If I Had a Dollar (Why I Am a Feminist)

Because this is too common and too brilliant not to share…

girl in the hat

image courtesy Devil Doll image courtesy Devil Doll

Because my mother was a painter and a beauty when artists had patrons and a woman like that needed a man to take care of her, so she married a money man.

Because my mother’s mother was a beauty and her mother was, too, and that’s what people said: “She was a beautiful woman,” as if that was the only remarkable thing.

Because I was born in 1966, the year Betty Friedan and others started the National Organization of Women and challenged an industry which required flight attendants to quit if they got married, pregnant, or reached the age of 32.

Because when my mother had me, she stopped painting and started cleaning house and throwing dinner parties and smoking too many cigarettes and crying in the mirror.

Because my mother never told me that I looked pretty because she did not want me to grow…

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It’s Not About Me

One of the most freeing lessons to learn is that It’s Not About Me. The pressure we put on ourselves and others because we are only concerned with our perspective often is debilitating and stifling. When I remember there is a whole world going on out there that doesn’t have anything to do with me, I can relax, calm down, and even be kinder and more compassionate.

Now, am I always grown up enough to remember this? Of course not! Sometimes my personal circumstance blinds my maturity…and sometimes I feel like there is just no way out of feeling what I feel. For instance, when I get jealous (which actually is a rare emotion for me), the anguish spreads quickly. It’s a snowball effect; I let myself feel like a victim and then my pain searches for other thoughts on which to cling. Enter my negative list I have mentioned previously. And then, quite obviously, that only reminds me of all the negatives I perceive in my life, many which I have no control over changing by rewriting history or becoming someone I am not. So, I end up overwhelming myself with toxic thoughts that I have to try to break down when I could have just said, “This is not about me!”

When we are gentler with ourselves, allowing our pain to be recognized but then – and this is important – realizing the world is oh so much bigger than us and our pain, we stop feeling we need to control everything. We stop criticizing the things that have or have not happened. Maybe we realize that we can be happy for others and sad for ourselves. Maybe we can realize we feel overlooked but no one meant for us to feel overlooked. We are humbled – by our smallness – into peace. 

I have received a lot of snippets of good advice lately. One was from a friend who pretends she is receiving information in third person when she knows the topic will be hard for her heart to digest. By listening “in third person” she can more objectively etch out healthy responses and solutions for herself and her behaviors. Brilliant!

Another wise woman recently shared with me a stressful decision she had to make. A friend had asked her for an important and life-changing favor, but she didn’t know if she felt right doing what her friend asked her to do. When this woman asked her spiritual director what to do, she was told, “Why do you have to have an opinion?” What a simplification! By not imposing our own opinions (feelings, circumstances, etc.,), we can more fully love and cherish those around us. (Obviously this doesn’t imply that you should be a pushover, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could stop being judgmental when something isn’t causing any harm in this world?)

When we realize our perspective is naturally self-centered, we also realize others have the same perspective for themselves. This means that they aren’t really paying attention to us! So, why do we give ourselves so much importance?! And, being self-centered doesn’t necessarily make us – or them – selfish, thoughtless, conniving, or overpowered by any other negative adjective. It simply means we are all trying to make a place for ourselves and we are doing our best. We all need help sometimes. We all need to realize we are imperfect…and that’s a perfectly worthy and beautiful thing to be.