Category: Feminism

Proof

In case you’re where I am this week, here is your Wednesday reminder that:

You do not have to prove anything to anyone at any point in time.

It is not your job to convince people that you are good or right or enough. It isn’t your work to change other people. There are some people who will never be killed by your kindness, and there are some battles that are better not fought in the first place.

We each have our lanes, and we’d do ourselves a favor if we chose to stay in them as often as possible. Especially when we’re feeling sensitive and vulnerable and affected by life.

Remember:

You are no longer a child who needs to work hard to earn love and attention.
You are not an object who needs to dance and perform for her dinner and dreams.
You are not here for harmony ONLY, for smoothing the way, for rounding out edges and corners and other jagged places that you are a witness to.
You are allowed to be disliked.
You are here to tell the truth.
You are allowed to disrupt and even tear down anything that no longer serves you.
You are here to learn courage.
You are allowed to cause discomfort.
You are here for trying and mistakes and bumbling around a bit.
You are allowed to make bad choices along your way.
You are here to do whatever it is that you are called to do.

No part of your existence is tied to one thing you did or one thing you didn’t.
You can reinvent and reimagine and be reborn any time you are ready and willing.

It’s amazing how much you can do when you aren’t trying hard to PROVE.

So many things are not about you. You do not have to participate in every cycle of news media or politics or new information. You don’t have to know what you think or feel about anything until you know what you think or feel about it. You probably won’t feel very satisfied with a life spent trying to interpret copious mountains of changing information in hopes of clearly separating right from wrong. The internet is like cake-it’s so much better in moderation or even sometimes not at all.

You don’t have to prove yourself or your body or your heart or your soul. Those things were put here TO GUIDE YOU. You are Not God. Your essence is already inherently good and true and enough.

Do not be a dancing pony. What other people think about you has nothing to do with you. Allow people to show you who they are, and believe them when they do. We have all got our crosses to carry, and you will not be able to carry yours if you are lugging for others.

There is zero value in striving toward an existence that is imaginary and futuristic. You could put down and be here now with yourself as you are, and it could be blissfully enough, although painfully quiet. Maybe you would enjoy the quiet once you got used to it. You won’t know until you try.

So much of your life is about mystery and magic, but if you don’t exhale and open your eyes long enough, you’ll miss it. Leave the stimulation to the stimulators, and be the ball of love and energy that you are and just roll onward as you must.

xoxo,

M

Giving Up

Meet 10 year old Me. I wrote this journal entry the very same year that I actually did give up on myself. I wrote this just as I was about to leave my body, not to return for over a decade. I promised myself my dreams right before I began a long and slow process of giving up on them and, more importantly, giving up on myself. What became more important than my passion? Becoming small. Fitting into the world. Looking good.

My relationship with my body broke down when I was 10. It was at that point that I began believing that nothing else I was going through was more important than beating my body into submission. Stuffing my stomach into silence. No matter how talented or smart or good I was, I was never better than my too big body, than my too round hips and my too large tummy. I was afraid, anxious and depressed, and it was my body’s fault, which meant I WAS TO BLAME. So, I spent the next 20 years punishing myself, boxing myself into too tight quarters and squeezing myself into a pretend world where all was right as long as I was thin and fit and looked the part.

The only reason I ever had the courage to break this cycle completely is because I finally got to the place where I was either going to change, or I was going to die. I was either going to face my pain and my fear and my complicated past, or I was going to disappear completely in my hiding. I walked my way into a dark corner and the choice became obvious: Give this up or die striving.

What I know now is that we cannot fully fight back against the weight loss industry, unless we’re willing to face the ways we’ve contributed to it: By hating our bodies and using our relationship with food as a way out of what scares us or causes us pain. Our anger at the media, magazines and advertising isn’t enough. We have to look beneath our rage, and face the frightened 10 year olds we once were. We have to face our insecurity in the world, and the way we’ve mistakenly tied our feelings of stability and happiness to our ability to fit into skinny jeans. We cannot challenge systems until we have challenged our own distorted beliefs.

