I got to spend an evening with a roomful of beautiful ladies this week, about 225 of them; all ages, shapes, and sizes! Our local Health System’s foundation, held a fundraiser for woman’s health in support of breast cancer awareness month. With a name like Diva’s and Darlings, I knew it was bound to be fun! The theme was Mardi-Gras and many of these lovely ladies donned bejeweled masks, dressy attire, and costumes. It was a perfect girly night on the town, with live auction, silent auction, purse raffle, diamond and chocolate games of chance, and a spectacular spread of Creole style food. Even the appetizers screamed New Orleans: tiny langostinos, and a huge shrimp bowl continuously filled by men in crisp, white chef coats. The entertainment was an itsy, bitsy, little firebrand of a lady; a humorist, motivational speaker and breast cancer survivor, too. This little women, who exuded some powerful joy, was there to teach us something. In a nutshell her message was: the greatest expression of gratitude for life, is to love oneself. With a funny, relatable, authentic, and self-deprecating humor she brought many of us to tears of hilarity as well as empathy. Her narration all lead back to this single hope; that woman everywhere learn to accept and love themselves as they were created! Her belief is- - it is in acknowledging and accepting our individual uniqueness, perceived flaws and all, therein, lies a woman’s true source of real power.
I gave some thought afterwards to that philosophy. I didn’t do the exercises she suggested, like getting naked and checking it all out in the mirror. It was too chilly this week! A good excuse. But, I did ask myself, “Self, does your behavior now reflect a woman who loves herself?” It surely didn’t for so many years, and the saddest part was I didn’t even realize it.
I haven’t always felt powerful as a woman and in reality my love of my womanhood has just come around in the last few decades. I viewed men as overpowering forces of nature that would always come out on top (no pun intended). Professionally, and as heads of households... and just because they were male, it seemed inevitable they would always exercise so much control over my life. Maybe they did because I didn’t feel confident enough to grab hold of my own choices and decisions and handed it all over instead. I just didn’t realize then, I could do much about it. They seemed to hold the key to my security, survival.... and happiness. Some of my female mentors and role models were successful females; doctors, lawyers, and CEO’s of companies, self-confident, attractive, intelligent, and financially secure. But, they stayed in horrible relationships with men who were serial cheaters, lazy, abused, or controlled them. Why did they continue to forgive or even stay with them? They weren’t financially dependant on them. They had the education, tenacity, and resumes to support themselves. They were good looking woman; attractive to other men. Why would they choose a lifestyle of power in the Board Room, but powerlessness over their personal relationships and happiness. Why didn't they believe they deserved to be respected and treated well in their own homes? Those were the examples I honed in on in my younger years, and it just helped to reinforce what I thought. Men ruled the world, especially the private, personal ones of most women.
Things started to change for me in my early 40’s when I began to uncover my worth and discovered it did not revolve around the opinions of others, including men. I loved me. Amazingly, I then attracted a man who deemed me worthy as well, and loved me for my many newly discovered assets, but also my insecurities and flaws. He accepted my sarcasm, my humor, my little pillow tummy, my obsession with make-up and stilettos, my fears, my workaholism and my propensity to dissect and intellectualize EVERYTHING! A few years after his death, I began to attract the same type of men from my younger years. What happened? I slipped into the old mode and decided I wasn’t worthy of the kind of love that supported my desires, dreams, and boundaries. I was ruled by fear once again and I placed more importance on becoming what others (men) wanted or needed than what I needed. Fear! What if I was wrong, really not good enough, couldn't take care of myself, and what about this being alone? A total betrayal of the essence of me, I cast this lovable woman aside along with her boundaries and power.
There was a popular commercial for a perfume in the 80’s. The theme song, touted, “ I’m a woman...I can bring home the bacon. Fry it up in a pan. And, never, ever let you forget you’re a man. Why in the world would that be considered an asset and a priority? How about a perfume for remembering, you are woman; powerful and gentle, a contradiction; authentic and enough? Not just any woman, but a phenomenal woman! We give life, nurture, learn, think, achieve, accomplish, create. We are deserving and perfect, without breasts, 50 pounds heavier than we think we should be, without a man, or an impressive resume, or a big bank account. Until we begin to believe that, we contribute to the shriveling of all women. We hand over bits of our power where it could be used to actually change the world.
|Photo Courtesy of the Phenomenal Woman who|
owns Angela Owens Photography
It all boils down to this little thing called, self-love. A woman can do it all, achieve it all, have it all and still find she doesn’t love herself.... not at all. Until we can, we remain truly powerless and what a waste of purpose and talent that is. My goal, (this week at least) is rediscover those traits that make me authentically me... lovable, unique, unorthodox, flaky, and unconventional... especially unconventional. I am committed to gathering all those parts of me, up in my arms, for a great big love-fest.
Oh, and, sigh... I’ll do as I was told.... get naked and lay the loving affirmations on that image too! Honestly, that will be a bit of challenge. I’ll do it, until I start to believe it. Maybe a good beginning is take a look at the beautiful eyes that enable me to see so much beauty in women everywhere.