The first time I heard the term "brittle woman," I immediately felt a twinge of panic. Perhaps it’s the same hypochondriac tendencies that make me think I too might be a victim of parasites after reading an article about them, but I think there may be something more to this connection.
Apparently, there is an epidemic of brittle women in America. Danielle LaPorte writes about the brittle woman hearing her spirit say “I miss the softness of you.” And all I can do is wonder,when was I ever soft? Is there even a cushiony downy layer anywhere in me? I don't know because I've had this hard exterior for as long as I can remember.
My father says he has a picture of me at 2 years old standing in front of his parents house in Colombia, and I was soft then. But since I have no memory of it at all, and I was probably still in diapers, does it even count?
The only time I can remember my being semi- soft was when I had babies in arms, was pregnant or breastfeeding. Those were my softest times, warm and fuzzy and snuggley~ but they were brief in the scheme of things and seem so so far away. A five year span out of a forty two year life, and a decade behind me.
Was that really the only time when I was soft? If so, that's rather sad.
So, I started to over think the meaning of soft, like I over think so many things~ Gentle and feminine is the type of soft I'd be aiming for, although in the back of my head, I think of soft as equating with weak, and my shell hardens another layer because I do not at any cost want to be weak.
I suppose that being vulnerable can turn out beautifully, at least in theory and in romantic novels, but in real life I know that it can also just open you up to pain, make you look and feel like a fool, and leave you disappointed and rejected.
When someone doesn’t return an email or a phone call or put any effort into getting together, how do you not feel rejected? The positive lifestyle articles all say “Don’t take it personally” but it feels so very personal. It’s your heart after all.
Somewhere along the line, probably around puberty, I began to put on armor against the world and became what my one younger brother called “kind of a bad @ss." He mentioned this first when I told him that my husband had left and asked for a divorce. Little Bro meant it as in “You’ll get through this” and “You’re strong” and it came with a bunch of other encouraging metaphors on finding my superhero powers, rising like a phoenix and all that, but the one that stuck with me these past 10 months is that I’m “kind of a bad @ss.”
At first, it made me laugh, “A bad @ss? Really? Me?” Then, it gave me strength to get past some of the scarier, tougher parts of being suddenly single, as in “F- yeah, I’m not just gonna be OK in life, I’m gonna kick butt and rock this!”
But then, after reading about brittle women, I wondered again “Do I really give the impression of being so hard?” It baffles me when people think I’m actually a tough and / or bad girl. Apparently, they've never run with the actual tough and bad girls, because I have and I can tell you, compared to the real deal, I’m a freaking wimp. But I guess in the circles I choose to run in, I can seem a bit hardened compared to the rest of the crowd.
I've also wondered how this played into my relationships, including my divorce. While it doesn't matter whether my faults came first or his any more than it matters whether the chicken or the egg came first, it does matter for my future relationships. I want to go forward better prepared than I was the first time, to be a better partner, and a less hardened person overall.
The trouble with that is it means letting down walls, walls which are tall and thick and solid rock hard, and have protected me for years. In the process they’ve kept out both good and bad~ things that might have been wonderful along with things that would’ve surely hurt much worse if not for my protective shell.
A good friend gave me hope the other day when she reminded me that I do have a soft side when it come to teaching childbirth classes and working with mothers and babies. My Dad pointed out that I'm funny and tell good stories, even if they are laced with sarcasm. So, I must not be entirely brittle. I'm more like peanut brittle~ overall hard, but also a bit salty and nutty with a hint of sweetness. I may shatter under pressure, but I could also crack a persons tooth in the process.
My good friend also pointed out that while self analysis and improvement is a good thing, to some degree, girls like us may need to accept and embrace our inner bad @ss. People who love me will also love my salty side, as long as it doesn't cross the line into mean or bitter. It is after all, a part of my personality, and it's true that I'll probably never be the sweetest person in the world.
So, maybe my goal will be to see if I can at least soften up to nougat form (in which I can be sweet, salty, soft-ish and still yank teeth out if need be. Seems like a good compromise to me.)
I'll be working on it, and hopefully the people around me will feel the difference. In any case, it will surely be better to have laugh lines than scowl marks, right?
What do you think about brittleness, vulnerability, softness and weakness? Do you think there's a brittle epidemic? If so, what can we do? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
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I just had the most delightful experience.
I walked into a house feeling stressed, late, rather annoyed with the child who had just argued with me over nonsense, the American Express bill I forgot to pay and how poorly my own body was treating me.
My lungs had been giving me trouble for weeks, making me wheeze like an elderly smoker every time I walked more than 30 feet. My normal rescue inhaler was not working, and neither were any of the natural, homeopathic or herbal concoctions I’d tried. The miniscule muscles in my legs were atrophying by the minute, and I was about to be put on steroids just so I could breathe.