We cannot be angry at our dieting friends and the way their obsession reminds us of our own struggle until we are willing to remember where all of this self-hatred and anger at life comes from. For me, it rose up out of the unfortunate timing of pre-teen vulnerability and instability in my family and life. It started at home for me, and outside messages only reinforced what I was already hearing from people who I trusted to love me. I don’t share that to cast blame on anyone-I am grown, and any choice to continue on that path is now my own. I share this to tell the truth, a thing I have needed to do in order to get out from underneath the layers upon layers of this old and complex story. It’s my calling and my duty to unpack it, to blow the locked doors inside me wide open and to make things right. Because I deserve that. Because we all deserve that.

It’s our work to conjure the courage to face ourselves, our fears, our feelings and our pain. We can run and hide in our relationship to food, but at some point, we have to accept the fact that it’s only prolonging the inevitable. That we’re only digging ourselves deeper into the hole we feel inside. That we were once people with dreams who felt capable of facing our future and creating our way, no matter what our circumstances may be, but we gave up. We gave up on the wrong things.

We can return, try again, and give up on the right things, this time. Every time is the right time to give ourselves grace, to give up hope for the wrong things and be open to the idea that we are more than our relationship to food. We’re more, and we’re enough.

xo,

M

What I Leave Behind

Listen, I know last year was a doozy. I know few people who aren’t reeling from one event or another, whether it be political or personal. It’s just been A YEAR for gut checks and reality checks and bounced checks, and I know I have spent many days on my knees asking for relief.

BUT.

As this year is finally coming to a calendar close, I feel different. I feel grateful. I feel trusting. I feel worthy. I feel capable. I don’t feel bowled over by the challenges and the work ahead. The idea of what I face as a person, as a woman, as a mother, as a member of my community, my state, my country and my world-it doesn’t feel too big for me. I feel sized just right to take on what comes.

That’s because 2016 gave me many things, including and especially my WHOLE SELF. I am not a fragment awaiting completion. I am not a victim awaiting a savior. I can be annihilated and still do things. I can be unable to do things and still be enough. I am not intimidated by harsh reality. In fact, I am driven directly toward it. Last year, I asked 2016 to bring it on, without realizing how unprepared I was to face hard things. I had to work hard, and 2016 gave me that opportunity. Thank goodness!

Now, I have more work to do, but I’m in better fighting shape. I know what I am bringing to the table, and I know that I have so much still to learn. So, I’m stepping into the new year filled with curiosity and anchored in trust that life will show me the way (it always does!).

There are a few things I need to leave behind in 2016, though. Because they no longer fit my life. When I put Whole Mira back together this year, a few pieces just didn’t make sense anymore. They stuck out or looked wrong or just weren’t part of my makeup anymore. Today, it’s a good day to say thank you, and buy-bye. Because what I do not need, I will not lug behind me. Not anymore.

You know what I’m leaving behind in 2016?

Toxic people. Listen, I have worked way too hard to be dragged down by those who haven’t done their work. The best way I can lift others up, is by focusing on my work, and I can’t focus on my work when I’m bogged down with baggage that doesn’t belong to me. I’m going to stand for you by refusing to shrink or whittle or wilt to make anyone feel more comfortable or more secure. I’m going to be brave for you by continuing to rise up with my voice and speak the truth. No matter what.

Self-Doubt. Okay, so I’m not going to be able to wave a wand and magically eliminate self-doubt from my life, but I am leaving behind it’s control over me. I’m saying GOOD RIDDANCE to self-doubt riding shotgun in my life. Like I’ve said before, the voice inside me told me I have work to do, and I can’t do this work if I’m always giving up on it because I think I can’t. I have no idea how things will turn out, and I know that sometimes, I will fail. I have to stick to the voice, at all costs, and that means that self-doubt can come, but its power stays behind.

The Drive to Harmonize. Guys, I am an empath, and that means that I FEEL deeply. I pick up on the people around me. I feel you guys so hard, and I don’t want to change a thing about that. What I do want to change is my tendency to exploit my own empathy for the sake of making everyone feel better. It is not my job to make you feel better. I want WHOLE YOU, but I’ll never give you the chance to get there if I’m lining all of our interactions in velvet and cashmere. The stakes are too high in our world, and I HAVE WORK TO DO. I need to stare back at things that don’t FEEL GOOD, like the REAL WORLD (including, misogyny, systemic racism, patriarchy, poverty and war), and then I need to tell the truth.

