you DON’T do this), putting a bit of extra cheer in your “good morning!” greeting, carrying on a small conversation while walking rather than walking along in silence.  Once you start thinking about ways to spread the love, it’s actually quite easy to interject into your daily life.

In my experience, the more positive you are, the more initial push back you will get from the energy that either is negative or that is used to staying in a neutral state.  I have had many people dislike me or my actions because they didn’t understand where I was coming from (granted, I do have a pretty strong personality, and this may also cause some backlash).  However, once people get past the tsunami force of my presence, they usually appreciate what I can bring to the table.

So you may, in trying to spread positivity and love, may experience some resistance.  I would encourage you to keep loving anyway.  The power of love is a marvelous thing, and you will be surprised at who or what you might influence.

How have you experienced the power of love?  Talk to me in the comments!

Dear Congress; Love, A Teacher


Dear Congress;

On Valentines day afternoon, one of my friends forwarded the news article to me and said “as a teacher, you can stop this.  And change the world.”  You know what article.

Oofda.  Talk about a tall order.  And I have enough faith in myself to know that I am constantly infusing my classroom with positivity and light, which hopefully DOES change the world…

But I only encounter under 200 lives a day.  That’s my sphere of influence right now.

Dear Congress, you impact the NATION.  Your laws or lack thereof send a ripple effect that can rip the shroud off the window and shed rays of light through our homes or tack it harder in place, hiding the glorious views of what could be.

Dear Congress, I’m going to be honest with you.  I’m starting to get scared.  I’ve heard of shootings all of the country, but it was always ‘somewhere else.’  That can give one a lot of false comfort.  But those places ‘somewhere else’ are buildings just like mine…classrooms where kids work and learn and goof off and make friendships and learn about heartbreak and experience their first taste of semi-independent life.  Hallways where thousands of feet walk, run, and dance.  Quads where laughter, tears, and music can be heard.  Familiar, safe places….until they are not.

Dear Congress, I know your job is tough.  I know there are things going on behind the scenes that are deemed too classified or too rough for the public to consume.  I know it sucks to be the bad guy.  I too have felt the the burning eyes ignited by unpopular decisions—taking away phones so kids can learn is never welcomed, nor is giving a failing grade ever considered ‘earned’ by the failing party.

But guess what, dear Congress.  That’s my job.  That’s why I signed up for.  My job is to teach, to love, to guide, and to influence.  How would our next generation turn out if I took all this power and responsibility I was given and simply…didn’t use it?  I have been offered countless amounts of money by students to raise grades, ‘forget’ about assignments, and/or let the class simply run amuck.

Is that what I should start doing, Congress?  My paycheck isn’t very big compared to yours, and an extra couple bucks here or there would buy me a couple round of beers on a Friday afternoon.  No harm, no foul, right?

But yet, dear Congress, something keeps stopping me.  Integrity.  Such a small word, only four syllables, yet the lack of it can cause complete and utter chaos.

If I haven’t yet convinced you, dear Congress, lets move our lens to a different sphere.  Responsible, caring, gun-owning parents teach their children about a gun’s proper use and keep them locked away when they are not needed.  You are the parents of the United States family.  You have required us to learn about cars before we can drive them.  You have enforced certifications before operating certain potentially deadly equipment.  You have even created a compulsory education system so that our nation as a whole is composed of semi-functional human beings.

And yet, here we stand, with at least seven (or more, depending on your definition) school shootings before the end of the second month in 2018.

Unfortunately, dear Congress, I can only only write down on paper cold numbers and facts and hope that you take notice.  I cannot present to you the warm blood that spilled from each victim’s bullet wounds.  I cannot ply you with the last few heartbeats of someone’s child, someone’s partner, someone’s father as they lay dying in the hallways that, once familiar and comforting, seemed alien and harsh as their spirits left their bodies.  I cannot display for you the constant sobs of a mother whose son was ripped away from her with simple tap of the trigger.

There are some things that you can’t quantify.  But those are the things that should matter the most.

Dear Congress, I pray that you never have to lose a loved one to violence that someone else could have possibly prevented.  I pray that you never have to cower behind your (much more expensive) desks and send frantic goodbye texts to your loved ones.  I pray that you never have to look over and see your secretary or intern or fellow public servant staring at you with unseeing eyes as carpet beneath them becomes warm and sticky and red.

Dear Congress, I hope to God that I never have to experience this for myself.  But way too many of my colleagues around the nation already have.  I have gone over and over in my head the best way to barricade my classroom, where I should have my students’ huddle, and how I hope to God I’d be brave enough to take the shooter down if I had the opportunity.  I would bet my paycheck that every single teacher in America has strategized these things as well.

