Goodbye, Superstition

I’ve always kept my left finger unadorned.

As if that finger were sacred– to be saved for the future.

But today I decided otherwise.

Because that finger belongs to me– rather and some imagined future spouse. It struck me as not just hopelessly patriarchal, but silly, to continue waiting.

I’ve always thought of myself as someone’s future wife or future mother. I’ve always kept “The Big Picture” in mind, and that has largely governed my actions. It’s kept me  responsible and practical.

But today I define myself alone– without any other influence.

I am not a woman who considers parts of herself verboten unless claimed by a relationship. It may seem trivial, but I find it empowering.

I’m no longer passive.

I put a ring on it myself! It’s just cute costume jewelry, but I chose it.

And now when I look at my right hand ring finger, I smile.

I chose myself over superstition.

And I feel a new security in that choice.

 

On Learning to Fall, and Get Back Up: Self-Defense, Week Six Wrap-Up

This is class is enforcing to me that while I can defend myself, my core identity has not changed.

I’m a non-violent person. Learning combat skills does not change that.

It would never occur to me to throw something or hit someone first in anger.

I’d rather use my brains than my fists. And I’m realizing it’s NOT because I’m small.

It’s because I’m smart.

What I’m learning in this class is that it doesn’t feel good to be hit, or to hit someone else. I don’t like it. So really, this class is about teaching me more skills to avoid needing to defend myself from violence.

I’m with Mr. Miyagi. Don’t fight unless it’s your last resort. Unless your life is threatened.
But this week, we worked more on learning how to fall safely.

In the first few weeks of class, I was afraid to fall. I was worried about my head or neck getting hurt.

But now we’re learning how to fall correctly- to PROTECT AGAINST injury.

How to tuck your chin and protect your neck from injury if pushed.

And how to get up right away.

And I pop right back up. I’m quick and agile.

Is there a more valuable life skill?

I don’t believe so.

Resilience is about knowing no matter who or what knocks you down, you will rise. You will try again.

You will keep going. You determine your own worth and hold YOURSELF up.

I’m becoming a calmer person. I’m laughing more. I’m expecting less of others.

Because I feel less fear, my energy is changing. I love it.

Self-Defense Week Four Wrap-Up: Push-Ups to The Mat

Tonight I learned I need to focus on physical discipline.

Specifically, building my strength and endurance.

I’ve certainly got plenty of spiritual discipline.

But in class tonight, we did a drill where we had to do push-ups, mountain-climbs (sprinting in a push-up position, basically) and then drills on the bag with our hands and knees.

I got in position but could barely go down. I bent my elbows just the slightest amount. It was mortifying.

“Push-ups go down to the mat,” my instructor said.

“I’m weak,” I countered.

“That’s a good way to stay that way,” he said.

And I respected him for that. Am I going to just accept this about myself? NO.

I AM the runt in the class. And I’m going to use that prove that I’ve got the most heart.

I always attract strong, powerful men with a lot of intelligence. I’ve dated a MARINE. He told me several times how much I intimidated him. He was an officer.

I’m going to start re-directing my power toward MYSELF, rather than attracting others. Stop looking around me for validation and protection.

This class is total cognitive dissonance, because as a Catholic and a Christian, I’ve lived my life with the philosophy of being open. If someone attacks you, you back down. You’re deferential. You forgive.

But life is not forgiving. Life is brutal. It’s a war out there– you have to fight for everything.

Being fit and healthy is my first line of defense.

Tonight my instructor reminded us that it doesn’t MATTER if we’re tired or weak, we need to keep fighting.

“Until the threat is gone,” he said.

And this can be applied to anything.

I’m going to stop babying myself, which I am definitely guilty of doing.

A few times between exercises, he offered us a water break. I decided not to go the last few times. I felt good about it. I was fine. I didn’t need water.

I’m stronger every time.

I asked one of the other women about push-ups– what’s a good number to start with for me? She told me at one point she could do 63 in a minute. She told me to just do what I can and build from there.

Leaving, I told my instructor I’m working on my push-ups.

