You are so much more than that…

Oh man, sometimes you read something and it is a home run. You wonder how did the author or poet put the words together in a way that makes you feel like each word choice is perfect. It speaks to you in ways you have not been spoken to before that moment.

Thank you, Emily Parkinson Perry – for your post and introducing me to Rupi Kaur. I now want to read Kaur’s book “milk and honey.” This poem shared on Perry’s blog makes me think about all the times I might have told a little girl how pretty she was, or how I liked her dress. Or, to the adult women who I might have envied.

I want to apologize to all the women
I have called pretty;
before I have called them intelligent or brave.
I am sorry that I made it sound as though something as simple as what you were born with is the most you have to be proud of…
when your spirit has crushed mountains.
From now on, I will say things like, ‘you are resilient, or ‘you are extraordinary.’
Not because I don’t think that you are pretty,
but because you are so much more than that.

–Rupi Kaur

We are so much more than our bodies, our face, or our ass. We keep our families going, our work world alive, and have the adventure and drive to make sure all the pieces of the puzzle fit together into the masterpiece called life. I only want to be seen in a meeting for what I bring to the table, not the size of my waist or the shirt on my back. I want to be seen for me.

We are so much more. We are so much more. We are so much more.

“It was never a dress”

Why does the women’s bathroom sign have to have the woman wearing a dress? Why is there not another way to show the difference between a man and a woman? Which is why I love this campaign: “It was never a dress.” The campaign has been making its way around Facebook, but I had to see it show up a few times before anyone gave actual credit to the website and the company behind the campaign. Axosoft, a software company launched the site — this is an excerpt from the About page on their website:

“It Was Never a Dress is an invitation to shift perceptions and assumptions about women and the audacious, sensitive, and powerful gestures they make every single day. In science, technology, arts, mathematics, politics, houses of worship, on the streets, and in our homes, insightful women are often uninvited, overlooked, or just plain dismissed. Through storytelling, community building, innovation and creative disruptions, It Was Never a Dress will foster necessary conversations, vital voices, and images from around the world that honor ALL women. When we see women differently… we see the world differently!”

This campaign is about seeing different ideas about women in new ways. How simple and yet impactful an image could be to turn a dress into a cape. For someone who grew up loving her Wonder Woman Underoos, I am just the kind of girl who sees the cape and not the dress. Of course, I am a summer dress wearing fiend. I will try to suck every possible moment of warmth out of the summer to wear a dress and sandals, or flip flops, but I am a cape flying girl first and foremost. With so few superheros for girls growing up, you latch on to one quickly, and mine had a cape!

Take a moment to explore the website. Click on the page for “Disruptions” and create your own version of “It was Never A Dress.” And, if you are feeling inspired share your story. They even have stickers and t-shirts and the proceeds go to “STEAM fields” (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics). Please share “It Was Never A Dress” with others.

A dress for a big moment

I was thinking recently about a resident counselor I had in college. She was always a support to me and all the other girls she had to keep an eye on. But one memory stands out about how she went above and beyond for me.

It was my senior year and just days before my graduation. My college graduation felt very underwhelming to me. I had finished four years of college and could not wait to be done and move on with whatever was next. It was bittersweet. It would be the first “big moment” that neither of my parents would be there to see. My mom had been gone for 6 years and my dad had passed away in January of that same year. My graduation was just a few days after my 22nd birthday.

My resident counselor cleared me from my classes and final exams and took a friend and me into the city to play for the day.  She told us she needed to run by the mall. I thought nothing of it. Once inside she told me that for my birthday she was going to get me a graduation dress. Looking at my good friend’s face, I knew she was in on this surprise. While I had other dresses I could have worn for my graduation, it meant a lot to me that she thought how hard this time must have been for me. To have it be my first birthday with no parents at all, and to know that I was accepting my diploma with no parents watching in the audience. It felt right to have a new dress for the occasion and, while I was slightly embarrassed, I went with it. We found a dress and then went to eat and be together. I do not remember much about that birthday with them, but I remember the dress and how loved I felt.

