Women! We are a unique species. We range on the spectrum of colors from black to white, with many shades in between. We vary in size, height, language, ethnicity, talent, achievement and the list goes on. No two women are alike. However, one of the most perplexing commonalities that we women share is that we often don't recognize our own beauty. We women can be so very hard on ourselves at times. We worry unnecessarily about everything. If you were to assemble a group of women in the same room and start a discussion centered on fitness or body image; I guarantee that every woman there, will come up with a list of at least five things that they dislike about themselves. Why do we do that to ourselves? Have you ever gotten a compliment but instead of receiving it and saying thank you, you said something like: Oh no, I need to lose 20 pounds. Or oh no, can't you see that blemish right there? Have you ever thought about what must be going through the mind of the person who gave you the compliment? Think about it and then answer this honestly: Have you ever compared yourself to other women, wishing you looked like them or had something they had, whether it was their hair, skin, legs,height, size...etc? I think we've all been guilty of it at one time or another in our lives, whether we'd like to admit it or not. Of course we all know that the media has a lot to do with it. Everything is centered around superficial beauty, hyper-sexuality and materialism. God help our daughters who are growing up in a time when the less clothing worn the better and the ability to twerk and/or shake your butt, is the norm. However, that's another blog topic for another day. The point I'm trying to make is this. Forget about the images on TV, the internet and magazines. Forget about the women next door or at work, or in the subway. While there is nothing wrong with admiring the beauty of other women, we as women should start to celebrate who we are as individuals. Not just the image we see in the mirror, but every aspect of ourselves. We are works of art, unique and wonderfully made. I assure you that just as you may have wished to look like someone else or to have something else that another woman possesses, another woman is looking at you the same way. She is wishing to have what you have or to look like you. Most of us don't realize that because we are busy complaining about our flaws or we're just too blind to notice how truly beautiful we are. So start paying attention and celebrate your own beauty! While your at it, celebrate your life and the blessings in it. Appreciate everything about you inside and out, flaws, challenges, experiences too. For they have made you into the individual you are. All of our days are numbered and you don't want to reach near the end and then realize as you look back on photos of yourself, how truly beautiful you were and how foolish you were not to realize it.
Do you remember what it was like to be told you couldn't have something or you couldn't do something as a child? Maybe it was sweets, toys, the freedom to play with friends? Do you remember thinking... I can't wait until I get older, so I can do what I want? Do you remember the pleasure that came from finally being able to have what you wanted? Did you overdo it or were you able to indulge without going too far? For some of us, being deprived of certain things may have caused us to indulge a little too much as we got older. Some of us can't resist sweets and/or fast foods and now it shows in our weight. Some of us shop too much or buy too many toys, like electronics and cars, whether we have the money or not. Then you have those of us who were deprived of love and affection. These are the individuals who may have the most difficult struggle as they tend to over-indulge their inner-child in a very different way. For their pleasure is found in the attention, love and or validation given to them by others. This is a delicate subject as no two people are alike and there are of course always exceptions to every rule. A mental health professional once told me "An emotionally deprived child will never be satisfied". She further explained that such a child will grow up desperately looking to find what he/she never had. Only they will never find it. It saddened me to hear that, because I imagined a hopeless future for many young children who will or have grown into adults desperately trying to fill a bottomless void. Throughout my life and in my current occupation, I meet many such individuals. Just as she described, they are running from relationship to relationship trying to find that person who will complete them and restore their fractured hearts. Some of them are on auto-pilot and aren't even aware of what they are looking for. Some have resigned to the momentary pleasure of casual encounters, multiple partners and maybe even an addiction to pornography. On the outside they appear to be happy, but deep inside they are terribly sad. For despite their many attempts to satisfy their inner-child with over-indulgence, they fail. So what does one such individual do? Inner healing must take place before healthy relationships can be maintained with others. I personally don't accept what the mental health professional said, as I ascribe to a Higher Power. I personally have experienced great change and healing through a personal relationship with God. However, for those who don't share my beliefs, I would love to hear your opinions and or solutions, as this is a place to share for the benefit of others.