“I’m not doing the girl push-ups,” I said.

For The Honor of Grayskull! I am Enough.

I feel like I’m getting back into my joy groove.

I’m feeling a bit like Princess Adora, transmogrifying into She-Ra.

Shedding that tentative, innately female need to be pleasing. Opening my eyes, getting stronger.

I’m standing proud and speaking up in my life.

In 1985, I worshipped She-Ra! And Swift Wind, her airborne steed with the macho voice.

“He Man and She-Ra: The Secret of the Sword,” is still one of my favorite movies. Princess Adora wakes up and sees that she can rebel against what’s she’s been taught to believe. She realizes she can defend Etheria, without anyone’s help. She learns to fight, to lead, to claim her identity.

She gains confidence that she can make it on her own. I’m getting there!

The cold air is making me smile, I chopped my hair recently, and I’m rockin’ my flannel!

I trust my gut. I’m feeling decisive and powerful. Moving forward and making small but important changes.

Fall is here and I had a wonderfully wholesome girls’ night in last weekend with three friends. We drank apple cider and got to know each other. I’m the neweset one to the group. Our friend Sharon invited us to her home and the plan was to watch “Frozen,” but we had so much fun with girltalk we never even watched it! It was just background music.

We took pictures and told stories. The cider was perfect and it was just what we all needed! We made plans for next time.

The best thing about being single is spending more time with your female friends.

And I’ve got some really great ones! Can’t complain.

Two Lions: A Short Story

By Amee Bohrer

*I wrote this several months ago. I’ve showed it to a few writer friends– and made a few small changes. Any feedback possible would be great– praise, questions, constructive criticism. Thank you. 

A female lion wandered alone, away from her Pride.

She was designated the hunter. Yet, something called to her beyond her prescribed role within the pack. She was not designed to kill. Knowing the Pride expected of her what she refused to do, she stalked into the wild to find solace. She alerted no one, and chose herself.

She did not wait for nightfall. Escape was chosen in the morning. The silence and the expansive space quieted her unrest, and she felt a peace. The journey was not a dangerous one—but lonely.

Following only by instinct, she meandered the plain. She was vulnerable, having left behind the cover of tall grass. She fell to rest when needed. Rolled in the mud, dashed to water to overcome thirst.

She did not eat. She did not hunt. Yet her strength increased with time.

Constantly, she passed by meals upon which she could have feasted.

After two months of traveling alone, she came upon an abundant field. A quarter mile away, a male lion strode to a water buffalo carcass.

Each step was powerful, his shoulders regal. Until he glanced back and saw that finally, he was alone.

His posture drooped. He hung his head. His mane was now patchy from relentless battles, ripped out except for a few bloody tufts. But he smelled her.

His neck snapped into position—his eyes intent.

She was watching in the tall grass, still. Not afraid.

She advanced on him, her head low and making eye contact. She permitted a low growl.

He dropped his eyes and settled into a submissive posture, wanting to honor her.

He tossed his head toward the buffalo carcass, and with his left paw tore the ripe abdomen open.

He looked toward her, and crept backwards a few feet. Waited. This was extraordinary for him– his appetite was raging. He was usually the first one to eat– he didn’t wait for anyone. And he ate until he was full– if others went hungry, that was their problem. He had become aggressive in this way after a lifetime of constant war. He was used to bigger males stealing what was his, even the females. He had learned to hunt in this way– though now he rarely fought unless absolutely threatened, or he had something to prove. But when he wanted something, he was used to getting it. He seemed passive to most, part of his strategy.

But she saw this danger in him– and respected it. But why such humility from a strange male? She registered his offer—a gift. The flesh sang in her nostrils. Suddenly famished, she licked her teeth. A crippling urge to feast.

Inhaling, she took three strides forward. And then darted left—away from this suspicious gift. Away from the male making an offering—who smelled familiar.

It had been years since she had felt anything like doubt. She was used to forging ahead alone. She was respected and well-liked in her Pride at home, but desperately wanted something more. She was different than her family. They were content, and she was itching for a challenge. She appeared very stoic to most, as she began spending more time alone with age. She had a low tolerance for politics. She appeared compliant. But she showed her ferocity only to those who knew her most. To everyone else, she was detached. Cold.