We have 1.4 million self-selected citizens in the military, where they are trained how to react to situations like this.  Yet we have over 3 million teachers who are attempting to plan the same thing, with no training and no choice.

Dear Congress, there is a reason I chose to become a teacher and not a member of the Army or Navy or Air Force.  I’m sure there is a reason you decided to run for office too.  I hope to God that those reasons are still on the forefront of your mind today, and that they are right and pure and strong.

Dear Congress, America needs you.  America needs you to stand up and keep us safe.  Not all heroes wear capes, but the heroes that have sprang up to help out at each terrible shooting are not bulletproof.

Dear Congress….this is your moment.  Seize it.  Please.

Love, a teacher.

Why Are We Here?


I think that there comes a point in every person’s life where they look up at the sky with its glorious array of diamonds and question: where did we come from and why are we here?

In my nearly 3 decades of life, I have come across multiple theories to answer that first question, and subsequently the second.  Growing up, the people I surrounded myself with firmly believed that we were created by the Christian God, and therefore our purpose in life was to serve him.  I have read of others who believe that we came from other gods, and our purpose in life is to follow those dogmas or bow to certain individuals.

Branching out from my youth, I have met people who believe that we came from a big explosion that happened in the universe by chance, and therefore we don’t really have a purpose in life.  Still other firmly believe that we are a product of an alien race and early humanoids, and our purpose is to raise our vibrations to reach what we once were.

If you know me well, you know I am the type of person who likes to KNOW.  As in, if there is a piece of information that I get wind of, I want to own that information for myself, no matter what it pertains to.  This includes the lowest forms of office gossip to the highest, most secret matters of the universe.

Yet, with all this thirst for knowledge, there comes a point where I have to admit to myself that I may NEVER know.  I may never know where we came from or who or what made us or why we are REALLY here.  Yet this does not give me an excuse to forgo my own answer to the second question: why are we here?

At the end of the day, I honestly don’t think it matters if there is a benevolent God, an Evil God, a Greek god, a Muslim god, or an alien spaceship that reveals itself to be the brains behind our existence.  Everything positive that comes out in this world has shown itself to come from one thing: pure love.

When a baby first comes into the universe, they are surrounded by nothing but love.  Even when they have nothing to offer the parents except a whole lot of sleepless nights and poopy diapers, there is still an inexplicable love that drives every decision that those parents make.

When we see the incredible creations of music, dance, song, and art, that beauty comes from a place of unadulterated love for that creative process. Songs that were written in a burst of passion for someone or something that that artist loved never fail to physically move something in our heart of hearts.

In the same vein, acts of service or sacrifice that lead to amazing results are always done out of love: love for a person, love for an organization, or love of a concept.  Onlookers can immediately tell the difference between actions propelled by love and actions propelled by any other emotion, no matter if the actions look the same from the outside.

Even in the less grandiose things of life, love always find a way to make even the smallest of moments shine brighter.  That last kiss before waving goodbye to your lover.  That hug that tightens right before your mom heads home.  That moment of beautiful silence when you’re watching the sunset with a close friend.

We as the human race have long placed a high emphasis on beauty.  Yet the most true, unadulterated beauty comes from a place of pure, unadulterated love.  When a man, wrinkled with time and experience, squeezes his love’s equally spotted hand and whispers that she is the most beautiful girl in the room.  When a flower finally blooms, and the gardener brushes the dirt off of her hands while beaming a smile that rivals the sun’s.  When a baby, wrinkled, red, and screaming to the heavens is placed in his mother’s arms and her heart leaps with happiness.  These are moments that are made truly beautiful by love.

And so in my perspective, gods, aliens, or giants be what they may: I say that our purpose in life is simply to love.

Love fiercely.  Love completely.  Love openly. Love giddily.

Choose love.  But not just any love.  Don’t choose the love of power, or the love of money, or the love of indulgence-that isn’t real love.  TRUE love comes from deep within our beings, and is multiplied when we find that true love in others.

Collect beautiful moments.  Remember that absolute beauty comes from absolute love.  And absolute love is something that every. single. person. is capable of, no matter how smart, physically strong, or experienced you are.

Regardless of how much money we spend to keep time at bay, it WILL eventually all come to an end.  And in that end, our love that we’ve spent will come back to us as a blanket that will cover our naked soul in its journey to whatever lies beyond.  How soft and thick that blanket is will always be up to the life that was lived before.

