Category Archives: Thoughts on Stuff

Reassuring Beauty

One day, I was at our local library and was watching one of the librarians do her weekly preschool storytime. This woman is not a classic beauty. In fact she’s the type of woman that is probably pretty much ignored. But as I was sitting there that day I realized how much I did, in fact, like how she looked. I realized that if I were to not see women like her anymore I would be so sad or if she suddenly were possessed by the “I should look hot and sexy at 50!” fever, I would not nearly feel so comfortable in her presence. So what was it? I just found her pleasant and reassuring.

Reassuring. Her beauty reassures me. The way she dresses. The way she just IS. It isn’t about a never-ending quest to evoke lust. Or a never-ending quest to avoid ones’ individuality or the passage of time.

I began to take notice of other women who reassured me. Women of all ages and types who just look nice. Decent. Pleasant. Clean. And I saw so so many. Women doing their jobs, or being with their kids. Or studying their school books. Do these women EVER get appreciated for how nice they look? For how they make others feel? Do they appreciate themselves? I know that when I think of myself this way, I definitely appreciate myself more.

Evaluated on this scale, suddenly the vast majority of women and girls (men and boys too!) are enough. Because reassuring beauty is something everyone can attain. It makes no requirements of age or ethnicity or body type or even style.  It simply says “Are others comfortable being around you?” If the answer is yes, then really isn’t that plenty? Frankly it really evens the playing field and creates a much less competitive culture.

The Lord gave Adam and Eve everything they ever could have needed or wanted and the serpent convinced Eve that it wasn’t enough. Isn’t that what’s happening now? Only the Devil could convince legions of perfectly lovely women and girls that they aren’t enough. This is why I believe it is so important to turn away from influences that preach otherwise. These messages aren’t positive and they aren’t of the Lord.

Have a wonderful day and I hope you appreciate yourself and how reassuring you are to others by embracing yourself just as you are.

[Edit: Thank you This is a Woman for including my previous post in your weekly awesome list. It was fun to have many new visitors!]

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Fasting

Has anyone out there tried fasting?

I did my first fast today and did really well…until bedtime! At 10:30pm I just could not fall asleep and I have VBS at 8am tomorrow. So I got up and had some cereal and avocado. I’m wondering how folks finish a fast? The getting-to-sleep part.

Anyway, I’ve thought of the subject of fasting for a little while. A friend of mine had a growth on her thyroid that kept on growing and her doctors recommended surgery to remove the thyroid completely. Not wanting the surgery (cutting into the neck, eek!) or wanting to be on thyroid supplements for the rest of her life, she tried EVERYTHING to try and help her body heal itself. She went to a nutritionist and followed a strict diet (of what I don’t know). She cut out all artificial stuff including chemical hair-care products. And she tried other healing arts like accupuncture. Nothing changed.

Then she read The New Fast Girls: Fasting: An Ancient Practice for the Modern Girl and was inspired. She began doing a weekly fast on Mondays. She kept this discipline for three months and in this time she lost 11lbs with no other effort and her thyroid growth actually shrunk (although it still is not fully gone). She was sold. She is completely convinced of the healing properties of a regular fast.

My own pastor is a very dedicated faster. During lent he usually fasts from sugar and is completely vegan, but during Holy Week he fully fasts for seven days. He says by day three you are really rolling, and your sensory experience is very much heightened. He says that it is good to give your organs a rest. I’ve read that a three day fast fully cleanses the blood.

Three days sounds like a super-long time to me when you have kids to take care of. Even a whole-day fast seemed daunting. So I never tried it.

But on Saturday we were at a party and there was so. much. food. Mucho comiendo. I was so full I couldn’t sleep (sheesh maybe I just have trouble sleeping) and I figured why not just give my digestive system a break on Sunday? So I did. And here I am. With a sort-of completed fast.

Connie from Smockity Frocks wrote of her fasting experience and she has eight kids so I have nothing to compare to that.  A big part of fasting is drawing closer to God through prayer. Realizing how weak we really are without the Lord’s daily provision. I don’t know that I experienced a deeper spiritual fulfillment today, but perhaps I didn’t deny myself long enough. Perhaps at 10:35pm if I had started turning to the Lord to sustain me for the night, rather than marching into my kitchen, I would understand better.

At any rate, during the day I kept my palate busy by constantly sipping iced tea, or water, or Fresca. Who knows if I’ll try it again?

Just some “food for thought”! har har

Have a wonderful day!

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The Gateway Exercise

Do you remember being a kid in jr. high and learning about marijuana being the “gateway drug”? As in, “the drug that leads to other drug use”. Well, I’ve found my Gateway Exercise. As in, “the exercise that gets me exercising more.”

That’s right. It’s Zumba. And I’m totally the chick in the rain!

It’s been awesome and I definitely recommend these classes if you love to dance. I started about 9 months ago and even though I take other classes at the gym sometimes, or now I’m up to jogging 3 miles a few days a week, whenever I hit a slump a Zumba class will always get me going again. If I don’t want to exercise, if I just GO then ten minutes into the class I’m full of energy and just loving the music and all of a sudden I’m a professional latin dancer…in the rain. Thaaaat’s right.

