Feeling Feminine

Today I come to you with more questions than answers.  Today I’m considering another one of my core desired feelings: feminine.

I spent a lot of time in college trying to grow comfortable in my own skin as a woman.  I was challenged to let go of the conditioning that I’d already undergone in my formative years.  I grew up with a mother that had pulled my hair into tight buns and told me that it hurt to be beautiful.  That message compounded with images of 90’s era Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera with their crop tops and toned tummies.  For as long as I could remember, I hated my body because it didn’t look anything like what I saw on TV or in magazines.  I was short and chubby instead of long and lean.  I though this made me less of a woman.

And then I discovered feminism and I started challenging the notions of beauty.  Despite my academic curiosity, I didn’t magically undo years of conditioning.  I still feel uncomfortable in my own body sometimes.  I struggle to celebrate and fully embrace my own femininity.

But feminism has changed my perspective on my life.  I love reading books that tackle women’s major issues as we struggle to carve out identities that allow us to live with dignity and agency in a world that still perpetuates patriarchy.  I recently read Bad Feminist, and although I don’t necessarily agree with everything that Roxane Gay espouses in her collection of essays, I did feel my passion for feminism reignite.  I have been a bad feminist in many ways.  But I do understand that the need for feminists in today’s world persists.

And so today I pose the following questions to my female readers: how do you create opportunities for yourself to feel feminine?  What books capture elements of your experience as a woman?  Are you a feminist?  Why or why not?  Do you see elements of patriarchy in your every day lives?  How do you response to instances of sexism major or minor?  Any responses will be helpful in guiding me toward creating more concrete methods of embracing my own femininity. 

Nourish What?

I chose the word NOURISH to guide 2015.  I chose this word because I want to spend the year taking care of myself.  I want to slow down.  I want to stop measuring success merely by achievement or productivity.  I want to be healthy.  I want to make time for exercise, wellness, smarter food choices, and sleep.  I want to dedicate time to the yoga practice that has been such an incredible and somewhat unexpected gift over the last several months.  I want to meditate every day.  I want to journal at the end of the day and feel good about my day instead of guilty for not getting something finished.  I want to be able to forgive myself for not measuring up.  I want to get out of my head.  I want to silence the inner critic and just be present in my own life instead of taking part in this internal battle.

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I want to nourish more presence in my life.  Nourishment is a slow process but it does require that I take the time to just listen to my body which does intuitively know what is best for me.  I’ve become so accustomed to silencing my body.  I’ve wandered around in zombie like states feeling like that was some sort of badge of honor.  I boasted about being tough and capable of working harder to do more in the hopes of being better.  But I am starting to realize that there are so many costs to chasing after perfection.  Now I’m slowing down and taking the time to listen to my body more.  Now that I’m meditating more regularly and running and eating more healthy, I’m realizing that I’ve really been doing myself a disservice.  I’ve been tearing myself to pieces for what?  Even in those zombie like states, I was never on top of anything.  I was chasing after the promise of one day feeling some semblance of control and power.  But I was going about it all wrong.

I come to you today feeling humbled.  I have so many great intentions for myself this year but I don’t have any concrete answers on how to make all of that happen.  Yet.  I’m a seeker.  I’m seeking the answers to the questions that swirl around this topic.  But every day I keep my eyes open eagerly soaking in the little lessons that life has to offer those who are paying attention.  And so every day I must be careful to pay attention to my own life to uncover those little nuggets of brilliance.

Today’s lesson was sweetly simple: “It’s the days when you don’t really feel like it that you gotta push through and show up.”  This came to me after my run.  I’m back to running 3x a week consistently.  I have been known to tell myself some interesting false stories about my newfound interest in running.  The inner critic tries to talk me out of running constantly.  And it’s the days when the inner critic is screaming the loudest that I end up having some of my best runs.  My better self knows this and embraces this especially when I do show up.  Today was definitely a win on that front.

So I’m still curious: how are you nourishing yourself in the new year?  How are you trying to increase presence in your own life?  What are some of the obstacles that make presence and nourishment difficult to find?

 

Checking In

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I remember starting the year off thinking that this blog would be my primary outlet for accountability, but I haven’t been checking in on the daily like I had originally envisioned.  I do want to change that.

But life has been good.  I’m in this interesting place where I really do feel good.

