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Posts Tagged ‘strength’

So the inspirational high lasted about a week.  Yesterday, the ‘give-ups’ started hanging around and today they are invading in full force.

Am I schizophrenic?

There are days when I wonder.  I feel like there are two distinct people in my head:  The loving, motivational positive one and the other one (duh, duh, duh).

Do you ever feel sabotaged by yourself?

Here’s how it goes for me:

Loving, motivational me (LMM):  Wow!  I’d really love to do a triathlon.

Negative, saboteur me (NSM):  What are you crazy…You can’t do that.  You’re:

  • Too old
  • Not in good enough shape. There’s not enough time to train.
  • Not a swimmer/runner
  • Not going to be able to finish it.  You’re probably going to drown.
  • Lazy. Not motivated enough
  • Not up to it.  That’s way too hard.
  • Going to make a fool of yourself in front of all the real triathletes

Just quit now.  That will save you lots of time and energy.

 

LMM:  What if I write a poetry book for kids! My poems are really fun.  People would enjoy them just like I enjoyed (and still do) Shel Silverstein!

 

NSM:  That’s a good idea, BUT:

  • You don’t know a publisher…who would even publish them?
  • You’re too old
  • You’ve never studied or gotten an education in writing…not good enough.
  • Nobody really cares about your silly poems anyway, nobody has time for fun anymore
  • You’re wasting your time.  Go out, get a job, and be productive!

 

LMM:  Other people make their dreams happen.  If they can do it, so can I!

NSM:  They’re not you.  You can’t.  You’re:

  • Not good enough/Not talented enough
  • Too old
  • FOOLING YOURSELF!

Come on.  You’re really wasting your time with all these ideas.  You’re insignificant.  Nobody cares.  It doesn’t matter.  Anyway, you don’t really want to work that hard do you? Just go watch a movie and forget about it!

 

LMM:  But I know I can!!!

NSM:  You’re kidding yourself

LMM:  I think I can?

NSM:  Still kidding yourself

LMM:  Really???

NSM: Yup…give it up already.

 

So who do I listen to?  Well, that’s easy…LMM, Right?

 

Yeah, that would be the logical, uplifting choice. However, NSM makes such logical arguments and she’s unrelenting. The girl just seems to never give up.  And, after all, she’s the voice of reality, right? – not the ‘let’s make life happily ever after’ or ‘wish upon a star and make all your dreams come true’ voice. Why don’t all the self-help gurus talk about her?  Am I the only messed up one with these derogatory voices in my head all the time?  How does one ever get past it?

 

I DON’T KNOW!

 

Today, I don’t have inspirational answers.  Today, I really want to give up.  No, I don’t really want to give up, I just feel that I’m really not going to be able to do any of it and I just need to give up ‘cause I’m not good enough.

 

I can still feel LMM back there giving me a pep talk telling me not to give up, but she’s really far away today sitting under the thick blanket of NSM “Give it ups”.

 

The invasion is in full force and I really would like LMM to win.  Wish me luck – In fact…Wish us all luck!

 

 

 

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Have you ever accomplished something that seems so big that it is almost impossible?

I’m 45 today!  Yup, it’s my birthday.  I recently decided that this was the year that I was going to do the things that I always thought I would do someday – starting with a triathlon.  Go Me! (I know. I’ve never been one for starting too small).  Now, as I have been told by all the inspirational gurus:

I can accomplish anything given enough desire, persistence, blah, blah, blah.

Here’s the catch:

  • I’ve never been a swimmer.
  • Triathlons include swimming.

Yes, I’ve splashed in pools and swum short distances, but mostly where I touch bottom or wear a life jacket.  I also have a pretty real fear of drowning thrown in the mix as my grandfather and sister both drowned.

 

So 3 weeks ago I faced my fears, bought a membership at a pool, and started my swim training.

 

Day 1: 1 length of the pool without stopping!

