Archive for the 'control' Category

17
Nov
14

the right to be you

the right to be youI have been on a hiatus of sorts.  It’s not because I haven’t had any thoughts, concerns or opinions about life.  I guess I just found myself coming up against the same roadblocks, questioning the source, perhaps a common one, of these consistent struggles.

Just the other night I was out with a beautiful artist.  I have seen her work many times and she is a kind-hearted, loving individual.  Yet I hear her say the very words which plague my own heart: can I do it?  Do I have any talent?  Am I beautiful?  I know the answer to all of these questions, but when we are alone with ourselves, we tend to create a comparison which always leaves us feeling less than.  Our society, especially American society, thrives on doing and results.  The expectations placed on us, especially women, make it almost impossible to find satisfaction and pride in oneself.

Society tells women that they must achieve an idyllic beauty which requires youth.  Obviously, this is impossible as we all age, but because so many others strive to reach this imposed rule, we do everything in our power to fulfill it.  Countless, beautiful, brilliant women of all ages with whom I’ve had the pleasure to know, have shared their fear of aging and remaining physically attractive.  The constant fear of gaining even a few pounds or showing signs of a wrinkle plagues their existence.

Then there’s the expectation that women should have it all; if they don’t have both a successful career and children, they disappoint someone.  Many women work hard to obtain an education and use it to compete in an unequal marketplace which not only expects them to give as much, but for less compensation.  Simultaneously, society also places pressure on women to have children whilst making it virtually impossible to maintain the same level of job performance.  Meanwhile, if they do give attention to their work, they may feel guilt or anxiety over their parental role.

As a result, society continues to place women in positions which inevitably cause them to seemingly fall short of its expectations in one area or another.  Personally, I’m tired of never feeling like enough.  No matter how much personal fulfillment I may find apart from society, as soon as I step off my island, I am reminded of my failures.

So how do we break this pattern?  How do we defy these expectations and create ones which build us up rather than tear each other down?  It is hard to walk this path against the grain alone and I don’t believe we are meant to go it alone.  Life is short.  Can we come together and simply claim the right to be ourselves?

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03
Aug
14

I’ve got you in my pocket!

i've got you in my pocketCan the pockets of our clothes reveal our self-perception and society?

Sitting in a movie theater watching the pre-show reel, my husband voiced his concerns for my cell phone.  All possible pockets on my person were bulging because I did not want to bring a purse for this event.  As a result, the only optional home for my cell phone was my back pocket.  This was quite worrisome for my husband who keeps his phone in his front pocket.  When he suggested that as an alternative in order to avoid crushing or breaking the phone (of course he assured me that this was in no way a reflection on the weight or size of my buttocks), I told him that it was impossible.

How is it possible that it should be impossible?  After all, he was able to put his phone in his front pocket.  When I revealed that the front pockets of my jeans were not equipped with large pockets like those on the back, he appeared shocked and confused.   In fact, he stuck his hand in my front pocket to see/feel for himself.  Scandalous, I know.  However, we were not thrown out of the movie theater and continued our discussion.

“Sexist pockets,” I said jokingly.  Can such a ridiculous thing exist?  But it got us thinking about why clothing is made the way it is made.  Everyone’s body is different; shape, size, age, function, etc.  However, designers have discovered a way to classify and label clothing according to a specific standard. The questions that follow are:  who chose the standard, how was it determined and why?  Throughout time the ideal form for the human body has changed.  Has the human body changed drastically over time?  If so, have bodies changed due to some form of adaptation to the environment or in order to accommodate or mimic the trends imposed by society?

Whatever the answers may be, the clothing of our present society reflects certain expectations of different kinds of bodies.  Why do some bodies need or deserve large front pockets and others do not?  Or one can take the opposing perspective and ask why are some bodies are burdened with large front pockets and others are not?  Why are some fabrics used for one body and not another?

Perhaps the most important question to ask is this:  are we allowing society to fit us into their predetermined pockets or are we choosing to fill whatever size pocket we want with who we are?

12
Apr
14

feeling too much

feeling too muchCan you feel too much?

Is there a point where you can feel so much that you just have to shut it off or down?  You’re so overwhelmed by an emotion that it defies all logic and even blocks out the truth sometimes.  But sometimes it’s the truth of a reality that we want to block out, so perhaps feeling is a defense mechanism.

I’ve been taught that we should always be in control of our feelings.  That it isn’t healthy to allow emotion to lead or sway us; one must come back to “reason.”  However, there are so many people who also say to follow your heart.  What does that really mean?  Is following the heart really a sentimental say to trust your feelings?  And if so, isn’t that contrary to being in control?

There are times where I know the truth and my brain is shouting it out but my heart refuses to hear it.  Instead, I start feeling a heaviness and longing which fills my body with a white noise, preventing me from hearing anything the rest of my body has to say.  At times I can choose not to act on the emotion or release it, but others times I open my mouth and a bunch of stuff spills out in a way which usually has no previous thought behind it.

So where’s the balance?  How do we follow our hearts logically?  Is that even possible?  Will we forever face the battle of logic vs. emotion within ourselves and society?  Neither way is wrong or better; they both live inside each one of us, some just sway to one side more than another.  But how can we value that in each other and ourselves whatever way we swing; letting ourselves feel too much if we need to?

04
Apr
14

whatever power

whatever powerWhatever.  We hear that one word thrown around quite a bit these days in a careless manner.  But what if it could be used as something to empower us?

