Full Moon Moments


In Developmental Theory we discussed the concept of the “full moon moment”, or a time in which we are shining with accomplishment. In that moment, if caught at the right time, praise and acknowledgment can help propel us forward. Or, if not caught, can lend to an even deeper need for acknowledgment, as well as developmental stagnation. I think I’ve been very fortunate in this area. There are so many moments that, when I look back, have helped guide my trajectory in a positive way. I know my strengths. I also know many weaknesses. I am so often surprised at how many people are able to rattle off weakness after weakness, but are stumped when prompted to list their strengths. There is also a difference between a true confidence, and an area of sensitivity hiding behind hubris. This is not to say that I am free of those moments–I certainly have as much ego as the next person. I also know what it is like to be genuinely confident without being enslaved by ego.

I am grateful that I have had many advocates, many supporters. In addition to family members, my encouragers have most often been educators. People who meet me now are often surprised that I am an introverted observer, and was once painfully shy. That is until they see me at a party, or, heaven forbid, in a potentially flirtatious interaction. The tremendous personal growth I have made is due to a lot of hard work, but also due to the potential others have recognized in me. I am lucky. Without those honest but unexpected nudges, I know I would not be where I am at currently. Teachers from elementary to high school to college and beyond have lent me the courage I needed when I did not have it, as well as the permission to know what I am good at. I also know the feelings that occur when my full moon moments are denied or deflated. Again, and I cannot say it enough, I am so grateful that those experiences have not formed the majority of my meaning-making.

I wish I was better at affirmation and acknowledgment. I am a recognizer and encourager of strengths, but I am not good at the gooshy stuff. As a matter of fact, flowery affirmation still makes me uncomfortable when directed at me (even though I appreciate it later). While I can intellectually see other’s emotional needs, I am not always equipped to meet them. I am an excellent listener, and I can be steadfast in times of chaos or need. I am not an empathizer. It is my mission this year to be more cognizant of other’s full moon moments, so that rather than squashing them with a correction or dry joke (no matter how entertaining) I can be a nurturing element in their lives. I’m not a social worker, I have to be jealous of my energies because I am so easily depleted of them. I am an educator at heart. I am an encourager. I want to help others help themselves.

So, as cheesy as this sounds, thank you to my supporters. Thank you to my teachers (in and out of the classroom) and supervisors who have recognized my talents before I have, to my advisors who have encouraged my interests and drawn out my talents and personality. Thank you to the community members and family and friends and advocates–for your patience with my areas that need growth but mostly, thank you for the gift of knowing me. This is a gift I will always cherish, and hope to pass on to others:

The gift of self-knowledge, the gift of self-worth and self-respect, the permission to honor the self as one would honor others.

So often in the culture of care, the self is the one person not taken into consideration. Which, unfortunately, depletes the self’s ability to care for others.

It is not selfish to think of oneself.

It is self-hurting and disingenuous not to.

Sincerely, Emilie

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My Multi-Faceted Self


These are the most common false assumptions made about me:

…that because I am artistic I am not logical

…that because I majored in music and theatre I must be terrible at math

…that because I plan to continue in the arts I am doomed to a life of waitressing

…that because I love Broadway I hate all other types of music

…that because I am blonde, bubbly, and large-breasted I am unintelligent

…that because I am overweight I am lazy and unfit

…that because I dress in a stylish, zany way I cannot be practical

…that because I care about my appearance I am shallow

…that because I am female I am weak

…that because I am female my greatest desire is to be wife and mother

…that because I am twenty two I am incapable

…that because I am single I am deficient, miserable, or homosexual

…that because I am not well-traveled I am uncultured

…that because I live at home I am not capable of taking care of myself

…that because I am not currently performing I have given up on the arts

…that because I prefer a quiet night with close friends to dancing at a bar I am no fun

…that because I love beauty I cannot get my hands dirty

…that because I own collector Barbie dolls I have not grown up

…that because I am female I must love children

…that because I am well-spoken I must be prim and snobbish

…that because I am confident I must be loud-mouthed and overbearing

…that because I can change my mind quickly I have no opinions of my own

…that because I love classic literature I cannot love science fiction and fantasy

…that because I value reason and logic I have no freedom

…that because I allow my plans to change when necessary I will never accomplish my goals

 

I hate the way society judges-one or the either but never both, never more. I hate the way the town I come from, the color of my hair, the shape or size of my body, my interests, my upbringing all constantly, in the eyes of others, confine me to one particular role or another.

All squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares.

All people share humanity, but human interest does not confine a person to a single definition.

Embrace your multi-faceted self, and stop addressing only one side of me.

 

Sincerely,

Emilie

Be the Child, Be the Cat: Reclaim Your Joy


During the beginning of college I lost something very precious, and have just over the last year and a half started to gain it back. It took me a long time to even realize that I had lost the ability to unashamedly enjoy every moment.

Children have it. Cats have it.

Why have so many adults lost it? I actually worked hard for a while to suppress my joy, because it throws people off. Why is she so happy? Why is she constantly humming? Why does she laugh so easily? Why is everything so exciting for her?

My question, how come everything is so hard for you?

I’d never really fit in with my peers (nobody ever believes that I am as young as I am) and for a while to fit in was what I wanted most. So I dumbed down my vocabulary, I developed some angst, and I was as miserable as everyone else. Then, when I got on my health kick, I finally decided “this is ridiculous.” I like being happy. I like to ooh and awe over the fog in the morning, or a particularly beautiful falling leaf, or an awesome new office supply. I love laughing. This does not make me any less intelligent than those stoic, jaded folks who call a pen a pen and smirk at nature-loving hippies because they do not have the latest igadget and could not possibly grasp what it really means to be modern, it just makes me happier.

I am back at The Lake House this week cat-sitting, and I have been alternately amused and amazed by the pure feeling exuded by my feline charge. When happy, Maya purrs. When unhappy, Maya walks away or demonstrates her unhappiness quite vocally and then moves on. When adventurous, Maya convinces me to let her outside. Maya oozes confidence. She slinks all over, fully-knowing that she is beautiful and sexy, and lets nothing fluster her. Sure, she jumps when she is startled, but as soon as she lands on her feet she is slinking away again. “What?” she asks, “I was startled in the moment. Deal with it.” Cats are my favorite animals because they are such sensual beings. Not just in a sexual sense, but completely sensual. They like to feel and taste and listen and smell and be rubbed. They live life in the moment. Even when they are lounging about they look supremely happy and superior. Unlike livestock who, when lounging, just look pathetic, miserable, bored, and unsure of themselves.

Lounging livestock like the animals that I saw last week when N-Ben and I went to the Thurston County Fair. I had not been to a fair in years, and I have to admit I was somewhat disappointed. The Mason County Fair kicks the Thurston County Fair’s derriere. My favorite part, other than discovering that I am a pig whisperer and N-Ben and I complaining that the horses being judged weren’t doing anything, was the grand stage. When we first sat down to watch, there was a river dance school performing. Most of the young students were pretty bad, but a few stuck out as having promise. The boys were especially awkward, brows furrowed in concentration, arm muscles shaking from being forcibly locked at their sides. Don’t even get me started on the glossy curly plastic china-doll wigs bouncing ridiculously atop the older girl’s heads.

Up next was the Army Legion Band, the band that practices at SMU and that I conducted for one third of my conducting final. They play big band, marching, and movie soundtracks generally—your typical parade and event band. I hear them practice every week and have heard them perform many times, but what enchanted me was the little girl performing in front of them. Now, she was not a part of the band, she was merely a free-spirited girl taking advantage of the small raised platform in front of the band which she claimed as her own personal stage. And she danced. She had no training, no particular method, she simply moved as the music beckoned. When Sousa made his expected appearance, her steps became measured in length and choppy. When a movie theme was played, her arms flowed like water and she began to leap and frolic. And she was good. I don’t mean to say that she was a dancing prodigy. On the contrary, her dancing was pretty pathetic. But her confidence, and pure joy, was beautiful. She was enjoying life, and this lent her a grace not possessed by any of those river dancers who had been taking classes.

Eventually, of course, she noticed that we were watching her and she started to smile at us, and began ending songs with a dramatic flourish, arms raised to the sky beckoning for love. She pretended that all of the applause was meant for her (and I’m sure some of it was).  She was working hard, too. She had to stop to take a water break every so often, but she always returned ready to amaze and delight again. This young girl was pure joy. This young girl was me, unfettered.

