A Year of Being Quiet

Be quiet3

Inspired by: Ali

My year of no make-up has come and gone.  It wasn’t easy but it was possible.  I didn’t wear make-up once.  Not even a little.  Not even when I had a big pregnancy zit right in the middle of my face.  I didn’t even throw out my make-up. It was right there in the bathroom cabinet the whole time.  Tempting me.  And yet, somehow, I resisted.

Enough with the bragging, right?  I promise, this is all leading up to a point.  I’ve been wondering how to summarize what I learned from that year-long challenge.  And here it is:

When it comes to goals, it’s a lot easier to stop doing something than it is to start doing something.  

I don’t know about you folks, but for myself, vows that have been made in recent years to put aside some time to work-out, or meditate everyday, or really dedicate myself to an instrument, or whatever else I want to add to my life have never lasted for a full year.  Not even close. I’m lucky if I get a solid week in.

Maybe this is because, at the core of myself, I’m a bit lazy.  Or maybe it’s because three little ones haven’t increased my ability to be consistent… or freed up much spare time.

Whatever the reason, the reality of this experience has been that taking something out of my life instead of trying to add something to it, provided relief instead of more stress.  And it actually ended up freeing up a bit of my time and energy for other things that I valued a lot more.

The truth is, giving up make-up wasn’t even that hard… because it wasn’t something that I really valued; probably the the reason I was willing to give it up for a year in the first place.   And even though wearing make-up may or may not really matter in the grand scheme of it all, the cool thing moving forward is knowing that I am capable of not doing something perfectly for a full year, and perhaps even the rest of my life.  This is the part, that I believe, has opened up boundless opportunities.

And with all that said, I present to you this year’s challenge:

I will be taking a year off from making any kind of negative comment about another person.  If I have a difficulty or an issue with someone that I feel is worth mentioning, I will speak to that person directly. If I’m not certain whether or not a comment about someone else is negative, or if I can’t find anything positive to say, I will simply be quiet.  *See above image 🙂

I have often remarked to others about how much I admire my grandmother, Dolina Smith, whom I’ve never heard speak negatively about another person. In quiet moments, I’ve often thought about how nice it would be to also be the kind of person who never speaks negatively about anyone else.  And as of today, I will wish no longer!

Life is just simply too hard for each of us not be supportive of one another.

I hope that I can succeed at another “perfect year”  when it comes to this challenge.  Since I carry my thoughts and my mouth with my always, I’m afraid that this year will be a lot harder to accomplish than last year was.  Wish me luck!

And of course, feel free to join me!

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A Year without Makeup

A Year without Makeup pic

Inspired by all my Lovely FACES Girls

I have a theory.  It goes like this:  Women are sometimes so concerned about looking good that they keep themselves from doing things that will actually make them look good in the long run.  So you can get the basic idea of what I mean by that, I’ve listed some examples below:

  1. When a women feels self-conscious and insecure, or even just overly self-aware, she smiles less and her movements are more robotic.
  2. When a women is given the opportunity to use her body in a healthy and active way, she often opts out or doesn’t involve herself fully, for fear of messing with her look. For example, when women go swimming you’ll often see them cautiously avoiding getting their hair wet instead of actually playing and being active in the water.
  3. When women wear makeup, not only does it contribute to the issue of avoiding activity and fun, but it also prohibits women from reading the cues that their body is giving them. For example, dark circles under your eyes could signal that you’re stressed, anxious, or needing more sleep.  But instead of dealing with this issue head on, the tendency is to cover it all up!

I often think back to this moment in grade 12 when some boys decided that it would be funny to hold up numbered cards to the girls as they walked down the hallway.  I don’t think their intent was to shame anyone.  In fact, they were very generous.  I was given a 9.5.  And I felt good.  My heart knew that judging human beings based completely upon their looks is never a good thing, but another part of me felt great.  Confident.  Celebrated.

All of that confidence came to a halt after the two girls who had been walking behind me sat down beside me in class.  They had both received perfect 10s.  Suddenly I was beating myself up a little.  They weren’t necessarily any prettier than me, I reasoned.  If only I would spend a little more money on clothes and a little more time getting ready in the morning, maybe invested in a push up bra… then I could have been a 10 too. Why couldn’t I just get my act together?

Looking back, the reality was that I didn’t have any more time to spend on my appearance because I was more concerned with learning the material I was being taught at school.  I was concerned with being a loving sister and with being there for my mom and dad when they needed my help around the house.  I was concerned with really understanding my religious beliefs and knowing what I wanted for my future.  With all of that going on, how was it in the least bit appropriate for me to criticize myself for not taking more time to make myself look sexy?

Here are some things I’m feeling done with:

I’m done with looking around a room and comparing myself to every other woman to find out if she’s better looking than me… wondering if I should have done more to myself that morning to up my rating a little bit.

I’m done with examining myself in every single surface so that I can fix or adjust the flaws that always seem to be there.

