Saturday, July 30, 2011

Too Much

So I went to see the movie "Crazy Stupid Love" Friday night with friends. I started the evening off in a great mood, as I had just gotten my hair cut into a really sweet mohawk, had a cute dress on and was feeling good. I was feeling very confident in who I was and we were laughing and joking & having the great time. Well, I'm not gonna talk about the movie, as to not spoil it for anyone, but I will say it's pretty dang funny. And anyone who knows me knows I have a unique laugh that can be pretty loud. Well, about forty-five minutes into the movie, the girl next to me leans over and says (in a not so pleasant tone), "Excuse me, but I paid money to come here and watch this movie, not to listen to you." I was taken totally off guard and said, "I'm sorry." And then she felt the need to repeat herself one more time. I again apologized. So I was officially that obnoxious person in the movie theater who ruined a movie going experience for someone. I sat there the rest of the movie and squelched my laughter as to not bother the girl sitting next to me any further. And I've been thinking about that experience since it happened.

One of my favorite books is "Captivating" by John and Stasi Eldridge. I have read it at least four times and it's all marked up, underlined, highlighted and has things written all over in the margins. Every time I read it, something new sticks out and really grabs me as a truth for my life. One of the things they talk about in the book is this battle that women struggle with. The battle of either being too much or not enough. And I struggle with the "too much" quite often. I'm too opinionated. I'm too independent. I'm too organized. I'm too sensitive. I'm too loud. I'm too nice. I am just too much. And my laughter in the movie theater was a prime example that I am too much. I laugh too loud and too often. And in order to "make peace," I had to squelch my laughter and "tone it down" so I wouldn't be too much anymore.

And the more I thought about this, the more upset I got. Why the hell should I squelch my laughter for a perfect stranger let alone anyone else? Why would I choose to deny my true self in order to save face? I don't know why I did that, but I did. And not only did I squelch my laughter, but I allowed that experience to steal my joy and bring back old wounds. Growing up, people would tease me about my laugh. They would call me the human vacuum and just be really cruel to me every time I would laugh. So I learned to both squelch my laugh and to be ashamed of it. I hid my authentic laugh for a long time. And some time in my mid-twenties, I let it creep out. And my pastor began calling me out in service for laughing. I now know he meant it in a loving way, but at the time took it as further disapproval. But as I began letting it out little by little, people began to tell me they loved my laugh, that it was contagious and joy-filled. And I learned how to embrace my unique and loud laugh. That is, until things like Friday night happen. Then I suddenly revert back to being teased as a kid for laughing and just want to run away and hide.

And then I wonder....what else am I squelching because I think it's "too much???"

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Lovely

A group of us girls from the office went to a workshop the other day about body image and the media. Let's just say I did not leave there with warm fuzzy feelings. The workshop didn't inform me of anything I didn't already know. Society/the media in America says to be beautiful, to be lovely, you have to be tall and thin and white. Well, I am one of those things, so that must mean I am one third beautiful. After the presentation, there was a time for discussion. One woman, an overweight, middle-aged, black woman asked if men were really attracted to thin women. And several people spoke up and stated they didn't think men liked thin women, but preferred a woman who was thick. I believe this is the truth for those women who spoke up during this workshop, but it is not my truth.

My truth that I have known since seventh grade is that to be big (fat, curvy, thick - whatever you call it) is ugly/bad/wrong/unwanted. For as long as I can remember, I have battled my weight. I have gone on many diets. I have joined several gyms. I have bought the latest fitness gadgets from those ridiculous infomercials. I have watched The Biggest Loser every season wondering if I have what it takes to try out for the show. I have contemplated gastric bypass. I have lost and gained weight many times. I am currently down sixty pounds and am "stuck" at the same weight I always seem to get stuck at. I have been unhappy with how I look for so very long. It actually wasn't until January 2011 that I actually stood in a full length mirror, and for the first time, at the age of thirty-two, looked at my whole body in the mirror. And all I could do was cry. I hated what I saw. I felt disgusted. I began poking and pulling at my body and saying things like, "If my arms weren't so flabby and I could get rid of the two huge rolls on my stomach and I could have perky boobs and I could tighten my thighs, THEN I would be beautiful."