Fear of the potential side effects like rapid weight gain, irritability, mood swings, insomnia and facial hair growth only added to my stress. But, since lack of oxygen had worse side effects, I was pretty trapped.
I’m fairly sure that when I walked in the door, my shoulders were somewhere near level with the bottoms of my ears. My jaw was definitely clenched, my nostrils were probably flared and my hands may possibly have been semi clenched into fists.
What happened in the next hour was like a shot of something good, with no negative side effects. No...it was more like an IV infusion.
What happened was the most wonderful massage I had ever had.
Though I’ve had very few massages in my life, I’m fairly sure this woman had magic hands. Everything from the lavender and mint scented oils to the soft sheets to the low lights and music made me feel utterly and completely pampered~ like I must be special to deserve this~ it was something I had not felt that deeply in as long as I could remember.
Unfortunately, I’ve done very little in the way of self care at all in my life, generally using excuses about money or time, but in reality, I just never made that kind of thing a priority. I don’t know why~ maybe because it seemed selfish or snooty or maybe I just didn’t see the value.
When my kids were little and wanted to play “Mama Spa” they would coat my feet in mud and wash them and paint my toenails and give me little massages, but I never really went to a professional and paid for it. And even the kid version eventually dried up when they got bigger.
Now I wonder what the heck I was waiting for.
In fact, the only reason I had gone in for the massage that day was because I had been given a gift card for my birthday. It’s something I probably never would have done for myself, no matter how many “Put on your own oxygen mask before you attempt to help another passenger” self care messages I heard.
But, boy am I ever glad that I went.
I emerged an hour later a new woman. My shoulders had dropped 3 inches, I was breathing slowly and my face had relaxed into a smile. But the biggest difference was how I reacted to things that followed.
The first thing I heard was a frazzled woman across the street yelling at a band of children in a way that normally would have sent my face back into lock jaw position again. But that afternoon, I only looked and sighed, sad for her and the kids. Instead of feeling angry and judgemental I felt something like empathy that she was in so far over her head that she could no longer control herself, and let’s face it. We’ve all been in over our heads at one time or another. That woman needed a massage.
The remainder of the day had several more instances that would have most likely stressed me out prior to the massage, as did the days that followed.The awesome thing was that my reactions stayed mellow~ no blood pressure spikes, no veins popping out of my forehead, no roaring like a beast at whoever offended me.
When the shizzle hit the fan, I was able to just kind of roll with it and find solutions without a precursor freak out.
It was quite a transformation, especially compared to the days prior when flames had been shooting out of my eyeballs on a semi regular basis.
So, now I know the joys of self care, and I’m singing her praises from the mountaintops. It’s not selfish, it’s smart. When I’m feeling good, I can do a better job at all the things I do, both for work and family. Being nice to myself makes it so I can much more effectively handle whatever life throws at me, and sometimes it throws some stuff.
If you’re at all wondering if you should treat yourself to something like a massage, may answer would be~ Heck Yes! You will be so stinking glad you did, and in turn so will everyone around you.
The benefits of a little sweetness for me seemed to last long enough to make well worth the money and time spent. That massage was seriously the kindest and most valuable thing I could have done for myself~ well, maybe a trip to Hawaii could’ve been kinder but it sure would have cost a lot more.
Luckily for me (and those around me) my birthday card included 3 massages so I have 2 more to go. The whole wonderful experience has me wondering what other self care rituals I can incorporate and how much more awesome things would be if I did them on a regular basis.
Do you have a favorite self care ritual? Please share in the comments below, and if you liked this post, please “like” Zesty Mom on Facebook!
The other day, while under-caffeinated and stumped for adjectives, I Googled the word “Zesty.”
"Full of flavor, spirited enjoyment, with gusto, well seasoned, spicy..."
Then, I came across this fellow.
Apparently, I'm not only one with the name Zesty, and as George Takei would say, “Oh Myyy......”
If you haven’t seen him yet, this is Zesty Guy. He sells salad dressing, and apparently has a million or so moms’ angry at him, or at least at his wardrobe (actually, it’s the lack of it, in some cases, that has their feathers in a ruffle.)
Just to clarify, I’m not one of those angry moms, not in the least. In fact, if I have to share a name with someone, well, at least he’s promoting the consumption of vegetables, right? And I’m all about healthy choices like eating veggies.
Most of the time, I do get annoyed with marketers using sex to sell products. If I’m looking to buy a refreshing beverage, I don’t need a half naked bikini girl to convince me of the idea that it’s a sexy choice. When I’m thirsty, I just want something to drink, not a peep show.
