The past few weeks have been rough. Our district is going through a lot of changes right now, and because of this transition period, many of us have been under a lot of strain. Because of this, the end of the year just cannot come fast enough. At this point, I don’t know who is more excited for the break…me or my seniors.
As I prepare for the summer months ahead, there are two things on my mind. One is all of the books I’m going to be able to read. And the other is just having time to spend with my kiddo and take care of myself.
For me, self care is one of the first things that goes out the window when I’m stressed. Why? Because for some reason, I’ve decided I’m the lowest priority on my list. Which I recognize is unhealthy. I also recognize I’m not the only one that does this. Educators, and women especially, tend to throw their all into what the people around them need, and by the time we get to ourselves, we just don’t have the energy to do anything other than zone out in front of the television, binge watching Game of Thrones while shoveling popcorn into our faces.
So, I’m sharing my list of a few things I plan on implementing this summer that I hope will become habits by the time next year starts. That way, self care is embedded in my routine, and will no longer feel like something extra that is taking time away from my obligations. By setting these habits up during the summer, when I have the time to devote attention to them, I am giving myself the space to see what works and what doesn’t, and how I can incorporate them into a busy schedule.
You know the old saying, “You are what you eat?” Well, friends, when I eat like crap, I feel like crap. And, with the convenience of fast food and a lack of time in the morning (because of that always enticing snooze button), I eat out way too much.
My plan this summer is to put together a menu of affordable, healthy, easy-to-assemble meals that I can prep on Sundays for the week ahead. I do so much better when I have something in the fridge that I can just grab and go, so when I began thinking of the ways I can start taking care of myself, meal prep immediately came to mind.
Update My Wardrobe
I came into this profession after two years of being a stay at home mom, so much of my closet was taken up with yoga pants, t-shirts, and sports bras. Not exactly professional. I bought a few necessities at the outset, but overall, I just haven’t been in love with my work clothes. And this bugs me.
So this summer, my goal is to stock up little by little, finding those key pieces I can’t live without, inspired by the pins I have socked away on Pinterest over the course of the past year. If you’ve read my “Ethical Fashion on a Budget” post, you know I love a good thrift store, but I’m also thinking about trying Stitch Fix, which has some ethical brands available and delivers right to your door. If I try them out, I’ll be sure to leave a review, in case any of our followers are interested 🙂
My poor hair is one of the first things to suffer when I’m crunched for time. I am the queen of the bun, and while I doubt that will change (I can’t stand my hair in my face) I’m making an effort to be more aware of the damage I’m doing to my hair.
A couple of things I hope to implement in my quest for healthier hair:
I’ve heard really good things about Sugar Bear vitamins, and I’m hoping to add them to my beauty routine this summer.
And, I would like to reincorporate a weekly hair mask, which I’ve used in the past and had great results with.
My advice is to do research, find what’s best for your hair type, and begin taking care of those locks! Because if you’re anything like me, when my hair feels good, I feel good!
Reinvest Time in my Hobbies
My extra time goes toward cleaning my house and spending time with my family. Which means other things fall by the wayside.
Outside of this blog, I’ve barely written since the beginning of the school year. I have so many books on my to-read list, it’s insane. And there is a brand new pack of watercolor paints sitting unopened at home, along with an unmarred sketchbook.
These are things that I use for my own personal fulfillment. I’m a cerebral person, and when I’m not engaged in activities that challenge me or make me think, I find myself feeling unfulfilled. So this summer, I’m taking back my hobby time! Look out world!
J.’s Time is Sacred Time
I pick J. up from daycare and drive home. We get home, get a snack, and the television is turned on. She alternately runs around, eats, and watches television until bath time. Then it’s off to bed. This is our routine. Every day. Then weekends are spent running errands, cleaning, and relaxing before returning to the grind.
One of the first things to go when I went back to work was playtime with J. Before, our television was on for a very small fraction of the time. We played, we learned, we spent quality time. Now, I’m just focused on keeping her alive and relatively healthy, all while trying to stay sane.
This may seem an odd goal for a self care article, but feeling good in my role as mother is essential to my well being. Am I saying I have to be a perfect mom to be fulfilled as a woman? Absolutely not. There is no such thing as a perfect mother. But, when I feel off with J. I feel off in life. And I’m not happy with the fact that I rarely play with my daughter anymore. So, one of my goals this summer is to set everything aside, even if it’s only 30 minutes a day, and play with my baby girl.
As educators, we have so much on our plates. We have state standards, high stakes testing, grades, lesson plans. We have the well-being of hundreds of kids who are not our own resting on our shoulders. We have our own kids. Our own lives…We have A LOT. And in all of this madness, we often push ourselves to the side.
At the end of the day, you have to make yourself a priority. And with the long days of summer fast approaching, now is the perfect time to focus on yourself. Set goals that focus on getting back on track. That help you to recharge and reboot before another school year begins. Take advantage of this time to feel good about yourself. Because you deserve it.
At this point in a person’s life (i.e. anyone in their thirties), it’s easy to look back on what you’ve accomplished and ask “what if?” What if I had thrown caution to the wind and tried law school? What if I had chosen a different college? What if I had had kids sooner? Or later? What if I hadn’t let money dictate various decisions? What if I had written that book?
Don’t get me wrong; I love the life I have! And I am proud of what I have accomplished. But, I can definitely look back and see moments when I let fear govern my decisions. Fear of failure. Fear of conflict. Fear of retribution. Fear of disappointment.
What if fear hadn’t gotten in the way?
