A Busy Woman's Guide To Resetting and Refreshing
We spend the weeks rushing around from duty to duty, accomplishing tasks at lightening speed and praying for the weekend. Then the weekend comes... and life isn't any easier. Laundry, bills, groceries, playing catch-up on household duties.
Life as a woman in 2018 is beyond hectic. It's exhausting, tiring, and overwhelming. How the hell is anyone supposed to do it all? And, if you do, how are you supposed to find time for your own dreams and passions?
It's a common issue I hear so many women dealing with these days. In our already intense society, so many of us feel pressure to be all things to all people... and we have little room left for resetting and refreshing our lives.
But I've come to learn: We all MUST set the reset button sometimes. We must find time to rejuvenate the soul, our passions, and our psyches. We can't keep go, go, going all the time. We can't be all things all at once.
In March, I got the opportunity to get away for a weekend to Capacon Lodge, a state park lodge in West Virginia. It was a writing retreat, but for me, more than that it was a reset retreat. I got the chance to leave the piles of laundry behind, the overwhelming amount of emails, and the daily drudgery of my busy life. I got to simplify and reset. I got the chance to spend some time sitting in the sunshine, walking in the woods, and just slowing down a bit. There was nowhere I had to be for a couple of days and nothing I had to do.
And you know what?
I felt so much more accomplished by the end of the weekend than any other weekend.
We can't all escape reality on a daily basis. We can't all pick up and go every single weekend, and there will never be enough retreats for us to reset our lives as often as we need. Getting away is a luxury real life doesn't always afford.
However, the retreat reminded me that we still need to find ways to rejuvenate and to refresh our souls. We need to reset our passions and refocus our priorities.
So how do you do that in a busy world? I think you do the best you can. I think you find small, easy ways you can take time for yourself. Whether it's two minutes or two hours, you do your best to put yourself first from time to time. You do your best to say "good enough" and relax when you can.
Most of all, you find the value in hitting reset, in kicking back, and in slowing down.
Here are some simple ways you can hit reset this week. Feel free to add some ideas in the comments below! I'd love to hear how you find ways to refresh during the busy week.
1. Have a cup of tea
2. Meditate for five minutes
3. Listen to your favorite song
4. Read a book for fifteen minues
5. Take ten minutes to do your makeup (confidence is always a win!)
6. Take a walk with a friend to catch up
7. Sit on the deck or porch in the sun for a few moments
8. Paint your nails
9. Write in your journal
10. Indulge in some chocolate and refuse to feel guilty about it
11. Take a long bath
12. Turn off your electronics for an hour a day to escape from social media
To All Women Hoping For Big Changes In the New Year
Some years are harder than others, both personally and as a society.
For many, 2017 was a tough year. Whether it be some of the major tragedies occurring in the world, stark realities about injustice in our society, or personal turmoil, many women are ready to say farewell to this year and start fresh.
It seems that with the switching of the calendar to a new year, the feeling of a blank slate is a given. For many of us, January 1st is the start of new promises and visions for a brighter year. We’ve got 12 months left to prove to ourselves we can better our lives, find more fulfillment, and uncover joy we were maybe missing in the previous year.
I’ve found that many women are seeking big changes for 2018, which can be an inspiring thing.
Some of us are searching for fulfillment in new careers. Some of us want to get right with our health and our bodies. Some of us crave self-acceptance of who we are.
Some of us are looking for stronger senses of spirituality, of joy, of appreciation. Some of us need to find a new relationship or a new sense of purpose. Some of us are seeking love and a cure to loneliness.
Many of us are looking for big changes in social views, political truths, and cultural values.
In truth, many of us are searching for big changes in some aspect of our lives... the question becomes: How do we make those big changes we are seeking a reality?
When the confetti has settled and the champagne from New Year’s Eve is gone, how to we make sure our midnight vows to ourselves materialize in the coming year? How do we find the strength to clutch tightly to our dreams for 2018 long after we’ve flipped to January on the calendar?
For so many of us, the fear of failure stares us in the face. Any change in life comes with risk, and many of us are so afraid of failure that we don’t even try. For so many women especially, failure feels like the ultimate death of a dream and the ultimate thing to be avoided.
Nonetheless, I’ve come to learn this over the years: Failure isn’t always the riskiest thing in life or the worst possible outcome. Sometimes, it is the status quo that truly threatens our success, our fulfillment, and our true purpose.
