Friday, April 26, 2013

"PRETTY PROJECT"- continues with a how to guide on spreading this "virus"

You are Pretty!

To explain- I am beginning a movement. I am calling it “The Pretty Project.”
In light of some recent events in my own life and some sort of epiphanies I have had I believe it’s time we take back that word as women and redefine it in our own terms. No longer to mean the model on the cover of an airbrushed magazine or the actress in the movie that has and entire support staff to help her achieve this beauty. Instead it will mean what we want it to. It will have meaning so great, so powerful, and so enlightening it will be unable to be contained. It will encompass all that we are and no longer just what we reflect in a mirror. I am doing it for our daughters. Please join me!

______________ you are pretty!

You are pretty. When I sat with you at my child’s parent teacher conference, your pretty eyes light up when you were talking about my son. I said nothing but fought back tears because I truly felt like you actually SAW my son. For all his glory as if he was your own. That to me is the best thing a teacher can do. See all the little beings she has in her hands and appreciate all the intricacies that are them. You amaze me with your gentle ways with these kids and although I do not know you well I believe from what I see of you with my child that you must be a loving, kind, gentle, amazing, patient, mother. There is nothing in the world more pretty than that.

Please tell at least three other women in the next few days that they are pretty too. Let them know all the beauty you see in them and help me to change the world one amazing woman at a time. 

This was a letter that I wrote to someone in my life. I handed out about 15 of these now. Each one is distinct and unique to its reader. There are no rules other than that. This is simply a guideline to how it works. I chose women who I feel are beautiful to me for all that they are. It has absolutely nothing to do with physical beauty. Most of them are stunning in that area as well but I chose them because they shine brighter and deeper than just what is one their surface. I chose them because I see them everyday. I see how truly intricate and amazing their beautiful ways are. I chose them because they stood out to me as shapers of the world. IN A BEAUTIFUL WAY.

 They stood out to me....

That is how you should chose your women. Chose them for all that they are and dig deep within yourself to try to capture all that you see in them. Let them know how they lift you and how they shape the world. Be genuine. Be sincere. Be honest. Be deep. BE SPECIFIC!!! 

I give these letters written on plain white paper. I want them to be this simple thing and I want only the words to stand out. I give them in passing. I make no fuss about their hand off. I never stay to watch them read and I have not really asked if they were read after I gave them. That is not the point. The idea is that I am only the deliverer of this message. I want them to react genuinely and without and audience. They dont need me there when it's read. They need to feel it however they want to and not worry about who is watching. I dont need thanks.. ( it is super awesome to hear later how it made them feel but not at all the point.) The only thing I need in return is for them to pay it forward.

Doing this has done something for me that I did not know or understand would happen. It has caused me to have this permanent smile on my face and in my heart. It has lifted my soul. I never even thought for one second how it would change ME, but it certainly has.  

I invite you to copy and past my letter if you like or to create your own. 

I am in LOVE with the idea that gratitude, love, fierce beauty is INFECTIOUS.. like a virus.. I LOVE the idea of women everywhere being infected by PRETTY...

As I said- I am doing this for our daughters. Help me spread this PRETTY and let's see just how far it can go.

Beautiful photo by the talented Pam Wirken of Wirken Photography

Monday, April 22, 2013

To my Fellow Cast Members.... and anyone else who is listening.

Like pulling teeth- I wanted to write the past two days. Felt like I needed to. But, somehow, at the same time, I’ve been avoiding it. Felt like I was afraid of what might come rushing out. Afraid of what I know is inside me and what I feel may have been “tapped” in the last few days. So many stories, so much information, so much pain, so much- so much pain, so much gratitude, and so much love. 

I have, as you well know by now, been chosen to speak at Listen to Your Mother. Sunday was our first "read through." It was beyond words.  

Henri Miller once wrote- “Writing, like life itself, is a voyage of discovery. The adventure is a metaphysical one: it is a way of approaching life indirectly, of acquiring a total rather than a partial view of the universe. The writer lives between the upper and lower worlds: he takes the path in order eventually to become that path himself.”

That is how I feel about this journey. Like I am discovering myself in each and every line I write and even in each line I hear read through these lovely women’s voices. I can not explain to anyone what this is. What this “show” is. It’s beyond description. It’s beauty can not be contained by words. When a wordy girl like me says words will not do! YOU BETTER LISTEN. 

Now I need to write to each of you. To each of you my fellow cast members.  I have a special things to say. I NEED to say these things. I MUST say them.  