A cautious person by nature, I have often settled on things simply because there was less risk involved. Less chance for heartache or failure. Sure, the payoff wasn’t that great and the adventure was limited, but I wasn’t left burned and scarred either. My argument was, “Hey! No big. I can live with it.” So, I kept my opinions to myself. I let opportunities drift by. I chose the safe choice. I did my dead-level best to please people more than myself–sanity be damned.
And, truth be told, I got awfully tired of that.
As I move forward in my life, I find myself being more willing to take the plunge. (After dipping a toe in first, of course.) I find I am less willing to tolerate ignorance and indifference and more likely to grab life by its metaphorical testicles. I am less afraid to speak my truth to those around me. I am seeing life with new eyes–a life full of chances to be taken rather than potholes and pitfalls to be avoided. And you know what? I am surviving.
Better yet, I am thriving.
I am desperately trying to pursue life rather than merely let life happen to me. I am in charge of my own destiny, and I have to quit letting fear be the crutch on which I lean. Trust me, it’s not easy for me. I have to wake up every day and make a choice to be brave when it would be easier to let fear dictate every decision I make. Fear is my greatest opponent. And she is always a worthy adversary.
For me, this blog is a spit in the face of fear. For so long, I have been terrified to put my writing out into the world. Fear of failure. Fear that people may not like what I have to say. Fear that people may not think I am a “good enough” writer. Fear that people will be offended by certain beliefs I may have. But, I realized that fear had completely handicapped me from pursuing something I have always dreamed of doing–spreading the great and wonderful news of education, empowering teachers in this profession, creating a space for professional learning, challenging educators to stand strong in the face of almost insurmountable odds. I am proud to say that in this battle, fear has lost.
So what battle are you fighting? What fear are you carrying around with you that is suffocating your greatness? What opportunity have you refused in order to stay safe from disappointment and failure?
How can you overcome this fear?
Be okay with failure
The first step to overcoming this fear is being humble enough to know you will fail in this life. I will say that again. YOU. WILL. FAIL. Sometimes, you will fall smack on your face. If you’re me, it will most likely be in front of a large crowd. But you know what? That’s okay. There’s freedom in that knowledge. You don’t have to be perfect all the time. So what if no one reads your blog? So what if you don’t win the award? So what if you don’t get the job? So what? Get back up and try again. And again. And again. Each time, you’ll learn something new! You can’t let the fear of failure keep you from trying.
Know that success is possible
Sure. Sometimes you will fail. But other times, you will fly. Be confident that you know what is right for you and your happiness, and know that you are capable of things far greater than your mind can envision. Don’t allow that small voice of uncertainty to creep in and douse your flame. I know; it’s easier said than done. There will always be someone out there who is smarter or more talented or more educated. But will they work harder than you? Do they want it as badly as you do? What gifts do you have that no one else does? How can you use those gifts to stand out? Everyone has something that makes them special. Let your light shine!
You will not be everyone’s cup of tea
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that some people will simply not like you. In fact, they might even despise you. Which, I’m sure, it utterly preposterous because–of course–you’re fabulous. But if you’re like me, this is something you may struggle with. I like being liked. But, in order to be my best self, I have had to learn that I am not everyone’s cup of tea. And neither are you. You will say things that people don’t agree with. You will likely offend someone, sometimes inadvertently (sometimes not so much.) If you didn’t mean it, say you’re sorry and move on. If you’re not sorry, that’s okay too. Don’t spend your life or your joy in fear of conflict. Debate and dialogue are healthy for human growth. And, at the end of the day, you do not have to carry around someone else’s dislike of you.
Find your tribe
Without my friend, Cheylyn, I’d still be sitting around and thinking about this blog instead of writing it. Without my girlfriends, I wouldn’t take a break from the demands of my job to just chill for a minute. Without my family, I wouldn’t have grown as a wife and a mother. Without my teaching friends and my administrators and my professional learning network, I couldn’t have improved my craft as an educator. There are so many amazing people in my life that challenge and encourage me. They are my tribe. You cannot beat fear alone! Find the people who inspire and stretch you far beyond what you think you can accomplish. Find the people who allow you to grow.
The time has come for us to honor our last Feminist Friday of women’s history month. We both wanted to provide you with something fresh, something spectacular, something that would celebrate womanhood and feminism in all its glory.
The pressure was on.
And friends, I think we managed to come up with something pretty spectacular…a tribute to Amy Sherman-Palladino and the television shows that have made an indelible impact on countless females.
If you don’t know who Amy Sherman-Palladino is, it’s probably safe to say you’ve been living under a rock. She has inspired so many women and girls through fierce female characters–and she’s done it more than once. First, through Lorelai and Rory on Gilmore Girls, then through Midge in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
The thing these two shows have in common? Badass women who let their freak flags fly as they attempt to navigate life, motherhood, and womanhood.
Because we are such huge fans of these two hit series, and because this is a month all about celebrating fierce females, we have decided to each compile a list of things we have learned from Ms. Sherman-Palladino.
We hope you enjoy!
Growing up with only three channels limited my TV-watching experiences to Jeopardy, the nightly news, and Saturday morning cartoons, so it wasn’t until later in life that I found Gilmore Girls. To call it my “happy show” would be an understatement–just ask my hubs; you’ll find him rolling his eyes and saying, “Are you seriously watching this, AGAIN?” During Thanksgiving break, you will find me curled up on my couch watching the Gilmore Girls marathon on UpTV. If I am having trouble sleeping at night, it is my go-to show for relaxation and calm. When I am sad or angry, I find comfort and joy in Lorelai, Rory, Luke, and the cast of other hilarious characters from Stars Hollow. And, in my many reruns of this show, I am reminded of several important lessons we should all carry with us daily.
