Remembering Yourself: A Guide

Opening up Facebook this morning – this generations version of the morning paper – the first post I scrawled across: How To Be A Good Woman. Curious as to what tips this random stranger might have for me and what ‘being a good woman’ actually looks like, I opened the article and felt my jaw drop more and more the farther down I scrolled. Tip One was basically a lesson plan on how to impress the man in your life. Tip Two was all about putting your children first. And the article continued, painting a picture of what society evidently views as a good woman: Beautiful, intelligent, put together, focused, putting others first, ect.

I felt like I was watching one of those movies where the popular girls transform the class nerd into a beautiful princess by taking off her glasses and letting down her hair. As I always wondered when watching these movies, I began to wonder now: What was wrong with her before? Society has us convinced that to be a good woman we have to look and act the right way. We have to say the right things and wear the right clothes. Our hair has to be perfectly styled. We have to be amazing mom’s every second and great friends at every chance we get. We have to be perfect. Every minute of every day.

I say to hell with that theory.

Being a good woman starts with remembering yourself. It starts with wearing the clothes that make you comfortable and doing the things that make you happy. Being a good woman has nothing to do with how you treat others, and everything to do with how you treat yourself. Now, don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying to treat everyone around you like scum and think you can get away with it. I’m saying that the one person we all spend the most time with is ourselves; shouldn’t we be our biggest priority?

Remember yourself when you go the grocery store. Buy the box of donuts you’ve been eyeing for days. Remember yourself at night after you’ve tucked the kids in. Take a hot bath or read a good book or do both. Remember yourself when that guy asks you to come over. Think about if you really want to or if you’re just trying to impress him. Remember yourself when your best friend asks you out for coffee before you say yes. Do you really want to meet her, or would you rather take the few spare minutes you have in your day for a little me time?

A good woman isn’t perfect. She is flawed. She is struggling. But she is trying. A good woman makes steps every day to be the best version of herself. And some days she takes two steps backwards instead of one step forward. But that’s okay. A good woman gets up and tries again tomorrow anyway.

Here’s to all the great woman out there – forget society and remember yourself. You are perfect just the way you are (cliche for a reason).

 

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Be That Girl

Image may contain: Chantelle Mathewson, eyeglasses and closeup

Be that girl. You know the one I’m talking about. The girl you always stare a little longer at. The one you always listen to a little harder, because every word sounds like poetry. The girl who walks with a confidence so loud, the rest of the world goes quiet to breath her in. You know her – we all do. The girl who holds her head high and smiles at strangers. The one who stops to ask you what’s wrong when she sees you crying on the park bench and everyone else just passed by.

Be her. Be the girl who stops for squirrels crossing the road and swerves slightly when her head lights catch a toad in their gleam. Be the girl who stands up when she sees injustice and sits down when someone already has it handled. The girl who walks into the room and wonders not who noticed her, but who she can make feel noticed.

You think it’s hard, I know. You see her walk in and you ask yourself ‘how does one person manage to be so put together all of the time?’ And your answer is, she isn’t. She’s broken a little on the inside too, I promise. We all are. The best of us have cracks and dents we aren’t sure how to fix. The girl you so desperately want to be still sits behind closed doors and sometimes even open ones, and wonders why she isn’t enough. She still has days on which nothing seems to be going right, but she still gets up. She still smiles and walks out the door with her best foot forward, and when she sees you on that park bench, she still asks you if you’re okay.

Be that girl. The world needs more of that girl. The world needs more kindness, more compassion, more desire to lend a helping hand. So be her. Set aside your doubts and your questions and just be her.

So often we spend so much of our lives watching other people and wondering how they managed to be so amazing, but we do nothing to achieve the same level of ‘amazingness’ – I know I am guilty of doing just that. And the beauty is that we often fail to realize – we don’t have to change ourselves completely to be that girl. If you want to, by all means, reinvent yourself every day until the girl you see in the mirror is the girl you love, and then change her again just because this is your life and you can. But if you’re not feeling quite that ambitious today, start by smiling at the first stranger you meet. I promise you’ll see that girl smiling back at you.

I Am Both – Embracing My Unique

Me 2018

Embracing My Unique

I have been both the quiet girl with too much to say and no voice to say it and the girl too loud, who every person stares at even though she is only speaking her mind. I have been the girl smiling shyly and also the girl jumping for joy around the room because her happiness can’t be held in any longer. I just want you to know that I see you. Whichever girl who are, I see you. And I still struggle with deciding which I want to be; because society likes to put us in boxes. You’re either shy or outgoing. You can’t be both. You’re either sad or happy. You can’t be both.

So let me tell you this. Both girl’s are perfect the way they are. And on my best days, I AM BOTH. And while society judges that as wrong, labels it as abnormal and tucks it away out of sight, I say we should wear it proud. Because I am the quiet girl who chooses to hold back, and the next second or minute or day or year, maybe I will be the girl who you can’t get to shut up even if you wanted to. And that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with me. It merely means I can’t choose between the two. And I wouldn’t want to.

