FREEWOMAN

The Importance of Being Earnest… About Independence

You’ve just graduated college – or nearly so – and you’re ready to start the next chapter. Your life starts NOW. It is your time for independence!

However, for those of us who haven’t snagged our One-and-Only (and by that I mean career, boyfriend, a perfect pair of boots…) you gulped when you read: INDEPENDENCE. Is your nervous anticipation warranted? Yes. It is unique to you? No. The Independent Woman is a growing trend in this modern world.

At a time when our education begins to take shape outside the classroom, we begin to notice a need to find our place in this world. What does this planet need, in whole or in part? More importantly, what can we offer? As one friend put it: “What’s your voice?”

A fair and privileged few will stand akin to Charlotte “Charlie” Matheson of NBC’s hit, Revolution, armed and ready to forge our trail with a goal in sight but no map other than a self-promise. A few late bloomers might continue to skirt the edge of the wake, blinking at the boat’s spray and flowing with the bumps. Most of us, however, will feel more like ants under a magnifying glass – a frenzied struggle to be free, with unseen forces blocking our path.

The solution: Independence. Independence from vices, independence from fears, independence from safety and unwarranted caution. Independence from picking out the same thing on the menu. Independence from buying the same colored clothes, season after season. Independence from that cheap shampoo that you hate… try a new one on this month’s budget! Independence from your addiction to coffee, shoes, purses, buying music, procrastinating, telling yourself you need to lose 10 pounds, thinking about that boy.  Independence from your imaginary better self who goes to volunteer while you wave and say, “I’ll come next time.” Independence from the career hole you’ve carved for yourself, even if you’ve spent a fortune on education.

Be INDEPENDENT! Choose your own path, and have a reason! If there were no purpose behind the choices we make, they wouldn’t really be choices. So dare to be risky. (Not risqué, mind you—the accent makes all the difference, and I don’t mean etymologically).

American architect, theorist, author, and inventor Buckminster Fuller (you’d have to be brilliant with that name, right?!) once commented, “There’s nothing about a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to become a butterfly.”

The scary truth is we don’t know what our journey holds. But I’ll wager we could ALL agree with Confucius: A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.

LONELY

Loneliness

We’ve all been there. We put on a brave face at parties but all women – whether it’s stay at home moms or girls who work a forty hour week and have thousands of Facebook “friends” – we all feel lonely at some point.

Part of what makes us humans is our desire for connection. We are social beings that need human interactions to feel wanted, loved, and appreciated. Not to get too philosophical, but I’m pretty sure that Aristotle guy was on to something when he wrote about it thousands of years ago.  (Google: Humans are social beings – Aristotle)

Loneliness isn’t a situation it’s a feeling. And when I’m feeling lonely (I don’t know about you) I also feel unpopular, unwanted, always wrong and ugly.

There are usually a couple reasons I get the lonelys:

1. Somebody Hurts You –  When the people closest to us hurt us, it cuts deep. And it’s all downhill from there. It starts the cycle of feeling that you can’t trust anyone, nobody understands you, you’ll never have a good friend, and you’ll never really connect with anyone.

2. Embarrassment – If you claim that you don’t get embarrassed, you’re lying. We’ve all been embarrassed at some point. I feel like an isolated weirdo when I’m embarrassed in front of people I respect or love and all I want to do is go under my fuzzy green blanket and sleep for forever.

So, that’s all good and depressing. So, how do you stop feeling lonely? How do you pull yourself out of an isolating funk that just won’t quit? I’ve got a few ideas but I’d love to hear some of yours.

1. Do Unto Others – Whether I want to admit it or not, loneliness is a very selfish feeling. “Nobody loves me.” “I am so alone.” “Nobody wants to be my friend.” One way I’ve found that helps get my happy juices flowing is to do something for somebody else. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy. Bake cookies for someone, do the dishes for your roommate, donate soup to a homeless shelter. Anything! Get outside yourself. You might be surprised how you feel afterwards.

2. Sing. Sing really, really loud – Don’t even try to pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. (I keep a hairbrush in my car. Can’t sing if you don’t have a mic, right?) Bump up the jams and sing like you’ve got pipes like Aretha Franklin. It’s okay to laugh at yourself. You may even find that you’re smiling by the chorus. Baby, you’re a firework.

3. Time out – Take a deep breath. Heck, take an hour and try to objectively look at why you feel lonely. Realize that you won’t always feel like this. Think about those times you felt truly loved and appreciated. Write them down if the mood strikes you! As Viola Davis says so eloquently in The Help,”You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” I know it’s hard, but try not to forget it.

Side note, it’s okay to cry. I’m pretty sure some scientist said that you are actually getting rid of toxins when you have a good cry. Let it out. Pope John Paul II said, “It’s better to cry than to be angry, because anger hurts others while tears flow silently through the heart and cleanse the soul.” This guy knows what he’s talking about.

I will be the first one to admit that all of these are easier said than done. But just try it. Have other ways to break out of a lonely funk? #BBBLoneliness

CRAYONS

Get Creative!