Drink the coffee; eat the junk food
Certainly, Lorelai and Rory are shameless in their love of coffee and junk food, and I am often jealous of their ability to eat and drink what they want while sharing each other’s tiny clothes. But, I think we could all use a little more of that in our lives, the small moments of enjoying a little junk. Granted, if I were to eat like they do, I wouldn’t fit through my front door. But in a world of organic, no-red-meat, but-eat-only-meat, yes-you-can-drink-milk, no-you-shouldn’t-drink-milk, carbs-are-okay, carbs-are-bad diets and an almost unrealistic body image, we often feel shamed when partaking in yummy-but-bad-for-you food. I have sometimes felt embarrassed when being in a fast food line, worrying that someone might notice me eating junk. While I do get the need to eat healthy (and I mostly do), I also think it’s important to remember balance. That it’s okay to find joy in the little things. That a little coffee and ice cream and pizza never hurt anybody.
So, eat the junk and drink the coffee!
Read the books
Rory is right; there’s nothing that smells better than a book. I’d rank it right above new baby and new car smells. Her passion for books flows throughout the each of the seasons, and it is that love that aids her in attending a premier private high school and later Yale University. Books open the door to so many worlds and opportunities. They help small town girls like Rory (and me) make something of themselves. Better than that, though, Rory makes it cool to be a nerdy girl! I remember the first episode I saw Rory’s love of books, and I immediately felt connected to her. She was me in high school. However, I wasn’t always treated like it was cool to be smart. I sometimes found myself joining extra sports and activities to “make up” for the fact that being smart was my thing. If I also played every sport and cheered and joined, then it was okay to be smart too–as long as I was labeled as something else. A basketball player. A cheerleader. I wish I had been more secure in my intelligence and spent more time cultivating it.
So, smart girls, you read the books! You read all the books!
Every mom is both hot and a hot mess
As a mom, I can tell you that it is so easy to feel like you’re failing. Like you simply don’t have it all together and you never will. I see the moms with their perfectly dressed children, making homemade gluten-free, organic cookies for their kid’s class party, and there I am, flying through the school before work, dropping off my store-bought cupcakes I grabbed that morning, and swiping my kid’s shirt over his snotty nose. It’s easy to feel lacking in the mom department. I know I do. Often. But, Lorelai reminds us that all moms have moments when they are hot and moments when they are just not. And that’s okay. In the end, as long as you love your kids and you wake up and try hard every day, your kiddos will grow up to survive and thrive. Who knows? Maybe they’ll even go to Yale!
So, give yourself grace and give yourself credit.
We all get a little lost sometimes
Even the brilliant, rule-following, Yale attending, knows-exactly-what-she-wants Rory Gilmore gets a little lost sometimes. We all do. Our best laid plans can easily be thwarted by that thing we call life. It’s easy to find ourselves moving in a completely different direction than we thought we would. Whether in a relationship or a job, things sometimes just don’t work out. And that’s okay. Like Rory, we need those moments of confusion and insecurity. Those are the moments we truly find out what we are made of, who we are. If things are always easy, then we have no reason to change or grow. Instability creates growth. More than that, when we do figure things out, we tend to pursue with voracity the things we most want in life.
Let yourself get lost. Only then can you really find yourself.
While Logan Huntzberger’s relationship with Rory is one plagued by viewer opinions and debates, there is no doubt that he often helps Rory to step outside her perfectly poised comfort zone. Careful and cautious by nature, Rory takes many leaps of faith (both literal and metaphorical) at Logan’s encouragement. Some of these leaps end in disaster. But others change her to her very core, making her a more well-rounded individual. These moments remind us that taking risks is the first step in personal growth. Some of those risks will leave us flat on our faces in the dust. But others help us to soar. Being afraid to fail ensures we will always stay where we started. “Failing forward” is necessary for success. Thank goodness I have failed! Thank goodness I am not the same scared little girl I was back then.
So, take the chance. It might be the one that makes all the difference.
Be yourself; be different
The best thing about Stars Hollow is the people. Ms. Patty, Babette, Kirk, and the town troubadour are just a few of the lovable crazies in Gilmore Girls. Through Ms. Patty’s recollection of her lurid love encounters, Babette’s screechy descriptions of her Morey, Kirk’s various money-making schemes, and the troubadour’s acoustic soundtrack for life, we are reminded that being different is AWESOME! What fun would this world be if everyone was exactly the same?
Own your weirdness! The world is better because of it.
Sometimes, you have to be savage
I have to be honest and say that I have a strong love/hate relationship with Emily Gilmore. But either way, there is no doubt that she is fierce, and she speaks her mind. As someone who has spent the great majority of her life holding back my words or emotions so as not to offend another or cause any conflict, I admire this about her. She is unwilling to settle for or put up with something just to make another feel less uncomfortable or stop an oncoming conflict. As I’ve grown older, my toleration for ignorance and nonsense is ever decreasing, and I’ve found myself more willing to “handle up” on someone who deserves it. And I’m okay with that. I am not a doormat to be used to clean dirty shoes, and I will not be treated as such.
Sometimes, you gotta be savage.