Conflicted, she stopped and glanced back. He was watching her.

He looked different than he would have, but the musk taunted her. It was covered up a bit– he was wounded. Could that be Asha? It was so unlikely– she had thought he was dead. She had grieved him.

The blood was still drying, but it covered up his full smell.  She couldn’t quite place who that male might be, but she wanted to go to him.-

Or attack him. She was tired of always winning. Sometimes she snarled at others, just looking for a worthy adversary. Even most males backed down from her–something about her intimidated them. It wasn’t her size– she was petite, even for a female.

It was her roar. She rarely had to defend herself physically– she was smart enough to evade trouble. But rarely, she would be overcome and would stand nearly paralyzed with energy. She was deaf in one ear, and compensated for this defect with a splendid roar– it was lower-pitched. Often, when others heard her in these moments, she was mistaken for a male.

She, too, was an Alpha. She longed to roar as loud as she was able.

A loud shot exploded nearby.

Frightened by this unidentifiable threat, she glanced directly at the male– and leaped. Dusk was falling.

In a nearby tree,  she took cover and settled into a restless sleep.

Resting Bitch Face? : Please Don’t Ask Me to Smile

It’s even happened at the dentist.

Waiting, I was reading a book. My dentist arrived to get to work, and felt the need to comment on my facial expression. Apparently I looked intense. Reading books does involve the brain– and emotions, as well.

Was something wrong? He had to know. I looked angry.

I stopped reading and looked up, confused. No, I was fine.

Is it shocking that my facial expression corresponds with my thought process? I can hardly believe this is unusual behavior.

More importantly, why does it seem to bother everyone when I display emotions other than happiness? Strangers, especially?

It happens at the most random moments: very frequently, at work.

I’ll be walking along looking for clients to approach or straightening up my display. And suddenly, I will be asked, “Why do you look so serious?” Or people will comment on my expression. I’ll be told that I look angry, or asked, “What’s wrong?”

Nothing. I’m thinking. How else should I appear? Am I supposed to be levitating constantly on a cloud of happiness, with a pleasant expression– or even better, a totally blank one?

Most often, it’s men doing this. But not always.

One female co-worker will always ask how I’m doing, and it seems no answer satisfies her unless I’m at the very least, delighted. If I say I’m good, her response is always, “Just good?”

My answers have become shorter and shorter because really, what do I owe this woman? Nothing. Why does she always need me to be happy, or something BETTER than good? “Good” is a pretty satisfactory state, at least in my book. We’re not close friends, we don’t hang out. Just say hello and sometimes talk at work.

Apparently I, too, am afflicted by Resting Bitch Face. Notice this term is never applied to men?

Have you ever heard someone joke that a dude who looks serious totally has Resting Bitch Face? Probably not.

But when a woman is anything less than overjoyed, everyone notices. Even total strangers.

“Smile,” they’ll say.

Why? I’m stumped as to why it makes a total stranger uncomfortable if I don’t smile. And why they get annoyed if I don’t oblige.

If I want to share my thoughts with you, I will.

But I don’t want to be told how to feel, or pressured to feel something different.

I *do* smile– when I genuinely feel happy. If not commanded to, I may just smile first at a stranger.

I smile when something wonderful surprises me. When I enjoy a memory, when I’m dreaming about something that could happen– a possibility.

If anything, I’m proud to not be a constant smiler. Because I’m not faking it.

But just because I’m concentrating on a book, a task, or thinking about something– I don’t need to explain or apologize for it.

This street artist, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, launched a project I really appreciate: “Stop Telling Women to Smile.” Please click and watch the video explaining what inspired it and showing the women she interviewed, who she then photographed and incorporated into posters she put up in places where they had felt harassed.

I don’t have Resting Bitch Face, and I’m fine, thanks.

I’m just a thinker.

