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Posts Tagged ‘women’

Tuesday's Thoughts The words return, recover, and regroup define Mondays. Return to routines and schedules. Recover some semblance of order. Regroup by checking calendars, prioritizing, and taking inventory. I’m not a big fan of Mondays.

On Tuesdays, however, I allow myself to breathe. I write and let my mind stretch and my thoughts wander. I call these my Tuesday’s Thoughts. Starting today, I will throw some of these thoughts into the mix of my usual Tuesday content of food and crafts. Consider Tuesday’s Thoughts as food for thought. I am pleased to present this inaugural edition.

Today, I’m going to teach an art class at the Wellspring Women’s Center. The Center “nurtures the innate goodness and personal self-esteem of women and their children” and provides “all of the services in an atmosphere of hospitality with dignity and love.” Located in an impoverished area, the Center offers many services that “bolster the dignity and hope of people under duress.” I am most impressed that alongside food, counseling, wellness, and advocacy programs, it offers a free art therapy program called Art of Being: Wellness Through Creativity. Some of you may wonder, if the needs of these women are great and many, then why offer art classes? To this point, the Center states, “Creative expression is a powerful tool to cultivate the positive qualities of mindfulness and insight. Being present in our lives can help us to tap into our inner strength and wisdom and increase our feelings of well-being and joy.” Even though these women’s lives may be difficult, they are learning through art to see the world differently, to express themselves without fear and judgment, and to share their journeys. They are learning that who they are is more than where they live.

Tuesday’s Thoughts: Take a moment for yourself and feed your soul. Let loose your creativity. Be present in the moment. Do not judge or critique your creativity, because, if you do, you negate the joy you felt while freely expressing yourself.

Now go and spread joy!

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Hand-carried from Paris, France, by my son and new daughter-in-law, these brightly-colored macarons deserve to be eaten while at their peak of perfection. The smooth meringue domes break ever so delicately to reveal a soft and chewy layer hidden beneath the surface. The fillings of cream or jam excite the palate with their complementary, yet surprising flavors. Ah, such is my dilemma . . . should I eat them all in one day? Should I risk their loss of perfection and savor them over the next couple of days? More importantly, should I share them with my husband? Bien sûr, mon cheri!

#1 – Deskercise

Illustration by Tanya Burr

After eating all those macarons, I’m going to need some exercise! With a deadline looming ahead, there’s no time for me to go to the gym right now, so I’m “deskercising” instead. Read Deskercise! 33 Ways to Exercise at Work and come to the realization that you can exercise anywhere and any place!

#2 – Makers
What do journalist Christiane Amanpour, non-profit healthcare advocate Jane Chen, groundbreaker Marian Wright Edelman, architect Maya Lin, and boxer Marlen Esparza have in common? They are among the hundreds of Makers. Makers.com is an initiative by PBS and AOL that “celebrates women who make America.” Watch interviews of these incredible women and their inspiring achievements.

#3 – Dish of the Month
While going through a stack of old Nutrition Action Health Letters, I came across a recipe that sounds quick, tasty and healthy:

60 Second Salad Dressing
Whisk 2 Tbs. regular mayonnaise with 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar, 1 Tbs. orange juice, and 1/8 tsp. salt. Toss with 8 cups of salad greens and top with 2 cups of chopped vegetables – try bell pepper, carrot, celery, cucumber, tomato, and avocado.

#4 – What To Wear?
With a high school reunion coming up quickly, a fluttering of emails arrived on my computer. “What are you wearing to the reunion?” was the most frequently asked question. Even though I already knew what I was going to wear, it was ironic that I stumbled across a site which provided a helpful video on reunion attire. So if you need help deciding What to Wear, Where, watch one of these videos!

#5 – Perspective

Work for a cause, not for applause.
Live life to express, not to impress.
Don’t strive to make your presence noticed, just make your absence felt.
Unknown

Have a fabulous weekend!

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After this weekend, a new title and role will be added to my life’s résumé – that of mother-in-law. I welcome my new daughter-in-law into our family with open arms, as she becomes another “She” in my life. Please enjoy reading one of my favorite posts from the past.

She, with her copper-colored hair who has survived two breast surgeries and now faces a diagnosis of stomach cancer, hugs me and thanks me for the emotional uplift. I did not know her before she walked into the store looking for clothes to wear for the summer. She is buying clothes for a season she may not see, but is positively projecting her future. I tell her the story of my grandmother who had lung cancer, who denied she had anything but rheumatism, and who managed to live years beyond her original grim diagnosis. She is misty-eyed, yet smiling while listening to my story. We hug again and she leaves the store. I silently thank her for her courageous presence on this earth.

She sits in her wheel chair and waves goodbye from the window. I watch her as she blows kisses to my daughter and me as we drive away from the senior care center. Our hearts are sad that we can’t take her with us, but she does not belong to us and is destined to live in that place for the rest of her life. She has just told us that she “loves us so much.” Her words warm my heart and I silently thank her for allowing us into her life.

She wanders through the store refusing help from others. She approaches me and asks me about the unique sizing. In a matter-of-fact manner I relay the information to her. She looks me in the eye and softly says, “My husband is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.” She tells me of the difficulties of being his caretaker and how she cannot leave him. I tell her she must take time to care for herself. We discuss this matter a bit more. How can I speak of things I do not know? The words seem to flow from my mouth. Then with a look of resignation, she weaves her way back through the racks of clothes and is gone. I silently thank her for her lesson on devotion.

She steps off the plane and my family says, “Is that her?” She is the wife and mother who has not been seen for over two decades. She is the grandmother who only knows of her grandchildren by the photos she’s kept safe in a basket back at home. She comes towards me with opened arms and utters my Chinese name “Lai Jyuh.” Her arms bear the strength of a woman who once hid in the mountains from the Communists, yet, as they wrap around me, I feel the soft tenderness of unconditional love. I silently thank her for sharing her love with me.