Friendship is everything
Of course, the central friendship in Gilmore Girls is that of Lorelai and Rory. And it’s beautiful. The story of a mother and daughter who raise each other, Rory oftentimes mothering free-spirited Lorelai, each being what the other needs. The heart of the show itself is the overarching theme of friendship and its impact on humans. Within Stars Hollow and throughout Rory’s college experience, we see the value of having other people to share in joy and heartbreak. And with each new friendship, the characters grow into new and better people. My favorite friendship in the story, though, is between Rory and Paris. Two unlikely friends who start out as enemies. Rory’s kindness often softens Paris’s intensity. Paris’s fight often rouses the meek and timid Rory. It is this relationship that shows us that friendship can be found in the most unlikely of places, if only we give each other a chance.
Remember, friendship is necessary and worth it.
Fight for your dreams
For a girl who became a single mother at 16 years of age and who spent the majority of her life doing it totally alone, Lorelai Gilmore is utterly heroic. From working as a maid in an inn to later living her dream by co-owning the Dragonfly Inn with her cooky friend, Sookie, we see Lorelai fight to live her dreams despite the many challenges that stand in her way. In the same way, we see Rory work her tail off to one day go to Harvard. She ultimately chooses to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps and attend Yale University instead. Each, through their own forms of adversity, find a way to achieve their goals. And they never give up. NEVER.
Be remarkable. Live your dreams.
Females are fierce
My favorite thing about Gilmore Girls? There are so many fierce females for girls to look up to and love. In this show, we find strong female characters who make their own decisions and live their own lives, with or without the help of a man. They are celebrated for their womanhood! And in life, I hope to find each of the female characters within myself. I want to be free like Lorelai, brilliant like Rory, tough like Emily, silly like Sookie, and aggressive like Paris.
Girl power is the best power.
I spent a large part of my teenage and young adult years watching Gilmore Girls. I found a fellow bibliophile in Rory, fell in love with Jess, admired Lorelai’s free spirit. Then, in my adult years, I encountered The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, where I marveled at Midge’s fearlessness and determination as she tackles life head-on. In these shows, I witnessed what strong women can achieve, no matter what life throws their way.
What I love about these two shows is that they came at times in my life when they were relevant to my experience. As a teenager, I could relate to Rory Gilmore in some ways–though we are very different people, she had some of the same interests and goals that I had. Then, as a woman and a mother, I met Midge who, again though very different, was at a similar stage of life.
Midge is such an amazing woman. She suddenly finds herself divorced and moving back in with her parents, after her husband admits that he is no longer happy with their life. Do you think this keeps her down? NO! Midge puts on her big girl panties and turns heartbreak into hilarity. An unstoppable force, equal parts sass and class, Midge Maisel has a little something we could all learn from.
Life is What You Make It
As cheesy as it sounds, we are in control of our own happiness. Let’s face it, sometimes life sucks. Bills are overdue, kids are sick, we are over-committed at work…We don’t always have a say in the things that happen to us. But, we do have a choice in how we react. Midge is a champion–she takes her trials and channels them into her comedy, using her misfortune to fuel her passion. It would be really easy for Midge to just let her life happen to her. She is not that kind of woman, though. Take a page from Midge–your life shouldn’t be happening to you.
We Choose the Things that Define Us
Wealthy. Jewish. Mother. Divorcee. These are all titles attributed to Midge. People expect her to be a prim and proper housewife, meek and mild. Instead, she is fierce, determined, sassy, crass, outspoken, and a woman in a male-dominated profession. She does not let her labels define her…I think, as women, a lot of the time we get lost in our labels. I know that once I became a mother, it was so much a part of who I was that it was hard to describe myself without that identifier. Just to clarify—I am not trying to negate my identity as a mother. But when we allow ourselves to be limited by our identifiers, we do ourselves a disservice. I am so much more than one thing. And so are you, girl. You are more than the labels society places on you.
It’s Okay to Make Mistakes, Momma
Making mistakes does not make you a less-than mother. That time you fed your kid nothing but cheese crackers for a week, or forgot to pack a jacket, or yelled at them when you swore you wouldn’t yell anymore—we’ve all been there. Something that has always amazed me (and not in a good way) is the capacity women have for shaming each other, especially when it comes to motherhood. Mommas, we should be standing up for each other! Most of us are doing the best we can with what we have. Midge is no different. I had moments where I wanted to judge her, accuse her of not spending enough time with her children. But then I realized she was doing what she needed to do to take care of herself and her kids. It’s okay to make mistakes, Momma. Just ask Mrs. Maisel.
Let Your Freak Flag Fly
One thing about Midge…she hoists that freak flag high. The first time she ever got on stage, she flashed the audience. She makes a fool of herself time and again before finding her stride as a comedian. She embarrasses a friend by telling raunchy stories at her wedding. She talks about her parents’ sex life as part of her bit before realizing her father is in the audience. What I admire about her is that each and every time, she embraces the experience, learns from it, and gets back on stage, stronger than ever. Her candidness and authenticity are what make her so lovable. What can we learn from this? Let that flag fly proudly! People know when you’re being fake and when you’re being genuine. If you embrace that quirky side of you and own who you are, you will be the best version of yourself. And that’s pretty freaking awesome.
Find Your Tribe
It’s hard to find good people. People who will show up for you time and again. People who won’t judge you for your every mistake. People who will support you, because they know you just need someone to have a little faith. Something we learn from Mrs. Maisel (and from the Gilmores) is that a tribe of women is unstoppable. Love interests come and go, but (true) girlfriends last forever.
