“Strong Is The New Pretty, A Celebration of Girls Being Themselves” by Kate T. Parker is a book I purchased for my daughter, Olivia for Christmas this year. To be honest I probably purchased it for both of us, but love the message in the title for my 7 year old, who is always listening and observing people, conversations, and things around her. At times, observing me, not talk so kindly about myself, my weight, and negative thoughts. Each page is filled with real life young girls, women, who are experiencing challenges, fears, and strength from being themselves, owning each of of these things. Each page is magnificent and strong, real and raw! And not filled with on ounce of “I want to change this, or get better with that.” Its message after message of strength, will, and pushing through.
As the year turns to 2019, the first question often asked is , ” Did you make a new years resolution? ” And in years past I would have said, “lose 30 pounds, exercise more, blah blah blah!! This year? Nope! Especially not after paging through this beautiful book! Not one! And I know that maybe sounds like, really Sara? you couldn’t think of one thing you wanted to focus on in 2019? Nope! NOT ONE! and especially not negative self talk about my body or myself. I decided that resolutions are set ups for failure, and intentions are set up’s for using and growing with exactly what you already have within you. So that is what I am doing, intending to do things to make me better, stronger, and healthier!! Not to get skinnier, but to support my life in living in the present, enjoying every part of it, and being with those around me to support them in the same things. And doing it daily, hourly and with intention. With all that is within in me! Even if that also brings in fear, frustration, and failure.
I traveled with my husband in June 2018, to Haiti with a group of amazing people from our church/school. A trip I had a great deal of fear about, leaving my kids home, going to a place of unknowns, and also for a week, working with Mission Haiti, feeling so many feelings, but also feeling forever changed, and forever fed up with what fear and negative thinking and self talk bring to my world and my energy. And then as the days/ months went by, that feeling went away, and I found myself once again falling back into that cycle, the one that I don’t feel good about. and that brings no good to me.
I have found that as the years go by, my fears become more, and I have become more cautious, quicker to step into the negative zone, and more aware of all that I don’t want to occur, and so I don’t. Maybe its my age, maybe its life experience, or the two beautiful humans I have, or maybe its just me, but either way, it was on this trip, that I decided, no more fear and negativity. and it was in the last two weeks of experiences that I am reminded again.
I think at times, and more often in the last six months, “You were that person one time, that raised her hand for anything, wanted to experience everything, and you’re slowly losing that strong will.” I told myself, “you will find strength in the things that scare you, and instead of avoiding them, you Sara, will walk towards them.” And not just say you are walking towards them, but truly walk the walk without going to the negative zone. You will do things to expose yourself to ” that feeling,” and you will sit in that feeling, walking towards and through, to get to a place that may or may not be amazing, but you will face it head on and pull something from the experience. And that is with anything. Not just adventures, but with my fear of heights, my fear of my children being taken from this earth before me, my fear of being taken from this earth before my children, my fear of not being liked, not being good enough, not following through or quitting… all these things that create shame, roadblocks, fear, negativity, and excuses, you are going to walk up to them, poke it in the eye, and see what happens.” and this is my greatest intention for 2019! Be present, face fear, and live your most authentic, not perfect life, everyday!! and let your kids live theirs! Failure or success!
Its amazing, when your brain and body go to a place of intention, all the opportunity to practice that begins to manifest around you, and the awareness that arises.
An example, the Athleta catalog arrived, and in paging through it, the amazing signs of strength, courage, and success that popped up. Pictures of women, that were strong, healthy, and secure, modeling clothes and messages for every woman, left me thinking, “good work Athleta!” for being an example of what message we want our young women to have. No matter what, no matter your body, your ability, you are brilliant and great!! Thoughts, that at one time, I would not have been left and instead wold have been focused on all the pages of clothes I wanted when I was “30 pounds thinner,” so that I looked the same as the model did. Fear of being me, and loving the body that has birthed two children, and breaths life for me daily.
Another example, I stood in line at a movie to get some popcorn, yes I did!! Lots of it, for my kids over the weekend, and listened as two women, stood waiting, and fretting, about the minutes of the movie they were going to miss. The expensive concession snacks, the other friend who is always late, and who is going to make them even more late, the heat being to high in the theater, the crowds…. for 15 minutes, I listened and observed. I wanted to badly to say, you have choice, in every negative thought you are volleying back and forth, you have choice in all of it. We all do, and You are choosing fear! Fear of missing something, fear of someone else affecting your choices, fear and suffering in general, instead of being grateful, they were together, attending a movie, and able to stand in line to purchase the expensive concessions. Fear is so powerful, and also fickle in that it allows negativity so easy to connect to, negativity so easy to talk about, and negativity, without awareness of how it affects our strength, our internal power, to become a thread of fear and existence, in our relationships, our conversations.
And I have been guilty of it, especially when I feel fear. So now what? What is your intention? I’m choosing fear! I’m choosing positive thought! I’m choosing strength in these choices, and intend to face it, whether I feel or succeed, and I will be okay with both because I stepped up to it.
My kids are still on holiday break, and so today, we went to Vertical Endeavors with some friends. Braylen and Olivia were so excited! They love this place, the energy and experience from when they have attended birthday parties there, and were so excited for the opportunity to spend time with friends. Me on the other hand, I. had. fear. Fear that this mom is not the climbing type ( mostly because of my fear of heights), fear that our friends are more advanced and we would be holding them back, and fear of danger, that .01% chance that something could go wrong. As we pulled into the parking lot, and entered the building, I whispered to myself, “poke it in the eye!” Wipe away the negative self talk, choose to find a positive outlook, and choose to step up to fear.
I watched as my kids were beaming, were growing stronger, braver with each step into the climbing area, and so excited that we were there. I didn’t climb today, (but will face that very soon( and instead of walking away as I might have before with feelings of failure and defeat, I felt pride that I did go through the steps to learn how to hook them to the ropes, to release them on their own, and watch them climb, and climb high really high, and stepped up to that fear.
I not only turned my negative chatter to something positive, I stepped up to my fear, and took strength from my friend who was confident, who tested and passed to be a belayer mind you, (AMAZING and her daughter was so proud of her!) And who belayed my children, ( I think that’s what they call it), so they could climb even higher. I was able to watch my children, at such a young age, gain strength, fight fear, and feel so empowered, and courageous. So proud!! and trusting of their friends mother, my friend, and also themselves.
I watched as we all walked up to fear, poked it in the eye, and said, “we are stronger than you!”