 

Not bad, right?…until I found out that the triathlon sprint (the shortest triathlon possible – I’m not completely crazy) will require about 28 laps.  A lap is one way, right?  WRONG…54-56 lengths of the pool (maybe I am crazier than I think?)

 

But here’s the good news.  3 weeks later, I am swimming 4 lengths…Only 50 to go!  (Sigh)

 

I have to consistently remind myself that I am making progress (I think I can, I think I can…) and I have created a new mantra while I’m in the water.  “I am a strong and confident swimmer” has replaced “Are you totally crazy?  There’s no way you’re going to be able to do this!”IMG_20140321_110008

 

We’ll see.  I think I can!

 

If anyone out there has some input on making this desire a reality, please share!  I’ll keep chugging along, but would love any additional support, inspiration, or advice.

 

Thanks and I’ll let you know the results come August…Can I do it???

 

I think I can!

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Strength in softness? That sounds oxymoronic. Is it even possible to be strong and soft at the same time? When I think of strong, I think of things like steel and oak, not cotton and downy feathers. I think of big muscles, unwavering positions, and people in power. I think of men…sorry women, but it’s true.

I have an image from my adolescence of Arnold Schwarzenegger with his shirt off and his muscles rippling every which way saying to us, “I will pump…you up”. He was a definitive symbol of strength to me…and ironically he continued on to be a political voice in our world, increasing his power and strength. My brain made a connection that this is what it meant to be strong.

Strength = Muscular Power

So here’s a truth I had a hard time making peace with: In contrast to men, women are soft. Yep, it’s really true. Physically, we have a higher percentage of body fat than men and most of us have curves and round hips and physical softness. Here’s the part that’s NOT TRUE: SOFT=WEAK. As a society we have come to view physical softness as BAD. I did. I viewed myself as weak because I was soft. I labeled myself as fat or flabby or un-toned or weak and in all these cases, those labels were something negative…something I did not want to be and something that made me unhappy with my feminine (weak) form. I lifted weights to compensate and became as physically strong as I could be because that was somehow better than being soft (weak).

It may be true that men in general are physically stronger than women, but does that mean women are weaker? NO! It merely means we are strong in a different way. We are strong in our softer feminine forms.

If we separate ourselves from the omnipresent masculine mindset, we’re able to see the strengths of the feminine physique. Softer and rounder than the masculine, our feminine bodies are like body pillows, cushioning in warmth and allowing for total relaxation and release. To be fully embraced by our feminine curves, roundness, and softness is to enter a place of safety, comfort, and peace. It is to be given permission to let go of worries, fears, and stresses. It is to enter a space of being in a world of doing.

Where do children first go for comfort, when they are hurting, when they are tired, when they are afraid? They go to the arms of the mother. They are comforted and safe in the arms of the feminine. Embrace me and release your fears. Embrace me and let the worries of the world fade away. Embrace me and let me take away your pain. The gentle, soft arms of the feminine are strong enough to hold all the burdens of the world and carry them away.

But there’s more. Being raised in this patriarchal society, I spent most of my life not only trying to be physically strong, but also trying to be forcefully strong in order to compete. After all, being forceful…being loud…being aggressive… That’s how we get things done in this world. Armies are forceful, politicians are loud and aggressive, and the winning army, country, or political party gets to create the new rules. Police officers, firemen, lawyers, managers, and professional and Olympic athletes are all forceful and demanding in achieving their goals.

But beyond humans, we also see strong forces in nature. Our landscapes and lives are drastically transformed by the powerful forces of nature: tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, psunamis, volcanic eruptions, avalanches, etc. The powerful forces of nature are loud and forceful and result in change.

There you have it: Strength = Force.

But wait!

Is there a way to be powerful and strong without physical strength and force? Is there a way to create change in the world without all the pain and devastation that comes in the wake of these strong forces? Yes, with the softness of the feminine!

So how can there be strength and power in softness?

