Rip off the mask, tear down the walls. Show the world your beautiful self!

Posts tagged ‘women’

Aging Gracefully With Gratitude

Selling Their Wares By Making Us Feel Ugly

Turn on the computer or the TV, listen to the radio, open a magazine, even see a passing bus, and many carry the same message: “We know you’re embarrassed by the normal signs of aging on your body and face. We’ll sell you a product or service to erase those signs and let you live a happier life.”

It begs the question: Why should my perfectly normal signs of aging make me unhappy? We should be looking on those imperfections; those signs we’ve used our faces, our bodies, our hearts as indications of a life well-lived.

Yet too many people buy into this crap. I have countless friends who, though the weather might hit triple digits and like me, don’t let a little heat keep them from dancing, are miserable in their long pants because they claim to have ugly legs. Most of them, just from what I see inside those hot, confining pants have perfectly nice legs. They’ll say “I’m not like you. You have beautiful legs. Mine are {fill in the blank with: fat, crepe-y, vein-y, cellulose-y, or other body shaming adjective}.”

Good grief! In the first place, it’s a bar so the lighting is low. In the second, if they could see all the flaws I carry proudly and without shame, maybe they’d be kinder to themselves…or maybe they wouldn’t. They’ve conditioned to believe they’re supposed to hide their imperfections.

It makes me sad to see and hear that, but even more when it’s perpetuated by other women (I refer to the self-professed beauty consultant who was quite offended I didn’t take her advice to cover up my own, in her words, awful legs). We should be each others’ best friends and staunchest supporters. Instead we are often the first to put another woman down.

Wearing the Signs of Aging Proudly

Worse still are all the women who are behind these purported miracle creams to erase everything from age spots and unwanted hair to cellulite and crepe-y skin. They should be ashamed of themselves for making their sisters feel bad about themselves in the first place.

Those age spots they want to erase are badges of honor for a life well-lived. Creases in face, neck, hands, and chest celebrate a woman who has ridden the waves of life supporting her family and friends with love and compassion. The gray in her hair is the thousands of hours she sat up waiting for a child to come home, a diagnosis to come in, or simply holding the hand of someone so they would feel less alone and scared. And the crepe-y skin is a woman who had more on her mind and in her heart than remembering to apply moisturizer every 5 minutes. She was too busy seeing to the needs of the people in her life she loved, and continues to love.

We don’t need magic potions or pills to change who we are—what we’ve become with time. If you ask me, we need to wear it all proudly, and be grateful for every minute we get to wear it. Too many are gone long before such imperfections begin to appear.

I continue to applaud the young people I see who let no one tell them they’re too fat or too thin, too short or too tall to wear the clothing of their choice. But more, I give credit to their friends who don’t need to resort to shaming another to feel better about themselves. I’m far less impressed with the ones who walk around with others with similar body shapes, all dressed alike. Sadly, they’re the target market of the future for an industry which wants us to believe our differences are flaws.

Lotions and Potions and Gadgets, Oh My!

I’ve been watching Hallmark movies late into the night more often than I want to admit lately. The commercials get worse and longer late at night when only night owls and sleepless tune in. Maybe they think we’re more susceptible to the gold-plated thingamjig that gently removes hair, or the miracle cream that makes you look younger. I wonder how many of those doohickeys that hold your earrings up higher are sold during the wee hours?

I get it that companies spend massive R & D and marketing budgets creating a need where there wasn’t one. I understand that someone somewhere thought some of these things were actually a problem, even though no one ever noticed until they created a solution and started their marketing campaign.

I also wonder how many products like these were total flops. How many manufactured needs never caught on? How far would they go, not only to insult our perfectly wonderful bodies but our intelligence to make a sale?

One Industry Breaks Us So Another Can Fix Us

Is it any wonder one of the most visible markets these days is the one dealing with giving people back their self-esteem? The advertising industry has normalized insulting and shaming people who don’t match their idea of perfection (usually anything that makes people want to fix the imperfection enough to buy their product). It seems that one industry wreaks havoc, giving rise to another claiming they can repair the damage. Don’t get me wrong. Some who promise to teach self-respect and a positive self-image do deliver on their promises.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to invest all the money spent to break, then fix women into a fund to teach girls from early childhood that being different is an asset, not a liability? That being their beautiful, wonderful, unique selves is the best thing ever instead of pushing them towards the “next best thing” to fix what was never broken in the first place.

Perfection is a Killer

Too many women of my generation and earlier pushed themselves to be perfect, and suffered greatly from the frustration of setting themselves an impossible goal. My own mother thought she had to be the perfect hostess, the perfect cook, perfectly groomed, the perfect guest…I could go on. Sadly, even if others told her she did something perfectly, in her own mind there were always flaws. She always fell short of her own expectations. To my knowledge, the only thing she found even the slightest joy in was her grandkids, and any imperfections she saw there were clearly my fault. Somehow, I think she’d eventually take that upon herself as well.

As a writer, I’ve seen many get stuck in an endless loop of editing while they’re still trying to get the story out. I’ve seen others who do manage to get the story out, but edit 100’s of times searching for an elusive perfection they’ll never find.

In writing and in life, we need to realize that perfection does not exist, and that being able to accept good enough is perfection in itself. It allows us to move past our stuckness to go on and achieve even greater things.

That would make a wonderful mantra if you ask me.  “I am forever and always good enough.”

