March 31, 2015

Why Do Women Stay Silent?

Why do women stay silent? 

I've wondered about this for awhile. I still struggle against it. Yesterday I had the perfect opportunity to speak up and didn't, then later wrestled with why I'd stayed silent. I know at times it's fear ~ of what others will think, of not knowing the right words, or of looking stupid. Sometimes it may be because of what we were taught about being ladylike. 

Things like:
*It's not ladylike to dominate the conversation.
*It's not ladylike to interrupt.
*It's not ladylike to share your opinions unless someone asks.

I don't know that I actually heard these things being said as much as I felt the expectations. I knew instinctively that it was more okay for the boys in class to share their opinion than the girls. I knew that I would be considered brazen in Sunday School to question the teacher and the lesson. 

I knew that being sweet was a girl's superpower and standing up for others didn't always look sweet.

Awhile ago I read Cheryl Sandburg's book, Lean In, where she observed women in meetings sitting in chairs around the room instead of sitting at the table. Meanwhile, the men took all the seats around the table. She addressed the gravity of this and how we need to learn to lean-in and lead to change the future.

I identified with her example. I had unknowingly done that many times. I think it was partly my lack of self-confidence to have anything significant to say, but it was also an underlying belief that those people sitting at the table were more important than me and anything they said would be more important than my words.

This is such a grave problem because if we as women don't step up and become leaders of today, our daughters, nieces  and friends will not know it's okay to do that tomorrow.

I recently read an article about Iceland women who all rallied together one day and walked off their jobs, whether in the work force or at home. It completely shut Iceland down. Businesses couldn't operate, schools couldn't function, and transportation couldn't run. Because of that one day and the significance it showed of life without women, they garnered pay increases and were the first democratic country to bring in a female president.

They not only spoke up, they walked out on their own security. They took a huge risk. I'm sure it was intimidating and terrifying to participate in something that might not have been encouraged by their bosses and families. 

But with their actions they spoke, and the country heard.

And while I may want to berate myself for not speaking up when the opportunity was there, I realize how much more aware I am of my silence. I'm learning to recognize when I'm quiet and question the reasons so I can get to the root of my fears. I have learned to speak much more than I used to and this skill will only grow with more awareness.

Let's encourage each other to stop being silent. Let's join together and speak up!

March 30, 2015

Much Love Monday

I've been enjoying homemade granola bars topped with whipped coconut cream (no sweetener) // Love this design my sister sharpied one year for Christmas on a coffee mug // This log book is the best diary I've ever kept! Quick and to the point, it's easier to keep track of for collecting a fun record of my days // Raggedy Ann has traveled with me from a long time ago. My kids think she's a little frightening but I find her sweet. She reminds me of childhood. // And who could resist these eyelashes?! He's the sweetest little guy. //

What are you loving today?

March 27, 2015

29 Gifts

I found this book in a used bookstore stuffed between hundreds of biographies and memoirs. Something about the cover caught my attention. Not because of the cover (although it is cute) but because I couldn't help wondering why the number twenty-nine and why would they be giving gifts. I'd recently read a book about gratitude with thank-you notes, so this seemed to compliment that.

I set a goal to read a memoir this month and in the spirit of minimalism I wanted to read something I already owned. This book had been sitting on my shelf for over two months and it caught my eye as I worked at my desk one day. I pulled it out and cracked open the cover to skim the first page. If a book can't grab me on the first page, then it's not going to keep my attention. As I skimmed I found myself sitting there thirty minutes later still reading ~ it was a keeper.

It's the story of a woman who was diagnosed with MS (multiple sclerosis) and who is feeling suicidal. She calls her spiritual director who gives her a "prescription". The prescription is to give away 29 gifts in 29 days. The gifts don't have to be expensive or even materialistic things ~ time and attention could count.

I won't spoil the story for you, but through her process and the simple act of giving, her entire life begins to change. It has inspired me to consider taking the challenge myself.

Have you ever done something like that? Has giving ever changed your perspective?

March 26, 2015

For the Love of Color

Color is something that often takes my breath away. I saw a video the other day for glasses that allow color-blind people to see colors they've never experienced before. I teared up watching their responses upon seeing green and red for the first time. The privilege of seeing color is something I often take for granted. But when I come across something beautiful, like artistic walls on a random building, I'm reminded what a pleasure it is. Something so simple and yet so moving.

Wishing you a color filled day today!

March 25, 2015

Spring Break

We hopped over to Oklahoma City during our Spring Break and had a fantastic time. It's always fun to get away from routine and enjoy new surroundings with your favorite people.

We went to the zoo first. We saw a huge brown bear scratching his back on a tree. My favorite part was the baby elephant. We couldn't get very close to her but here is a fuzzy shot because I couldn't leave without a photo.

Sooo cute. And I especially loved the butterfly exhibit. ;)

Afterwards we went to the OKC Bombing Memorial. Obviously emotional and invoking of deep thoughts. We like to sober our kids on vacation. Then to end on a happier note, we went to an Escape Game. 

They lock you in a room with clues everywhere and you have an hour to figure out the code to the door to get out. We knew we would either conquer the code or kill each other trying, ha. It turned out to be a fantastic team-building experience. We had so much fun and finished with fifteen minutes to spare! Which apparently is good because only 38% actually crack the code. Yay Team Denton!