Pursuing Our Dreams Takes Hard Work and, Sometimes, Sacrifice
If life is easy, it usually means we’ve settled for the comfortable option. Pursuing what you are passionate about is usually accompanied by sleepless nights, strained relationships, too much sugar and caffeine…the list goes on. If it were easy, it wouldn’t be worth it and sometimes getting what we want requires sacrifice. Midge gives up a great many things to pursue her career, because she knows it will all be worth it in the end. Her journey is one of personal growth and freedom, and she’s willing to make sacrifices to get where she wants to be. I hope we all can be brave enough to have the courage Midge possesses.
Find Your Confidence
Time and again, people comment on Midge’s appearance. Her manager, Susie, regularly makes fun of her outfits. Men objectify her more times than I can count. But her appearance is part of who she is. No matter what people say, she owns it. She goes on stage, sometimes in questionable locales, in her LBD, wearing red lipstick and heels, because it gives her confidence. I say take a page out of her book; go out and find your own version of the LBD and rock it, because when you feel good about yourself, you invite positive energy. And we could all use some extra good vibes in our lives.
Be a Boss.
If there is only one lesson you learn from Midge, I hope it’s how to be a boss. To own who you are, go for your dreams, and live life in the best way you know how.
This wraps up our Feminist Friday posts…at least for now. We hope you enjoyed this month’s celebration of woman power. Until next time…
This past week I’ve had the opportunity to teach three yoga classes, and each was incredibly different: one was for a corporate company, the next was a chair yoga class for the financial firm I work for, and the last was for the yoga studio where I became a yoga instructor. Regardless of the audience, I reminded them that this one hour was for them. An hour of time set aside for whatever they needed it to be.
Over the last six years, I’ve learned so much through my yoga journey, especially during last fall when I completed my 200 hour yoga teacher training with Black Swan Yoga in Dallas. Yet even as I grow in my practice, I continue to love and appreciate how grounded I feel when I practice or teach yoga. One of the aspects that I truly admire about the yoga practice is how it encourages us to look inward before focusing on the external body. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like I tend to go through life as if I’m a whirlwind and tend to allow myself to stay incredibly busy throughout the week. Whether it’s work, spending the time with our families, or side projects or side hustles, it seems we often forget to take some very important time for ourselves, to regroup and replenish, so we have something to offer the world.
I deemed 2019 to be a year focused on change and transition in my life; for once, I’m accepting that I don’t fully know what’s ahead in the next 3-5 years (and I’m actually finding myself okay with that fact!). Why? I’ve acknowledged the importance of stillness.
Taking five minutes—sometimes only two—to take a breath, and in these inhalations and exhalations, I’ve become more aware of myself and what I need to feel satisfied with the life I’m living.
The practice of yoga is interestingly different from other sorts of exercise, at least from my experience, mainly because it values all of the nonphysical elements of the practice as much as, or, perhaps, even more than, the physical ones (the “asanas”). I’ve heard from some instructors that only 5% of the yoga practice is the asanas, or the yoga poses. The rest? It’s internal.
By looking inward, I’ve learned I create unnecessary stressors in my life, whether that be from unrealistic or untrue expectations I set on myself or those expectations I assume others have for me. By taking a moment to focus on my breath and my mental state, I’ve found a way to “reclaim” my energy and I’ve become comfortable with reminding myself I have so much to share.
This last month my sister Elle and I had the opportunity to take a two week trip to Columbia with El Camino Travel and Condé Nast, in their premiere all women’s trip (learn more about it and similar opportunities here!). I took the time to meditate, to journal, and to reflect on this past year. I came back full of excitement, new ideas for how + where to teach yoga, and an appreciation for the country’s culture and overall chill & creative vibe.
As we gear up for spring break and more summer activities and vacations, I’d like to arm you with a handful of simple yogic actions we can incorporate into our day to refill our mental and emotional cups. It’s not selfish; it’s self-love – to be (mine)ful.
(Mine)fulness Act #1 – build a mantra
A mantra is basically just a motto or saying that one can use in order to meditate or to encourage oneself. I think of them as little scripted pep talks I can use, whenever I’m down or not feeling top notch, or even just to kickstart my day. The one I’ve been using this year I first heard and fell in love with on an episode of Yoga by Candace, a terrific podcast run by Candace Moore (who I started following a few years back, thanks to Chey’s recommendation. Seriously, highly recommend checking her out if yoga’s your jam). The mantra goes like this:
I have nothing to prove.
No one to impress.
Everything to share.
I love the simplicity of this mantra. It reminds me to shake off any need to compare myself to others or to their expectations (which I may have very likely imagined anyway). It reminds me to center myself on what I have to offer. Everyone—seriously, everyone!!—has something unique to offer, some perspective that can shed light on a situation or experience in a different way. And that’s encouraging to me.
(Mine)fulness Act #2 – take 5 deep breaths
If making mantras don’t tickle your fancy or if finding one online seems overwhelming, you can always come back to your breath. This is a constant trial for me, and my iWatch, in particular, likes to remind me when I’m holding my breath. Isn’t it madness how we can go throughout the day holding our breath? All that overanalyzing and anxiety.
Inhale: slowly, through the nose, filling the belly, the ribs, the chest.
Then slowly let it out through the mouth, along with any fears or doubts.
Repeat four more times. (Or, as many as you need.)
It’s amazing how much good oxygen does for a body.