A thinker whose face has changed with age to show the lines where her brow furrows, her forehead wrinkles, the outlines of her smile. I’m proud of a face that is no longer a blank, un-lined canvas, although I did enjoy it in my youth.

You’ll never find me courting Botox, trying to rewind time and freeze those muscles.

These lines make me human. They make me beautiful. They make me a woman who thinks and feels.

Don’t be ashamed of yours!

And remember, you don’t owe anyone an explanation or an apology for your facial expressions.

What are your experiences with strangers talking to you or commenting on your apparent mood? Does it bother you or not?

Men and Body Image: in Praise of Nerds of All Sizes!

Dudes, relax. You’re sexy the way you are.

I was talking to a friend the other day, and he was talking about how he feels like he needs to eat more to gain some weight.

He’s definitely a nerd– and that’s a good thing! I always like talking to him, because he has so much to say and knows a lot about different things. There’s no pressure for me to talk then, and I can just listen and enjoy whatever he wants to share.

He’s got a couple of things he really likes, and he will talk all day about those things. I know nothing about either of them, but that doesn’t matter because it’s just fun watching him go on about them. I’ve learned a lot!

Then he started looking down and saying he’s going to start working out, “Because I need to gain some weight.”

“No you don’t!” I told him. “You look great.”

He didn’t believe me, but he smiled.

Not every woman is hung up on biceps and a six pack. I’m certainly not! I’ve dated some of those types and they’re usually really vain and obsessed with the gym. They just wanna work out and eat protein shakes, and they’re so obsessed with themselves that half the time they don’t even notice you. Not to say all guys that are “in shape” are bad– they’re not! There’s some great jocks out there that are happy and attentive and wonderful.

But it just makes me sad that this guy, this great guy, is holding himself to that standard and thinking that he’s less than.

I told him as much, and that it’s better to be smart than vain d-bag! That he should be proud of himself as is, and to stop this nonsense about feeling like he needs to be someone different. He’s got a fast metabolism. That’s not his fault!

I told him how often women pinch my wrists and tell me “You need to eat!” How often people criticize me for being too small, too skinny, etc. I have a naturally fast metabolism, I’m petite, and and I have delicate bone structure. That’s the way God made me! I DO eat, and I enjoy it. This is just how I am made. It doesn’t mean I have an eating disorder, and I shouldn’t have to feel guilty about not having a weight problem.

He seemed to feel a little better, when I told him that I get shit about how I’m built too.

Thankfully I’ve been blessed with boyfriends who were generously verbal about finding me attractive, and that’s helped me to have a great body image. But not everyone is that lucky.

Everyone knows that women struggle with body image, but so do men. Turns out, both genders are human!

Same goes on the other end of the spectrum.

And I say this with absolute truth. I would rather date an overweight guy who is kind and confident than a lean, “hot” guy who thinks he’s amazing and that women are disposable. Because that’s how a lot of the gorgeous ones are. They know they can get another woman, probably hotter than you, and younger– whenever they feel like it. They know exactly what to say, how to smile, and they have it down to a science. Dating is just a sales game for them. Those men have nothing to give, but they love to take.

And sadly, the only thing preventing a lot of “husky” dudes from a great relationship is themselves. If they could stop putting themselves down, talking about needing to lose weight, and getting angry about women rejecting them, they could notice the women who are probably interested in them. The women who laugh at their jokes, enjoy being around them, value their point of view.

My point?

Whatever you’ve got, is how God made you! Celebrate it. Stop trying to fit in, or change how you look.

Forget the mirror. Use your BRAIN! Just relax and be who you are, don’t hide your quirks.

There’s a lot of women, me included, who fall in love with quirks. And we’re totally relieved, because then WE are free to be our own ridiculous, quirky, nerdy selves.

Because lust doesn’t last. And what will keep a good partner around is your mind, your character. Not your success, not being “hot.”

I just like regular dudes. Not “hot,” not anything particular. But kind. Fun. Real.

The best thing about nerds is that they appreciate you. They try harder. They work hard to KEEP you.

And they’re just overjoyed to find someone else who is weird and happy to listen them nerd-out, so you can nerd-out together.