Worry About What Other People Think. Oh, darlings. I care so much about the people in my life, and every one of you. But, I can’t sit around worrying about what or how you think I am. Your ideas are your own, and they have nothing to do with me. They aren’t my business. They aren’t my work! You see, I am WHOLE MIRA. You are WHOLE YOU. I get to write my story, and you get to write yours. Isn’t that wonderful? Liberating? Frightening? But, so special and magical and original? We’re up to creating, you and I. I am leaving your story to you, and I thank you for leaving my story with me.

Placing My Value Outside. 2016 gets to keep the last pieces of me that thought I wasn’t enough, UNLESS. That I wasn’t worth it, UNTIL. I was waiting in vain until this year, babies! The train had already pulled into the station, and I was right here. All along! Hot damn! Hello, 2017. I am ENOUGH.

I am lighter this way, and I can go distances this way, and I was meant for distances, so I know this is the way.

 

xo,

M

Tell the Truth

GALS.

I would much rather be honest and courageous than likable. Every. Single. Day. This doesn’t mean that I intend to be unkind or devoid of all diplomacy. I firmly stand for kindness, and I believe in diplomacy (being civilized and careful are certainly respectable).

HOWEVER.

I don’t know how much time I have on this planet, and I’m not planning on wasting any of it by shying away from uncomfortable or difficult conversations.

I encourage you to consider areas in your life where you have chosen to please over telling the damn truth. No pressure or anything, but that choice is a PRISON, and a prison that I see far too many women walk into out of FEAR.

Woman, you are not designed to harmonize all of life, and may I remind you that there is no harmony in telling lies-not to yourself, or to anyone else. You don’t protect yourself when you choose to be likable, first and most of all. You go to a tiny, private, quiet jail. All of your own making.

Come on. I know you feel something pulsing inside of you, something rattling mightily at your cage. Turn toward the drums and the marching, get your ass out there and be heard!

Don’t save your breath and waste your voice. You deserve an honest life. Every one of us does.

xo,

M

Woman

When I was a small girl, I loved playing outside. I was athletic and loved to climb trees and run fast with my brother. I liked to ride my bike and wander in the woods and jump rope and hula hoop. I liked to dive underneath waves and dance in the sand and search the seashore for mysterious shells or washed up jellyfish.

I also loved to read. I loved to write. I loved to sing and laugh and play pretend. I loved magic, I loved making things and I cherished my broad and mysterious imagination. I was a precocious child, a fast learner, an early reader.

Also, by the time I was 3 years old, I was told that I was “pretty.” And, that I was “cute.” These kinds of comments meant almost nothing to me as a small child, other than to irritate me (I didn’t want to be called cute! Who do you think you are that you get to call me pretty!). I was a strong girl with my own thoughts and ideas, and I didn’t like adults trying to tell me ANYTHING, at that age (certainly, not SILLY things like “cute” and “pretty”).

In first grade, a boy who sat behind me in class told me that he could see down the back of my shirt and down my pants (he could not), and that he could see my body. This made me uncomfortable, but I was too young to understand much about what he was doing, other than that he was trying to demonstrate some kind of power over me. I didn’t feel threatened, but I did feel angry, and I felt something else: NOTICED. Not for who I was, but for my body. I didn’t think I liked being noticed like this, but I was busy running, jumping, playing and being a brave little girl, so I ignored him (as I was instructed to do), and I didn’t pay him any mind.

Years later, my body began to change. I grew strong, big, muscular legs that led into wide hips. I didn’t notice my body developing, until a few kids at school began to call me thunder thighs. At first, I didn’t know whether to be hurt or to laugh. I wasn’t aware that my legs were wrong or bad or different or too big or too strong. They were my legs. They did things for me. I appreciated that. Period. Now, I wondered if something wasn’t quite right with my body. I didn’t mind my legs, when I thought about it, but I wasn’t sure about these comments and what they implied. Something started to feel not quite right. But, I kept running, jumping and playing, and I tried not to pay it any mind.

A year later, while shopping for a bathing suit, my mother commented on my developing, pre-pubescent body. I was almost 11, and my body was changing fast. I had entered that awkward stage of female development when things start growing in strange places and at unfortunate times. My butt and legs were strong and thick, while my chest and stomach remained flat. My face had filled out, my hair was suddenly frizzy and I realized I wasn’t the same “pretty little girl” I used to be.