Have you ever tried and tried to use your willpower to help you overcome something or to quit something? You found yourself trying over and over again, and you told yourself: This time I will do it for sure! Or, this time is the last time...but it wasn't? Perhaps you are trying to quit smoking, end a relationship, or even start one? Perhaps you have an addiction to food, drugs or alcohol? Or maybe you are depressed and you can't seem to will yourself into happiness? I don't know about you, but my willpower has failed me time and time again...even now! I long to get in better physical shape and to have a healthier lifestyle, but no matter how uncomfortable or dissatisfied I am with the way things are and no matter how many times I talk myself into a frenzy, swearing that I'll make a change...I do nothing! My willpower simply is not strong enough to do the job. However, as I reflect back to when I made the most lasting and positive changes in my life, I realized something. I realized that I didn't use willpower in those instances. I used prayer instead. I know... most people hear about prayer and they run for the hills. Maybe that's because they think to pray is laborious and that you have to pull out a list of impressive vocabulary words. Or maybe some feel like you have to be a perfect religious person in order to pray. NOT! I used to think that way too. First of all, simple is always best. There's no need to try to impress anyone and you don't have to be religious or perfect. NO ONE IS PERFECT...and I'm not just saying that to make you feel better. It even says that in the bible. Anyway, just have a conversation about what you're going through and ask for help. I find that thanking God for the blessings I already have is a good way to start. Prayer has helped me out of some really big battles. For example: I was really depressed for years and no matter what I did I couldn't snap out of it. It's only when I prayed about it and believed that things would change, that it finally did. It was much simpler and less exhausting...not to mention effective. As I write this, I am informing you but also reminding myself as well. As there are several areas in my life that I need to and will apply this to. The bottom line is that some battles require a little spiritual help and there's no shame in that. It's like asking your parent who would do anything for you, to help. There's a reason why 12-step programs start off with the Serenity Prayer. Willpower is great, but sometimes it just isn't enough. So, what will you do the next time your willpower fails you? Will you give up and throw in the towel? Will you keep trying even though you keep getting the same results? Or will you try something new? As for me, I know what I need to do.
Do you remember what it was like to be a teenage girl? So many changes happening all at once! Remember when your hormones took over and your emotions and body changed? Remember when your friends were experimenting with cigarettes, alcohol and maybe even drugs and they told you how cool it was; right before they asked you to try some? Remember the boys that said anything and everything including "I love you", in hopes that they could convince you to have sex with them? What about the adult men that gawked at you on the street, or worse yet, tried to pick you up...offering to buy you things? Remember the lessons you learned about relationships from what your parents taught you with their actions as opposed to their words? Meanwhile, the only thing your parents told you was to stay in school, get good grades and don't have sex before marriage. If navigating through the teen years was not so easy for you, can you imagine how difficult it is for your daughters? So...I'll ask you again. Are you talking to your daughters? It is so important that our daughters are able to come to us as their mothers, to help them make sense of their world. We cannot sit back and allow them to fend for themselves. Otherwise, there is a great possibility that they will learn the wrong things from the wrong people. What happens if your daughter finds herself in a place where she is not supposed to be and in a predicament that she is unable to handle? Will she feel comfortable enough to call you to help her get out of it? Or will she be more fearful of your reaction? Will she be so fearful, that she would rather remain and deal with the situation the best way she can despite the consequences? Think about it...and be honest. I work with families everyday and there are so many teens who have big secrets: They are in domestic violence relationships; they have or have had STD's; they have had abortions; they have had multiple sex partners; they think oral sex is not sex; they know what it is to get high and drunk from drugs and alcohol; they've exchanged sex for money and/or gifts from older men; they have been raped or molested by the mother's boyfriend or a relative...and believe me the list goes on and on. All of these experiences are taking place right under their parents' noses. Which means, just because they still look like your baby, that doesn't mean they aren't having adult experiences. And when I say teen, I don't mean 16-17 yrs old, I'm talking about 12-13 yrs old and sometimes younger. So wake up! Please... talk to your daughters, and be careful how you do it. Remember, the objective is to bring them closer to you so that you can help guide them in the right direction; instead of pushing them further into harms way.