There are some of those jaded adults who begrudge the cat and the girl their happiness. “Life is so easy for them, they are taken care of–they don’t have to bear the weight of the world yet. Wait until the little girl grows up. Watch her lose that joy. Watch her become self-conscious, ashamed, lonely, miserable. Watch her become just like us.” Why does this have to come to pass? Why can’t we, through our age and wisdom and pride still retain the pure joy of our former years? I think we can. I lost touch of it for a bit (willfully) but I’ve chosen to take it back. You can too. This doesn’t mean that there will not be pain, sadness, and perhaps depression and utter despair. But, alongside, there will always be that simplest, purest joy of being in love with being alive. If you told Maya that her life as a cat is far too easy and that her obvious pleasure in everything she does (including being unhappy) is not fair, I am sure she would smirk at you as only a cat can smirk, and say, “Yours could be too, if you would only let it.”

So that dear friends is the secret to my happiness—allow yourself to be happy. It is not, as my piano teacher suggested last year, because I suddenly found a boyfriend. I just rediscovered myself.

Sincerely,

Emilie

 

 

Heels V. Flats


Today’s topic:

The great foot debate–to wear the hot heels or the more sensible flats?

My answer, dear friends, if in doubt always go with the heels.

You may ask why?

Why are a few vain hours worth the potential back problems and quite probable calluses?

I will tell you why.

CONFIDENCE.

When a woman wears heels she exudes confidence: her gait improves, no longer is she the shy wallflower or the awkward twitterpated youth, now she is a gliding WOMAN sure of herself and her goals. This woman holds her head high, she breezes past obstacles that may have stumped her if her line of sight was a little nearer the ground, and d*** her legs look good!

I have noticed (not only in myself) that a simple pair of heels can change the outlook of the entire day.

Take yesterday for example: I was at the mall with my  mother. I had left the house earlier in the morning knowing that my hair looked good, that I had been losing weight, and that my makeup was outstanding. I also knew that I would be doing a lot of walking at the mall so it would be wiser if I wore flats. So I bravely pushed aside my beautiful heels that would have gone perfectly with my outfit and opted for the comfortable flats instead.

After an hour of walking in those shoes I was certain of several facts: 1–I was so much fatter than I had thought that morning (even though I was trying on sizes much smaller than I had been a few months ago) 2–My hair looked absolutely terrible (even though it had not changed one bit from that morning when I was sure of how cute it looked) and 3–My outifit made me look like a style-less freak.

After grumbling in my own head at how bad I looked I had to stop myself and figure out what the problem was.

The only thing that had changed since my earlier evaluation of my appearance was simple–I had been picturing my outfit with heels. One teeny little difference of 2 or 3 inches was enough to ruin my entire day.

Other examples: In multiple rehearsals I have come wearing flats and have not been able to perform the same way I do when wearing heels.

I have noticed in other people women around me this same change. They will come in one day in flats and have a merely passable day, but then the next day they will come in heels and everyone will start to notice them.

This is not shallow– I am not merely talking about outside appearance. I am talking about the underlying confidence, the feeling that what you are doing is right. Yes, you too can get this from a pair of heels. (Almost like how our buddy Harry felt after drinking the F.F.).

ATT: Women who do not know how to walk in heels with proper balance and posture–I will give you free lessons!

And if you spend your whole youth worrying about how you are screwing up your body for later than life–knock it off. There are totally surgeries that can fix things..or if not there will be. And in addition–according to Hollywood we aren’t going to make it past 2012 so you should start building your confidence now.

Don’t hate.

Sincerely,

Emilie

Why I Dress Up


On a daily basis people ask me “Why are you so dressed up?” and I never really have a response. Until now.

People expect an excuse like, “I have to perform at formal convocation today” or “I have a presentation”.

But I don’t need an excuse–and I don’t really see my outfits as dressed up.

I know that personally when I do not dress well I do not feel well, so I have resolved to look nice to the best of my abilities every single day.

Some days this means jackets heels and skirts, other days it means nice jeans a blouse and heels. On days when I have to give tours I wear flats during the morning.

I often get a lot of flack in the collegiate setting for the way I dress–bright colors, flattering cuts, and eye-catching details topped off with styled hair and polished makeup.

I have come to the conclusion that I am simply living in the wrong town. If I were in LA not only would I fit in but people would embrace my style.

I am my own individual and I refuse to dress poorly simply because I stick out on campus.

Every day is a new opportunity to reinvent your image and I think it would be a waste of an opportunity to go out in public not looking well.