I’m done with feeling afraid that when I move in certain ways or try new things in front of people, my body will look ugly or unnatural.

In Conclusion…

If living my life to the very fullest including doing my best to be truly healthy and participating in a regular grooming routine gets me a 6 out of 10 on the beauty rating scale, I’m okay with that.  I’m okay with that because I don’t want to be judged singularly on how I look.  I’m okay with it because I don’t want my opinion of myself to be based on how I look.  I’m okay with that because I feel the most happy when I’m laughing. I feel the most energetic when I succeed in a physical challenge, and I feel the most love when I’m able to make someone’s day. All of those things, in my opinion, look good… and none of them come from a place of comparison or of feeling inadequate.

So how do I get out of the habit of obsessing over the way I look? How do I stop comparing myself to other women?  How do I succeed in living the kind of life that I really want?

I don’t have all the answers, but one way I’m trying to answer these questions is by going without make-up for an entire year.

I’ve chosen to do this for so many reasons but one is because I want to look like the kind of “good” that relates directly to the things I actually value in life.  I hope that by not wearing makeup, at least for a while, I can understand what that means for me.

Wish me luck!

 

P.S. For those of you who know me and are thinking:  “What are you even talking about?  You didn’t wear much make-up before anyway!”

…This is about freeing myself from thinking I should always be doing more.  It’s about realizing that it’s okay to have zits; they happen.  That it’s okay for my eyes to be puffy and red because I’ve been crying.  That sometimes I’m going to look pale and tired but that I don’t have to immediately fix it. That it’s okay to look exhausted because I’m pregnant with baby number 3! Basically, that I’m allowed to look the way I look and be the way I am  🙂

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Should I get a Boob Job?

Inspired by Bethany Robinson

Remember when everyone had eyelash extensions? I didn’t get them because it seemed like an unnecessary expense… but I found myself feeling a little more self-conscious of my appearance around some circles of women who had hopped on the eyelash band wagon.  Suddenly my regular old eyelashes didn’t quite seem to make the cut.  Because let’s be honest, the fake ones looked kind of fabulous.   How awesome was it that these women could roll out of bed looking hyper-feminine without so much as going near their make-up bags… and when they did whip the make-up bags out, it was like, “Hello Disney princess, Goodbye regular old human.”

I’m now starting to feel similarly about boob jobs.  Especially now that I have a couple of kids, I’m hearing about more and more people in my age category who have either purchased their new and improved breasts, or who have a boob job savings in place for when they’ve finished having kids.  It makes sense to me.  I mean, you just made this huge contribution to society by giving birth to your children, and doing so left your breasts looking particularly sub-par, so why shouldn’t you at least get that part of yourself back?  And even though your husband loves you the way you are, isn’t it only fair to both of you that he should be able to enjoy your body in its’ more perfect form?  And since it’s pretty expensive, you don’t want to be wasteful by going back to an A or B cup.  You should probably go up to at least a C or a D, because you want to look good in clothes too, don’t you?   Especially if you’re a fit person, you should have the boobs that you want, because you’ve worked so hard (or have been lucky enough) to be able to maintain your body throughout pregnancy. Besides, as far as surgery’s go, the risks are pretty minimal.

Am I right girls?

These are the arguments that I hear from myself and other women (and even my husband while attempting to comfort me) on a regular basis.  But despite how convincing they sound to someone who’s feeling insecure after pregnancy and breastfeeding, I can’t get rid of that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when I hear them. I think sometimes what I really want to hear instead is that I look amazing because I look real.  I want to hear that my children look better beside me than any bit of perfectly shaped silicone or saline ever could. I want to hear that I should stop being insecure and be more adoring of the body that allows me to do everything that I do each day and still dream to accomplish even more.  I want to hear that I should celebrate my physical flaws with all of my personal attributes because, from them, I learn acceptance (And how can I be accepting of others when I don’t accept myself?)  I want to hear that my body is strong; that my body is capable. I want to hear that when I’m old, I can still love my body, just like I can love it after having children.

Everyone loves the feminist message in Disney’s Frozen that “true love” doesn’t have to come from prince charming to break a spell. The love of a sister, in Anna’s case at least, does the trick rather nicely.  So why do I feel like I have to wait for men (and society in general) to be okay with the way my body is before I can be?  Sisters, we’re lying to ourselves if we think this body image thing is out of our control.  Just like foot binding and corsets (historical bodily manipulations that posed health risks and physical limitations for the sake of hyper-feminine beauty), this boob job trend is being supported by women. And it’s not our mothers who sign us up for breast implants for the sake of an advantageous match…  It’s just us.

I hope no woman reading this feels like I’m trying to tell her what to do with her body. I think what you choose to do to make yourself feel beautiful is a personal choice.  But at the very least we can start with affirming each other in the qualities that matter most and focus a little less on the physical.

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