Recently I’ve been using that word quite a bit in order to deal with stress.  When I’m overwhelmed and don’t know how I’m going to get to the next week or even the next day, I’ll throw my hands up and say, “whatever.”  However, the meaning of this word changed for me during a feedback session at one of my theatre classes.  One of the characters was extremely powerful and displayed it with their forceful interaction with the other characters.  I was advised to show that character’s power by having them behave in a more aloof and unaffected way;  the logic behind it was explained like this- because the character was powerful, they could have a “whatever” attitude towards things.

This seemed contradictory to me.  “People who say ‘whatever’ don’t care.  Where’s the power in that?” I thought.  But that’s how “whatever power” was born.  My husband coined the phrase, so I give him all the credit.  Suddenly, the whole meaning of “whatever” was transformed, becoming a word of power.  No longer did “whatever” mean whatever; instead it meant that I have the power to choose to let go of something and not let it worry or drag me down.

I shared this recently with a friend who had a lot of pressure at work.  She struggled with delegating things because she cared so much about the results.  However, her health was suffering for it and she started adopting the “whatever” attitude in order to deal with the necessary changes she had to make in order to relieve some of her stress.  Unfortunately, she still felt badly because the “whatever” attitude made it seem as if she didn’t care which couldn’t be further from the truth.  Once she realized that using “whatever” could be viewed as powerful, she felt so much more empowered about her choices and no longer felt guilty.

For me, this “whatever power” has enabled me to let go of things I couldn’t release in the past, especially those things I don’t have power to change.  Ironically, as I just shared with a friend today, it’s made me feel more in control over things I can’t control.  The power comes with acknowledging that though I care, I am intentionally choosing to let go, thereby liberating myself of the responsibility and any regrets that might come based on how things turn out after I’ve let go.

Does that sound like power to you?

 

27
Mar
14

power of choice

power of choiceWe always have a choice.

This truth is a difficult idea to grasp at times.  Especially when one feels cornered.  Have you ever felt so overwhelmed by uncontrollable events in your life that intersect all at once?  That’s how I felt today.  And I couldn’t see a way out.

On one side I had the pressures of school, wanting to finish well while struggling with the dreaded group project; adjacent lay the last minute preparations of a trip back to where I grew up after having been gone for four years; starting to box me in on the other side were pangs of grief as I continue to miss Sam; and finally, the last and most difficult thing overwhelming is the reality of my friend’s stage four cancer diagnosis.

As I shared all of my anxieties with my friend, I stopped myself.  After hearing all that I just spewed on her, I realized what I had done.  I totally broke down and told her to forget everything I just said; telling her that in the big scheme of things, none of these things will keep me from being there for her because she is the priority in my life.  I didn’t want her to hesitate or think that I was too busy for her to reach out to me if she needs me.  If anyone in the relationship was feeling like she had no choice, it was her, not me as she faces the greatest battle of her life.

Later, another friend reminded me that despite all of these seemingly uncontrollable and huge events coming to a head in my life, that I still had control.  That I made the decision to work hard in school; I made the decision to visit the area of my youth; I made the decision to grant myself permission to grieve as long as I need over Sam’s loss; and I made the decision to love my friend no matter what happens.  These are active choices that I have made-not random circumstances which are now threatening my freedom.

This is my life.  These are my choices.  And nothing and no one can corner or box me in unless I choose.

24
Mar
14

do over

do overWhat would life be like if you could do it over again?  Would you want to do it over again or was once enough?

I think we can all agree there are things in our lives that we would like to alter and wonder what things would be like now if we would have said yes instead of no, no instead of yes, or had simply blazed our own path.  What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you imagine changing the past?  So many memories flood my mind – ones full of pain, fear, despair and emptiness.  But part of me has come to accept all of those experiences as what has shaped me today and made me stronger.

It is because of those things that I can’t “do over” that I have learned what is important.  To value life – this day- because it may be the last and you can’t turn back time.  I’d love to save my husband from his accident; save my friend from cancer; save my dog from cancer; save myself from my depression.  However, looking to the past can be dangerous and “what if’s” deadly because they steal the present and poison the future.

Instead, I’d like to make an intentional effort to live each day like it is the one day I do get to do over and over again – like in the movie Groundhog Day.  Make it the best day that it can be the first time around.  Of course it won’t be perfect but that’s not what the human experience is all about, is it?  And I know life certainly hands us many surprises along the way which throw us off the path of perfection.  So why not enjoy the ride?

We may not have the power to do it over again, but we do have the choice to live and love today.  And that’s worth doing over and over and over…

11
Mar
14

on the road to self assertive

on the road to self assertive“Come on!  Be more assertive and go.”

This was a phrase that I heard in a very unexpected place – on the road!  That’s right, as I am driving, in the normal 2-5mph traffic along a highway, I hear someone at a crossroads shout this to the person in front of them trying to turn into traffic.  Not only was if funny to hear this while driving, but the way the person said it made it even more laughable.

As you know, you expect to hear certain things on the road.  Not so nice things.  That’s why it’s called road rage, not road tea party.  But in this case, it sounded more like a cheer leading squad or an encouraging, bordering on impatient whine.  The person wasn’t yelling or faulting the person’s hesitancy, however, they were also choosing words that wouldn’t fluster or anger the person.  It was a persuasive suggestion.

How many times do I wish I could say this to myself!  “Be more assertive and go talk to that person!”  “Be more assertive and stick by your decision!”  “Be more assertive and tell them how you feel!”  Unfortunately my self-talk ends up sounding more like a person honking their horn behind me causing only anger and humiliation.  Also like road rage, I end up taking out my frustrations on the wrong person instead of being more assertive by confronting the issue at hand.

There are times to be silent and times to be assertive.  One can only hope that at the right time someone will be there to cheer me on.  Ideally, that someone will be myself!




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