The First Real Dinner I Cooked!

Tonight, I made history in my kitchen.

I made a meal that was healthy, delicious, and filling. Just for myself!

A zoodle caprese with chicken and fresh mozzarella and Parmesan. I had gathered some of the ingredients last weekend but hadn’t found time to make it yet. Tonight I went and got the chicken and some sparkling grape juice, and said a prayer.

And ya know, it was relaxing. I put on some Prince.

I put on my cute new apron! I assembled the ingredients, the bowls and plates and pans I would need– washed and prepared everything. And just followed the directions. I’ve never cooked meat beyond sloppy joes prior.

But tonight the chicken turned out wonderful.

I used to feel so intimidated by cooking, I couldn’t even try. But lately I’ve been feeling brave and excited to search for new recipes, shop for ingredients, and prepare some simple meals for myself.

It helped that I bought a cookbook specifically for runners, and everything is healthy. I started with that and now I’m garnering ideas from Pinterest!

I took pictures and sent them to my parents and my friends by text. They were so encouraging and said it looked wonderful and asked what I made.

Diane called me and had the best reaction: “Don’t get too fancy, now!”

She was impressed and it made me laugh. She was joking because she doesn’t cook really herself. She makes sure my Dad is fed but mostly microvwaves, uses the crockpot, and just does basic things. She’s domestic herself but in a different way: she likes to clean, organize, decorate their home. Water the plans and feed the animals in the backyard.

I used to always think that I’d learn to cook when I was in a relationship, to please and attract a man. But now I’ve decided to cook for myself– because *I want to be healthy and well-fed.

I’m so tired of crap fast food. And though I’ve only made a few simple meals, all of them have been edible! ūüôā

It feels good to provide for myself in this way. To connect with that domestic femininity I’ve always envied in other women and wanted to cultivate in myself.

It’s happening. One meal at a time. Thank you, Lord.

National Cleavage Day: Relax and Enjoy it!

For the first time ever, I just learned of National Cleavage Day!

How did I not know about this?

I think it’s awesome. Surprised?

I’m in favor of celebrating, not SHAMING, our femininity. But my take on this isn’t what you expect.

Ladies, this could be a day to feel oppressed and objectified. Or, we could claim it as our own.

I say, let this be a day to revel in the inherent perfection of YOUR breasts.

Selma Blair isn’t hiding her cleavage! She isn’t going under the knife, trying to look like Salma Hayek. Why?

Because Selma Blair knows her own power. And she’s magnificent. I love this picture of her on the red carpet– deep v, no necklace.

THAT is fierce. That’s beautiful cleavage.

Thank God, because there are men and women attracted to EVERY size and shape. Hello, variety!

Because let’s face it, women are very competitive and self-conscious about our breast size, shape, firmness, anything else you can imagine.

In particular, women can really be nasty to other women about openly criticizing each other’s breasts. I’ve never heard any man be as judgmental of our girls as some women that I’ve met.

Back in junior high, I had a bustier friend who used to look at my flat chest and sigh. “Girl, you need to GROW!”

I felt like I was somehow less of a woman, because I didn’t have the surface area she did. Or any area!

They did grow, but not as big as my BFF’s.

I remember once I let another busty friend try on my favorite v-neck, and when she gave it back to me, it didn’t fit the same. I looked down at myself in comparison and wanted to cry. On her, the shirt looked sexy. On me? It looked… perfectly respectable.

Even worse, I was already 17. But next to her, I still felt 14.

Women are their own worst critics when it comes to body image.  We do this all the time.

As I got older, my self-esteem caught up to me.  My girls did too.  And now everything is exactly proportional as it should be, for me.

In college, I discovered that I loved the way I filled out out my shirts. I felt like  a woman, finally.

I mean, there can only be one Salma Hayek! Who doesn’t want a decolletage like she’s got?!

I think a great example of two actresses who are really comfortable with their cleavage are Susan Sarandon, and her equally stunning daughter, Eva Amurri. I love this picture of them gossiping together at a fashion show. You can see that Susan passed down her confidence to her daughter. Neither is wearing anything over-the-top.

They just look like women who feel as if cleavage is natural, and thus, they don’t look overpowering.

And I think actresses like Kate Hudson are and Selma Blair are beautiful– I’m always relieved when smaller-breasted actresses don’t succumb to Hollywood pressure and get breast implants.