Healing With Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for my spots, lumps, gray hairs, and all the imperfections that show I’ve lived my life instead of trying to be perfect.
  2. I am grateful for friends to laugh with, cry with, and live life to the fullest with.
  3. I am grateful for dancing. It keeps me young, healthy, and mentally sharp. It gets me out of the house regularly, and among wonderful, heartfelt people.
  4. I am grateful for my quiet house in the morning, and cats who sit on the alarm clock so I sleep later than intended.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, life, friendship, coffee, music, sharing, caring, the energy to enjoy it all, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She specializes in creating content that helps entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

Speaking of Girl Friends

Being a Loner is Never Your Happy Place

long-hairMost of my life, I eschewed the close company of other women because most people of my gender with whom I came in contact tended to be whiny, petty, and catty. It took me a lot of years to realize the women in my world were exactly what I was attracting, much like the unfortunate choices I’d made where men are concerned.

The sad fact is, by the time I reached my 40’s, I could really have used the support of a network of women, but had never learned to develop such a network.

After the Northridge earthquake, I became friends with a woman across the street from me; another single mother with a son a little older than my girls. She taught me a lot about having and being a girl friend in the years we spent hanging out, with kids and without. But as these things often do, we drifted apart when she re-married and subsequently moved away. Though we still keep in touch, we’re definitely not part of each others’ women’s network any more.

Growth Means Opening Up to What You Don’t Know as Much as to What You Do

Fast forward about 15 years and I’m not the woman I was even then, but I find myself wanting and needing that network even more. One thing I’ve learned along the way is in order to be accepted into such a sisterhood, you have to be willing to expose at least some of your vulnerabilities.

The fact is, the women I attract now are all strong, intelligent, self-confident, and empathetic to some degree. The last thing they feel comfortable with is a woman who is all bottled up and trying unsuccessfully to convince everyone she has it all together. Because not one, single, blessed one of us has it ALL under control at any given time. Otherwise, we wouldn’t want or need those networks of women friends.

In fact, the years when I had everyone convinced I was most in control of my life were actually the years when I was a hair’s breadth away from collapsing into a puddle of goo. As I open up to other women, I find I’m not alone in this regard. So many of us became strong because of years spent holding ourselves together with duct tape and baling wire. In other words, life tested our mettle in order to give us the tools we’d need later in life to achieve our dreams.

Learning to Let Go of Worn Out Beliefs

Building a network consists of a couple of main activities. The obvious one is to reach out to other women with whom you feel an affinity. But the one to which I was probably oblivious until recently was recognizing when another woman is reaching out to you, and not just because she needs something! I’m finding that women reach out to me in simple friendship, something I never noticed before. No expectations, no demands, just an offer of their heart. At first, I didn’t know what to do with such a precious gift!

I knew I was oblivious in my younger years when the occasional man showed an interest in me. Who knows? I might still need to be hit over the head with a sledge hammer should someone of the male persuasion want to know me better than the space of a dance or casual conversation between songs.

I had no idea until recently that my oblivion extended to making friends with women as well. Maybe I just needed to learn to appreciate the ones I attract these days first. Then I needed to learn that I was indeed worthy of their friendship.

Hiding the Pain Behind a Wall of Humor

I used to joke about “Ladies who Lunch” or “Girls’ Night Out”. They do say humor hides our true feelings. That the people who spend most of their time making jokes and getting laughs are the ones who are probably hiding serious internal pain. In retrospect, I envied those ladies and girls because they were a tangible representation of the huge hole in my own life.

Those holes can be filled, but how we fill them will dictate whether we heal or wallow. And I know from experience that ignoring them simply gives them room to expand.

My mom tried to fill the holes insider herself with charity work and social events. She sought to immerse herself in doing good for others, but ignored the one person who needed her most; herself. When she needed to take something for herself, those who could have, who should have given to her had already turned their backs after years of mixed signals, masks, and demands we didn’t feel like meeting. By her own actions, we never saw the sad, lonely little girl who wanted to be loved but didn’t know how to go about it.

Vowing to be different from her, I demanded nothing and drew into myself. But that behavior is equally damaging. Telling yourself you don’t need anyone or anything is a lie of the hugest proportions, and that little girl inside us will shout louder and louder until she’s heard: It’s all a lie! You’re lying to your own self and it won’t end well!

Giving Our Inner Child Her Say

My inner child yelled long and loud. I tuned her out for far too long, but she’s finally being heard. She’s grown pretty wise through all of the years she’s been stuffed down inside, observing but not affecting. Now it’s her turn. She’s coming out to play, making new friends, and most of all, having her say.

She learned a lot about balance by watching me teeter over the edge. She learned a lot about work ethic by watching me juggle side jobs along with my 9 to 5 (or 8 to whenever, if truth be told) in a sometimes vain attempt to give my daughters the life I thought they deserved. And she learned that sometimes you just have to follow your passion, even if there are times when you feel like you’re going to go under for the third time financially while you’re trying to figure out where that passion will lead.

She hasn’t made me fearless, as you won’t find me zip lining or bungee jumping any time soon. But she did help me find the courage to do what makes me happy instead of stressed out. She’s still helping me, and the biggest gift she’s giving me is learning to be part of a network of women. She’s helping me love myself enough to know when it’s time to give help and when it’s time to accept it.

Accepting help doesn’t make me weak or helpless as I once believed. In fact, it makes me stronger because I expand my resources to allow the strengths of others to help me over those humps life tends to give us from time to time, I’d swear, just for the Universe’s amusement.

I’ve been doing good things for my body for the last year or so, and am slowly adding even more to my routine. But now, I’m doing good things for my heart and soul as well. Thanks to girl friends.

Letting My Gratitude Flow Freely

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m thankful for the wisdom of my inner child.
  2. I’m thankful for the women who waited patiently for me to wake up, wise up, and notice they were there to give as well as receive.
  3. I am grateful for expansion. The more I open my mind, the more I see, hear, and feel.
  4. I am grateful for love in all it’s forms. And I look forward to discovering more of those forms in the years yet to come.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendship, love, new experiences, challenges, lessons, faith, hope, peace, harmony, prosperity, and philanthropy.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

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