Thursday, July 31, 2014

212/365: Corny Cosmo

H&H Assignment: My Body/Raising Girls

Ok, my friends through my Homeschoolers and Homesteaders group, has assigned some writing assignments this next month.  You all enjoyed the fridge contents photos awhile back.  This week, we WERE going to a post on a person who has had a huge impact on you.  The one I assigned due next week was titled My Body:  Likes/Dislikes.  Then, Jen decided she wanted to change her huge impact person to a post about raising girls, since we all have at least 1 daughter.  Well, shoot!  My Body post was going to touch on several points regarding how I behave/what I say about my body and what it conveys to my daughter currently and her possible future perceptions. get 2 long posts in 1.  There is too much damn overlap to write both.  So, bear with me through this rambling mess.

Initially, I feel focusing on my body and writing my feelings about it feel foolish and superficial......yet, by stating that I am not going to think about it, that I will reject society's standards of what beauty is and just be me, I end up actually thinking about it more and making an issue of it.  I do not live in a bubble, there are influences all around me.  What REALLY matters is what I am going to listen to and use as my self perceptions.......

First, I will use this opportunity to complain about the things I don't like about my body.  Get the negative shit out of the way.....

I don't like my fingernails.  I bite them, pick at the nails and cuticles, sometimes till they are stubby and sore. My cuticles almost always look like crap.  Do I do it because I am anxious?  Sometimes, but mostly it is just out of BAD habit.  I have tried many times and ways to stop....I have decided to focus on priorities.  Crappy looking nails just isn't one of them.  

I don't like my crooked teeth. They are not horrible, but I notice them, and if I had my choice, I would have had braces when I was younger. I still am upset with my parents that they did have this done when I was younger.  I use to say that I did not care if I was 40 years old, that when I could afford it, I was going to get those braces.  Well, I looked into it with my 1st job with insurance and discovered that it wouldn't be covered at all for adults. Now, I have my own children that will need them when they get older....And, guess what?!  THEY will get them.  Will I ever?  Sure, if a shit ton of money comes my way and all my other priorities and desires are met.  Is that likely to happen?  Ummmm, probably not.  I have a feeling that I will die with this smile....and, smiling with slightly crooked teeth is better than not smiling at all.

The next specific physical trait I will discuss is a love/hate feeling depending on the moment, hormone levels, state of mind, day of the month, how my clothes are fitting/if they are flattering or not.  My belly pooch.  It is just there and some days it feels better on my body than other days......Do I wish for a toned belly that I may not ever get even with exercising intensely?  Sure.  Do I get discouraged that my hypothyroidism contributes to making it more difficult to lose weight/the belly pooch?  Sure.  Do I exercise to solely get a toned, flat tummy?  Well, nope!  I exercise to be fit and healthy.

Here is the thing I TRY like hell to focus on when it comes to my belly pooch:
I have successfully grown/nourished FIVE babies in this uterus of mine behind that belly pooch.  I have helped create THREE entire families (mine and 2 others through surrogacy), whom are spread all over the world.  Seriously, think about this, people!  5 children - whom I believe, will grow up to be pretty awesome human beings, who will be a positive to this crazy world we live in.  Whenever I feel down/frumpy/bloated, I think to myself that this pooch is an important reminder of the impact I have had/will have in the world.  My pooch is actually pretty damn special!

When I was young teenager, I was a "bean pole" - tall, skinny, with a flat chest.  I was actually happy, in college, when my hips started spreading, and got some extra curves - I felt womanly.  I think the natural curves of a woman are beautiful.  I LOVE being pregnant - I feel beautiful with my curvy, pregnant, swollen body.  Well, I could do without the swollen feet....but, you get the idea.  ;)

Another love/hate aspect of my body is my brain/mind.  Oh, the negatives include:  anxiety (including social anxiety), easily overwhelmed, and easily distracted.  I swear I have undiagnosed ADD! Positive aspects of my brain:  I LOVE to learn, be creative, and have an appreciation of nature, arts, and science.

Before I get WAY off in a ramble, I will address the things I DO like about my physical body.  I am digging my hair these days.  I am getting more white hairs and actually like it.  It is a bright white that adds the salt  to my pepper.  I want to be seen as the old, hippy, earth mama with Birkenstocks, flowing skirts, and beautiful salt/pepper hair.  I generally like my skin tone - not a pasty white.  Maybe some of that Native American or Italian ancestry shining through.  :)    I love my freckles and also adore them on my children.  I like my high cheek bones and curvy hips.

A body is JUST a body - a shell for the person inside.  It is when our self perceptions and people's judgements intersect that we may have issues.  I'm not sure if this statement makes sense or is valid, but it sounded good when I thought it.  ;)

So, technically...what IS beauty?  My favorite definition is: A combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.  Using this definition, beauty is in the eye of the beholder - Beauty cannot be judged objectively, for what one person finds beautiful or admirable may not appeal to another. 