Have you ever been in a relationship that literally sucked the life out of you? Maybe there's too much arguing and/or name calling going on; maybe he hits you; maybe you're the one with all of the financial responsibility or perhaps he is repeatedly and/or blatantly unfaithful? Perhaps you are the one he is unfaithful with. Perhaps he misuses alcohol or drugs...and you have to rescue him. Clearly I can go on, but I'm sure you get the point. Does any one or more of these scenarios ring a bell? Do you have more to add to the list? If your answer is yes, then you couldn't possibly be happy...right? So why are you sticking around? There is no black and white answer here, because relationships can be very complex. People remain in relationships that are dysfunctional for reasons that make sense to them. However, why would you want to remain in a relationship that is killing you? What are you getting out of it? Who will you become after your life and love has been depleted? Will you have anything left over for yourself? Love does not drain or destroy, it nurtures and promotes growth. A loving relationship is supposed to make both parties better and stronger as opposed to one suffering at the hand of another. So... what do you do? This is a touchy area, as we as individuals don't like to be told what to do. Friends and Family can talk to you until they're blue in the face and it wouldn't matter right? I know, I've been there. However, I will leave you with this. At night, just after your head rests on your pillow, pay attention to what your gut is telling you. There lies the truth... a truth that even you can't deny. What happens after that, is entirely up to you.
Those of you who have never suffered from depression may find it difficult to understand what it's all about. I could provide you with statistics that show how much of an epidemic depression has become, but that wouldn't translate into much. Media coverage of beloved celebrities like Robin Williams who have lost their battle with depression, only shine a momentary light on the subject, and whilst people are saddened and shocked...they still won't get it. They still will not be able to understand the magnitude of the struggle to overcome the pain that rages on within the mind and heart of a depressed person. Yes, I said in the heart. For that is where emotional pain is felt and when you're depressed that is what you feel...pain and lots of it. It is a sensitive topic for me, because I was one of those people for many years...and just the thought of being in that dark place still brings tears to my eyes...even as I write this. The most perplexing thing about depression for me was that it was invisible. If I didn't speak of it, one would never know that I suffered from it. No matter how I tried, I couldn't escape from it. It was exhausting trying to fight something I could not see, but was affixed to me; like my own shadow. It was like being alone in a house without lights during the night, the doors are locked and you can see everyone outside playing in the sun...but you can't join them no matter how hard you fight to get out. Depression doesn't care how much money you have, how many degrees you've accumulated or other reasons people think you may have to be joyful about. It is an illness that impairs the mind, and the mind is our most powerful tool. Without a healthy mind, the quality of your life will suffer. So, how do you explain to others something that you can't see or touch? How do you explain a pain that is so beyond physical pain that it rocks you to your core? How do you explain what you're going through without feeling shame or that you might be perceived as crazy? That is the dilemma that causes those that suffer with depression to feel even more isolated. There is still so much shame associated with having a mental illness. Some people still perceive those that suffer from depression as being weak (some cultures more than others). So much so, that many would rather suffer in silence than seek treatment. It's when the suffering becomes too much that desperate thoughts of alleviating the pain once and for all present themselves...yes..suicide. I'm sure you've seen it in the movies when a person sustains a fatal injury but is suffering and they beg to be put out of their misery? Well suicide is the same concept for those that suffer from severe depression. Pain is pain! Needless to say, suicide is NOT the answer. My intention is to bring insight where there appears to be very little, in hopes that you will get a better understanding of what it's like inside the mind of a Depressed mind.