I needed to work on my weight, my mother told me. I had to watch it, she reminded me. Up until then, I hadn’t thought much about my weight, or my body, and I certainly hadn’t been “watching it.” I knew something was terribly wrong in this equation, but I mistook the “wrong” thing as being ME.

That day was a turning point in my life. All the things I liked and loved began to shrink down beside this newfound idea that something was wrong, and that something was definitely my body, and my body was definitely ME. The girl I was became secondary to the girl I looked like. Mira on the inside became the runner up to Mira on the outside. While Mira on the inside was a brave, bold and clever girl, Mira on the outside was lumpy, frumpy and unfortunate looking. Too big. Too much. Too often.

My thunder thighs were now very bad news. People were looking at my body, and they were noticing it. People were noticing my body, and acting like my body was their business. This didn’t seem right, but then, an entire world of messaging was backing them up, so who was I to disagree? Magazines aimed directly at me (Teen Magazine, Seventeen Magazine) told me to pay a lot of attention to my weight, diet, hair, makeup, clothes and boys. Good looking girls grew into good looking women, and good looking women were rewarded on television, on the news and in life! In every direction I looked, there was an image of a woman and accompanying commentary to let me know what was right, wrong, good or bad.

Over time, I lost total and complete interest in the best parts of me, because if I didn’t look right, who cares? Why run, jump and play when the world wanted me to sit still and look pretty. Why stand tall when the world wanted to me to shrink down in size? I heard people tell me that a woman could do anything, but that was usually after they’d told me what to wear, eat and say while doing it.

By the time I got to college, I’d surrendered to the idea that if I didn’t look perfect, I would never have a life and never be happy and never be anyone worth anything. Something was wrong, and something had to change, and that “something” was me. I exercised constantly. I developed an eating disorder. I grew depressed. I struggled to have a social life. I was exhausted, I was broken and I didn’t even know what the hell I was doing anymore. I got so caught up in working on my outside, that I starved my inside, and lost all sense of who I was. I had changed outside Mira, but nothing was better. In fact, everything hurt and everything was wrong.

One day, when I was 23, I came home from work and wandered into my bathroom. I stood in that tiny room and caught my own eye in the mirror. For the first time in a long time, I realized that I didn’t recognize myself. Who was this person, I wondered? Where is Mira? Inside Mira? Outside Mira? Where is the girl who loves to climb trees and wander the woods and swim in the ocean and dance in the rain? Where is the girl who likes books and words and thoughts and ideas? Where is the girl who loves to run, jump and play?

I had turned into one of those one-dimensional images I’d seen in so many magazines, and I was empty. I was breathing, but I wasn’t ALIVE. I was entirely made up of activities designed to rid me of unwanted, exterior characteristics that meant NOTHING to me. I looked back at this face I was wearing, and I stared, through tears, for a long time. Finally, I looked at her, and I told her:

I am coming for you. I am right here, and I am coming, and I will bring you home.

And, for the next 10 years, that is exactly what I did. Along the way, I learned that I had been setup to fail from the very beginning. Because I am a woman. My very first memories include frequent commentary on my looks. Before I learned to read, I was “pretty.” I was still playing with Barbies, and boys were remarking on my body parts and discussing the size of my thighs. I was entering puberty, and the world (including those close to me) was waiting and ready to pounce on my vulnerability and innocence. Ready to show me what I was supposed to be. Ready to tell me what it needed from me. Ready to lead me far, far away from myself and into the arms of a prepackaged world designed to keep me small, powerless, quiet and dependent.

It took me 10 years to untangle myself from that briar patch, and now that I am out of it, it is my absolute responsibility to do my part to burn the damn thing down. Now that I know who I am, I can never stop telling the world, since the world worked very hard for a very long time to shut me up.

I tell you, I love being a woman, but not because it’s easy or because the world has paved a safe and nurturing road for me.

I love being a woman, because I’m so powerful that entire institutions and political parties want to keep me down (they’re scared of me!). I love being a woman, because I’m so big, entire continents want to try to keep me small (they’re afraid of me!). I’m so loud, that entire religions want to keep me quiet (they don’t know what I’ll say!). I’m so beautiful, so colorful and so vibrant that whole cultures want to change the way I look (because, I will blind them with this beautiful way I was made!)