I’ve been running 3x a week again.  I’ve been going on more walks.  I’ve gotten really into audiobooks.  I’ve been respecting my need to practice yoga, to meditate, and to commit to mantra jappa.

I made risotto tonight while listening to The Beekeeper’s Apprentice and Zuko patiently stayed by my side hoping that I would drop him some scraps to snack on.  And somewhere amidst all the stirring, I felt myself remember that one of my primary intentions for this year is to create.  This is the one area that I have been neglecting.  All of that activity has been preventing me or distracting me from hunkering down into my desire to create.

And yet my mind is alway stirring.  Ideas area always filtering around.  Aren’t I constantly creating?  But I want to get words documented and I want to get words shared.  I want to make a mark.  I want to have something to show.  I want proof that my musings matter.  I want to ponder and discuss.  That’s why I started this blog.  That’s why I hang on to the dream of one day owning the name writer.

I’m not angry with myself.  I’m not frustrated.  I’m just making a decision to kick start that desire today.  I’m acting on the value of creativity and checking in.  I’m owning my journey that is imperfect and glorious and all part of my process.

 

A Moment of Gratitude

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I am slowly getting myself back into running shape.  After my first 5k last October, I essentially stopped running.  The race fell right after I had started my yoga teacher training and I frantically melted into a puddle at the idea of trying to balance the two interests.  As yoga teacher training is getting very close to its end, I’m discovering that I can do both and that the two actually compliment each other.

Today I had an awesome run.  I wasn’t especially fast and my mileage was far from extraordinary (especially for serious runners) but that endorphin boost from exercise made me really soak in the beauty of my life.  I’m only twenty-five years old and yet I have been so incredibly fortunate to have many of my big dreams come true.  I live in an amazing place.  I have a job that challenges me and brings me pure joy.  I get the opportunity to explore avenues of personal, spiritual, physical, and professional growth whenever I feel like it.  I’m cultivating my interests in living a creative life by writing on this blog and dabbling in other creative outlets.  I’m getting married to my high school sweetheart.  I leave near a family that supports and cares deeply for my success and happiness.

And that’s when it struck me: I am happy.  I have essentially made it into a stable adult life where I have options and control.  I get to carve out my days according to what happens to me.  And yet, I have been known to act whiny like my life is somehow happening to me.  My life hasn’t just happened to me and it isn’t just happening to me.

All the good fortune I’ve experienced has come from my hard work and determination.  Yes, I had help along the way from my wonderful friends and family but without my determination and ability to dream none of this would exist.  As I move forward in my year of nourishment, I want to remember to nourish active gratitude and recognition for all that has gone into creating this wonderful, blessed life I lead.

I encourage you dear readers to follow suit and celebrate something or someone you are grateful for today!  If you don’t have some sort of daily practice around gratitude, I would strongly recommend trying one out.

Discipline is Difficult

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I’m already five days into the New Year and I feel overwhelmed.  I’m trying not to let this feeling of great emotion cloud my optimism but I’m struggling.

A new year with new intentions is a great time to ask myself why I am feeling so scared and overwhelmed.

And here’s what I’ve come up with so far: I’m scared of underperforming.  I’m scared of being weak and incapable of discipline.  I’m scared of not meeting expectations.  I’m scared of missing out.  I’m scared of doing the wrong thing at the wrong time.  I’m frustrated that even when I plan out my day, I don’t manage to do everything I intended in the morning when the day looked so full of possibility.  I am frustrated that as I sit here typing this, I wish I had more time to get even more done.  Why can’t all the work I did today just be enough?

Deep breath.

I did meaningful, hard work today.  I put in hours of focused concentration.  I didn’t do everything but I did something.

I need to remember to nourish.  Nourishing myself means forgiving myself for whatever didn’t get done.  Nourishing myself means celebrating all that I was able to accomplish today.  I have to celebrate the successes instead of focusing on what has been left undone.  Tomorrow will be a new opportunity.  I didn’t choose discipline as my word for 2015 because more than accomplishment this year, I want to take care of myself.  Taking care of myself is more important than accomplishing some crazy feat every single day.  I can reach my intentions and feel my core desired feelings if I don’t get that one thing done today.  I will have even more opportunities tomorrow if I set up boundaries that protect my well being.

By the way, one of my many small successes was taking a moment to sit down and type this post.  Writing out these feelings is a form of nourishment.