(Mine)fulness Act #3 – do a music meditation
No matter if you’ve gone to countless yoga classes or never even whispered the word “namaste,” this one is for you. Find a song on your phone, the computer, your friend’s phone (it really doesn’t matter). Find one that calms you or inspires you, perhaps with orwithout lyrics. You can either sit on the ground with legs crossed or against a wall; however, I recommend you don’t lie down completely, unless you want the possibility of your meditation turning into a siesta. You may want to sit on a pillow or floor cushion if that feels more comfortable to you. Sit up straight. Gently place your hands on your knees; palms facing up for energy, palms facing down for grounding. Begin to flicker your eyes closed, and listen to the song, letting the soft music play as your mind begins to wander. My favorite encouragement here is to remind myself and students to not judge your thoughts; instead, act as though you are just watching them pass by, observing without judgement. Becoming more aware of how and why you are thinking.And soon enough, your song will be over. You can find plenty of meditative songs online. I love this option because I feel it makes meditation accessible to anyone. Anyone can spend 3 minutes listening to a good song.
Chelsea Kaye Barnard is a yoga instructor, poet, and director of product development. She lives in Dallas with her two cats, Scully and Francesca, and she enjoys a good oat milk latte on the weekends. She’s passionate about finding ways to use creativity + poetry to create diverse communities.
You can find her on Instagram at @mademoisellechelsea or send her a snazzy email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every year, for the last seven years, on March 1st, I have shared–via social media–the above quote from Virginia Woolf’s essay Room of One’s Own. The first time I read the quote, I thought, “Yes. That.” Until that moment, I had unsuccessfully tried to define my belief in and understanding of feminism–specifically to people who had a certain perception of ‘feminism,’ a term that has been so politicized and that its meaning has become darkened by extremism, the real “f” word. When really, feminism is rooted in advocacy. Advocacy for equality of human rights, not just women’s rights. Advocacy for the voiceless. For Humanity. For Anonymous.
When I consider feminism, I often examine the work of some of our nation’s first feminists. As a former teacher of early American history, I loved seeing the girls in my class begin to perk up at the mention of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells, and others like them. Finally, faces that mirrored their own. I am particularly humbled by Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s work in feminism. Her fight for women’s suffrage and her partnership with key abolitionists of the time helped to create a world in which women and people of color would eventually participate in democracy. In Kelly Gallagher’s words, she helped “create an ecosystem that [served] to democratize opportunity.” Something feminists are still fighting for today.
In Stanton’s Declaration of Sentiments, she challenged the pervasive ideology that women shouldn’t vote, enjoy a college education, or own land; defying a system that called for a more strict moral code for women and a necessary dependency on men. After death, she even donated her brain to science to debunk the myth that the mass of men’s brains made them smarter than women.
Notice the word “debunk” and “myth.”
To be sure, her commitment to equality for all was beautiful. More beautiful than that, though, was the way Stanton empowered people with her words. Through her writing, she inspired others, men and women, to stand up for the voiceless. She put a face and a name to the silent masses, those not offered a place at the table, the anonymous.
That is the real meaning of feminism.
Because of feminism, Elizabeth Cady Stanton isn’t Anonymous. Sojourner Truth isn’t Anonymous. Virginia Woolf isn’t Anonymous.
Disclaimer: This post is not meant to be offensive, nor is it written with the intent to marginalize or stereotype. It is simply one woman’s thoughts on equality, and an effort to challenge misinformation. My intention is to unite, not to divide.
Writing this post is terrifying, for so many reasons. I worry it will offend. I worry it will alienate. I worry my words will not fully convey how passionate I am about the search for equality. But, I feel it is an important conversation. And so, I am doing something I have told others to do in the past. And that is to use my voice, not matter how scary that may be, to highlight an important issue.
To many people, it’s a dirty word. It’s synonymous with man-hating, with extremism, with frightening females storming cities in offensive headwear.
And my question is why? Why has a term that, for many, has its basis in equality for all become a word that is not only feared, but despised?
I think that, perhaps, this all stems from one simple (yet so complex) reason–misunderstanding. So I am here to try to add my voice to those seeking to be understood.
I am a feminist.
I am also:
A wife– to a man. And when I say man, I mean alpha male.
A former stay-at-home mom
Employed in a traditionally predominantly female profession
Someone who likes shopping–a little too much sometimes.
Obsessed with my hair. Someone who wears make-up…likes getting her nails done…wears a bra and the occasional dress–someone who likes to feel pretty.
I am not:
A political extremist.
Someone who believes feminism only applies to middle class, white women.
Okay with the shaming of other women (or men, or the undecided, for that matter).
Oblivious to the absurd expectations that exist for men.
None of these things makes me anything more or less than my ideology. Because what my ideology is centered on is choice and equality.
An important distinction I believe should be made is one I came across in a Forbes article on feminism. And that is the distinction between equal and same. I know that men and women are different. I am not advocating for a movement that says we should be the same, because simply due to our biology, we are not. What I am advocating for is a movement that provides equal opportunities for people no matter their gender, skin color, sexual preference, etc. I don’t want to be thought of as “less-than”, and I don’t want to be sexualized just because of who I am. I do want to be valued based on my intellect, my creativity, my work. I want to be given the chance to prove to you what I can and can’t do based on my own personal strengths and weaknesses.
Feminist is not just a social political label for me. It is a part of who I am, as a woman, as a human being. I have functioned beneath the title of “Mommy’s little feminist” for as long as I can remember. I believe in the equality of human beings. I believe in raising a strong, independent daughter, despite functioning within a society that continues, for some reason, to fear strong, independent women.
Yes. I am a feminist. And I hope, after reading this, you understand why.
