What Are You Made Of?

Remember the story of the 3 little pigs?

 

The first little pig built his house with straw and the wolf blew it down. The second little pig built his house with sticks and the wolf had his way with that house too. The third little pig built his house with brick and for all his huffing and puffing the wolf couldn’t blow the house down.

 

Sitting with a client the other day this fairy tale popped into my head. I have come to trust these little “pop ins”…they usually offer some wisdom I would never have come up with on my own.

 

We were talking about her sense of her self. How comfortable she is being her? How strongly she can advocate for herself? How well acquainted she is with herself ?Basically, how strongly can she stand (with herself) in the face of high wind?

 

That is when “the pigs” popped in.

 

When I consider of my own sense of my self using this metaphor of being a house-a structure that holds me-ideally it(I) would be well built. I know for myself, my friends and the women I work with, this is not always the case. Our houses (sense of self, hearts, confidence) are all too often and too easily blown to bits, straw and twigs flying in all directions.

 

 I have been watching episodes of the Big C on NetFlixs. It is a story of a woman, Cathy, who has cancer. In the episode we watched last night Cathy was hired as the high school swim coach, despite the principals concerns she couldn’t do the job because of her cancer. As the new coach, Cathy took charge. She changed practice warm ups, team strategies and confronted an arrogant, undermining swim team dad. As I watched her stand up to him, I felt her belief in herself as a coach. I was impressed. I noticed I sat straighter on the couch. She was made of brick.

 

As the episode continued, and the plot thickened, Cathy and her husband got crabs because their son slept with a prostitute in their bed (too gross to think about on sooo many levels). Thanks to facebook, and the sons now x girlfriend, the word got out. This was all the arrogant dad needed to have Cathy fired as the swim coach.

 

The scene unfolds as Cathy walked into the pool area; clip board in hand, whistle around her neck, only to see the principal, the dad with all the other parents and her team waiting for her. Cathy is told by the principal she is being fired for putting the girls at risk of getting crabs. I could feel myself cave in for her. I imagined myself as her and could see myself slink out of the gym, find my way home and crawl under the covers. I could feel my shame for her. I was made of straw.

 

Cathy, brick house that she is, doesn’t collapse into her shame, instead she confronts them on the improbability of their accusation and threatens them with a law suit if they try to fire the “woman with cancer.” She ends her self absolution by saying she is taking her team, whoever is still on it, for a run. With that she turns, clip board close to her chest, whistle swinging and out she walks out of the gym. Last scene-she is running on alone on the track. One by one the girls on her team fall in behind her.

 

Now I know this is a well scripted TV series, but I was moved…right out from under my emotional hiding place…announcing to myself and the space between myself and the TV, “I want to be like her when I grow up!”

 

To not move into shame when someone huffs and puffs at me. 

 

To feel my house made of bricks and to stand my ground.

 

To laugh I the face of the big bad wolf…and then take a run.

 

Oh yeah, I don’t run. I’ll take a brisk walk instead. Anyone want to fall in along side of me?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fifty Million

Forgive me this political rant…I have them every now and then…and instead of pontificating to myself in the shower  I thought I would share the problem and my brilliant solution with all of you…so bare  ; ) with me…

Recently at the Netroots Nation’s mid day plenary, “2012 and the War on(and for) Women” in Providence, Rhode Island, Darcy Burner stated that one in three woman in America will have an abortion at some point in their lives. This adds up to over fifty-million women.

Ms. Burner went on to ask the women in the audience, if they felt comfortable doing so, to stand and acknowledge having had an abortion.  Apparently women stood up. Tentatively at first, then as momentum built and courage spread, women throughout the crowd stood in admission of the abortion they endured.

Ms. Burner then asked all of those in the audience who supported the women standing to join them. Everyone in the room rose to their feet.

As a woman raised by a stay at home mom in the late 50‘s, who was told I could be and do anything I put my mind to but who was refused a credit card at 23 because I was not married (but was working) I applaud Ms. Burners challenging the war on women.

However, I want to ask the audience a different question. I want to ask the men in the audience, if they are comfortable doing so, to stand if a partner they have impregnated has had an abortion. If my math is correct, if over fifty-million women will have an abortion then over fifty-million men have too.

This is not a war that is gender exclusive. This “war on women” needs a voluntary draft of Baby Daddy’s stepping up to the bassinets and fighting with women to preserve reproductive rights. As they say, it takes two to tango and it is time the other half enlists.

