I have mixed feelings on the phrase “strong women.”
Years ago, a women told me, “Most of my friends are…[pause]…strong women.” It came off slightly condescending, insulting, and confusing. Was she saying most women AREN’T strong? Was she using “strong” as a euphemism for “loud,” “difficult,” and/or “opinionated”? (Which women should be allowed to be, obvs.) At the time, I thought she was saying I wasn’t strong. I can definitely seem quiet, shy, and “nice” at first, before people realize I’m a diabolical witch with coals for eyes. But kindness and strength aren’t mutually exclusive.
Plus, fuck our culture’s obsession with strength! (See: the proliferation of “strong is the new skinny” quotes on Pinterest. YUCK.) Being physically weak DOES NOT mean you’re inferior. People who are weak, vulnerable, and/or marginalized need advocates and assistance–not in a paternalistic way, but in a way that acknowledges privilege and uses it for good. (Like donating to a homeless shelter or writing your local politicians or whatever.)
If lifting weights makes you happy, go for it. Be as physically strong as you want! But fetishizing strength seems harmful. The “strong woman” thing seems related to the “cool girl” trope: “I’m not like most girls/women [because most of them suck]; I’m more like a dude!” Yikes. Internalized misogyny 😦
Anyway, I LOVE Brit Marling’s quote! Femininity is not inferior. YES to listening, empathy, and vulnerability, now more than ever.
The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.
(i don’t think pain always leads to beauty, or that “beautiful” is quite the right word, but i liked this)
It is harder for many people to allow love to pierce their heart than to have chaotic, painful relationships…When I was an adolescent, a very dear young man named Eddie pursued me. I liked him, I enjoyed being with him, and one day I just froze up and couldn’t talk to him. Many years later I came to understand that I feared his love would penetrate my heart and open up a torrent of buried heartaches and pain. It was less threatening to date people who emotionally starved me.
I’ve unsubscribed from a lot of e-newsletters in my day [leans back in rocking chair; puffs smoke from old-timey pipe] but Courtney Carver’s is one that always makes me feel better about life. She runs a blog (and wrote a book) called Be More With Less, which is ostensibly about simplifying and decluttering but IS ACTUALLY A TROJAN HORSE FOR SELF-COMPASSION! She has no idea I’m writing this and didn’t pay me to say this by any means but I highly recommend signing up for her e-newsletter.
Today’s email, “10 Rules to Help You Live with Less Stuff,” sounds like any obnoxious listicle you could read anywhere online, but–WAIT FOR IT–is really about being kind to yourself! I LOVE THIS SHIT! “Rule” #6, small progress is still progress, applies to a whole lot more than just decluttering. Tbh, I find decluttering kind of meh. It feels great, but maximalism pumps through my glittery purple blood. “Small progress is still progress” to me is a reminder that it’s OK I haven’t written and published a book already; trying to blog more and getting out a notebook to maybe try morning pages is a great first step. Nothing happens overnight, etc. etc. Or like a quote on my fridge says: “Nothing in nature blooms all year.”
Turns out Rumi was one cool cat. Evidence: this poem my therapist read me…
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.