Disclaimer: In writing this post, I have explored several general qualities and differences of introverts and extroverts, understanding that–to some degree–all introversion and extroversion is on a varying continuum, some qualities more pronounced than others. It is entirely true that some extroverts can have introvert qualities and vice versa. It is not my intention to oversimplify a very complex topic.
If my husband and I were to take every disagreement we’ve had in the last 11 years of our marriage, we can basically focus most of them down to one neat and tidy theme–his extroversion utterly exhausts my introversion. And vice versa. Don’t get me wrong, I love my giant man-child, but we are incredibly different in so many ways, and it has taken many years for us to somewhat understand the nature of the other. Luckily, I am older now–possibly a bit wiser–and I think I finally have the words Hubby wishes he had 11 years ago.
So extroverts, this is for you.
Here are six important things to help you understand and love your adorable introvert:
One of the important differences between introversion and extroversion lies in the way in which both derive energy. Remember playing Super Mario when you were a kid? There was nothing better than getting Powered Up by the mushroom. Then, you could jump higher and run faster, ensuring a more successful finish of the current level. For extroverts, their giant mushroom is being around people. Lots and lots of people. All the time. They are fed by the laughter and joy of others. “The more the merrier” isn’t just a saying; it’s everything.
Introverts, on the other hand, get their energy within the quiet stillness of silence and solitude. Being alone allows them to recharge, explore their thinking, read books, and other singular activities. For me, this time of selective loneliness is incredibly welcome after spending the week “on call” to the demands of education–a job I love, but one that can be draining of an introvert’s energy. When surrounded by people for extended periods of time, our minds are like over-worked muscles in need of a break. It’s not that we hate being around people (an entirely false assumption others often make), it’s just that we need an energy recharge before we can to do it again with fervor. Like the “Power Up” mushroom, stillness allows us to face the next challenge with ferocity.
What you can do:
Give your loved one an hour or two each weekend to be alone–not because she doesn’t love you but because she needs it to love you better.
Every now and again, forgo the giant group hangout in favor of hanging out at home, watching a movie, vegging on the couch, and eating snacks.
Every now and again, encourage your introvert to get out and hang out! That’s why introverts need an extrovert in their lives. Social connection is important for our humanity, and even introverts need a little social connection.
Substance Talk Over Small Talk
Hubby loves to call me throughout the day and chit chat for a couple of minutes each time. “Hey, how’s it going? What are you doing? I am just driving. I am about to eat lunch.” (For the record, he does this with his mom also.) He drives and works independently for a lot of his day, and as an extrovert, he gets bored and needs that human connection (see Energy Source above.) Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that he wants to check in with me 47 times a day. It’s cute. But, for an introvert, this type of interaction can be a tad draining. We much prefer substance talk over small talk. There is nothing more exhausting than talking about the weather in the checkout line or running into a colleague/old friend at dinner, “How’s your mom and dad? What you up to these days? How’s life treating you?” Again, we want to talk to you, but these types of stilted conversations can be surface level when introverts want depth of the human connection, more than breadth. Give us some quality topics, and you can’t shut us up, though! Politics? Education? Current events? Books? The difference between the “mind” and the “soul?” We’d love to talk to you about those things! For hours. I am not saying one has to speak their professor voice to engage us, but when we ask about your life, we truly want to know about your hopes and dreams and disappointments. Like surgeons, we want to open you up and inspect you fully. Weird metaphor–I know–but true, nonetheless.
What you can do:
Create an environment in which you feel comfortable talking about in-depth, quality topics that interest your significant other.
Ask questions about their passions! Be it education, politics, families, or moon phases, introverts want to have conversations.
Remind them that small talk is simply your way of regularly creating a connection throughout the day. When you explain this as a part of who you are, we listen.
Because introverts are inward-turning by nature, they spend a great deal of their time examining themselves, their strengths and weakness. In the process of self-discovery, they seek to better understand what motivates them and their behaviors. Consequently, they know what their passions are and want to spend time developing and growing their aptitude in those areas. For me, it is education. I am an educational research junkie! I could spend all day reading and writing about education, seeking to grow into a more knowledgeable instructional coach and teacher. For others, it might be cars or interior design or lawn care. Whatever the passion, introverts can wax poetic about it all day.
In turn, they understand their weakness and seek to improve themselves in that area. I knew pretty early in my life that I was an introvert. When other girls wanted to play Barbies with others, I wanted to sit by myself and invent my own storyline. I could play for hours by myself. As I got into high school, I much preferred being at home by myself or with a small group of friends than being in a big group. Sleepovers were demanding and exhausting for me. In being an introvert, though, I realized that this desire for solitude could potentially hamper me from reaching my goals, so worked very hard to allow extroversion a place inside me. Since then, I have learned how to enjoy groups and follow that up with a space for solitude, something I need to better serve my teachers and students and be a better wife and mother.
An introvert’s awareness of strengths and weaknesses can also manifest itself in negative ways. This understanding has the potential to make introverts hyper-critical of themselves and of others. The recognition of a failing can sometimes be debilitating. They might work feverishly to change that part of themselves, or it could render them incapacitated from participating in the things they enjoy. Also, we occasionally make the assumption that others are as critical of themselves as we are of ourselves. This is something that can create distance in relationships with others. Our high standards inadvertently get foisted onto others, making it difficult to navigate the waters of social connection.
What you can do:
Encourage your partner’s passions! Buy them books about the topic they’re interested in, learn about the subject, create experiences where they can cultivate their love of this passion.