Think back to when you were a little kid…I know, I know, its like trying to see a pin prick of light when you’re at the bottom of a well…Now ask yourself, what did you spend most of the day doing? Playing. And what did this play entail? Singing, dancing, writing, hunting for treasure…you remember?

Somewhere along the way, time spent daydreaming and playing became less and less, and time spent doing ‘more important‘ things became more and more. That’s not to say that as adults we don’t still get a good dose of fun, but when is the last time you reveled in the joy of pure creativity?

But you cry, “I just stepped out into the big wide world and its stressful! I ain’t got the time!” Staying on top of new job, maybe trying to establish roots in a new city, just really figuring out life…being a successful professional and person requires a lot of energy, a lot of time, and a lot of worry. Some might say let the creative types in the world be creative and leave me to my conventional life.

Before you proceed ask yourself: Am I often stressed out? Do I have a hard time feeling confident? Does my brain feel like a bowl of pudding?

While there are many causes for disgruntlement and even sadness in everyone’s life, part of it might just be that all work and no play is making Jane a very dull girl. Humans are meant to constantly expand their minds and make a creative contribution to the world in one form or another. For each person this takes on a different form, but the bottom line is that creativity make us much more happy and productive people.

Creativity reduces stress — it redirects focus away from the million responsibilities and worries of everyday life. It gives you a chance to kick up your heels and do something genuinely enjoyable, not just physically but also mentally and emotionally. Creativity gives you confidence — it allows you to make or do something for the sense of pure satisfaction it brings. It gives you a peace of mind and heart that comes from fulfilling passion, and the conviction that you have enough nerve to do something great. Creativity gives you a healthy mind — it forces you to go outside your routine and challenge all those little neurons to make new connections and learn something new.

Challenge: spend one hour a week doing something creative that challenges your imagination. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a creative person, there is a creative aspect to who you are. Below are a few creative types and suggestions.

 

  • Performer: Act! Community theater anyone? Dance! Ballroom, Latin, Tap, like a crazy person! Tell a story! Read up on some tall tales.
  • Musician: Sing! By yourself, in a quartet, in a choir, heck even karaoke. Play! A new instrument, pick up an old one.
  • Artists: Write! a poem, a story, in a journal, on a tree. Create! A drawing, painting, sculpture, anything really.
  • Academic: Learn!  A new language. A new interest. Visit (or listen to)! A lecture, a class, a planetarium, a museum. Tackle! A crossword puzzle, a book.
  • Tactile Artist: Cook! Garden! Knit!

And this is just the beginning of creative possibilities. What is your favorite way to play?

Delicious-Soup-copy

The Importance of Being Earnest… In Dining

Everytime I drive down my street at dinnertime there’s a particular house that really should be banned from having an open front door. The scents which waft from behind that black screen have a sultry linger in my car the rest of the block.

By the time I get home from work I’m usually not in the mood to experiment with my culinary palette and typically fall into habitual recipes or leftovers… And I like cooking! So what about those gals that are afraid of the flame, or detest the chopping and stirring? Ladies, let us unite in a worthy cause…we can step up our mealtimes! Writer and advocate for feminine force, Virginia Woolfe once said “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” Feeding yourself is important! Don’t scrimp on your major source of energy and health. But – you justly ask – how not to spend our entire paychecks?

There’s one tip that’s golden and will save you in a pinch, or a waistline’s cinch: Keep staples stocked. Whatever is healthy for you, won’t break the budget, and that which you often use KEEP THEM IN YOUR KITCHEN! Bread, milk, eggs, cheese, salad, nuts, and fruit are great starters.

Be educated and smart about what you eat so that your skin vegetables (oranges, melons, etc.) can perhaps forgo the organic sticker price while your eggs and milk that more directly affect your hormone levels should get some cushion. Clip those coupons, find the deals, split things at Costco, BUY SEASONALLY, and definitely keep up on the trends so you know you’re prepared for a price drop.

Phase two is USE EVERY PART. The Native Americans were famous for their entire use of an animal in skin, meat, claws (gross, I know, but resourceful), furs, etc.  This week’s challenge is to see how many meals you can make from a cooking a whole chicken including broth and meat. Use some of your vegetable trimmings in a fully-loaded egg hash the next morning.

And while you’re honing your resourcefulness for one, you might be brave enough to stretch that table to include friends. Reign in a dinner party either potluck, dutch, or donation style.

You’re allowed to be elegant…in fact you should! You’d be surprised what the dollar store, thrift stores (Goodwill and Amvets are my favs), and garage sales will offer in terms of eclectic or traditional dishes, tablecloths, candlesticks, even candles!

A nice board game, a creative twist on drinks, and great conversation is good for the soul. Hospitality is a dormant art who loves to be engaged! A clean house will make everyone feel comfortable, an internet radio station is great for background noise or themed-cooking, and your own enjoyment will bring gentle healing to the bullet holes of the busy day.

There is so much benefit in being intentional with our dining. Food is a source of communion with ourselves, the natural world, and each other. Bon Appetite!