Honestly, Kate Hudson has never been hurting for a date. Because she radiates.  Because she loves her own skin.

In college, my self-esteem eclipsed my cup size.  And that is when I really felt beautiful.

Today, stop putting down women who aren’t busty. Stop trying to guess if a women’s breasts are real. Stop making women who grew more than you did feel self-conscious about their extra surface area.

Just stop!

Today, don’t compare your breasts– to anyone.

Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty today if your breasts have changed since breast-feeding, or if you tried breast-feeding, and it wasn’t possible for you.

Don’t judge yourself if you got implants, or you want implants.

Your breasts don’t need to be anything other than what they are– yours.

Your breasts don’t need to be pretty, or look nice for someone else. They are for you.

Today, don’t be envious of any other woman. Don’t make it about trying to sexual attention to validate your breasts.

Today, wear YOUR favorite bra. Wear your favorite shirt, that works best with that bra. Or don’t wear one!

It doesn’t even have to be about SHOWING cleavage. You don’t have to show any.

Make today about LOVING YOUR cleavage.

If you are a AA or DDD, your breasts are what God gave you– be happy. If you’re a breast cancer survivor, and have scars because of a mastectomy, or a double mastectomy, promise me that today, you will not be afraid to look at those scars.

Those scars are what saved your life. Those scars make you beautiful.

Today, just rejoice in the glory of cleavage.

We’ve all got it. It’s all sexy.

Celebrate your cleavage, and yourself!

Compassion, Intuition and Good Aim: The Feminine Power of Katniss Everdeen

Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games offers nothing to criticize: she’s fiercely loving, sufficient, and cunning. She’s beautiful, but not vain.

I haven’t read Suzanne Collins’ trilogy, as I’ve always been turned off by cult novels. I haven’t read Harry Potter. I couldn’t get through the Twilight Saga. But I’ll be reading this one as soon as I can get my hands on a copy.

** WARNING: PLOT SPOILERS*****

And as a blank slate, the movie was beyond riveting.

I felt invincible walking out of the theatre. Especially since I went alone, on a whim. I haven’t been to a movie solo in awhile– and it seemed impossible that I wouldn’t enjoy this one. It ended up being a perfect choice, as The Hunger Games revolves around a impervious young girl– who survives largely on her own skill and intuition.

The way Katniss accepts her reality and carefully makes decisions is enviable.

If Breaking Dawn: Part I made me twitch, The Hunger Games is the anti-dote. Katniss upstages Bella at every turn. Finally!

Most striking, Katniss is a huntress. From the very beginning, she is a protector. She volunteers to take her 12-year-old sister’s place as ¬†Tribute, and does so with unflinching conviction. She commands her own mother to keep it together, forbidding her from getting emotional when saying goodbye. Even the male Tribute of her district, Peeta, looks up to her and makes it clear he expects that she will be the survivor between the two of them.

It’s interesting to see a male character praising a female as stronger– and doing it in sincerity. Without resentment or admonishment.

But what I enjoyed most about Katniss was not just her considerable athletic prowess with a bow and arrow and survival instincts. What makes Katniss a true hero is her willingness to embrace the power of her femininity.

She is not brash. She considers the scenario first, observes, and plans. Then she makes a choice, and acts upon it with strategy. Although there are clear moments of physical agony, disorientation, and inner turmoil over the violence she must enact upon her peers– Katniss prevails.

Yet, she is vulnerable. When a young female peer dies, Katniss stops worrying about herself. She cradles the girl during her last moments, as a mother would a child.  Her affection for the girl is undeniable, as she then gathers flowers in the woods and pays respect by marking her grave. She does not have time to bury the girl, but she sacrifices time to give the girl the only semblence of a funeral possibleРwhen her peers would have left the girl without a thought.

But finally, Katniss is equally ruthless. She realizes that to survive, she must kill.

She doesn’t choose brutality– and only targets those who are cruel or a direct threat.

She does not dissolve into a mess of anxiety, guilt, or indecision. She strikes, takes their ammunition, and keeps going. It is she who saves the male Tribute, Peeta. It is she who refuses to abandon Peeta– several times– and will only accept victory if he can share it and be spared.

The fundamental rules of the The Hunger Games are changed by the stalwart morality of Katniss: namely, her compassion.

Now THAT is a female heroine I am happy to cheer on.