Girl, woman, lady, friend. Don’t you ever, ever believe that you have to be anything but WHO YOU ARE. Big, small, wide, tall, thin, fat, loud, proud, quiet, bold, white, black, brown, yellow, red, PRECISE. You.

Go run, jump and play.

Go find yourself. Go. Bring yourself home.

Your body is your own. You never have to leave it again.

WOMAN.

xo,

M

 

A Room of My Own

Guys,

I woke up at 5 am today ON PURPOSE. Just to write. I can tell you with complete certainty that, after 2 babies back to back, and no consistent sleep for a solid 3.5 years, I did not envision a day when I would choose to wake up before dawn for MY OWN GOOD.

Listen, the kinds of things that used to “restore” me are just not the kinds of things that bring me peace and restoration now. I used to relish things like getting my nails done, or having a massage or the fresh, crisp exhale that comes after cleaning the shit out of my house (this was before children, as you can clearly tell). Also, I liked to hole away at night, take an endlessly long shower and curl into bed with a good book and my favorite music.

After having kids, I HAVE STRUGGLED to figure out how to restore this soul. Do you know what you do not get to do when you are the mother of small children? Take long showers. Know what else? Hole away for a night. Getting my nails done? Ahahahahaha. You are cute! And clean the shit out of my house? THERE ARE NO MOMENTS IN MY CURRENT LIFE WHEN I GET “PEACEFUL” AT THAT THOUGHT.

I have tried to do things that soothe me. And, generally, it’s a far more uncomplicated act or process than I imagined it would be:

Sometimes, it’s just being rested, or getting a complete and full 8 hours of sleep. I’ve noticed that there’s something kind of miraculous about spending an hour in my home without work or my family and just myself. Even if I do nothing but listen to music. Or cook. Or tidy in silence. Sometimes, it’s sitting on my front step when the sun is high, and basking like a kitty in a glowing sunbeam.

Still, waking up at 5 am just never sounded like a peaceful project. Until today. I don’t know you guys, but there’s something straight mysterious and divine about a humming, sleeping house. Curled up on my couch in my jammies across from my twinkling christmas tree and beneath my entire, slumbering family felt like a reward. I sat and I wrote and I wrote and I sat and then my child woke up and came tip toeing down the stairs and I will tell you: I was happy to see him. (It was 6:15 am, and I just want you to know I almost never want to see anyone at that hour).

I think I like stealing the earliest hours of the day for just me. I think it felt like a secret, or like entering a trap door into a room, all of my own. I understand why Virginia Woolf wrote in A Room of One’s Own:

“No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anyone but oneself.”

Certainly, I have missed something far too obvious all of these years of my life, both before babies and after, and that was this:

Restoring myself isn’t an outside job. It’s the simple act of sitting still, in quiet, unremarkable and yet, myself.

I’ll take it.

See you at the crack of dawn, sisters.

xo,

M

 

 

WOMAN

Hello, world! I am a woman. I need myself. I need a village. Friends, family, hugs, love, support, laughter. I need lots of trusting, wise, kind and loving people to help me raise my children/myself. I need my health. Physical strength. Vitality to move. I need food, water and shelter. I like to read. I like to cook. I love to be outside. I enjoy time spent with people (but not all the people at once because #introvert). Here’s what I don’t need:

To be constantly sold to
Fulfillment/Happiness that comes from OUTSIDE of myself
Weight loss solutions
Dieting regimes
Skincare regimes
Supplement regimes
REGIMES, IN GENERAL

In fact, I LIKE ME JUST THE WAY I AM. Wrinkles, stretch marks and more. Wide hips, small lips, squinty eyes, yoga pants, ripped t shirt, tennis shoes, unwashed hair. I’m so good with this look! I’m so GOOD with me. I don’t do tight rope walking or strict rules or less than well. You start throwing shoulds and musts and you betters at me, and I get all kinds of pissed off. I do not want your waist trainer, your diet shake or your 21 day master blaster workout routine. I want to live inside this body carefully and consciously, my people. I do not want to shred it or blast it or turn it into a beach body. IT IS OKAY TO PINCH AND PULL SOMETHING FROM MY SIDE, Y’ALL. I have bigger fish to fry!