We all hold judgments of others behavior and appearance.  We all measure and compare others.  It has, at times, served us on an evolutionary level.....Here I go on a tangent that may/may not have a point and may seem to totally go against what I am trying to say throughout the rest of the post - feel free to post your thoughts in comments.  So, IS physical beauty important?  It is a commonly thought belief that in the animal kingdom, the strongest/most beautiful of the species gets more sex?!  How much does it matter to be attractive, seduce a mate, spread DNA, and increase the species?    Here is an interesting article on this subject.  

Objectification of women REALLY bothers me.  STOP measuring me and comparing me with other women.  I AM ME!  I LIKE ME!  Love me for me or step the hell out of the way while I keep moving forward.  I am too busy with living and loving my time here on this earth than worry about your perceptions of beauty.  All media sources are viewed from a highly skeptical, critical approach around here.  I strive to NOT let media and culture dictate to me what is supposed to be beautiful.

A long time ago, I read somewhere that most people's self perception they had at 25 years of age is what lasts the remainder of their life.  Not sure if it was part of some research article or, but I think this is an interesting finding.  I have heard many older individuals comment about they don't know who is looking back at them in the mirror.  They view themselves as young adults, until their bodies send messages of aches and pains that jolt them back to reality.

How does one accept the body that was assigned to you through genetics and environment?  How does one work with what they have?    So, how does one age gracefully?  There have been many times, I see the beauty of a wonderful life underneath the wrinkles of an elderly woman.  There are many women, I can sense their gracefulness and beauty shining through of a hard, meaningful, joyful life lived.  I have yet to take the opportunity to tell them I see it.  I would like to do that someday.  I want to read/hear more of aging women's tales and learn from their experiences and ask them how they feel about getting older/getting closer to death.  What advice would they give?

It also bothers me for people to make fun of others physical appearance.  I am NOT innocent of being judgmental at times, but I strive to keep this behavior at a minimum.  I do not believe it serves any healthy purpose.  I have been with others when they have made comments about other person's appearance and it almost always makes me uncomfortable.  Here is what I try to think about.....that person is someone's child, parent, or loved one.  That person is loved by others.  That body brings comfort, peace, security to an aging parent, a young child, a loving partner.....

We need to view ourselves the way our children view us.  Our body is our home....Sure, you can trash it, abuse it, be unhealthy, it can fall apart and crumble...For myself, I strive to find balance.  I want to keep my home tidy enough, but want to enjoy the sweeter pleasures of life as well and some of those are not always the healthiest.  I will exercise at times to keep my heart healthy, my muscles strong, and bones moving.  If I happen to lose a bit of weight/flabbiness along the way, all the more better.  I don't expect to look like a 20 year old any longer.  I have too many wonderful activities in my life that I participate in to solely focus on physical health and beauty.

Ok, this is the third time I have come back to this and I promised to get it done tonight! I am going to throw up the rest of what I got.  Sorry if it is all over the place.  I had 4 pages of notes for this post!

WHy does the idea exist that women need to work on beingbeautiful, that we OWE the world something through or beauty???  It can piss me off.  I don;t owe anyone anything!  I am who I am!  I am not something to eb measured and compared.

MORE BEAUTY does not equal more value.

LOVE your body!  It is capable of amazing things: love, pleasure, sex, hugs, touches, kisses, comfort....

I really like some articles that are being passed around.  Let me go see if I can find links.
Go read these....seriously.

The other day, my 6 year old son, Zane, was in my bedroom while I changed my top.  He squeezed my belly pooch, smiled, and said, "big mama".  I internally emotionally reacted a little, but I calmly explained to him that as women get older that tends to happen in their mid section, especially after having children.  I also explained how many children I have grown and that I was proud of having done that.  He accepted this and if I remember correctly, he smiled, looked up at me, and said I love you, mom.  I believe I took this opportunity and molded it into something positive, where it could have gone oh so badly.I could have reacted negatively,  I could have been embarrassed, I could have been angry and felt his comments were inappropriate and scolded him.  What I HOPE I did, was display confidence in my body, normalize transformations of experience and aging.  I HOPE that these kinds of thoughts are in his mind when he loves his future partner.

I make an active effort at being careful of what words I use about my body.  I never say I am fat.  I sometimes say I feel out of shape, have low energy, need to exercise to get fit and healthy. I think it is very important what words we use to describe ourselves.

I think this is a good time to transition to talking about raising daughters.  I probably could have split this into 2 posts, but now both are overdue, so you get my novel!

I think how I talk about my body is important with all my children, but I think that women are given messages from society that acceptable ways to look are more limited than men.  Going with the above recent paragraphs, I try hard to not constantly comment on my daughter's appearance or clothing.  Sometimes, this is hard as she can be so darn cute sometimes.  :)  Instead, I try to focus on her strong body, emphasizing what she is capable of doing with her body.