It’s irritating and tends to cause me to roll my eyes, sigh dramatically and occasionally launch into a long winded tirade about the evils of objectifying women.
With the Zesty Guy commercial however, all I could think was “Dang, I should go make a salad for lunch.” (Well, maybe not the only thing I could think....)
This was an interesting little turn of the psychological tables for me.
I mean, I can’t think of the last time I bought anything made by Kraft~ I’m usually more of Trader Joe’s or Annie’s Dressing kind of gal. I like natural food where I know what the ingredients are.
In truth, I have no idea where Kraft dressing falls along those lines, but I’ll admit, that commercial had me thinking I should at least check the label next time I'm grocery shopping.
Rather than scowling, his commercial made me smile, even laugh, and I don’t think it’s just because I’m hypocritical and he’s pleasant to gawk at.
The difference between this ad and many others featuring eye candy is that the Zesty Guy campaign is clearly not taking it too seriously. It’s playing around and makes fun of the whole idea of using sex to sell products. It's rather amusing, I think.
While I’ve only seen a few of his commercials since I don’t really watch much TV, from what I’ve seen, I’d say lighten up ladies, and go enjoy some veggies with any dressing you like, or none at all.
In any case, I can certainly think of less pleasant people to share a name with. I won’t however be sharing any marketing tactics anytime soon.
Although..... maybe I could come up with a Zesty Mom cooking segment, and he could be my guest host?
Here's something new and different coming from me....
Wordless Wednesday! (Well, almost.....there's just this short intro to get through. It's more like "Reduced Word Wednesday, but that didn't sound as good)
Anyhooo, instead of rambling away here today, I want to share some of my favorite pictures I've taken from my SuperHero Photo Course, which by the way, I'm enjoying oodles.
Hope you enjoy these. Let me know what you think in the comments section below.
We’re celebrating Independence Day here in the US~ a time of year when I always reflect on how flipping glad I am for all the freedoms I have.
As a mom in America, I pretty much have it made in so many ways. My life isn’t perfect, and I have to work hard to improve it all the time, but just the fact that I was born where and when I was means that I was dealt a lot better of a hand than so many other women in the world.
American mothers are free to be single or married, to wear what we want, to have any religious affiliation we want, or none at all, to homeschool or send our kids to school, to find a way to go to go to college, pack up and move, learn new skills, complain about politics, read, listen to and watch whatever we want.
I’m not at all discounting poverty or social inequalities, and I’m not saying it’s equally easy to make choices a reality, but I am saying that the very fact that we are free to make choices and to try to chase dreams is really freaking awesome.
We may be free of oppressive government and having to worry about whether our daughters are really working in a rug factory or are being trafficked, but one thing I notice that many of my peers are not free from is Mom Guilt.
I wonder if Mom Guilt is a first world problem, or if just our extreme take on it is?
We give our kids food, shelter and love~ what the heck do we feel so bad about?
In the last week, I’ve seen at least 5 articles on the topic, and I wasn’t even looking for them.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Beth Berry provides a handy list of 10 Great Ways to Be an UnHappy Mom
Glennon at the Momastery talks about self inflicted mom competition with "Quit Pointing Your Avocado at Me."
And, last but not least, VK Harber at Mothering.com calls it what it is with “Mommy Guilt is a Misnomer.”
I’m thinking that as a nation of mothers, we might just need to lighten up a bit and declare our independence from feeling guilty over every little detail that isn’t perfect in our children’s lives.
So they missed out on some preK enrichment class or didn’t get music lessons or soccer~ is that really such a big deal?
Worrying about every little thing we messed up on kind of gets in the way of enjoying all the great stuff we are doing right, and most of us have a whole lotta cool stuff going on.
So, what do you think about Mom Guilt? Are you free?
Just in time for summer fun with your kiddos, I finished my first mini e book!
Two Kids and a Tent~ a Zesty Mom Guide to Dreaming, Scheming and Extended Traveling With Your Family is available for download!
* It's mini so you can read it in a jiffy and get on with your awesome adventures.
* It's got lots of lovely pics to inspire you to grab your kids and go explore the world.
* And, its free! My gift to you baby!
So, what are you waiting for? Go download it already!
I'm so excited to share it and must send a big thanks Miss Leonie Dawson for her oodles of inspiration to get this baby out into the world.
I would really love to get some feedback on it, so pretty please comment below, or drop me an email.
If you like it, please like and share on Facebook, and tell a friend!
Who is Zesty Mom?
I'm an Artist, Writer, Funschooling Facilitator, Empowered Living Advocate, Wanna-be Organic Gardening Foodie, Travel Loving Life Explorer, Former Goat Herding Chicken Lady, and Full Time Mamacita Extraordinaire to a Couple of Cage Free Kids.
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