27 June 2011

regaining my bearings

Hello We Are Women!

I have been remiss in blog updating here in this wonderful space, and I am sorry. Coming back to the blog, I want to share with you all a quick conversation I had with a fabulous friend from Nigeria, Ifeyinwa Egwaoje. You see, as I have landed back in the United States for a brief few weeks, where the problems for women are in some ways so different, and in others just the same, I always get into a hyper-reflection mode as to what is to be done to end needless suffering of women worldwide. The conversation I had with Ifeyinwa exemplified to me this global struggle, and how certain cultural nuances may make it seem that our challenges are worlds apart, the underlying issues remain the same.

So. Ifeyinwa and I were sitting in a Motherhood Advocacy conference in Toronto, listening to a presentation on "Mocha Moms," an support network for black women in the US who choose to be stay-at-home moms, a choice very much frowned upon in many black communities in the US for a variety of reasons. Ifeyinwa turned to me at the end and whispered, "but isn't this exactly what we're fighting against? Moms who just stay at home?"

I responded - "no! We are fighting for a woman's right to choose what path she will take, and be fully respected in that path - to not be seen as "just" a stay-at-home mom, and to not be derided for going to work either."

She thought for a moment and said..."but in Nigeria we have to show our worth to our husbands by getting a good education, by building a career - you are treated better by your husbands if you do that. You are looked down upon if you stay at home. You can be seen as worthless."

And then I realized, how often do women in the US feel worthless? How often do we have to question and justify and balance forces and influences around us? I look at friends of mine constantly questioning themselves based on their style, the behavior of their children, the life choices they made, their boyfriends/husbands or lack of boyfriends/husbands, and perhaps most prevalently - what they ate today and what their clothing size says. A lot of this has to do with the treatment we fell we will receive from men in our lives, and the judgments we feel could come in from others (including other women). Just like Nigerian women who have to fight for their worth by leaving the home. A lot of it is also a matter of self-justification. Even if no one cares or notices or expects us to be a size 2 or to be perfectly balanced with a clean home and perfect children or a stellar career, we feel we have to prove that to ourselves in some way. We question ourselves incessantly, and I write this to say that ENOUGH!

Enough with feeling we have to justify our worth! We are women! We have worth inherent! We have nothing to prove! We are women! Shout it to the world! Spend today celebrating your powerful womanhood, the uniqueness of that gift of being a woman, of our gorgeous bodies and our incredible potentials, and stop questioning and justifying and feeling you are not enough. You are more! You are woman!

23 June 2011

Self-Worth: Welcome Back Old Friend

I’m sure it comes as no surprise to you that I am working through some “self-worth” issues as of late. (You can read more about them here, here, and here.) Needless to say, the changes my body, mind, and spirit have been experiencing have been eye opening and sometimes scary. I wish I had a better sense of who I am to not be so effected by it all but the truth is, I am still figuring it all out.

Today, I am not going to talk about all the insecurities that seem to plague me, but tell you how I have been working through them. Yes, that is right. I have been working through them. And just the act of picking myself up, making a decision of the direction I want to head in, and working toward it, has restored a sense of self-worth that I once felt and have since lost. (Yes, lost, but lost things can be found again.)

Can I tell you what changed in me? I remembered that I have the ability to change. I do. Yes, I was born with certain tendencies and personality characteristics. Some of those I hold dear to my heart. I embrace those things that I feel make me unique. But some things are not so lovely. Before I realized that I don’t have to keep those things I don’t like, it was rather depressing to think “I am lazy. It is just who I am. I am scared. It is just the way it has to be. I hate my body. But that is life.” But it doesn’t have to be that way. Those things that I hate seeing stare me down in the mirror don’t need to be that way forever. I can change. The ability is there; I just need to make the choice to do it.

A few weeks ago I took a step back and looked at the things that have been nibbling at my self-worth. And instead of just accepting my fate as something I didn’t like, I decided that I could stop it now. Can I get a little specific?

Physically, I was not happy or comfortable. So, I called a friend who said she liked to run and we made some plans. We would meet at 6am and run together. Some days it works and some days it doesn’t. But the fresh air, the exercise, the attention to my physical well-being has brought a sense of accomplishment to my life. No, I have not lost the baby weight but I feel a tiny piece of my self-worth becoming my friend again.