Erin, of your story. I was struck by your love and your respect for your mother. I was moved to tears when you described her. Thank you for allowing me in. Thank you for being the definition of Grace.

Lisa, of your story. My GOD! We are sisters of the soul. You may just as well have been telling my story. I truly related to you. You bared yourself and took me from crying with you on the ground to standing up and standing strong to say “fuck you!” I loved it. 

Michelle, of your story. I related to so much. I can’t explain without giving away to much. But you were to me, like a little girl there on “stage” just asking to be put first over all else. I loved that. I loved FEELING you. Not just hearing your words but really feeling like I wanted to hold you. 

Dani, of your story. I was on the edge of my seat. How would it end and a lump in my throat. Thinking in my head the whole time; How is she this calm? Could I stand or would I collapse under the weight of what you’d gone through. Brilliant writing.

Rita, of your story. Happy and sad. As it was meant. Making me think about my life and where I am and more importantly where I am headed. Making me think of the lives of women I have loved who have already gone and wondering if they’d felt they’d done enough with their time. Warm and loving as it was meant.  

Laura, of your story. Made me smile so much. The universe is always teaching me new things, and I truly believe it brought you and I together. I know that I will know you until the day I die and I can’t wait to have you on my journey. 

Ashley, of your story. Your’s may have been the hardest for me to hear. Brought up for me things I’m not even ready to talk about STILL. Someday soon I will share with you things about my little Finn. He’s the baby ( 4 now), my love for him now makes it so hard for me to talk about the days after he was born. So thank you so much for your story. 

Greta, of your story. You are so strong. I have hugged my husband a thousand times since yesterday. I’ve told him how much I appreciate him. I’ve told him how much I admire him as a father. I have been so grateful for his love. I thank you for giving me that reminder. 

Molly, of your story. I had no clue where you were headed when you started. Where it ended was so beautiful, so transformational, that I was in awe. And man don’t we all need the reminders to be grateful. Don’t we need to be reminded of the miraculousness of the world we live in everyday and how very little “coincidence” is in this life. 

Jen, of your story. You rock. You are so funny and so cool. You made me laugh and even today I had several moments of uncontrollable giggling at the thought of the “victims” in your story. Thanks for making me laugh. Thanks for giving me something to live up to! 

Sarah, of your story. My children are my life. They are not perfect by any means but they are perfect for me. I feel exactly about them as you described. I cried so hard to hear your words because I wondered if they really understand that, that’s the way I love them. Someday they will I suppose. 

Julie, of your story. While so uplifting-I am so not there yet! Jealous of you though… ha ha! I know I will be soon enough but mostly I kept thinking about all those lasts. Thinking about how they are all slipping right past me un-noticed. Today I talked to my kids about them. We laughed and we remembered. Thank you for that.
This is my point. Every one of you had such different things to say. But somehow there is this tiny thin little thread that weaves all these stories together. That thread is motherhood. It’s one that stretches back in time and one that crosses continents. It brings us together in this life. It levels our playing field. It makes us one. I will be so proud to stand hand in hand with each of you telling our separate stories- but as ONE.
To all the rest of you reading this. Take note! I really can not stress enough this one point.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE. You have felt it before, there are things that you have gone thorough that you may have thought no one else had. But you’d be wrong. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. These women will show you what good company you’ve kept with out even knowing.
You are each so lovely and I am honored to share this with you. 

Beautiful photo above by the very talented Laura Seymour

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Pretty Project- the birth of an idea?