So for my money, I’m going to weave like my live depends upon it.  Because ultimately…I really think it does.


Fear: The Coward’s Choice


For those of you who know me well, you know that my life is never boring.  Spending my days with pre-pubescent children and my nights flitting around to football, kickball, trivia, friends’ hangouts, beach walks, and pretty much anything but sitting on my ass watching TV makes for a full and active life.

Usually when I tell people what I’m involved in, they invariably respond with “oh my god, you’re SO busy” or “I could NOT do all of that.”  Which isn’t a lie-the first part, anyways-there is rarely a night where I can just sit and relax.  Yet I wouldn’t have it any other way.  When I observe people around me who aren’t involved in hardly any activities, their life seems so very boring and monotonous-come home, make dinner, watch TV, bed.  Every. Single. Night.

When I invite some people to participate in some of the stuff I’m involved in (mostly the sports), I’m usually hit with “ohhh, I’m not good at sports” or “I just don’t want to commit to an every week thing.”  Yet they keep their daily couch commitment with no hesitation.

If you really break it down, all of their responses are ruled by fear: fear of looking stupid, fear of being bad at something, fear of commitment.  Yet it has been proven time and time again that you have to actively choose against your fear in order to make any headway in this world.

I know I’ve written about it before but holding yourself back solely based on fear is not only stupid (unless it’s the fear of dying keeping you jumping off a building-maybe listen to that fear) but it is SO limiting.  The best decisions that I have made have been spur-of-the-moment, and I have rarely wasted time weighing the pros and cons-I just jumped.

(This, of course, does not apply to what to order for dinner–I WILL make a Venn Diagram if need be).

However, lately I have been realizing that I’ve been holding myself back subconsciously from a couple of different things based on fears that I wasn’t allowing myself to acknowledge.  One of them being taking my writing to the next level: I have several novel and screenplay ideas that I want to see come to fruition, but I have yet to take the first step in actually writing them.  Another area is dating; when I find someone I actually like/talk to for more than a week, I always hold back a part of myself juuuuust in case he doesn’t actually feel the same way.

Yet in both cases, there is no real scenario where I would lose by going balls out.  What happens if I write a book and it never sells?  Or everyone who reads it thinks it’s shitty?  Absolutely nothing.  In fact, it will if nothing else hone my skills AND I can say I’ve written a book–which is totally bad-ass.

As far as dating, what would happen if I completely allowed myself to fall for someone?  If they don’t feel the same way back, the worst that will happen is I feel crappy for a few days or maaaybe weeks and then *poof* I’ll be back to normal.

Those “reasons” are hardly enough to keep me from going for it.  And think of the payoff!  I could write the next national best seller, or have a hand in the next blockbuster movie.  I could find the love of my life and spend the rest of my days ecstatically happy.  Just going for it is the obvious choice.

So many of our fears are lions in our heads in and mice in reality.  Unless there is a real chance that someone will die or that you will lose your livelihood, you should never, ever make your decision based on fear.

Think about this: when you decide on a career, you *usually* decide based on what you enjoy doing.  If this is indeed the case, the probability of enjoying your job is quite high.  However, if you choose your career based on fear-fear of not having enough money, fear of having a ‘lower’ career, fear of going off the beaten family path-you will most likely end up hating your job and consequently most of the hours in your day.

Making a decision based on what negative things COULD happen should never enter into your reality.  Think about what you love.  Think about what makes you happy.  Think about the possibilities of POSITIVITY.

If you’re ever tempted to hold back or shy away from an opportunity or just stay in the status quo simply because of what you’re afraid might happen, take a moment to give yourself a pep talk.  We only live life once, and there may not be a second chance to face your fears.

Go forth with courage, and make it a habit to choose out of love.  Love for yourself, love for the people in your life, love for the joy of living!

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood…let’s live.

Stronger Together


Earlier this month, I was invited to “like” a blogging page on Facebook from a former roommate and two of her friends.  I had been close with this girl for a bit early on in college, but we both drifted away and haven’t had any contact since (no animosity, just life).

When I glanced through the blog prior to hitting the thumbs up (my likes are precious, can’t just give them out like candy), I was surprised by how awesome it was.  The title of the blog is ’30 Day Gals’, and the premise is in their tagline: Inspiring Growth Through 30 Day Challenges.  Their blog has been live since November, and their January challenge is to face their fears; their posts this month have been both entertaining and inspiring.