And making that one choice to change what I didn’t like had a domino effect; all the sudden I was paying attention again to what foods I was bringing into my body, how much water I was drinking, and how much sleep I was getting. Billy and I started to make changes, throwing out the foods that were simply empty calories and replacing them with veggies and hummas, fruits, and whole grain foods. And guess who was knocking at my door? Another part of that lost self-worth.

There are more changes that I have been bringing into my life: finally dressing to fit not only my personality but my body type, taking a photography class to relearn old, forgotten skills, organizing my house, putting my whole heart into church responsibilities, and flossing my teeth. The list goes on. With every change I make, whether it is starting to do something new or bringing back things I used to do but have since let slip from my mind, I feel stronger, prouder, and more able to continue to make changes and become the person I have the ability to be.

There are still so many times that I fall short of what I feel I should do. And some days, I struggle to get back up. But with the help of a husband who loves me for who I am and sees what I can become, and the support of friends and family who are patient and remind me of what I can do, I get back up and do those hard things that make me proud to be me.

(Thank you all for letting me share myself with you. It is not always easy but has meant so much to me!)

18 June 2011

here are women:

It's a rainy day here in Kentucky. Maybe time for some light reading? Check out these stunning women and the stories they have to tell:

Naomi, Husband, Baby Eleanor, and Kingsley make one awesome family. I think this just about sums it up: "she has lots of freckles. he wears lots of bow ties." So good! Check them out here!

NieNie's blog is simply inspiring. In 2008, she and her husband were in a terrible small airplane crash. She has since resumed blogging. Whether pre-or-post-crash, the entries share her joy of motherhood, and that joy is contagious!

I just love Angela. I love how design plays such a huge role in her life. I love how she and her husband are carving out a life for themselves. Her blog offers a little glimpse into her sweet life. I also love this guest post she did on Cardigan Empire.

Speaking of Cardigan Empire-- Reachel of Cardigan Empire was one of the writers featured in the We Are Women book. She is such a strong woman, which is very much displayed in her positive-body-image fashion blog, and through her battle with infertility. There are many aspects that I admire about Reachel, but there are two!

Another adoptive mother is Kami of the blog NoBiggie. After struggling through years of infertility, she is now the mother of two beautiful children, one of whom is adopted. She is all about the family. I love it! Check out her story here.

Who are some of your favorite bloggers?

13 June 2011

Counting my blessings...

For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
-Isaiah 55:12

02 June 2011

I Should Know Better By Now

I have a beautiful baby girl.
I have a creative, inspiring, tender husband.
I live in a colorful, happy home.
I have talents that I am discovering and developing.
I have organized friends into a book club so we can read and talk, two things I love dearly.
I live near friends and family who shower me with love and support.
I believe in a Father in Heaven who knows me personally and loves me.

And yet I still spend too much time feeling ashamed of how I look.
And worrying about what others think about me and how I look.

I should know better by now but apparently I don't.

I read this post today.
It's a part of a series.

"Real beauty is the confidence that comes with knowing that you are the only you, embracing that unique you, andsharing you with the world.

A few months ago I decided to stop comparing myself to what I was "supposed" to be, and just decided to be me, and I found my real beauty." (Nina from MammaGoRound)

I felt that I could find my beauty.
The beauty that is seen and the beauty that is unseen.
It's there.
It always has been.
I just need to find it and nourish it until I feel it in every part of who I am.


"Who do you want to become over the next 1.5 years?" was essentially the most terrifying question I could be asked. Amidst inner turmoil-- longing to have just a moment alone and feeling anxious from the strict schedule and high standards expected of me-- I could not think even a minute ahead, let alone 1.5 years. I ignored the question and busied myself with anything else I could find.

Four months later, the same question was posed. I started fidgeting, averting my gaze, staring into my lap, then began to consider how uncomfortable this question really was. Not very. A lot had happened in the last four months, and I was still going.

I had been able to handle tornado warnings, sand bagging flood-threatened homes, walking in snow, walking in heat, gaining a greater understanding of the pain of adultery, alcoholism, drug use, and dishonesty. I have seen families flourish, and I have seen families fall apart. Tears of broken women have stained my shoulders. Fear for others has gripped at my heart.

And yet, I'm still here. I'm still going. I never could have imagined all that I have faced in these last few months. There is no textbook that says "Here's what to expect when you go out to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others," and anything that came close scared me out of my whits. But I can do more than I thought I could, and there is no better feeling.

We are women of infinite strength.
Who are you becoming?

P.S. Any thoughts on how to overcome exhaustion?