And those bigger fish are the entire world that is ready and waiting to try to teach my daughter how much she needs to CHANGE and SHRINK and WITTLE and BLAST and SHRED and SMEAR ON or TIGHTEN UP. A whole world of messaging is headed her way and it says: BE MORE, BUT BE SMALL ABOUT IT. DO MORE, BUT DON’T LET ANYONE SEE YOU TRYING. BE QUIET. BE STILL. SIT DOWN. SMILE MORE. MAKE ME COMFORTABLE. ALWAYS BE COMFORTABLE. KEEP TRYING. NEVER GIVE UP. EXCEPT, ON YOURSELF.

Y’all, I’m on a rampage this year, and I should’ve known it was coming because this year felt like shit up until I started asking myself the right question, and that question was not “What is wrong WITH ME?” The right question was: WHAT IS WRONG?

Cliff notes: So many things.

Anywho, I’m just not cool with being a woman and raising a girl in a world that wants to sit me down and shut me up and squeeze me into a pencil skirt. I’m not cool with a world that wants me to spend my money on a diet industry that keeps me SCARED of my body, and AFRAID of myself. I am not down with raising kids in a world that tells me I need to do it all by myself and do it perfectly and never fail and never fuck up, while telling me to somehow make sure to teach my kids to fail and teach my kids to fuck up and teach my kids they don’t have to be perfect. What?

I’ll choose to give to myself, put into myself, teach myself. I’ll choose to be so conscious so that anything I do consume, I consume with my wits and my senses and myself. I’ll teach my kids to fail and fuck up by failing and fucking up. I’ll teach my kids to be enough by learning that I AM ENOUGH. I’ll teach my daughter to love her body by LOVING MY BODY. I will teach my girl to know herself by KNOWING MYSELF. I’m not looking for myself in other things, in other bodies, in other people. I am RIGHT HERE, MY BABIES.

HELLO, WORLD! I did not come to social media to share my perfect pictures, and tell you about my shiny life. I came here to share myself, to be seen and heard and to connect. Mark Zuckerberg did not KNOW what he was getting all of you into.

Do not let anyone tell you what you need, boo. YOU NEED YOU. We all do.

xo,

M

Privilege, Planned Parenthood and Access to Women’s Healthcare

If you are a woman, then you know how important reproductive health is. Privileged women are instructed by their primary care physicians to begin having annual visits with an OB Gyn at the age of 18, and sooner if we become sexually active or have specific reproductive health issues. Women with medical insurance and transportation can sufficiently find a doctor we like who will support us in learning about self breast exams, birth control, STDs, prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum issues, menopause, etc. As we age, we learn the nuances of our bodies, and if we’re socioeconomically gifted, we can find medical support to help us nurture, care for and protect these bodies.

But, if we aren’t privileged. If we do not have sufficient medical coverage, live in rural areas or simply haven’t had access to reproductive health education, then what? According to 241 members of our House of Representatives, WE OUGHT TO FIGURE THAT OUT ON OUR OWN.

There is no more glaring example of failing leadership than that of our ELECTED officials in Congress. Wealthy, mostly white and almost always privileged, they are not only disconnected from the needs of their impoverished, voiceless constituents, they are also entitled and self-serving. It’s heartbreaking to be a part of this conversation, because I feel that I belong equally to these underwhelming, ineffective leaders as much as I do to the victimized, marginalized women and families that they continue to ignore. WE ALL BELONG TO EACH OTHER. And yet, our leaders can’t see past their own privilege and ideology long enough to remember.

This isn’t about abortion. Women have always had abortions, and they always will. Wealthy women will always find and have a way to terminate an unwanted pregnancy and receive effective medical care. Women with fewer means and resources will not.

This is about money. This is about ignorance. This is about privilege. This is about race. This is about class. This is about fear.

This is not about God, but I can tell you that no God I know would want us leaving our under-served communities in the lurch, and placing heavier burdens on women and families in already desperate need.

Fight for Planned Parenthood. And if you won’t fight for Planned Parenthood, please fight to find a better solution. Fight to provide women with equal access to healthcare. BECAUSE WHY AREN’T WE DOING THAT, ALL OF US, ANYWAY? Donate. Or do something. Just don’t be silent.

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