Now I’ve added jogging to my repertoire and I don’t even LIKE jogging. So how in the heck did I get to jogging?

One day a few weeks ago I just decided that I wanted to do some honest physical activity everyday.  So on a non-Zumba day I started walking in my neighborhood on a path that I know to be a two-mile loop. And the next day during the same walk, I had the energy and decided to jog.

And it was pretty easy.

I was so surprised how well I did jogging almost two miles non-stop when previously I would have been huffing and puffing through the whole thing. I could genuinely feel the increase in my fitness level from the year before and I know it is because of the aerobic conditioning from Zumba.

Feeling pumped about my new ability, I increased my jog to a 3 mile loop and most days I’m able to get through the whole thing without stopping. This doesn’t feel easy though and I know I’ll be at this level for quite some time.

It is very important with exercise to not be a perfectionist about things. It’s ok to just stay at the same level, or to have off days where you don’t do as much. But it’s also really important not to totally give up on this thing called fitness. Something. Anything. It’s important to find that gateway exercise.

This is an awesome video and was quite motivating to me. What is the single best thing we can do for our health? Above all others? (Hint: it’s not losing weight.)

Unfortunately I was never able to find my gateway exercise until after my youngest was a little older. With pregnancy and little babies in the house, it seemed for several years that fitness was mostly a “catch a walk here and there” or “does excessive housecleaning count?” sort of activity. (And yes housework really does count!) And as much as I don’t believe exercise should cost a bunch of money, the truth is I was never able to just jog for exercise on my own. I really needed something else (and still do!) to help break things up. When I’m jogging I have to have so many conversations in my mind to keep from hyper-focusing on my distance or pain. With group classes, my mind is completely occupied by trying to pick up on the instructor’s choreography and the hour flies by.  And so I have a gym membership with a Kids Club. It’s the only thing that has helped me get consistent exercise, so it’s been worth it.

Have a wonderful day!

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Day 171- “If that’s the worst thing that happens to you, consider yourself lucky.”

Do you have a personal mantra that pulls you out of a funk? Well, the above is mine.

Try it. It works for all sorts of situations.

Today I used it on myself because I’m grumpy my husband won’t ever dance with me anymore. We went to see his aunt and uncle play in their band and it was great fun! Except for the part where my man has his butt glued to his seat and REFUSES to dance even one dance with me.

Now I know that many men aren’t dancers, but WE WERE DANCERS!!!! We took lessons for many years and even competed a few times! This was a MAJOR part of our dating relationship, and as soon as we said “I do” he instantly started saying “I don’t” (dance that is.)

This has been a serious disappointment for me.

We’ve been married nearly 10 years and he’ll spin me around once in awhile in the house and such. Occasionally he likes to show off his skillz in front of the children. But he won’t take me dancing. Ever. And if there is music playing somewhere else, I have to go it solo on the dance floor with a bunch of other women, knowing I have the perfect partner right there.

After one of these episodes, I get sad. And resentful. I start projecting my life until I’m dead and wonder “So? I guess I’m not going to get to go dancing ever again in my entire LIFE?” Since it’s been ten years and all, what’s to say his willingness will ever change? It probably won’t.

He says he gets shy. I have a hard time understanding.

“Well if that’s the worst thing that happens to you, consider yourself lucky.”

As much as I miss this part of my life and our relationship, I suppose if I have to try and accept this as the worst thing, then I’m a lucky person indeed. He’s kind. And faithful. A good provider. A good father. A steady man. He’ll pitch in around the house. He can handle himself in the kitchen. He takes care of his health. He goes to church and lives by morals.

The next time we go out anywhere with music I’m going to try my hardest to just enjoy the music without getting upset about the no dancing. And if I do feel upset (because I always seem to) I know that I have the above mantra to help me get over it.

Have a wonderful day!

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Day 162- Public school children are creative too

I wore this dress on Easter Sunday. Glad I've already gotten a chance to wear it again!

I should probably be a homeschooler really. Most of my friends homeschool their children. Most of the blogs I read end up belonging to a homeschooling family. I do feel quite like-minded with homeschoolers and believe in many of the philosophies and support it fully. Even though I’m not one of them, they’re still my peeps.

And yet, have you ever had the experience of believing in and supporting something, and still for one reason or another, it’s not the choice you end up making? The only example I can think of is a mother who fully supports natural childbirth and homebirth and yet because of her particular health circumstances, will always birth in the hospital and maybe even with assistance from drugs etc. Perhaps she has a lot of natural birthy friends (especially homebirthy friends) and occasionally feels the need to say “Hey, you know my hospital experience was really good for me!” Well, that’s me here, standing up and waving my arms a bit and saying “Hey, you know my public schooled child is a great kid! She’s friendly! Creative! She really works well with other children! And I’m happy with her progress in school!”

I think the biggest misconception I run across is that public schooled children don’t have time for creativity. They don’t have time to just explore their world.

In my opinion, the biggest obstacle to creativity is not school. It’s too much screen time. The second biggest obstacle is too many scheduled activities.

Mama and baby dolls and furniture she made out of paper plates. And the house is scrapbook paper.