A stagnant life can be even less fulfilling than a life full of failure.
So to the women looking for big changes in 2018, whether they be personal, social, or global, I give you this advice:
Find your voice.
Find your courage.
Find your passion.
Above all, don’t settle for the status quo, and don’t settle for another year of the same.
And, when we prepare to say goodbye to 2018, whether you’ve achieved your goals successfully or whether you’ve tried and failed, the key will be that you discovered the bravery to chase your dreams. You found the strength to go after what you wanted, and you were wise enough to recognize when change was needed.That will be the thing you hang your pride on when you leave 2018 behind.
These are the qualities a fulfilling life is built upon. As one of my favorite authors, Jojo Moyes, wrote in one of my favorite books, Me Before You:
You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.My wish for you in 2018 is that you go out and live your life as fully as possible, chase those changes you are seeking, and find a way to support the other women in your life who are also looking for a brighter, better year.
Happy 2018 to you. May you be brave enough to chase those changes you want most of all.
Lindsay Detwiler is a contemporary romance author with Hot Tree Publishing and a high school English teacher. Learn more about her works and her dedication to sweet, genuine love stories by visiting her blog.
Changing Our Minds: It's Our Prerogative
Sometimes it seems like society tells women we have to have every single aspect of ourselves 100% together. We must be decisive and focused when it comes to our goals. We must have a set plan for our lives and not veer from it. We must be steadfast go-getters who have their eyes locked solely on the prize.
As I approach thirty, though, there's something I've come to learn: This idea is garbage.
To live is to inherently accept that we never quite know what's happening. Life is a jumbled, crazy journey filled with twisting and veering paths. Some paths intersect. Some loop back on themselves. Some bring us to crossroads filled with choices.
No one can be certain of every step.
Plus, there's the fact that we must allot for change. We are dynamic beings. We grow and learn. We develop and change our vantage point. We do not stay the same.
As women, we are complex being with choices, regrets, confusions, and questions. We don't have everything figured out, no matter how old or wise we are. We change our minds. We get lost sometimes. We lose sight of who we are or what we want to be.
Life isn't always filled with simple, two-answer questions. Life is murky and confusing. We get misled sometimes, and sometimes we simply have trouble listening to our gut.
The thing I've come to realize, though, is that literature for women should reflect this in order to give us permission to be okay with this.
Literature Reflecting Life
Too many times, I've seen the ridiculous standard held for women in real life held for fictional characters. Female characters, especially in romance, are expected to have all the answers, to make the "right" decisions, and to play by the rules all the time.
Just like in real life, I don't agree with this.
When I set out to write romance, I knew I wanted to write for the real, modern woman. I wanted to write for the woman who changes her mind, her heart, and even herself. I wanted to write for the woman who doesn't have every answer and who doesn't know exactly how many steps and turns she'll take in her life. I wanted to showcase women who were courageous enough to not only chase happiness at all costs but who also weren't afraid to make mistakes.
I wanted to write about perfectly imperfect women who got confused, got down, got lost, and got broken. I wanted to write about women who were far from perfect...but perfectly fine with that.
The women in my books change their minds. They get confused about their hearts, and they get confused about themselves. Just like us, they make choices only to regret them. They make choices they are sure of only to go back and change their minds.
Like in real life, the women in my books are just trying to survive this crazy, turning path called life with a sense of purpose and a sense of joy.
The women in my books aren't perfect, and that may bother some people. To me, though, as a perfectly imperfect woman, I wouldn't have it any other way.
To learn more about my perfectly imperfect female characters, click the Books link above.
Guest Post: Sally Perkins' Tips for Caregiving
Today, I am honored to welcome Sally Perkins to my blog with some tips for caregivers. For those of you in this position, she has a great article with 30 Tips for Caregivers that you should check out. Here is a sample of some of her tips:
Caregiving? Replenish Your Energy
We tend to think of caregivers as people who are doing things for someone. And while it’s true that caregivers do a lot of things -- cleaning, cooking, shopping etc., caregiving is way much more than just doing. Caregiving is an act of love. It’s astonishing to think of all the ways in which a caregiver gives to a loved one, with the strength of their bodies, hearts and minds. Which is why caregivers need to replenish their energy.