And as I reflect on that experience, it makes me so sad. Where did I learn to hate myself? When did I learn to focus on the faults I find in myself? I know this is learned behavior; that I learned being big was ugly. And I know I'm not the only one who learned that. Aaron Lewis, the cute redhead with freckles, the first boy I ever "liked" knew that and laughed in my face when I told him I liked him when we were nine years old. My classmates in middle school knew it when they tortured me for three years. Paul Flickenger, Andy McGuire, Dan Cox, Ben Knight, Orion DeSmit, Josh Conley, Chip Nightingale, Rick Jones, Robb Handy, Derek Meeker, Dave DeWitt, Chad Waterman, Matt Patton, Casey Fawley, Tim Bosworth, and every other man I have been interested in romantically has rejected me because they saw me as a friend or weren't attracted to me - aka, I wasn't beautiful enough. In college, I taught pre-school at KinderCare. One day, Ashley's dad came to pick her up, which only happened on occasion. Ashley saw her dad pull into the parking lot and was excited to see him. As I was helping her get her things together, she said to me, "Miss Stacie, my dad doesn't like you." Trying to hide the shock, I casually say, "Oh really, why not?" And she stated, "Because he doesn't like fat people." I contained the tears until she and her dad were gone. I cried, not because my feelings were hurt, but because a precious little four year old girl was taught that being fat was wrong/bad - at the age of FOUR! That just makes me sick. I often wonder about Ashley, she would be fifteen by now. I pray she loves herself the way she is.

And aside from all the personal messages I have received directly from people, there are the messages in the media. Jennifer Love Hewitt and Jessica Simpson have been called fat. HA! Wow, are you f*cking kidding me? Because they have curves, they're considered fat?!!? Amazing, no wonder so many women hate themselves. The standard we are to live up to is nearly impossible to achieve.

All of this to say, I want to love myself. Not just parts of me, but ALL of me. I want to feel beautiful, lovely. I long to be more than the girl with the pretty face. But with all these messages and all this pressure and all these scars from my past, how do I do that? How do I see myself as lovely when everything I know says that's not true?

There's this song by Sara Haze that I just love. Every time I hear it, I tear up because I long for this to be how I feel about myself. The song is titled Lovely. I looked up the definition of lovely and it is defined as: exquisitely beautiful; highly pleasing; having beauty that appeals to the heart and mind as well as they eyes. Below are the lyrics. May we all discover what it means for us to be LOVELY.


Lovely ~ Sara Haze

I don't wanna be her
I just wanna be little old me
I shouldn't have to think
Who am I supposed to be today
And what gave you the right
To tell me who I should be
Who gave you that right

Cuz, I feel LOVELY just the way that I am
Yes, I feel LOVELY the way that I am

I know you want the best
Yeah only good things for me
But you have to realize
I can't be all these things you project on me
Cuz I'm beautiful to me
Doesn't that mean a thing?

I feel LOVELY just the way that I am
Yes I, I feel LOVELY the way that I am

I need that to be enough for you
I need that to be enough for you
Cuz it's enough for me
It's enough for me

Am I supposed to give up everything I am
Just to make you happy?
I thought I was the one you always wanted me to be
It turns out
I'm just little old me
I'm just little old me
And that's fine by me

Cuz I, I am LOVELY just the way that I am
Oh yes I am
Yes I, I am LOVELY the way that I am

I am LOVELY, LOVELY
I am LOVELY

Monday, July 18, 2011

Great Expectations

Hmmmmm, I have a problem. Okay, I have lots of problems. But one of my problems is that I have great expectations - great expectations of myself and of others. Don't get me wrong, it's good to have standards and to hold one's self to them. And I feel like I do a great job of holding myself to the standards I have created for myself in my life. The problem comes in when I try to hold other people to those same expectations. This does nothing but cause trouble for me and the other person! I end up hurt and frustrated....but how do I lower my standards? Should I have to? Don't I deserve to get what I give? It seems like it might just be a lose lose situation here.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sticks and Stones

We all know the saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." This is such a fricking lie! It should say, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will break my heart." In my experience in the past thirty-two years of my life, words have hurt me deeper than any injury I have ever endured. And not only do they hurt you, but they scar you.

The other day at work we had a training and we were asked to list words that people used to identify us or place us in a box. And one of my co-workers casually said, "Why is it we only remember the bad things people say about us?" What is is about the bad that sticks to us so well? I heard it said that it takes four positives to cancel out one negative. Why do you think that is? Why is negativity so powerful?