I watched those ad spots that Dove created. As I told you, they made me cry. They moved me. I wondered all day about how I view myself once again, coming back to that place. Thinking about my own mother and also the mother I now am. How the life she led shaped me. There are two things my mother can be counted on for. The first is that she always has some new diet scheme; a pill, a book, a magazine article, a juicer, a hormone.. whatever. She was never fat, never even slightly pudgy. She always looked great. Still does in fact, but it was always clearly a concern for her. The second thing is that she always has a new self help book. There is really nothing WRONG with that. Always trying her best to better her mind and soul. She is always suggesting I read one or another of them and some of them have actually been pretty amazing. I feel pretty thankful for the fact that my mom taught me to seek to be a better person than I am today.
     However, if you remember in that ad, the lady who talks about how her mom always said she had a big jaw? or was it chin? I'm sure her mother meant no harm. I'm sure it was never with the intent to cause pain or shame. I don't think we as mother's ever really intend harm to our daughters. But I have said before that there will be a day of reckoning. A day when my Charley says to me all the things I did to her to "screw her up." In all honesty I can probably name like three right now. Nothing that I have ever done was meant to cause harm but in hindsight I can see where it may have. It's this job, motherhood. It's nearly impossible to be a complete success and boy you better be careful how you measure that! But I digress....
     I think my own mom's constant focus on weight may have caused me to be so out of control with my weight. NOT HER FAULT. That is ridiculous, I own my flaws. They are mine to love and to heal. But I wonder if down deep in there somewhere it lurks. Just as the obsession with self evaluation does. I've also said a time or two that I'm no psychiatrist (If I were there'd be Xanax in the water people!) But I have to ask myself if it's there? Those things just below my surface.So there is the first part of how it started. The egg meets the sperm, the idea begins to split into cells.
     Then as luck would have it the "Breakfast Club" came on. in the beginning of the movie and again at the end. A letter is read. It's as follows. "Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was that we did wrong. What we did WAS wrong. But we think you're crazy to make us write this essay telling you who we think we are. What do you care? You see us as you want to see us... in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal. Correct? That's the way we saw each other at seven o'clock this morning. We were brainwashed."


It hits me. (Man I love that movie!) I also have to insert here that my mom has made me read this new book called "The Four Agreements" by Miguel Ruiz.  See I told you! Again with the self help books. But this IS one of the better ones. This link is to a website based around the book but it's a great overview. It talks about right on the first page of the site what the book calls "Domestication." The idea that as children we are our true selves and we allow all those around us and our world to change us into what it needs us to be instead of who we are naturally.


Now the embryo is beginning to take shape.

BRAINWASHED..... Not in a cult sort of way... well not exactly. But similar I suppose in that we sing out loud as a child and maybe it's off key but it's beautiful and fun and full of life until another says. "Wow, don't quit your day job." Then we sing only in private and all the while doubting ourselves. We feel pretty and excited about a new hairstyle, until your friend says you don't have the face for short hair. Then we hide and feel ashamed. We believe what all those around us say subtly or otherwise, instead of what we FEEL inside of ourselves.

The kids in the movie believed they were the labels they'd been given, and they believed it to be true of those around them. I believed things about myself that I know in my heart and in my soul are not truths. So how do we undo it? How do we change our perceptions?

I wish I had all those answers. What I do know is that it has to start somewhere. So that is where this idea came from. The Pretty Project. The idea that I will move forward on this day to recreate my own image of myself and to help other women recreate theirs as well. That pretty will no longer mean to me what is reflected in a mirror but instead it will mean ALL THAT I AM and not one thing less. The idea that I will use words only to lift others and thus elevate myself. The idea that I will spend time watching others and trying to see their truth and then telling them how amazing it is. The "label" they will receive is PRETTY.  But it will encompass so much more than is shown on the surface. Everyone of us has this beauty in us. We all radiate our truth. We all send off this beautiful energy- ALL OF US. It's there and this cultivation of it needs to happen. Its a radical shift in perception, but I know if you give it a chance you will see what I see. PRETTY all around you. That's how the idea was born.

I will write more soon. It's late. I will tell you though that I have already begun. I will also share this with you- It's one of the most wonderful things I have ever felt. I can't wait for you to feel and share it too.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Dove- a soap or a revolution???? I say REVOLUTION!

I am posting two links here... I'm bad at the technical side of this blog thing so forgive me if I get it wrong the first go around.

This first one is called "evolution" and it's a Dove spot. Created by their ad team.

It's eye opening to say the least!

 The second is also by the same team. It made me cry my eyes out today upon watching it.

 It's so true.. I have said a thousand times... I am not reconciled... in book keeping terms it sort of means.. things add up.... two columns are equal an balanced... in my head I am not reconciled. I in my head am a different person than I see in a mirror.... I love this company and I love what they are doing for women... helping us reconcile..

I need this.. I need a revolution in my own soul and we need one in this world. I need to be able to show my own daughter that I can look in a mirror and say that I am "pretty." 

I see myself on this "cliff" this precipice in life.  I need to jump. to take that chance to make that leap of faith an to believe in me if not for myself than for my own daughter. So that she can look in the mirror and see someone reconciled; someone "pretty" staring back at her. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Charley doesn't believe in the Easter Bunny anymore= my heart is completely breaking

So this year Charley let me know she doesn't believe in the Easter bunny any more. No matter how much lying and finagling I tried to do she was not buying it. Here is how the conversation went.