Time to take a day off
If you’re a parent, you know the drill. You cook, you clean, you shop, you do the laundry, then you do it all over again. If you’re a caregiver as well, then you get to do it three times over. There’s no doubt about it, you will get physically exhausted. When you’re wiped out, remember that you’re no good to anyone. Love yourself enough to stop and take a deep breath. It’s probably time to take a day off.
If you’re taking a day off from caregiving, here’s one excellent piece of advice: take the day off. Don’t use your day off to catch up on other errands, tempting as that may be. Here’s the trick. Identify three day-off activities that you find personally relaxing and if possible, a companion to make sure you stick to the plan. A day at the spa; lunch and a movie; it doesn’t matter what, as long as it relaxes you
Need help? Take it
A word to the wise: if you try to be everything for everyone it will end badly. Don’t try to do everything yourself. A caregiver need not be ashamed to ask for help. Divvy out chores in exchange for treats. Every little bit of help counts. Kids can take the trash out, load the dishwasher, play a board game with Grandpa. When a neighbor asks if they can do anything for you, say yes. Do a bit of research to find out what kind of help is available in your area. You might be pleasantly surprised at the range of resources for caregivers that are out there for you. For example, did you know that there are people in your community who have signed up to help caregivers with tasks like meal delivery and driving to appointments. All you have to do is request the help?
Build your energy
You’re not going to make it if you don’t build up your energy. Take care of yourself so you have the strength for caregiving. Exercise and diet are two open secrets in this regard. Where are you to get the time, you might wonder? It’s time to get creative. Become an expert on quick workout sessions. When all else fails, organize an evening dance session for the family. Dancing can be an amazing workout and lots of fun. Learn how to make quick, healthy meals. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, look into getting meals delivered to the person you care for. In addition to a nutritious meal, they will be getting companionship too.
Sally Perkins is a professional freelance writer with many years experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family and travelling as much as possible.
It's Okay to Be a Tired Woman
When the alarm's annoying buzz blares at 5:45 am, there is one thought that immediately comes to mind: I can't wait until I can go back to bed.
Lately, the pep in my step, the energy to meet the day, has been lost. At 29, I have a lot to be excited about and a lot to be grateful to jump out of bed for. I have my dream career, a writing career on the side, a wonderful husband, a loyal family, all the cats a girl could want, and many more great things. I have plenty of reasons to be energized and enthusiastic about life.
But lately, it's been a struggle to overcome one huge hurdle: I'm tired.
It's not just a lack of sleep or a restless night kind of tired, though. It's a bone-chilling, wearying tired. It's a can't even function, can't even find a smile kind of tired. It's a body tired, brain tired, heart tired kind of tired.
I'm just tired.
I crave weekend sleep-ins. I dream about the next time I don't have to set an alarm. I hurry home, not so I can do things I really want to do, but so I can melt into the couch in my pajamas at four o'clock and watch Netflix.
I'm just plain tired. I'm exhausted. I'm rundown, worn out, beat down, done.
And yet, behind the tired, one feeling simultaneously rules my mind: guilt.
The Do-It-All Woman of 2017
Looking at my own life and at my female friends' lives, it's no wonder so many of us have become practical zombies, both physically and mentally.
Because we are told we can do it all as a woman, we feel like it's our obligation. We try to excel at our jobs and put in 110% effort in every task. We challenge ourselves to keep our homes at unreasonable levels of cleanliness and organization. We take care of husbands, kids, parents, and pets. We run from event to event so as not to be anti-social. We join groups, volunteer, contribute, and organize at every chance we get. We make sure we say "yes" more than we say "no" so that we are a team-player.
A woman in 2017, after all, has to be a go-getter, a doer, and accomplisher...in all aspects of life. To step back, to take it easy is to fail. At least this is what society seems to tell us.
Pulled in ninety-eight different directions, it's no wonder we're all feeling run-down. It's no wonder there are mornings when we truly consider smashing the alarm clock into pieces or running away. It's no wonder our biggest goal sometimes is to climb into bed, uninterrupted, and just sleep away the day.
Many of us have backed ourselves into a corner and left no room for breathing. We fill our days with so much stuff, that we can't possibly have a minute to just relax. Our days are crazy packed races and to-do lists. A moment not accomplishing is a moment wasted.