These are mere samplings of encounters with women, some complete strangers and some dear to me, that have enlightened my soul. Each encounter is like a shimmery thread that I have taken and gently woven into a beautiful fabric that wraps around my heart. I give humble thanks to each and every “She” who has passed my way.

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She, with her copper-colored hair who has survived two breast surgeries and now faces a diagnosis of stomach cancer, hugs me and thanks me for the emotional uplift. I did not know her before she walked into the store looking for clothes to wear for the summer. She is buying clothes for a season she may not see, but is positively projecting her future. I tell her the story of my grandmother who had lung cancer, who denied she had anything but rheumatism, and who managed to live years beyond her original grim diagnosis. She is misty-eyed, yet smiling while listening to my story. We hug again and she leaves the store. I silently thank her for her courageous presence on this earth.

She sits in her wheel chair and waves goodbye from the window. I watch her as she blows kisses to my daughter and me as we drive away from the senior care center. Our hearts are sad that we can’t take her with us, but she does not belong to us and is destined to live in that place for the rest of her life. She has just told us that she “loves us so much.” Her words warm my heart and I silently thank her for allowing us into her life.

She wanders through the store refusing help from others. She approaches me and asks me about the unique sizing. In a matter-of-fact manner I relay the information to her. She looks me in the eye and softly says, “My husband is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.” She tells me of the difficulties of being his caretaker and how she cannot leave him. I tell her she must take time to care for herself. We discuss this matter a bit more. How can I speak of things I do not know? The words seem to flow from my mouth. Then with a look of resignation, she weaves her way back through the racks of clothes and is gone. I silently thank her for her lesson on devotion.

She steps off the plane and my family says, “Is that her?” She is the wife and mother who has not been seen for over two decades. She is the grandmother who only knows of her grandchildren by the photos she’s kept safe in a basket back at home. She comes towards me with opened arms and utters my Chinese name “Lai Jyuh.” Her arms bear the strength of a woman who once hid in the mountains from the communists, yet as they wrap around me, I feel the soft tenderness of unconditional love. I silently thank her for sharing her love with me.

These are mere samplings of encounters with women, some complete strangers and some dear to me, that have enlightened my soul. Each encounter is like a shimmery thread that I have taken and gently woven into a beautiful fabric that wraps around my heart. I give humble thanks to each and every “She” who has passed my way.

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sc0014fe50Every woman has her Achilles’ heel, not just in the normal sense, but in terms of her body image. Renee Zellweger, in her movie role of Bridget Jones, provides a portrait of this insecurity as Bridget gets dressed under a blanket because she does not want her boyfriend to see her “wobbly bits.” Working in a women’s retail clothing store, where the target age is probably forty years on up, I’ve made some interesting observations. Not surprisingly, this one is the most common: Most women are not happy with at least one part of their body. Lamentations abound from the dressing rooms. On a daily basis I hear, “If I lost weight, this would look better” or “I like to cover my arms” or “I used to wear low necklines, but can’t now.” Women are so hard on themselves. How did we get this way? Yes, I say “we” because I am also guilty of this irrational self-criticism. How many times has my husband heard these words pitifully escape from my mouth as I come out of a dressing room, “Does this make my hips look big?”

Women aren’t born with these insecurities, so how did we develop these along with a streak of vanity? We can guess that societal pressures, plus promotions by the cosmetic, fashion, magazine, and diet industries, all play parts. Here’s a link to an article called Women and Body Image: Ten Disturbing Facts. The author’s first point clearly illustrates how the fashion industry plays a role in shaping our body image. She states, “The average American woman is 5’4” tall and weighs 140 pounds. The average American model is 5’11” tall and weighs 117 pounds.”

In addition, if we aren’t comfortable with our bodies, what messages are we sending to our children? Here’s an alarming statistic in the article: “One out of every four college aged women has an eating disorder.” Consider our daughters who played with Barbie Dolls and other shapely fashion dolls. Do are daughters also have body image issues as a result of seemingly innocent play? Point number nine in the above article states, “At 5′9” tall and weighing 110 lbs, Barbie would have a BMI of 16.24 which is considered severely underweight. Because of her ridiculous proportions (39” bust, 18” waist, 33” thighs and a size 3 shoes!), if she was a real woman, she wouldn’t be able to walk upright – she would have to walk on all fours. Note that the target market for Barbie Doll sales are girls ages 3 to 12.” Beauty and Body Image in the Media, another online article, also makes claims about Barbie, “Researchers generating a computer model of a woman with Barbie-doll proportions, for example, found that her back would be too weak to support the weight of her upper body, and her body would be too narrow to contain more than half a liver and a few centimeters of bowel. A real woman built that way would suffer from chronic diarrhea and eventually die from malnutrition.” This is not child’s play.

Where I work there are no mirrors in the individual dressing rooms and just a few in the dressing area. Although there are women who hate this lack of privacy, it’s a good thing. There is a lot to be said about the camaraderie and commiserating that transpires when women are together trying on clothes. I have witnessed complete strangers laugh and give advice to one another. There’s a positive energy in the air when women support women. I tell my customers who are critical of their bodies, that I can help them look their best just the way they look now. We can’t deal with how they used to look and we can’t wish away the ten pounds they’d like to lose. All we can control is the present. Sometimes when they start picking apart their bodies, I remind them that they are lucky to be healthy. I know it’s weird stuff for a sales associate to say, but I like to put things in perspective. Am I a top seller in the store? Not really, but I do have customers say they’ll see me next week for their therapy session or that I make them feel good. It’s all in a day’s work for me and I like myself better because of that.

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