I am both. And they both have their perks. For the first fifteen years of my life, I was under the impression that I had to choose. So, I chose to be quiet all of the time. I sat in the background and I listened. And I learned a lot. I learned about people and situations, I learned how to empathize on such a deep level, I learned how to feel everything because I was doing it every second of every day. When you aren’t speaking, you aren’t exhaling your emotions, you feel every single one of them individually. This has been something I’ve kept with me, and I love it about myself. Being quiet and withdrawn, I also learned how to make real friends. People came to me who needed me, who wanted to be heard and knew I would listen – this is a complete feeling of wholeness you can’t understand until you’ve felt it. I loved being the quiet girl. But society didn’t. People would always ask me “why are you so quiet”? They would turn to the people I was with, as if I was incapable of talking at all and ask “Does she ever say anything?” – And then I found my people. I found the people who accepted my quiet, who loved sitting with me and talking about life and love and being – that or not talking at all.

I also love being the loud girl. After graduating from High School and moving away from my hometown, I have had to find a different voice within myself. This one is louder, but she’s thoughtful and still speaks with intent most of the time. But sometimes she doesn’t. Sometimes things come out of my mouth that I don’t mean to say, and I love that about me now. I love that I can say anything without fear of looking stupid because I no longer care. I love that I can laugh as loudly as I want now and know that most of the time, people are going to be laughing with me, not at me. It feels amazing to be outwardly happy, loudly happy, and watch what that does to the people in the room. Spreading the emotions I have kept inward for so long is lovely, and seeing people feel them with me is even better. Being able to express to anyone when I am mad or sad or happy, telling people what I want when I want it has opened so many doors for me, and is something the quiet girl in me would have taken much longer to do.

I am both. I invite you to be both. Boxing yourself into one way of living, one way of being, closes so many doors that could be open for you if you just allow them to be. Invite them in. Open your arms. You might find that you love the side of yourself you’ve been shutting out just as much as you love the one you’ve been.

Love Yourself

It’s easy to love yourself on your good days.

When your hair is falling just right, your bones are strong –

you feel on top of the world, these days are easy.

It’s easy to love yourself when others love you, when you are doing everything right,

when your heart is full and every word you speak rolls of your tongue with ease.

You have to love yourself on the bad days.

You have to love yourself on the days when you feel like a fuck up.

On the days your soul aches and every choice you make is the wrong one,

you must still look in the mirror and say – I love you –

you must hold your limbs and promise them safety. You must tell your aching bones you are sorry. Tell your mind it can rest.

Love yourself when you don’t feel like it.

Love yourself when no on else does.

Love yourself when loving yourself is the very last thing you want to do.

Love yourself. Love yourself. Love yourself.

 

-CM

Ready, Set, Run!

Sports can either be the best outlet for struggling teens, or a life sentence seemingly designed specifically to torture already struggling pre-teens. For me, it was always the latter. In middle school, I was the girl who huddled in the back during dodge ball games, and wore skirts to school on the days we had gym class in hopes that meant I might be asked to sit out instead of running the dreaded four laps before whatever game the gym teacher chose to subject us to that day.

However, once I made the transition from eighth grader to Freshman, it became apparent to me that I wasn’t going to be able to get through High School without gym credits. So, in true middle child fashion (a story for another time), I decided that following in my big sisters footsteps was the best option. For me, this meant joining the Cross Country running team. While physical activity still wasn’t on the top of my love to do list, this seemed like the perfect option. At least there would be no complicated rules to follow or expensive equipment to purchase.

At the start of the fall sports season, I showed up to the track with my newly purchased running sneakers, dressed in shorts and a t-shirt, ready for anything. What I didn’t expect however, was to quickly fall in love with something that a few weeks earlier, looked like a death sentence. The moment my feet started pounding the earth, I knew I was in trouble. Running had been living in my veins, only to be awoken by what I thought was some stupid school rule meant to waste my time.

I was no where near the fastest runner on the team, and there were races I didn’t even want to start. There were practices I dreaded and days when Cross Country running was the last thing on my mind. There were also days that running saved me. It served as an escape, a shelter from the outside world that seemed determined to break me down. My team quickly became a family, the burning in my limbs and chest a welcomed pain that I even anticipated.

The irony isn’t lost on me. The one thing I hid from and actively avoided for years soon became one of the only things I looked forward to during my High School life. And unexpectedly, it also opened my eyes to a long road of learning to try new things, to step out of my comfort zone and stop being so closed minded.

Who would have known that a single High School sport could do all of that? Perhaps dozens of teachers and other various adults, but no one that I would have actually listened to as a sixteen year old girl.

Now, three years post High School, those running sneakers long ago discarded, Cross Country running is something I will never regret. Even the races after which I threw up and passed out, will always be moments of my High School career that I will hold dear.

So on that note I encourage you to take risks, to leap into the dark and do the one thing that scares you the most. Since High School, joining the Cross Country team has went into the books as one of the smallest risks I have now taken, but will always be the most important. It was the risk that started them all.