My Truth

This is my truth. A word of caution, it’s not pretty. It’s not PG, it’s going to surprise some, and it might make some of you really uncomfortable.

My truth is that I am a woman that has had her gender used against her. I know what it’s like to have a man think that because of his position of power, he could be completely inappropriate with me. Sometimes it has been with words. Sometimes it has been with actions. Each time, it cut deep. And each time it left a mark that, as much as I wanted to pretend it didn’t, marked up the heart of who I was.

If, men in power, males that knew me, felt that somehow I didn’t amount to much more than the physical parts that made me, perhaps they were right? If it had been once, maybe I could have bounced back. But when time and time again the same message begins to be spoken, whether you want it to or not, it begins to seep in. And it did.

I spent much of my life acting out the belief that I was here for the use and entertainment of men. I wasted way too much of my time and far too much of myself on this erroneous idea. Sure, at 41, I can see how God worked these things to make me who I am. And I can be grateful.

But…

years of pain, scars that run bone deep, so much wasted energy and potential, these are the things I want to save other young girls and women from experiencing. I want my daughter to know that no man, celebrity, wealthy, presidential or otherwise, can boil her down simply to her parts. No man has the right to grab her by her anything. She is hers alone.

I didn’t march, but THIS is why I could have.

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We Can Do Better

As of late, we’ve started doing something very dangerous. We are painting with broad broad strokes these days. Giant swaths with too wide brushes. We are generalizing and grouping and assigning stereotypes and categories. Somewhere along the way (thank you social media, thank you technology that lets us “know” or “follow” the world without ever breaking bread or sharing space with a single actual person?), we have forgotten that humanity was created with tiny intricate brush strokes. Created unique and wonderful and with detail and in the most amazing image. Each of us with our own backstory and struggle and joy. Individual moments that have defined our journeys and helped determine our steps.

But what we’ve done is stop looking at the bud, the twig, the leaf, the branch, the bark, the trunk and the roots. We see only forests – thick and dense and overgrown. We have let our view stop there. No longer different types- all just one.

In our 140 character society, we grow bored if we have to dig deeper. A story more than two paragraphs requires too much time to read. Discovering what lies beyond the headline, behind the banner- it just takes more effort than our short attention spans want to spend. We want it all to fit in a box, a designated area we create.

So we group millions of people marching as one thing. We decide a particular group of voters are all “this” and the other group is all “that.” If you didn’t march you don’t care, you agree and support and go along with it all. If you did you are a liberal, whiny democrat. An unpatriotic feminist.

I think we are getting it wrong. People are so rarely absolutes, just one thing. By refusing to see the varying degree of depths and nuances of people, we are missing so much. We are missing the beauty afforded us. There are dimensions we are leaving unnoticed. What a horrible waste.

It frustrates and frightens me. But I have hope. I have hope because I can make a difference. If just in my small circle, I plan to keep trying to see more than 140 characters worth of a person. I plan to treat people better than they deserve. I plan to offer kindness, even when it’s hard. I plan to look for the detail of each small leaf in the midst of the forest. Because I don’t want to miss the beauty. There is more treasure to be found than I deserve, but I’m going to look for it. It’s the wealth of a life well lived.

We can do better.

Simple Like Me

I am a simple girl. Making me smile doesn’t take much. Catching a glimpse of my sweet “outside” kitty asleep on the pillows of my bed. Overhearing laughter, whether of strangers or people I know. Feeling the sun shine on my face, eyes closed, arms spread, palms turned up ready to receive every bit of warmth being offered.

The sound of the deep belly laugh of a baby- the kind that is so complete it nearly takes every breath and effort the child has.  The sound of someone in their own world, singing along to the piped in music, not even aware that they are providing a concert in aisle three between the mustard and mayonnaise.

Seeing someone give up their seat for a stranger.  Watching as a soldier walk through an airport and people walk up to say thank you.  Even the sight of someone leaving behind their quarter in the cart rental place at the grocery store.

So many simple reasons to smile.

And to a stranger, I’m sure it looks as though I’m up to something. This woman walking around with a silly grin on her face. One that indicates some sort of knowing.

But it’s true. I do know. I know that a grateful heart is a happy heart (thank you for your wisdom Larry the Cucumber).  In the midst of a bad day or a bad week or a bad life, if we look up trying to find little things for which to be grateful, something happens. A tiny shift. Our hearts lighten, if even an imperceptible amount. And reasons to smile show up. A found penny on the ground. A parking spot up close.

The turning up of the edges of our mouths might be slight at first. But the more places we look to find reasons to smile, and the more simple things we choose to smile about, eventually, we smile from our whole mouths, our whole faces, our whole hearts.

People will wonder what we’re up to. What is it we know?  And like all secrets too juicy not to share, we’ll smile at them, with our knowing. Like an arrow from Cupid’s bow, that smile will reach them. If we’re lucky, that will be the beginning of the tiny shift in them. Because the truth is, we could use a world full of simple.