Char: Mom is the Easter bunny real? (said with a menacing smirk)

Me: Yah! Why?

Char: Well we have that whole box of plastic eggs and our baskets down in the basement.

Me: Yes, well I keep those things for the Easter bunny and he then fills up the eggs and the baskets when he gets here. What you think he can carry around all that stuff to every kids house?

Char: Well, then using your same logic how can he carry around all that candy and stuff to put in the eggs and the baskets?

Me: Uhhhhhhhh.. Maybe it's like on Tom and Jerry where they have like a little pill and they add water and poof all the stuff pops out!

Char: Like dehydrated food?

Me: Yes, sort of.

Char: I don't think you can dehydrate Easter grass and hollow chocolate bunnies.

Me: I don't know that shit is magic! Don't ask me to explain magic! That's like asking me to explain a shooting star.

Char: That's easy. That is an asteroid or other space particle that hits the earths atmosphere and burns up as it's entering.

Me: Yes... you are right but isn't it nicer to imagine the magical star shooting across the sky and making wishes and what not?

Char: Yes if you are a child! I'm not a child!

Me: Don't get all analytical and jaded on me already!!!!! YOU ARE NINE!

Char: Yes, but I'm no child.

Me: Well then what exactly are you?

Char: A young adult!

Me: Oh Lord help me... I'm' going to be drinking heavily when we get home! This is the saddest conversation I have ever had.

And it was not until later that night. She caught me trying to stuff  three baskets into our suit cases since we were headed out of town for Easter weekend. I knew that the jig was up then and in an effort to control the damage I decided to give her the following letter. I could not bear the thought of her possibly discussing her new found information with her little brothers.

Dear Charley,
Thank you for our talk the other night. It was a very very good question: “Are you The Easter Bunny? Is he real?” I know you’ve wanted the answer to this question for a long time, and I’ve had to give it careful thought to know just what to say.
The answer is no. I am not The Easter Bunny. There is no one Easter bunny.
I am the person who fills your eggs with candy and baskets with presents, though. (And yes, Daddy helps, too.)
I imagine you will someday do this for your children, and I know you will love seeing them run down the stairs on Easter morning. You will love seeing their small faces lit with excitement.
This won’t make you the Easter Bunny, though.
He is bigger than any person, and his work has gone on longer than any of us have lived. What he does is simple, but it is powerful. He teaches children how to have belief in something they can’t see or touch, He gives them hope and lights them with magic.
It’s a big job, and it’s an important one. Throughout your life, you will need this capacity to believe: in yourself, in your friends, in your talents and in your family. You’ll also need to believe in things you can’t measure or even hold in your hand. Here, I am talking about love, that great power that will light your life from the inside out, even during its darkest, coldest moments.
Magic things like the Easter Bunny are our teachers, and I have been a student of this magic. Now you will know the secret of how he fills all those baskets and eggs across the world, and now you will learn this magic, you will help others believe in this magic. The Easter Bunny has help from all the people whose hearts he’s filled with joy.
With full hearts, people like Daddy and me take our turns helping the Easter Bunny do a job that would otherwise be impossible.
So, no. I am not the Easter Bunny. He is love and magic and hope and happiness. I’m on his team, and now you are, too. Together help me guard this magic. Please help me keep it alive for little Finn and Juder Bug too. I hope they believe as long as they can. It’s important to hang onto that magic.
I’m proud of you and I love you and always will.- Mom and Dad

I adapted it from another I saw like it on the Internet about Santa.  When we read it together she simply smiled a wry and self important smile. One of some kind of pride at being "let in on the secret."

      All the while I bawled my eyes out. Yep- leave it to me to be the one crying and not her. She actually comforted me. She really is the more mature one in this relationship anyhow you know? But I just sat there feeling crushed. Feeling like I was looking at a 20 year old who'd just told me she was having kids of her own. Feeling like I was no longer looking at my innocent child but instead looking at this girl, this pre-woman, this mature,kind, and smart little lady. And well- I was.

Today I feel a mixture of happy and sad. Sad at my little girls growing up and happy at how it is happening. I don't think we give ourselves enough credit as mommies. Always second guessing our decisions. But today I feel good about this one thing. She is me- she is a reflection of me and what I am teaching her to be. Kind, compassionate, loving, smart, and mature. I feel such pride in her. So for today I will feel that same pride in what I am doing here raising these kids. Good kids, because I'm a good mommy.

Tomorrow I'll go back to flogging myself.