Also, I have come to terms with the fact that I will never be a tiny, straight, skinny person and I am ok with it. I am working towards becoming a much more fit and healthy person but my curves are here to stay. So rather than try to stuff myself into the clothes designed for girls who seem to have never reached puberty, I am very conscientious about highlighting my assets rather than my flaws. So many girls look about 20 pounds fatter than they actually are because they don’t dress to fit their body shape. Don’t even get me started on the girls who refuse to buy things in the proper size because they are too embarrassed to admit what their size is.

A person can still dress to match current fashions without looking like some sausage stuffed into one-size-fits-all pantyhose. Let me tell you, one size and one shape never fits and looks good on all. I want women to stop trying to force themselves into one particular model. One of the greatest things about humanity is that everyone is so different.

Doctors wouldn’t prescribe the same medicine for every single person just because it was in vogue–that could cause millions of health problems and even death.

Fashionistas have just as much (if not more) influence on women, so it makes no sense to try and force all women into one look. You may say my analogy is ridiculous–how does wearing the wrong clothing for your shape adversely effect your health?

You’ve all seen the Lifetime movies about young girls, and even if they seem overly dramatic the fact is they are representing real situations that occur over and over and over and over again. Self-harm through various mediums are often caused by bad body image. But even if these issues do not manifest in everyone, the beginnings of them do. Girls, from the time they are born, feel the pressure of society bearing down on them.

In elementary school it was basic, I didn’t have the cool back pack or lunch pail, and I had to buy a certain type of pencil if I wanted friends.

In middle school I hit puberty and developed before my friends and was constantly made fun of, called a giant, told to “take off my costume because it wasn’t halloween” regularly. Then people started calling me fat, and my hair was too frizzy.

Hitting high school, I wasn’t allowed the short shorts and I didn’t get the cool pair of sneakers that everybody who was anybody had. I started surreptitiously glancing at fashion magazines, looking at the women on the front covers, and wishing I could look like them but knowing I never would. I loved the color pink and wore it every single day, and I got no end of censure for that. Towards senior year I started to wear other colors, but I had gained quite a bit of weight and I knew that the reason I was the only one without a boyfriend was because I was so “fat”.

In Freshman year of college, I didn’t have a style yet. I knew a lot of things that I liked, but I was still trying to shop in the wrong departments and fit into the style of clothing that looked good on my size might-as-well-have-been-zero roommate. Needless to say I was a mess, and not even a hot one.

As college has gone on I have developed my own style, and started buying clothing differently. I shop for things that look good on ME, and I ignore the sizes. What’s a number anyways? The hardest journey for me has been to accept where I am at, and to make myself look good now.

I admit I do have one pair of pants I bought too small, hoping that someday I could wear them. And I am a lot closer to that goal. (EDIT: 5/21/2010   Not only do these pants now fit, but they are also too large!!!!)

But dressing yourself for how you wish you look rather than how you do always makes you look bad. (Read that again.)

I’m not telling you a sob story for sympathy, the sad thing about my story is that it is NOT uncommon. Almost (if not all) every woman I know has told me about her personal struggles with a messed up body image due to the expectations she had been exposed to since a young age. I think that is so heartbreaking, and I know for a fact that a person’s belief in their appearance colors everything else they do.

So back to the original point of this post: I choose to “dress up” because I feel the best about myself when I know I look good. I am not saying everybody has to wear heels and dresses, but I do assert that in every style one can find items that flatter one’s figure. One just has to know where to look, and never to settle.

And I don’t spend that much on clothing. I usually clothing shop once a year, with a few pick ups in between. I buy 90% of my items on clearance, at end-of-the-whatever sales, and I don’t hesitate to adapt and redesign used pieces given to me as hand-me-downs. People are shocked when I tell them how much the things I own cost. I’ve never owned anything designer in my life (I’m far too poor) but most people wouldn’t be able to guess that.

I admit that I do have days where my look is a little lackluster, and if I am not leaving the house all day I enjoy loungewear as much as the next person. But if I stay grubby all day I feel grubby all day and this is unacceptable.

I need to always be able to put forward my best face so that I can give my best work.

So the next time you see me walking down the path, feel free to ask me why I’m dressed up and I will tell you that I am dressed the way I am because I am confident in myself–or rather I am becoming confident in myself.I still have a lot of self-doubt when it comes to other areas in my life, but the more I “dress up” the less I am having. I am on a journey, and my wardrobe is another step to help me attain and maintain mental and physical well-being.

I hope that you can become confident and comfortable in your image as well.

If you need any help feel free to ask.

I love helping others gain freedom and confidence in themselves.

Sincerely,

Emilie