I know for me I grew up hearing so much negativity. I was not popular growing up, and was teased and ridiculed in middle school. I was told I was ugly, fat, a cow, a dyke. I was mooed at as I walked down the hall. Girls made up songs about me. I was shoved down, tripped, laughed at every single day for my entire middle school career. I also heard negativity at home, my brothers called me a "fat bitch" often and I was told more than once that I was lazy and didn't work hard enough. I heard these comments and variations of them so often, they became the background noise of my life. I grew to believe them and even allowed them to define me and who I was and who I could become. And I know that I didn't only hear negative comments growing up. I know I heard nice things from my parents and from friends, but I don't remember those. I remember the bad, what's up with that? I think for me, I'm naturally hard on myself and very self-critical, so to hear others being critical makes sense. And I also think that I heard so very many people say so very many negative things about me, that I just assumed that it had to be true. If it's the mass consensus, then it must be the truth. They say the truth hurts, and in this case it did. So I just accepted that all of these mean and cruel and limiting things that people said about me were truth. And if that was truth, then it meant that every nice or positive thing anyone said to me was a lie. Every time anyone said anything kind to me or paid me a compliment I wondered what they wanted and why they would lie to me - always questioning their motives and never believing what they said was true. How could what they said be true when there where so many people who said the opposite of what they said?

It is said that it takes FOUR positives to counter just ONE negative. So that means for every negative comment we hear from someone or every negative self talk or negative experience, it takes four positives to cancel it out! Wow! That's not the math I grew up learning!!! But it's true! And as I'm getting older and wiser and learning more about myself and who I really am, I'm learning that all of those things that I believed to be true about myself growing up are lies. All of those things I allowed to define me are not truth, they are simply false words that greatly out numbered the true words at the time. The true words are that I am smart and compassionate and beautiful and hard-working and funny and loving and caring and strong and organized and loyal (and many, many more).

And as I move forward in my life and one day become a wife and mother, this is a lesson I am going to carry with me. That each time I think about speaking a negative, as easy as it seems to take back later, when I realize I didn't mean it, it is NOT easy to take back. It is four times more difficult to erase that it is to say.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will leave scars! Words are so much more powerful than we think they are. My head and my heart and my sense of self are forever scarred from the words that have been spoken to me. And as far as I have come to know who I really am and what words are truth, those ugly words creep their way in from time to time. It's hard work to repair the wounds of words that hurt.

So remember the amazing power of your words and use them to affirm and love yourself and others!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Time Marches On

So if you know me, you know I am secretly married to David Cook, aka Mr. Stacie Brown. Totally joking! I do, however, find him irresistibly sexy and brilliantly talented. If you don't know who David Cook is - shame on you!!! Anyhow, his new album came out two weeks ago and I committed to listening to it as often as I can (at least once a day) so when he goes out on tour, I'll be able to sing along to all his songs. Don't judge me! :) His new album is superb and there are so many great songs on it.

One of my favorites is titled, Time Marches On. One of the lyrics in the song says, "I never thought I'd see myself down here/In the same damn place with a different year/Where the lines on my face never looked so clear." And the chorus goes, "Time marches on, right or wrong/Never waits for no one, no/Can't turn it off, won't make it through/Cause time marches on without you."

Oh how I can relate to these lyrics. So often in my life, I have felt like I'm stuck, that my life has become stagnant, that I haven't changed or grown at all. The years keep passing, but I'm still in the same place I was the year before and the year before that and the year before that...But as I reflect on that, that's total bulls*it! The reason I feel that way is because I tend to focus on the things I don't have (I don't own my own home, I'm not married and I don't have children) instead of focusing on the positives. Like: I have lost 60 pounds. I ran a half marathon. I'm amazing at my job. I have my own place. I pay my own bills. I have amazing friends. I love myself a little more every day. I am learning to be comfortable in my own skin and discover who the authentic Stacie Brown is...These are HUGE changes in my life, so time isn't passing me by at all!

Every time I hear the chorus of this song, I feel a little guilt. I can't even count how many times I have said, "I'll do it tomorrow." Or "I'll do it when I'm thinner." And tomorrow comes and goes and I don't do it. And I don't feel I'm thin enough, so I never commit to it. Living my life like this is not healthy and only creates opportunities for regret. The only thing we as humans are guaranteed is right now, this moment. We are not promised tomorrow. And I am so guilty of living for tomorrow instead of living for the moment. I have a deep desire to change this way of being. I want to be able to do something when I think of doing it and not talk myself out of it because I don't have time or I'm afraid of how I'll look. But how do I change this mindset? Hmmmm, looks like a new challenge for myself and maybe for you too ;)