This week the nation has watched my state endure—and survive—a devastating natural catastrophe named Harvey. We’ve seen images of people being plucked from their rooftops, saved from rushing waters by human chains and hoisted by helicopter, holding their babies. Shock, sadness and overwhelming disbelief are understandably common among the residents. We’ve also seen resilience, hope and sheer determination as volunteers brought their fishing boats, kayaks and large trucks from all over the nation, with an “I just have to do something” mindset, working themselves to exhaustion. Continue Reading
I STILL haven't unpacked my photos, so I don't have one of my grandmother. This is me, a few years older than when I "axed Mamie's floor!"
One of my earliest memories is sitting in a pool of Wesson Oil, smacking my hands on the linoleum floor my grandmother had just waxed. When my grandmother, I called her Mamie, told me this story, she said she walked into her kitchen to see me smearing Wesson Oil around with my hands and saying, “Axing Mamie’s floors! I’m axing Mamie’s floors!”
I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandmother, wishing I could tell her how much I admired her strength and thank her for being my role model.
Irena Sendler who saved thousands of Jewish children
While passing through an airport security check, actress Ashley Judd had a major meltdown. At fault was a screener who called her “sweetheart” and complimented her dress. She branded his comments “everyday sexism.”
This got me thinking about the women who came before us.
Esther Zimmer has written a brilliant series “The Pro-Body Project,” revealing her personal journey navigating self-worth, food and body image. Her insightful posts have given us a reality check as we consider what is most important in life, versus how the world dictates we define our own beauty.
As I reflect on my recent trip to Uganda, I think about the amazing women who have been through unthinkable tragedy and poverty, and have displayed strength and resilience that most of us will never have to muster. But they are liberated in many ways.
They don’t stress over the size of their thighs or what they look like from behind. They don’t worry about the latest fashion trend. They are lucky to have a change of clothes. They don’t have to talk themselves into getting daily exercise because they walk everywhere they go, tend their gardens with sweat running down their faces, and work sunup to sundown taking care of their own families and others. Thankfully, they are not immersed in Western culture, where we women are constantly comparing our looks and body parts to Photoshopped images in social media and magazines. They have no choice but to accept their bodies as they are. I have to believe there is abundant freedom in that.
As we look at what we get caught up in daily, let’s also look at what we can learn from women who live humble yet difficult lives.
- Love the body you have. You were lovingly put together by a Creator who took special interest in the colors of your hair, eyes and skin. He gave you a unique shape, and whether you are a square, circle, oval or triangle, it was carefully planned before you were even born. Strive to be healthy, not perfect.
- Support other women, don’t compete with them. The women I met in Uganda live in community and they know they can depend on one another. How many really good friends do you have? How many could you count on to take care of your needs when you are sick, struggling financially or dealing with depression? How many do you share your deepest emotions with? Women need other women to lean on—it is essential to our emotional wellbeing. Spend time cultivating deep, authentic relationships, with several BFFs you can call any hour of the day for any need you have.
- Express gratitude every day. No matter how bad your day seems, there is always something to be grateful for. And it’s likely someone, somewhere, is having a worse day. Celebrate the miracle of your body, the beauty of the magnificent universe, having food on your table every day. I met women who had been widowed or abandoned, raising their children and others who had been orphaned due to HIV or malaria. I saw women who have been raped and beaten, still bearing the emotional and physical scars. They were all singing and dancing as they joined together in worship, with smiles that were contagious. I heard so many times, “Thank you for loving us enough to come here.” I felt truly appreciated.
True beauty comes from within. It is found in strength of character, courage, and a generous spirit. No matter what your shape or size you are, no matter how many gray hairs or wrinkles you have, you are beautiful, just because you are you.
I did it. I chased my lion. My two friends and I just returned from a trip to Uganda where we led women’s conferences in two remote communities. Instead of being confronted with a giant, I found a lamb, in an impoverished country filled with women who have so little, but who are rich in spirit.
My life will never be the same.
The women of northern Uganda possess inner strength and faith unlike any other women I know. Many were raped and beaten during the war, and many lost their husbands to Kony’s horrific murders, HIV or malaria. Many never had husbands, but were left behind by men who refused to commit to a pregnant partner. Continue Reading
A few years ago Fifi Froelich reached the point where she couldn’t see herself living the rest of her life in Dayton, Ohio. Not that there’s anything wrong with Dayton. She’d lived there for 66 years and worked as an educational psychologist in an urban school system. All her life she’d done everything she was supposed to do. She was glad she’d been there when everyone needed her, but after she retired, Fifi needed more. She wondered, “Is that all there is?”
“I told my husband if I sit anymore on the couch, I’ll die of a stroke.”
As my sixth decade approaches I find myself obsessed with the preserving of memories. Especially the memories of loved ones that have passed before me. It’s been important for me to document our lives for those we’ll eventually leave behind. Not only our personal information, but our first-hand-accounts of historical events and how we reacted to them.
Eighteen-years-ago my brother was murdered. He was 26.
Driving around my Austin neighborhood recently, I spotted the addition of a new road sign. The yellow “Speed Bumps” had been replaced with one that reads “Speed Cushions.” Well that’s a relief. Or just good marketing by the road caretakers? Did driving over them feel any different to my car and passengers? How we reframe things in our minds makes them easier to embrace. Wrinkles around the mouth? Laugh lines. Muffin top-ness? Love handles.
It made me wish that my gyno nurse practitioner embraced the fine art of euphemisms. For 15 years we had our annual trysts on the exam table… me in the stirrups; she with the ice cold metal thingy.
One of my favorite words is “beginning” because it conveys strength and hope. In the beginning everything is shiny and new. We’re brimming with good intentions and lots of can do attitude.
Beginning, again, is what our bodies do without our conscious awareness. With each new breath we refresh our brain and our other organs. It’s part of what God thoughtfully set in motion when He created man in His own image, and it’s one of the keys to our survival. Continue Reading
I have supported the Aids Memorial from the very beginning because what is remembered, lives. My generation of hair stylists, makeup artists, models, photographers… Everyone was affected by AIDS.
I knew I was at risk.