Consider the transformative power of a gentle breeze on your face, or a soft loving touch, a silent hug, or a kind word. These are the strengths of the feminine. Women, we do have power in our softness! It’s true that you can pound clay into shape, but you can also gently and patiently mold and shape it. You can stand strong in your beliefs, give orders, and demand to be heard, or you can lovingly, quietly listen and compromise a solution.

We do have a choice. We can change our world by externally applying physical strength and force or we can gently and tenderly create change in our world with our softness. The power of our softness allows our world to be transformed by lovingly remolding and reshaping our inner landscapes. The power of softness allows transformation without force and with little pain! Women, the softness of the feminine is exceptionally strong and necessary to our world and will balance out the powerful forces already in existence.

So as a woman of the 21st century, I have decided to stop trying to be strong like a man. I choose to forego the need to be forceful to achieve. I will instead be strong like a woman! I will see the beauty in my curves and my softness. I will be a soft place for people to land in a hard world. I will softly sing lullabies, gently present kind and motivational words, and offer a gentle, compassionate touch and a warm loving embrace to the world. I will embrace the softness of the feminine. I will be a place of comfort in a world of stress. I will guide with a whisper, and I will be a body pillow to the world.

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“Oh, honey, don’t cry…be strong.”

“This might hurt a little, but be brave and don’t cry.”

“Don’t be such a cry baby!”

These are the voices that I heard as a child. I learned at a very early age that “If you cry than you are not strong or brave, but, you are weak and babyish.

The strong ones who can control their tears are looked up to and the weak ones who cannot are pitied and told to stop.

  • We feel embarrassed and ashamed by our tears.
  • We feel disappointed in ourselves for not being able to control our tears.
  • We hide our tears behind hands, tissues, bowed heads and closed doors.

Me, I feel proud of my tears.  I feel strong and powerful when I cry.

This was not always the case.  I had taken the childhood voices to heart.  I believed  I was weaker than others when I cried.  I was ashamed of my tears and quickly learned to stifle my tears as much as possible.  What I didn’t realize at the time was that when I stifled my tears, I stifled my ability to express feeling…I stifled my heart and I stifled my joy as well.  As I opened up to my feelings, I also came to realize the strength of my tears.

But how can crying be a strength?

Crying is a movement of emotions. It is a letting go of feelings. It is a transformative flow of energy. Crying is a powerfully transformative release. When we cry, we release pain, we release frustration, we release stress, and we even release extreme joy. We allow these feelings to flow freely from us leaving space for new possibilities and for healing.

You cannot fix a broken pipe if you cannot get through the wall to reach it. You cannot treat a wound if you cannot get through the protective dressing. Crying is a strong tool which allows us to get through the wall and find the broken pipe. Crying unwinds the layers of protection that we have wrapped around our wounds. Crying opens us up and allows for the opportunity to locate and heal the deep wounds within ourselves.

When we suppress our tears in an attempt to remain strong and in control, what we are actually suppressing is the natural flow of feeling through us. We stifle the natural movement of this feeling energy and in so doing we stagnate the powerful surge of the water of our souls.

It is known that stagnated, unmoving water creates a breeding ground for mosquitoes, algae, bacteria, parasites, and pollutants which in turn, leads to an environment of disease. By holding back our tears, by remaining strong and in control, we are actually creating disease in our bodies, our souls, and our world. We are adding layers of protective covering that prevent us from treating the wounds.

Tears of Snookie by Dan Lacey

By allowing our tears to flow freely into the world we have the power to heal not only ourselves, but others…not only others, but the world. Our tears have the power to transform the landscape of our world as flowing water reforms the earth. Flowing water has the power to redirect rivers. Moving water has the power to cut deep chasms through rock. Crying and the empathy, compassion, and release that accompany it can break down barriers and transmute any situation just as flowing water can erode a mountain; and the faster and more powerful the water is, the more rapidly the transformation takes place.

Our tears are the water of our souls. Our tears have the power to open up and cleanse even the most ingrained and festering of wounds.