I am ashamed to admit, however, that I felt a pang of jealousy when I was browsing.  Their blog is so much cooler than mine.  Wow, that’s such an awesome concept-why didn’t I think of that?  They have more followers than me.  This is really good…dammit.  Instead of being excited for them and happy that fellow female bloggers in roughly the same genre of blogging were doing well, I was twinging on the inside with envy.

Obviously, that isn’t cool.  There is more than enough room for more than one person to be successful, and the more people who are putting out positive vibes and demonstrating a growth mindset, the better!

And so, rather than sit here and wallow in those stupid feelings, I figured I’d link all of my readers to them so that they can check it out for themselves–it IS pretty cool, otherwise my initial reaction would have been more smug.

Taking a step back from my pettiness, I wonder what would happen if more people helped elevate their “competition” rather than try to force them down?  Obviously, if this were a business setting, I wouldn’t be telling my customers to go to ‘the other guy’ down the street because he’s so awesome, but when it’s just people sharing their passions, why is it so hard to lend our weight behind someone else who is also doing wonderful things?

As I’ve mentioned before in my blog, I like to listen to Andy Frisella’s podcast off and on.  One thing that he consistently mentions is how truly successful people like to see other people succeed as well.  It’s not about just ONE person winning, it’s about EVERYONE winning.

For some reason, whether it be hidden personal insecurities or jealousy or a lack of confidence in my own abilities, I have always struggled with being happy with other people’s success.  This is not something that I am proud of in the least-I want to be one of those people who cheers the loudest when someone else wins.  I want to be the person who is the first to say a sincere congratulations.  I want to be the person who gets excited by other people’s success because it means that I can be successful, too.

There is absolutely nothing to gain by putting yourself into a box and not allowing anyone else into your space.  All you are accomplishing is blocking your own view into what could be the catalyst for your own success.  If there is anything that my 28 years have taught me, it is that there is nothing that can be achieved 100% on your own.  Even if you are the only one doing the work, there are people there to be your sounding board, or to help you relax when you need to, or to simply provide inspiration for the final push.

So many times we let pride get in the way of our progress.  I remember during my childhood and high school years, I would not like my siblings see one ounce of vulnerability; I was the eldest child and therefore the example, unbreakable, constantly strong, and never needing any sort of emotional support.  While I thought that I was doing them a favor at the time, I was actually doing us both a disservice; it is only when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable that our relationships with one another can blossom into something fruitful.

Since I have made the (slow, still on-going) switch to letting my siblings see my inner weaknesses, mistakes, and honest feelings, I feel much closer to each of them.  There is something so freeing about finally letting people see the real you, no matter what their reaction may be.  Even if they reject you, it is at least a decision made from a place of authenticity.

As John Donne famously said, “No man is an island.”  An island looks pretty and enviable from the outside, but when you get closer you can see the blowing sand and lonely palm tree struggling to cling to the semblance of being picture perfect.  Yet when that one tree finally gives way, there is no other to take its place.

If you have a network, however, you have infinite resources from which to draw when your own reserves are low.  I feel that sometimes, we don’t utilize these resources enough.  Allow yourself the luxury of crying into someone’s shoulder.  Permit yourself to ask those experiencing success for advice and help.  Grant yourself permission to share what you’re really feeling.

All in all, we are stronger when we’re pulling in the same direction; if you try to pull against someone else, you’re really just holding yourself back.  As Jack Johnson so eloquently puts it, “yeah, it’s always better when we’re together.”  There is no glory in being the person who stepped on the most bodies on their way to the top.

Celebrate everyone’s wins.  Share others’ success.  Lend a helping hand even when unasked.  To leave you with one more quote from the beloved classic High School Musical, “we’re all in this together/and it shows/when we stand/hand in hand/make our dreams come true.”

Let’s roll, Wildcats; together!


#Timesup: A Challenge

“I have to ask, is your ass real?”  “Send me a pic of the magical booty” “I just really want your body” “I just want to see it”.
The above quotes are actual text messages sent to me from men either right out of the gate or after one or two dates.  It’s so common that it didn’t even occur to me to get mad about it until I told one of my friends about the latest guy, and how he wanted to “enjoy each other once or twice and then go our separate ways” after I told him that I didn’t really want to continue seeing him.  I rolled my eyes at the message and shared it for a laugh, but she got pissed.
“What the fuck!  What is wrong with men these days?  Whatever happened to a gentleman??” she fumed.  And her anger slapped me into reality.  These men could care less about me, who I am, or what I’m about.  All they see is I have a pretty face and a Kim Kardashian ass which is all they need to know to kick-start their lust and their bold messages.
The amount of talk surrounding the #metoo movement and Oprah Winfrey’s speech is sorely needed and long overdue.  To be fair, I don’t know of a woman who doesn’t appreciate a good compliment, but the amount of focus on our physical looks is complete bullshit.
I looked up a relevant definition: ob·jec·ti·fi·ca·tionnoun; the action of degrading someone to the status of a mere object.
“A mere Object”.  An OBJECT.  Non-human.  Non-living.  Non-worthy.  Most of all, replaceable.