In memory of Robin Williams (July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014) R.I.P
For more information about Depression and Suicide click on the Depression page of this website.
My brother once told me that feelings are important because they're an indicator. They let you know what's going on within as well as externally. They will tell you when you're hungry, sad, angry, afraid, happy, aroused, in love...and the list goes on. I totally agree with him on that. Feelings are very important, for what would life be without them. The point of life is to live it and in order to live it, you must feel; otherwise we'd be dead. However, what I want to explore a little more is: How do we know when our feelings are leading us in the wrong direction? Clearly we aren't talking about the obvious here, such as committing crimes and anything dangerous. I'm talking about more subtle things that can amass into huge dilemmas/problems like getting into a relationship with someone because you feel lonely, or sleeping with a married man/woman because it feels right or feels like love. Do those feelings justify the actions? Or how about something as simple as eating or drinking alcohol? What happens when the taste is so sweet and the feelings are so enjoyable that we can't stop ourselves even when the mirror or those around us tell us we've gone way too far? Does there come a point where our minds step in and call the shots before it's too late? It almost seems like a rhetorical question right? As I'm sure many of you will answer within yourself: Of course the mind has to step in and take control! Well, if it were that simple, then why are so many people (not unlike myself) still allowing their feelings to make poor decisions that affect their lives and health for the worse? Perhaps the question is not can we trust our feelings..maybe the question should be: How do we walk in the other direction when we know our feelings are leading us into a place we don't belong? Maybe if we can figure out the answer to that, then perhaps we can avoid a lot of damage before it's done. For sometimes, the damage caused by following our feelings is irreparable. Any thoughts?
For most of us, the choice is clear. Of course you'd choose the daughter! However, you would be very alarmed to discover that it is more common than you think, that some mothers choose the boyfriend. If your daughter approached you and told you "mommy, he touched me..." what would you do? Would it matter how many years you were with this person or how much you loved him? Is the topic of sexual molestation still so taboo that people would rather ignore it, than to face it and help the victims heal from it? I can't tell you how many little girls I've met who have not been chosen. Not only are they not being chosen, but they are also being blamed. Imagine how it must be for a girl to know that her parent didn't believe her. Imagine how that choice shapes the rest of her life. If you can't imagine, allow me to enlighten you. The girl grows up with shame, confusion, hyper-sexual behavior, relationship issues, depression and/ or other forms of Mental Health issues. Yes, of course there are exceptions...but this is not about those exceptions. This is about the girls and even the many adult women I've encountered that are still wrestling with the demons associated with this type of crime. Oh yes, it is a crime! I make no apologies for this topic. It must be brought to the light because it is still very prevalent. I will say this, talk to your daughters. Give them the confidence to talk to you about anything. Provide them with the love and security they will need in order to take on an already harsh world. Oh and by the way, while you're talking to them, let them know that predators can be ANYONE! So when a teacher, priest, next door neighbor..or relative etc..attempts to steal her youth, they'll know how to deal with the situation. So...please don't let them fend for themselves out there. The end result is not a pretty one. Prevention is way better than a cure. Oh and by the way, this also applies to your sons.
We've all heard about Daddy issues, when it comes to women who date older men or a man of any age who has a paternal role instead of the role of a companion. Is this one of the symptoms that Fatherless Daughters face as they grow up and set out to find their mates? The importance of a father in a little's girls life is something that can't be substituted. While there are many single mothers (not unlike myself) out there that do a great job raising their daughter's alone; a mother can never be a father. A father is the standard that a daughter uses to choose her mate. A father sets the standard high, and thus the daughter won't settle for less than that standard. A daughter learns about how a woman should be treated by the way her father treats her mother. A father teaches his daughter about boys, because his insight about boys comes from prior experience. Obviously this is the best case scenario and of course it doesn't always work out this way. There are many instances such as Domestic Violence...etc, where the absence of the father is appropriate. However, the point I'm making is that it is important for a father to be involved so that there is a point of reference. When there is no father present, a fatherless daughter may seek him out in the arms of others. This need to fill the void and the absence of a point of reference can lead to a string of bad decisions. For she will search in vain, never finding what she seeks. There are many exceptions, but there are far more fatherless daughters out there aimlessly looking for love in all the wrong places. What say you?