I had family at my graduation. My grandma, sister, brother, and my mom’s cousin were all there. Great friends came from Michigan to see me and witness this big day in my life, but it was still hard. There were definitely moments where I felt like this is not the way my college graduation was supposed to go. In many ways I wanted it to be over as fast as possible. Sometimes we never know how much a gesture of kindness can matter to someone else.

I still remember the exact dress I picked out that day.

A little wedding cake ten years later?

My wedding was different. We both wanted it that way. We wanted it to be about us. The focus was about two distinct and unique individuals coming together to take vows to spend our life with each other. We did not want to get caught up in making other family and friends happy, or to cater to everyone’s little need. I have seen it happen so many times, where the bride and groom get so sucked into the wedding and party afterwards that they forget to breathe and remember why they are bringing their lives together. The most important moments of a wedding day is not what you look like, if your hair looks perfect, or if your mom is happy, but those precious moments when you promise to keep your vows. That is what a wedding is truly about, the vow and promises that are the beginning steps of a marriage.

Now that you have heard my rant and thoughts about a wedding, you can probably guess that Chris and I got married just the two of us. We did not elope per se, because we alerted folks that we were going to run off to the beach in Hawaii to make our promises to each other at sunset. Getting married with just your life partner in tow might not be for everyone, but it was so right for us. We still comment on how perfect it was for us, and have not regrets.

Yet a few things could have been easier. Those things had nothing to do with our vows, or family, or even because we almost missed our appointment to obtain our marriage license. The parts I might do differently were the silly, unnecessary wedding details. My dress. A cake.

the cake made for our after wedding party

the cake made for our after wedding party

Finding a dress was complicated. At the time, I could choose a big ass dress from David’s Bridal, spend more than I was on my wedding and get something unique, or do what I did and purchase a dress at Banana Republic for $100. There was not a wedding dress line at J. Crew or Banana Republic at the time. I know I might sound old, or many other women before me might say that I had more options than they did, but whatever they may say, the options are now endless.

When I recently came across the website: Loverly, a Pinterest site of sorts that specifically focuses on weddings, I thought: “Bummer, wish such a site was available when I got married.” Sure, was around, but it was more for creating a website and registry pages. There was not a pin board type site where you could find endless creative ideas. Even though I have been married for almost ten years, I recently had so much fun exploring the different boards on Loverly. We did not have a wedding cake, instead a very generous friend made a cake for us for a party after we got married. It tasted amazing.

Maybe for our upcoming tenth anniversary, I will have a cake made, invite friends over, and eat to our hearts content. The dress, well in the end, mine was perfect for a beach wedding.

Poofy sleeves, dresses, and guilt…

Do you remember times growing up when you told adults what they wanted to hear? Why did we do that? In our youth we should have felt free to say exactly what was on our mind.

I remember my grandma would buy my sister and me a dress each Easter. It was our Easter Sunday dress. Usually I hated it. I would wear it on Easter Sunday and then hide it in the back of my closet in hopes that she would never remember that she purchased it for me (or that I never wore it again). As I got older my mom encouraged me to just tell my grandma that I did not like it and that I would like to return it. It was always hard for me to tell her. I felt awful. I always thought I was hurting her feelings. Bummer, right?

a smile for the smurf cake, not sure about that dress though…

So…I wonder…what is it that makes kids feel they cannot be upfront? What made me just want to hide the dress and not discuss it with her? Partly I think it had to do with my dad who often would shut us down if we ever got the guts to confront him (which was rare). I think it imbedded into my thick skull that confrontation and speaking my mind was a bad thing. I was being disrespectful to my elders.

Something shifted inside me in college, almost to the opposite extreme, where now it is hard for me to keep my mouth shut. Now, that does not mean that I do not hold back. It also does not mean that I just steamroll everyone. I am pointed and thoughtful about my confrontation, but I feel less and less uncomfortable with saying what needs to be said.

What if we were able to raise children that had no fear of taking risks? Of speaking their mind and confronting their elders rationally? Does that teach them how to continue in their life with strength, poise, and determination? Sounds better to me than putting on that balloon dress to avoid confrontation.

What do you think?