In short, we are tired because we don't let ourselves have a moment to get rested. We put so many other people, events, duties, and tasks above ourselves, that we are bound to run out of fuel.
We are left decrepit and downtrodden. But even then, we don't cut ourselves slack. We are left feeling like there's something wrong with us or like we are failures.
We tell ourselves we need to just move on and find energy. We need to eat more oranges or drink more coffee. There are, after all, no excuses for the 2017 woman to just take a break.
Learning to Listen to Your Body
It's easy to fall into the do-it-all trap. It's easy to ignore the extra yawns, the negative feelings, and the desire to just take a step back.
However, to be a strong woman in 2017 and to be a woman who can find true meaning in life, we must be willing to listen to our bodies. We must hear ourselves when we say we're tired. We must recognize that we can't run on E forever, and that it's okay to say "no."
We must be willing to realize the weariness in our bones is a warning flag that we need to take care of ourselves. We must realize that taking care of ourselves isn't selfish or wrong.
We must learn that although we can do it all, we don't have to. Mental and physical wellness are both crucial elements of happiness. To ignore our exhaustion, physically and mentally, is to not be our best selves in any aspect of life.
So to all you tired women out there, take a break. Take a moment. Take a day. Take a weekend. Take time for you, just you, to sit back and relax. Take time to say "no" even if you feel like you should say yes. Take time to skip a practice, a meeting, or an event. Take time to rejuvenate and to relax.
Take time to realize it's okay to be tired...but it's not okay to ignore it.
The Strength to Find Your True Smile
She paints it on, her ruby red lips stretching as though they’re going to crack. Inside, a formidable storm circles and bubbles, but she has to suppress it. She can’t let it surface. She can’t let it ruin the perfect smile, the eloquently highlighted grin that reassures the world she’s fine, she’s great, she’s happy.
Because to show anything but the smile would be disastrous, especially in a world that shuns unhappiness. She must wear the face, play the part, and be thankful and gracious. She must smile.
Day after day, the red-lip façade carries on. Day after day, the storm brews a little more, threatening to usurp her. It simmers with feelings of anxiety, loss, and a lack of self-identity. It swarms her, making her feel heavy and exhausted. It’s hard working up the courage to wear a smile in the middle of an earth-shattering eruption. It’s hard to cover those feelings.
But smile she does because smile she must. She’s learned from childhood what it means to be a “good woman.” It means being thankful even when you’re frustrated or disappointed. It means being gracious and kind, sugary sweet words always dripping from your lips even in the face of injustice. It means carrying on when you’re weary in your bones and in your heart. It means doing more and complaining less. It means putting others first.
Most of all, it means you smile, even when you don’t feel like it.
So she smiles. I smile. We all smile.
Strong Women Don't Always Smile
But what good is this smile? What purpose is it serving? Certainly being appreciative and being kind are noble pursuits. However, does this mean that a fake smile trumps genuine feeling? Does it mean we must suppress our true desires, fears, anguish, and confusion just so the world can see the mask we wear? Is a smile really what we value in ourselves and in other women?
Instead of teaching our girls to grow up to be kind, smiling women, maybe our focus should shift. We should focus on teaching our girls to be appreciative and kind. We should teach our girls to be gracious and thankful. But we should also teach our girls that sometimes, life is hard. Sometimes, you don’t feel thankful or fulfilled. You don’t feel happy or appreciative. Sometimes you will feel walked on, underappreciated, lost, and confused.
In these moments, painting a fake smile on is not a necessity or requirement. In moments of struggle, it’s okay to show it. It’s okay to not be the smiling, strong woman who can take on the world every second of life. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to frown. It’s okay to stand up for yourself.
Smiling is a beautiful thing when it comes from a place of truth. But to be a strong woman is not to smile at everything in life. To be a strong woman is to be genuine. It’s to feel what you feel when you feel it. It’s to look past social expectations to find the real you, the true you, and to let yourself feel every part of what that looks like, smile or not.
So for you, I hope for many days of genuine smiles. However, I also hope that on days you don’t feel like smiling…you don’t. I hope you have the confidence to own your emotions. I hope you have good friends and family to lean on, who don’t expect the ruby red grin when you don’t mean it. I hope you have a support system strong enough to hold you up when you just can’t bear to smile anymore.
I hope you find your people, the people who can bring back a real smile to your face even when you don’t think it’s possible.