ALright, it is almost 11 PM, I am getting tired, so here are my notes of other things I think is important in raising daughters (most apply with my boys as well):

Emphasize effort, don't just give empty praise.  I once read a research article about this that supported this practice.

Have an attitude of gratitude.  Many times during dinner, we ask the kids to name 3 things they were grateful for that day.  We also talk about these kinds of things before bedtime.  Research supports that thankful people tend to be happier.  

Be expressive and creative.  Teach this through crafts, arts exposure, theater, music, dance.  During our little town's 4th of July celebration, there was a DJ at the local pool.  Eventually some teenagers got out there later in the evening, but most people just stood around looking like fuddy duddies.  Despite being self conscious, Brian and I requested and danced to a swing song AND I danced like no one was watching with my dear daughter.  The world did not matter.  What mattered was my daughter seeing me display confidence and having fun, no matter who was there.  What mattered was the connection - the moment - my daughter and I was sharing.  I was quite proud of myself for doing it.    

Books are very important!  Multiple research correlations show an increase in intelligence, and increase in academic success with more books in the family home. Books are a cherished asset around here.  :)  We regularly visit the library as well.

The scientific method and applying it in almost all aspects of one's life is like holy commandments around here.  We have the scientific method steps posted in our kitchen.

A common phrase around here:  What is more important than stuff/things?  Answer:  People
ANother:  WHat is more important than being pretty?  Answer:  being nice.
These phrases are used often.

My children are taught COMPREHENSIVE sex/sexuality education.  They are very matter of factly informed about life, love, and all the in betweens.   We emphasize what our bodies are capable of.  My children know how babies are made, body parts and functions.  Iris knows about puberty changes already and what it means when she starts menstruating.  Sexuality is presented in a positive way.  I hope they grow into young adulthood with having a happy, healthy, respectful, fun sexual life.

I believe it is important to show that I LOVE her father.  I hope she chooses a partner that shows love for their parents.  I hope when someone does not treat her well, she quickly realizes, kicks that person to the curb, and moves on to someone that deserves to spend time with her.

Understanding sarcasm is pretty important in this house and Iris has adjusted into a funny young lady.  An understanding and acknowledgment of all feelings and that she does not have to "fix" these feelings right away will serve best.

We do not have TV, have limited exposure to commercials and discuss advertising techniques.

Treat others the way you would like to be treated.

 Do not exclude others - be nice!

I like the meme that states:  I wish every little girl who is told she is bossy, to be told instead, she has leadership skills.

Be honest - You can't have it all.  Choices will need to be made.  You can try to "balance", but usually something ends up suffering.

Don't act less brave, skilled, intelligent to win the affection of a boy.

I could elaborate and add stories to each idea presented, but  I must end this post.  I am trying to fit LOTS of different ideas here that could go on and on forever.  There may be some misspellings and typos, but I am DOne!  If you are interested in me elaborating on any particular issue, let me know.

Here ya go, Ms. Jen - put your get your shit done whips up in the closet! ;)  



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

211/365: Chalk ART - Paris, IL Park Pavilion

 We came upon this beauty while playing at Paris Park.  I have no idea who created it, but appreciated their efforts and the happy feelings it gave me looking at it.  It gives a whole new view of sidewalk chalk, for sure! Something so cheap and what usually creates scribbles from young children made into something amazingly beautiful.  Thanks, creative person!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

210/365: Imperial Moth

I found this guy, very slow moving, on the back of a blackberry leaf.  We brought him in to observe him in the netted cage.  He never got active and died the next day.  Hope he got some action with a lady friend before he died.  From what I have read/researched, I think this one is male.  They only live for about a week, do not eat, and live to have sex, then die.  Beautiful moth.  I am taking him to a friend to see if he is worthy to mount in her collection.

Monday, July 28, 2014

209/365: Sharpening Mower Blades

sharpening mower blades with his new grinder

Cosmo acted concerned and provided care and comfort to Brian. Brian got stung by a wasp on the hand and twisted/injured his ankle while working on the tractor.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

208/365: Rutherford House

Instead of performing in the play this year for Trials & Tribulations, I helped with the tour of the Rutherford Home.  I enjoyed it and plan on reading more/becoming more informed to be better prepared for next time.  These were the photos I took quickly as walking through.  I hope to go back and take more.  There are many interesting artifacts and beautiful antiques.  

Here are more websites with information of the Rutherford Home.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

207/365: Lincoln's Trial & Tribulations

This evening was this year's 1st performance of our local event of the Lincoln's Trial & Tribulations.  There will be 2 more performance in the next couple of months.  I was unable to perform in the play this year - I was too darn busy with babysitting - too many conflicts with practice times.  However, I wanted to help out with the event, so I volunteered at the Rutherford Home this evening.  Dr. Rutherford was a known abolitionist and assisted the Bryant (slave) family.  I was then able to attend the dinner and watch the performance.  I have lots more photos to edit and will get them posted soon.