When the women in the audience of the Netroots Nation session stood, an email went out by Digby, John and Howie and the Leadership of Blue America. They commented on the shame women feel in admitting an abortion by writing, “That’s not an easy thing to do in this culture, even among friends. The right has made it a dishonorable, solitary act, borne in silence, subject to fear and social stigma.”

This stigma seems to be placed on the shoulders of the mother. I see bumper stickers that say Choose Life…Your Mother Did. Come on folks, unless it is immaculate conception their dad too. Since Freud, moms are blamed for everything. Believe me. As a “seasoned” therapist and a mom of adult kids I know this is true.

The Center for Disease Control reported in 2008, 84.3% of all abortions were performed on unmarried women. The Guttmacher Institute states nearly half of pregnancies among American women are unintended; about 4 in 10 of these are terminated by abortion. Twenty-two percent of all U.S. pregnancies end in abortion.

Has a woman’s right to choose morphed into the convenient belief she is solely responsible and therefore the enemy in a war against her?

We need to remember behind every aborting woman there is an aborting man. Fifty-million to be exact and it is time they stand up now.

 

 

 

 

 

Random Acts of Kindness

Anyone that lives in Pittsburgh knows that going for a walk involves hills. It is the good news and the bad. I love that I have a treadmill right outside my door and hate that there is no such thing as a leisurely walk that doesn’t involve sweating.

 

So it was this morning. The spring weather has me ditching the gym and heading out over the hilly terrain of Pittsburgh to get my heart rate up and, hopefully soon, my butt in a favorite pair of summer slacks. On my last leg of my route is a very steep hill. As I looked up from the bottom, I prepared myself mentally and physically for the climb. I found a favorite song on my ipad, jacked up the volume, dropped my focus into my hips, made sure my feet were fully meeting the sidewalk, took a deep breath and started up the hill. Whew, half way up I decided there was no shame in stopping against a railing to rest. As I rested I noticed the neighborhood, smelled a cigar-couldn’t find the culprit-and noticed two cars drive past me going down the hill.

 

I started the second stretch. I was tired and not sure I wanted to, or could, do it. I remembered going into labor with Jena, my second child. When I got into the full throes of labor I said (well shouted) to my husband, “I changed my mind, I don’t want to do this.” I fully expected him to say okay and we would go home. We didn’t.

 

The also remembered was when I was leaving my marriage. I would go to the gym and run (I am not a runner) on the treadmill. I would think I was going to die. I would tell myself that if I could survive 5 more minutes of running than I wouldn’t die leaving my marriage. I ran those 5 minutes. I didn’t die. I felt more confident, so I ran 5 more telling myself, “If I can run 5 more minutes without dying…” I ran 30 minutes this way and successfully ended my marriage.

 

So it was with me and this hill. If I could do this hill I could survive anything. And, since every alternative route home also involved a steep incline, there was no backing out. Halfway up the second stretch a women in a Honda CRV pulled up next to me and rolled down her window. I wasn’t sure I could talk to give her the directions she must be stopping to ask me. Then it occurred to me, wasn’t she one of the cars that just passed me? I stopped walking and looked in through the open window.

 

“Do you need a ride?” she asked with concern.

 

I instantly had a visual of how tragic I must have looked plodding up this incline and felt ashamed. Gratefully, as quickly as my shame reared its disabling head, it was replaced by how touched I felt by her kindness. She had turned around to check on me.

 

“Bless your heart,” I said between gulps of air, “but I am going to do this!”

 

“You go girl!” she responded.

 

I did. I conquered that hill, with her encouragement and kindness inspiring me all the way.

 

Encouragement and kindness. I think that is all we need.

 

Thank you, woman in the CRV.

The Queen of England

Today I got a massage and facial. As I relaxed; steam opening my pores, Audra’s fairy fingers making gentle circles around my eyes; I began to count my blessings. When I left the house this morning our housekeeper was pulling into the driveway. Last night I ordered a great pair of shoes from the Travel Smith catalogue. Tomorrow I have an acupuncture appointment. Next week I have a manicure and pedicure scheduled. I am the luckiest woman alive!

 

Then it hit. My gratitude turned to shame, “Who do I think I am? Really? Who? The Queen of England? I don’t dare tell anyone about all this.” I felt terrible, indulgent, spoiled, after all, there are children starving in Africa. Continue reading