Above all, I hope you find the courage to go after what makes you genuinely smile and never force yourself to fall in love with a life that requires the art of fake smiling.
The first time you made me feel inferior was in 6th grade. You were the bouncy blonde who knew how to smile the smile well beyond your years. I was the girl with ill-fitting clothes, mousy brown hair, and a smile that said “child.” You walked the walk of the popular crowd while I sat in the corner with my book, sporting my butterfly clips.
We could’ve been friends, despite our differences. At the very least, we could’ve just co-existed peacefully. You, however, had other plans.
From my hair to my clothes to the freckles on my face, you made fun of every inch of me. You mocked me until I felt like maybe I was flawed. You got others on your bandwagon and worked hard to belittle me every chance you could. You pushed and shoved with your words, and insecurity crept in.
Through the years, there were many versions of you. Your name, background, hair color, and voice were different. Sometimes we had one harsh encounter, and sometimes you stuck around for a while to make me feel small. Over the years, there were so many of you. I still know each of your names and remember the hurt you caused.
To me, you were always a version of the girl from 6th grade. You made me feel weak. I learned that the message of being kind wasn’t always the way of the world. I learned that mean girls really did exist, and that sometimes the words of the mean girls really did sting.
As I got older, I told myself I was tougher. I didn’t need to worry about what others thought. I didn’t need to be meek and walked all over. I started to grow confidence, and I started to talk back. I was never innocent, I realize now. I said and did some things I shouldn’t have. Even the bookworms put on Regina George’s heels from time to time, and that’s something I’m not proud of.
Behind the brave face, though, was a hidden truth: Insecurity. Those pesky worries were always sitting really close to the confident smirk on my face at your harsh words. What if they were right? What if I wasn’t that special? What if I really was ugly, dumb, weird, and boring? What if I, like they made me believe, was a nobody?
Mean Girls in AdulthoodIn high school, you think the scenes from Mean Girls are left behind when you graduate. The comments and antics of teenagers surely can’t cross the imaginary line into the adult world.
However, I’ve come to realize that mean girls always exist at every stage of life. No matter how much you grow up, judgement and harsh comments still surround you. There will always be those willing to stomp on you with their stilettos to make themselves feel superior. That’s just the way life is.
Working as a high school English teacher, I’m even more privy to the fact that cruelty and competition are cyclical in nature; they truly don’t just go away, and there really is no way to just let it all go.
Harsh words really do haunt you, no matter how brave you try to be.
Nonetheless, I’ve come to realize two very important lessons the 6th grade version of myself didn’t quite know.
1. No one is perfect or perfectly innocent.
We all have our Regina George moments. We might go about it differently, but we’ve all judged another woman or been unnecessarily unkind. Thus, we must use our experiences, especially if we’ve been on the receiving end of cruel judgement, to inspire us to be kinder. We must strive to be more empathetic than our adversaries so we can stop the cycle. We must seek to build up others, even if they are seeking to tear us down. We must strive to combat the inner mean girl that tempts us to judge others, to be cruel, and to make others feel inferior.
2. Inferiority is a personal choice.
In high school, it’s almost impossible to understand this. Even now, at 29, it’s not an easy concept to ascribe to. However, the older I get, the more I realize the truth in this statement.
Mean girls are only effective if we let them be. Sure, the words will always haunt us. Cruel comments are indelible and don’t really dull with time. Still, it is our decision to believe them or to let them rest as untrue. We may not have the power to stop all of the real life mean girls in the world—but we have the power to choose how we handle their words.
Real life mean girls will always exist. From time to time in life, we might even find ourselves as one of the clique. However, the true challenge we as women face is to rise above the tendency to compare and to seek power. We must start to realize that tearing down another woman doesn’t build anyone up. Most of all, we must realize that we alone have the strength to build our own selves up. Words truly do hurt, but inner confidence allows us to find a place where cruel words don’t dictate who we are.
Lindsay Detwiler is a high school English teacher and contemporary romance author. Her latest novel, Who We Were, is a romantic comedy about dealing with high school enemies.
There are so many different versions of you, none superior to the rest.
You are the elementary teacher trying to juggle grad school, a family, and work.
You are the stay-at-home mom trying to get the semi-healthy meal on the table while helping with homework, tackling the growing pile of laundry, and finding time to just be you.