We women have talked about stuff like this in the comfort of our small, intimate circles for forever.  “Oh my god, I got whistled at again when I walked by the gas station.”  “He totally grabbed my ass when we hugged” “I don’t really feel comfortable, but it’s my job so I can’t really say anything.”   It’s become a rite of passage; when did you first feel like the subject of a man’s desire?

And as much as it pains me to admit it, woman exacerbate the problem.  I can’t even count the amount of times I scroll through Instagram and see booty pics, cleavage shots, and suggestive eye winks staring me in the face.  I myself been guilty of choosing pictures to post solely based on the fact that I know my body looks good.

I don’t think that woman should have to hide their bodies, not by a long shot.  But there is a difference between classily showcasing your hard work and raunchily baring juuuuust enough where men feel confident sliding into your DM’s, knowing that they won’t be rebuffed.

Where has respect for ourselves gone?  I know without a doubt that the reason that so many men take the objectification route is because a lot of the time, it works.  I used to be the girl that thought she had to comply with whatever a man said just so that they would like me.  I found out the hard way, though, that once you give in, they simply move on.

Girls who give in have, sadly, become a dime a dozen.  And it’s not just because the amount of ‘easy’ woman have risen; how can we expect a girl to grow up knowing her worth when the only examples of men she has around her are the root cause of the problem?  When her dad is physically or mentally absent?  When she has 5 other half-siblings from 3 different women? When every other woman around her sees the objectification as status quo or worse, as a badge of honor??

As a gender, we need to give each other the strength to take a stand and demand the respect that any human deserves.  We need to applaud woman who have the courage to post makeup free and truly candid shots where their thighs might be squished or their face might be on their ‘bad side’.  We need to focus our comments more on how amazing their personality is or how awesome it is that they are helping out at home while their mom is recovering or how cool it is that they choose not to drink because it’s healthy.

Even typing out the above paragraph felt cheesy.  “Hurdy hur, I’m telling people to focus on inner beauty, I’m a nerd”.  THAT is how much sexualization has penetrated our inner selves–I can’t even urge my readers to focus on better things without feeling weird about it.  And that is exactly why all of this bullshit HAS to change.

And so, I have a challenge for myself, and a challenge for you:

Stop focusing so much on your body.  I know that you do.  There has not been one day that has gone by in the last 15 years where I have not had a negative thought about my body as a whole or in part.  Not ONE.  Where on earth has this thought pattern gotten me?  A rollercoaster of weight loss and weight gain, and even at my skinniest I never once was satisfied.  Focusing on your health and wellness and FEELING AMAZING should be where your focus is laser-pointed; the physical part will simply naturally follow.

Stop complimenting only the physical.  It’s so easy to do: “Nice boots!” “Omg I LOVE your haircut!” “You look so cute today!”.  These comments never fail to give a little ego boost, to be sure.  Yet how awesome is it if you hear something like “Wow, you are a really awesome mother.” “I really appreciated your help today, you made my morning so much less stressful.”  “I love how patient you are-you inspire me!”.

Stop comparing your body with others’.  This has become widespread with the rise of social media.  This girl’s bum is wayyyy more toned.  This girl’s hair is SO BOUNCY.  This girl’s stomach is so freakin’ flat.  But fast forward 50 years, and we are all going to be in the same state: wrinkled, grey, and playing Parcheesi with our fellow retired neighbors in our Florida condo.  Let’s seriously…SERIOUSLY…stop this bullshit.  It serves zero purpose.

Our bodies and our minds should both be at their healthiest state the majority of the time.  And when our inner self is full of positivity, the negativity from the world seems to have less of a hold on us.  The final step is to share that positivity with others, regardless of what might be thrown our way.  If WE start spreading how awesome we are rather than how sexy we are, the world will take notice.

Be positive.  Be helpful.  Be healthy.  Be YOU.  Inspire others to be the same.  And most of all, know that #timesup will continue to manifest into reality only if we relentlessly show that it is a valid movement.

Let’s do this!