I love taking little trips like this, and fortunately my husband is the best at planning unique, interesting adventures for us.

What's your favorite kind of getaway?

March 12, 2015

Lettering Love

Growing up, I loved practicing my penmanship. I would obsess on whatever letter of the alphabet needed improving. If I saw someone's handwritten D that was waaay cooler than mine, I would practice over and over until I got it like theirs. I had pages of letters in my notebook. Even now, I geek out at the thought of lined paper, or graph paper. All those lines just waiting to be filled!

So, when I won this amazing book (above) from the blog OhMyHandmade along with a handful of delicious pens, I was ecstatic! If you know me at all, you know that pens are my thang. If I have a favorite pen, you better STAY AWAY! Er, I mean . . . please may I have that back when you're finished? tap-tap-tap *glaring stare*

I love the lettering craze going on right now. The options are almost overwhelming. It's like being in a library full of your favorite authors and trying to pick one book!

Needless to say I've already read through Creative Lettering and Beyond once and tried some of the techniques. I may share my progress later as I go along.

Do you love lettering? Have you tried your hand at any fancy techniques like calligraphy? What's your favorite style?

March 5, 2015

The Pulse of Essentials

It's taken me awhile to find the pulse between what is essential in life and what is not. I've whittled it down to my main essentials, which are: family, community, learning, justice and empathy. They encompass the heart of what I care about; and what I'm steering my life towards.

I used to live life like a game of dodgeball, running around trying to dodge failing or disappointing people ~ the equivalent of chasing the urgent and diminishing the important. People would need help with something or need a favor or need a project done and I said yes, when I wanted to say no. If I mustered up the courage to say no, I felt guilty. Berating myself, I'd pour over it again and again, trying to see if there was any way I could jump through the other person's hoop and actually do what they wanted. 

But over time, through the wisdom of good friends, mentors and inspiring authors; I learned how to say no. In fact, I went through almost a year of pulling back from all my obligations and paring back to the bones. What I found was freedom. Without spending my energy on everything else, I could actually focus on the few important things I wanted to pour myself into. I was more productive, more creative, more present.

And's so easy to forget this lesson. While I've trained myself not to commit to anything until I've thought about it, I still have those times I forget or take on a bit too much. I'm better at spotting now and take care not to add more.

Finding the why behind what I agree to is always important. If I can pinpoint what I'm hoping to gain out of doing something for whomever is asking, then I can objectively evaluate if this goes along with my essentials or not. If, perhaps, I'm wanting to help out a friend; well that's not wrong, but is this the right time? If I also have my college daughter coming home that day and she's wanting to spend time with me, then that may change my priorities. But if I am free and clear then it might be a yes.

Sometimes however, I know that what I'm asked to do will drain the only energy I have for my essentials. Those times I decline whether my schedule is clear or not.

I've found these questions to help me in my decision-making:

1. Why do I want to do this?
2. Is this part of my essentials?
3. Would this time be better spent on other things?

The why is the biggest part. If I'm wanting to do something to impress someone or keep someone from being upset with me, then I know those are selfish reasons and I'm not doing it out of love. If I'm not doing it out of love then I won't be the best person for the job. Or if I feel the task is necessary, then perhaps it's my attitude that needs to shift.  When I genuinely want to help and I can't uncover wrong motives, then I can forge ahead with a clear conscience.

What about you? Do you find it difficult to say no? What are your essentials?

March 2, 2015

Five March Goals

Wow, I cannot believe February is gone. This year is moving crazy~rapid. But I'm happy we finally got snow at the finish line of winter. I know there are people who've had heaps of it and hate it to death, but we'd not missed one school day by the end of January and I was feeling miffed. To my happy surprise, February brought several little snowstorms that gave us just enough slickness to stay in ~ and I adore staying in on a snow day!!

But today's post is about goals and now it's time to find out how I did last month on mine:

1. Write 1000 words each weekday. I should've given myself a little more slack than a thousand words each weekday. I should've just set a number goal and worked to achieve it; even if it didn't happen each day. Ah well...I did get writing done and that's the important thing.

2. Practice Spanish sounds and spellings in my Anki trainers (by Fluent Forever) daily. Yes! I'm getting faster at this by the minute which makes me so happy!

3. See the movie, You're Not You. I can't believe I didn't finish this one ~ seeing movies is one of my favorite things, gah! It just seems with snow days and various things I didn't make it to the theater. Well, hopefully I can catch up to watch it in March.

4. Get rid of two more garbage bags of stuff. I did, I did! And I could probably unload even more from my kitchen. I'm determined to do that soon.

5. Read two books. Oh yes, delicious ones. I love you, library.

That's not too bad a start for the year, but I hope to get even more goals marked off for this month.

Here are my five March goals:

1. Stay off the scale. {Did you chuckle?}This may seem like a silly one, but I'm giving myself a month off from checking weight. What is it with us and being obsessed with this number? I want to just focus on eating my best and staying active so I feel good. Staying off the scale will give me that chance.

2.  Write 5,000 words this month. That's a low number for an entire month, but I'm going to set myself up for success this time!

3.  Read a memoir and a writing book. These are two of my favorite kinds of books, so this is a pleasure goal.

4.  Reduce clutter in the kitchen. I'd love to see at least one large bag gone by the end of the month.

5. Surprise someone in need of company. We've had lots of sickness with elderly friends who might like a visit.

What are you hoping to do in March?