Don’t destroy their passion for this subject by belittling it. If they want to talk about the varying types of flora and fauna in Southeast Texas or the best type of essential oil for burns and blisters, listen to them.
Don’t let them be so hard on themselves or you. Tell them it’s ok to not be perfect. Encourage a growth mindset with your loved one, but let them know that it’s ok to let something go–something we find very difficult to do.
In an extension of the above, introverts are often hyper-focused. Once they set their mind toward a goal, they commit. They commit so hard. You can always count on an introvert to run their dreams down and capture them with both hands! If they dream of writing a book, they write a book. If they dream of being a stay at home mom, they figure out a way to make it work. This laser-vision on a singular goal is what makes them annoyingly special. But, it is also why they find it hard to take a break from writing their doctoral thesis (or this blog) to take a vacation, or why they are in a hurry to rush to work and complete a presentation that isn’t due for a couple of days or even weeks.
It’s not that we don’t want to spend time with you, it’s that we have established a goal and a time frame, and we have to complete the task before we can concentrate on relaxation (sort of oxymoronic, I know.) Otherwise, the unfinished task will consume our waking (and–sometimes–sleeping) moments, leaving us unable to focus on more important things like board games with the family or enjoying new experiences. Coupled with our intense desire for perfection, this hyper-focus can sometimes lead to extraordinary stress for the introvert and–in effect–frustration for the extrovert.
What you can do:
Encourage your partner to pursue their dreams! It invigorates them to achieve their goals, reminding them of their power.
Help them reach their goals. Whether through taking the kiddos for a couple of hours or by joining them in their quest for success, they appreciate that you appreciate this quality.
Remind them to stop and smell the roses, even when they don’t think they have time.
When Hubby and I were pregnant with K, we were pretty solid in our desire to have a healthy baby over one gender or another. However, upon hearing that Hubby’s first baby would be a boy, he gave a loud “WHOOP!” and promptly lifted the X-Ray technician into a giant, crushing hug, gave her a little shake back and forth, and put her back on her feet. He, later, proceeded to high five anyone he passed, including doctors, nurses, and random people sitting in the waiting room. That moment exemplifies how he feels every emotion–to the extreme. If he’s happy, he’s incandescent. If he’s angry, he is flaming. He is a true extrovert in this respect, emotions always at the ready and visible for all to see.
Where extroverts tend to explode with whatever emotion they are feeling, introverts hang onto the emotions and marinate on them. Still waters run deep for introverts. They tend to be cautious, reflective, and even calm with their emotions, thinking through the ins and outs of that emotion before displaying it. Even when they do feel strongly about something, they are typically reserved on the outside–even if turbulent on the inside. After finding out that baby K was a boy, I was joyous. But, Hubby kept saying, “Oh my gosh! Aren’t you excited?!?!” Of course! I was ecstatic, but I relished my joy in silence and serenity, dreaming of the house filled with a rambunctious little boy and his man-child father, imagining tiny baby boy snuggles. I certainly did not assault the X-Ray Tech over it (a story that we still laugh about regularly.)
What you can do:
When you buy your introvert something nice, and they don’t jump up and down screaming, it doesn’t mean they don’t love the gift or the thought behind it.
Don’t take their emotions at “face” value. Probe with questions to ensure you can get to the bottom of what they are truly feeling.
Remind them that it’s ok to “hoot and holler” with happiness, scream in anger, and sob in sadness. It’s good for an introvert’s soul to let those emotions out.
When my husband and I hit a particularly rough patch in our marriage, we began seeking out ways to help us navigate our extraordinary differences. In doing so, we both took the 5 Love Languages quiz (https://www.5lovelanguages.com/). What we found is that we have entirely different ways of speaking and hearing love. For him, a true extrovert, “words of affirmation” gave him the outside validation he needed. In truth, most extroverts operate similarly; they are extrinsically motivated–whether in marriage, at their job, or in life. Extroverts want you to be proud of them, and they are invigorated by the praise of others–something I needed to learn about my husband.
Introverts, on the other hand, tend to get their validation from inside themselves. Where extroverts want others to be proud of them, introverts want to feel proud of themselves. We want to see the fruits of our labors in the world around us. Self-starters by nature, we picture our goals, pursue them, and find joy when the work is accomplished. While it’s certainly nice to hear that other people appreciate us and our work, we don’t have to have it to continue doing the work. Sometimes, however, we make the poor assumption that others are similarly motivated. We want the extrovert to want to do the dishes without our request/direction. We assume others are self-starters, and we sometimes forget to provide the outside validation our extroverts desperately need. We might forget to tell you how much we appreciate you doing the dishes–even if we had to ask you to do it.
What you can do:
Don’t laugh when they pick up another task to complete, and don’t be frustrated when they seem to work feverishly on their varied tasks in lieu of spending time with you. It’s not that they don’t love you.
Tell your partner you appreciate them. Even though they don’t need outside validation, it is still nice to have.
Remind them that you do need to hear you are appreciated. We don’t mean to forget about your needs, but we are sometimes so inward-looking that we forget.
Mostly, it’s important to realize that what makes you both different is also what makes you unique and interesting. Having such varied interests and needs, while demanding, can also help you grow into better, more well-rounded people. Without my extrovert husband, I wouldn’t have had such wonderful opportunities to meet so many great people. I would be less successful at my demanding job. I would be a less-than mom.
I would likely be a cat lady, living in a hermitage, reading books, and eating snacks.
“An extrovert looks at a stack of books and sees a stack of papers, while an introvert looks at the same stack and sees a soothing source of escape.” –Eric Samuel Timm