Here she is working on some random craft with paper and noodles.

I help with nothing.

It’s not that we are a no tv family around here. I think it’s more that television  is treated more as a snack rather than a whole meal. After school the kids play together and they are GOOD at playing together. They come up with lots of interesting things to do!

On a rainy day, all three are under there with books and drawings.

Reading Brother his favorite story.

These are the kinds of pictures I always see on homeschool blogs. Public school kids DO have an interesting life outside of school! (And inside of school!) Like all things, it’s what you make of it.

Have a wonderful day!

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Day 161- Dandelion Flower Tea

No matter where you live, it can be like an Easter egg hunt every day when kids start hunting for dandelions. This becomes especially fun when they have a specific reason from Mom to collect them- Dandelion Flower Tea.

It was from Robert Fulgam’s book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten: Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things that I learned of the vast benefits of the humble dandelion. Fulgam writes:

Now I happen to like dandelions a lot. They cover my yard each spring with fine yellow flowers, with no help from me at all. They mind their business and I mind mine. The young leaves make a spicy salad. The flowers add fine flavor and elegant color to a classic light wine. Toast the roots, grind and brew, and you have a palatable coffee. The tenderest shoots make a tonic tea. The dried manure leaves are high in iron, vitamins A and C, and make a good laxative….If dandelions were rare and fragile, people would knock themselves out to pay $14.95 a plant, raise them by hand in greenhouses and form dandelion societies and all that. But they are everywhere and don’t need us and kind of do what they please. So we call them “weeds”  and murder them at every opportunity. Well I say they are flowers, by God, and pretty damn fine flowers at that.

I was quite taken aback by his heartfelt tribute to a flower I’d associated with weeds and wishes. I didn’t know dandelions are actually healthy when consumed. A little bit of internet research uncovered several articles that do attest to their numerous benefits, and so since then I’ve been making my own version of Dandelion Flower Tea.

Step 1- This is the best part! Send your kids to collect dandelions!

The kids collected all of these on the walk home from school

Step 2- Rinse thoroughly to make sure there are no little buggies hiding.

Step 3- Put the rinsed flowers into a coffee filter and put into your coffee maker.

Step 4- Add about 6 cups of water to your coffee maker and brew it up!

It makes a lovely yellow tea that tastes very nice with a touch of honey. Your children will enjoy drinking this special tea too! This has become an exciting spring activity for them on our humble suburban streets.

Have a wonderful day!

Like Mother, Like Daughter

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Day 159- Why I appreciate the beauty message in The Hunger Games

I know that a few days ago I lamented having an apparent “hole in my soul” for my lack of enjoyment of fiction writing. With all of the hubub of The Hunger Games I decided that I simply MUST be a part of this latest cultural happening and read this very talked-about book. So having had the book on my shelf for about two weeks, I finally picked it up at 9pm on Wednesday night and regretfully put it down at 2am. I proceeded to ignore my children the following day so that I could finish it up. I really did enjoy it! It was like watching a movie. (And I do hope to see the movie as well.)

One aspect of the novel I appreciated is the moral beauty message that Suzanne Collins weaved into the plot without being preachy or heavy-handed. The reader is led to deeply admire the heroine Katniss for her strength, independence, survival skills, maturity, and love of family. Collins does not lead the reader to admire her for her physical appearance whatsoever. (Which is quite different from most female-led tales.) While we do have a sense that Katniss is attractive physically, this is not the point of why we the reader like her, nor why the two young men in her life Gale and Peeta like her. 

In fact, being admired for her physical appearance alone, as she is when ablaze in her arena fire dress becomes a clever commentary on the vast efforts that go into creating a “media image” for celebrities. Because of the disdain the reader feels for the Capitol’s sacrifice and using of children, we come to disdain the practices of the Capitol in general. Katniss undergoing a full-body waxing, for example, seems a harsh stripping of her humanity. The Capitol workers with their excessively stylized hair and outfits and plastic surgery to stay looking forever young are regarded as shallow, materialistic, and self-centered. It is as though they have never really experienced life. Katniss suspects that they behave this way due to having so much time on their hands. She wonders what sort of personal identity she would have and how she would spend her time if she wasn’t spending it hunting for food everyday.

The Hunger Games raises the question: Does a modern society that no longer needs to spend its days in survival-mode need to guard against the practice of sacrificing others for entertainment? Does it need to guard against a type of hyper-vanity that sacrifices their very humanity? 

In fact, the only person in the Capitol whom Katniss likes and trusts is Cinna. It is observed that his only facial embellishment is a touch of gold eyeliner. Collins seems to be making the point that “a little bit of something is ok”. The overall intensity (and painful) beauty efforts in the Capitol contrast significantly with how Katniss is prepared in District 12. In getting ready for the reaping she wears a simple, but nice, blue dress and her hair is expertly braided by her mother.

These questions of what amount of beauty participation is ok, and even healthy, and what isn’t are important considerations in our time given the amount of media manipulation and social pressure that our young people face. The Hunger Games raises these questions (and more) and is a valuable contribution to YA lit.

Have a wonderful day!

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