So, now, I do not hold back or stifle my tears.  I proudly and confidently let my tears flow and embrace their strong transformative power.  I know that I cannot always control the events of the world, but I can transmute the energy of these events and heal the wounds with my flowing tears. I cry without shame.  I choose movement from self-control and stagnation, to a place of natural flow, and with the power of my tears, I create a new world.

 

I would like to give credit to the unknown photographers of the first three pictures.  I did not take these pictures, but found them on Google images.

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What does it mean to be strong in a masculine world?

Well, in a patriarchal society, it means to be physically strong, it means to be all knowing…able to provide all the answers, and it means to be in control. In short, it means to be like God.

I was raised to be a strong, independent woman.  But, here’s the problem:   I was raised to be strong in a masculine way in a masculine world…and…unless I have been severely mistaken so far…I’m NOT a man.

I was raised in a strict Roman Catholic household. My mother ran the household. She took on the roles of homemaker, caretaker, disciplinarian, and wife. She was strong in her own will and I was ‘trained’ as a child to defer to the will of mother and to the will of God. As she deferred her own will to the will of a masculine God, I ultimately was raised to do the same.

Under the rules of this masculine God, my first duty as a woman was to submit to the will of man. I was to follow the rules and do what I was asked to do without discussion. I was of course created ‘from man and for man’. I was a woman, made from a rib of Adam for the sole purpose of providing him with companionship and offspring. It was expected that I was to marry and raise children and keep my husband (and only my husband) happy and satisfied sexually, but only have sex for the sake of procreation.   But there’s more!

As a woman, I was also a female like Eve and as such I was weak. It was Eve’s (women’s) weakness of will power that led to the fall of not only Adam but of all men.

Even with my religion aside, It was obvious to me that I was of the ‘weaker’ sex.

Men held the power in society and they were physically stronger than women. They were presidents, military leaders, and CEO’s, and had a majority of the control and decision making power in our society.  And not only that, the ‘weakness’ of my gender was also, literally, in my face every time I cried or lost control of my emotions.

My dad didn’t cry. Other men didn’t cry. Crying, after all, happens when you lose control. Men were strong enough to remain in control of their feelings. I apparently was not, but I was a woman. I was allowed to cry because I was a female…enough said.

Conclusion:   MEN: POWERFUL AND STRONG,   WOMEN: SUBMISSIVE, SUPPORTIVE, AND WEAK

But I didn’t want to be weak!  I wanted to be able to prove to the world that I was strong despite the fact that I was female.

I went to college and got educated.  My diploma, presented to me by a man,  proved to me that I now had permission to speak strongly and confidently on the things that I was educated on.  I could now provide others with some answers.  I lifted weights to be physically stronger and felt my internal sense of power grow.  And, I controlled my emotions as much as I could.  I tried my hardest not to cry. I tried to remain stoic in the face of grief, in the face of pain, and even in the face of extreme joy.  Anger came roaring out from time to time, but this emotion was not OK as it was forceful and aggressive and definitely NOT feminine.  I was supposed to keep the peace and be gentle and loving at all times.  So, I locked up my emotions in an effort to prove to the world that, although I was a female, I too was strong.

I was battling through life and feeling stronger all the time.    But I never stopped to consider that I was a woman playing a man’s game.

And then the Goddess entered my life, the divine feminine.  It was then that I realized that it was possible for me to be a woman and play a woman’s game. Through the feminine, I found a strength that was deeper and more real to me than any of the strengths that I was trying to achieve. I found the strength and voice of the feminine.

Ironically, most of these feminine strengths are viewed as weaknesses and, as women, we do whatever we can to avoid them.  We have become so programmed in this masculine game that we cannot even see our feminine strengths.

As I said in the previous post, It is time for us as women to start playing our own game.  We must recognize our strengths and bring them forward to balance the masculine.  Let us be confidently and powerfully feminine!  

WOMEN:  We are strong in our softness and in the movement of our emotions!  We are strong in our roles as hearth holders and space holders! We are strong in our ability to create and nurture life.  These are the three strengths that I will discuss in coming posts.

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