Are all men cheaters? Is it a biological imperative that a man must be with more than one woman at the same time? Last night I began to reflect on a conversation I once had with a male, (married) colleague. He told me that men were designed differently than women and that monogamy was unnatural for men. He also tried to convince me that love is a fluid term which is not tattooed onto one specific person. That is to say that, he could love his wife, but he could also love Sarah, Jenny and whoever else. Our conversation turned into a heated debate of which I will leave to your imaginations. However, the one point that I most wanted to convey was this: To cheat is a decision to be deceitful. It is not an issue about nature. Why get married if you know you will cheat? Why not get divorced before starting something new? If it is a part of nature for men to be with more than one woman, then why the need to hide, lie and hurt others? Why not be honest to all the parties involved? What are your thoughts?
Have you ever stayed in a relationship, even though you knew that you deserved much better? Why do we sometimes settle for far less than we deserve? What is it about the need for affiliation and love that causes us to override our better judgement and knowledge gained from past experiences? I suppose there could be many reasons. However I'd like to discuss 2 common causes that are often intertwined: The fear of loss of love and the fear of the unknown. I've encountered many people, (not excluding myself) that were guilty of staying in a relationship way past it's expiration date due to those reasons. Those types of relationships are usually the most tumultuous, and the most dissatisfying. For while they do satisfy a need, or perhaps two...your gut instinct is constantly stealing your peace of mind by warning you that you are not where you belong! Many times we rationalize the truth away, but deep down we know the truth. You can try, but you can't lie to yourself. And yet, we still remain...waiting for a change that will never come. The only change that needs to be made is within ourselves. We must realize and believe in our own self-worth. We must believe and have faith that the best is yet to come. We must acknowledge and face these fears so that we can stop undervaluing ourselves. For you my friend are priceless! So...why settle for less?
My first book Within the Mask was all about revealing the person I was hiding on the inside... within a figurative mask that I wore for the world. The person I portrayed to the world was far different from who I was on the inside. On the outside I appeared attractive, strong, fearless, and happy. However, on the inside I felt ugly, weak, fearful and depressed. Although that time now seems far off...I remember how isolated and fake I felt. It was exhausting!! I remember little ways that I rebelled in order to feel like I had some control; most of which only hurt me in the end.
I've recently encountered several young people who reminded me of this time in my life. On the outside they were courteous, and each time I asked one of them what was wrong...the answer was nothing, I'm fine with a contrived smile.They all wore the same mask. However as I looked deep into their eyes, I could see the turmoil, pain and the helplessness they were hiding. When I examined their personal lives, I saw the acts of rebellion that signaled that there was something deeper going on. Baggage! Filled with mental illness, domestic and environmental issues, peer and educational pressures, puberty, and sexuality...etc. They have all of this baggage weighing them down, causing them to feel isolated and most of all affecting their perception of self.
The purpose of the mask is to portray to your peers, family, friends, the world that you are "normal". Guess what I've learned... no one is normal! There is no such thing. We all have our individual struggles, pain, regrets, secrets and because of that most people wear a mask. I think once we realize this fact, it lessens some of the pressure we put on ourselves; which then enables us to work on improving the inside so that it can match what we portray on the outside.
Women in particular are expected to carry considerable emotional load, some of us are in a bad mood so often we may not realize it could be a bigger problem. Thankfully AndreaRevealed will remove much of the stigma associated with depression. It is very possible to live a life of purpose and quality.