You are the single 20something trying to climb to corporate ladder, pay off student loans, and balance your version of happiness.
You are the traveler, trying to make the most out of every moment of life while staying in touch with those who matter most.
Married or single, looking for love or looking to stay away from it.
Twenty, Thirty, Fifty, or Eighty.
Huge family or no kids in your future.
Entrepreneur or jobless, climbing the career ladder or trying to just cling to the rung you’re on.
Whoever you are, whatever life you’re leaving, there’s one thing you all have in common
You’re struggling to do it all, to balance it all, and to keep your head above water.
You’re exhausted, you’re feeling overwhelmed, and you’re feeling like you don’t know how you can keep going. You feel like you’re failing because no matter what you’re juggling in your life, it feels impossible to keep up with it all.
I’ve seen so many female acquaintances, close friends, and even strangers battling the incessant cycle of trying to be perfect while trying to do too much. As women in 2016, we face so much pressure, no matter what our circumstances are. We are told we are strong and capable. We are told we can have it all―we can have any combination of relationships, careers, families, hobbies, and values we want to pursue.
But few people stop to recognize that having it all sometimes equates to a seemingly impossible race toward a constantly moving finish line.
Doing it all, having it all―it’s hard work, no matter what your life looks like.
We are all trying to balance an ever-changing equation of families, jobs, friendships, love, happiness, and health. There are always to-do lists that seem to grow exponentially every single day.
On top of that, there’s the fear of failure.
Couple all of that with pressure from society to “keep smiling” because modern women should be nothing but strong and capable, and many of us are just waiting to crack.
I’ve seen friends in tears over perceived failures at balancing family and work. I’ve seen so many women panicking because their house isn’t perfectly clean or because they put a frozen pizza on the table for dinner. I’ve seen women struggling with feeling like inadequate employees, wives, mothers, or friends. So many of us are holding ourselves to these impossible standards. We worry so much about being everything for everyone else that we lose sight of our own needs.
We not only want to do it all―we want to do it all to a level of perfection. This level of perfection, though, often leads to feelings of inadequacy when we realize we can’t achieve it simultaneously in every aspect of life.
I am happy to be living in 2016 where women can do it all, where we have the choice to pursue families and careers if we want to.
Still, I sometimes worry that we’re holding ourselves to impossible standards and setting ourselves up to feel like failures.
So to the women trying to do it all, I say: Cut yourself some slack.
It doesn’t matter if there’s a coffee stain on your shirt or if the dishes are piled to the ceiling. It’s fine if your husband’s khakis aren’t perfectly pressed or if your eyeliner isn’t just quite right. It’s okay if family game night ended up in tears and a tossed Monopoly board or if sometimes dinner comes in a paper sack from a fast food restaurant. It’s fine if the sweeper hasn’t been run since last week or if it took a few days for you to get to that paper on your desk at work.
You’re not perfect, but you don’t have to be... because none of us are.
Don’t let the pressure of doing it all, of being everything for everyone, cut off your chance at being happy. Don’t let doing it all suck the joy out of every aspect of your life. Instead, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to step back and re-evaluate what really matters most, even if society doesn’t agree with your opinion.
Most of all, don’t be afraid to say “screw perfection.” Take comfort in the fact that everyone who is trying to do it all struggles sometimes. Just keep doing your best and focusing on the things that matter most to you, no matter what that looks like.
Lindsay Detwiler is a high school English teacher and a contemporary romance author. Visit her on Facebook to learn more.
Modern women can do it all.
It’s supposed to be a statement expressing female empowerment, but lately this sentiment feels more like a prison sentence. All around me, I see women struggling with this conviction, wallowing in self-doubt, frustration, and perfectionistic tendencies.
The media, articles, and other women tell us we are strong and capable. We can handle it all—a family, a career, children, our health, our social lives—with stereotypical womanly smiles on our faces. Succeeding in all areas of our lives is not only possible; it’s necessary to achieve life satisfaction.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for woman power. I’m all for the idea I can pursue any career path I want, that I am respected and valued in society. I’m all for goal-setting, dream achieving, and self-fulfillment.
I’m just not sure if the “we can do it all” mentality is actually helping me achieve any of those.
The Expectation for Perfection
The problem with the “we can do it all” concept is that it’s so closely related to perfectionist tendencies.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen society’s expectations for perfect mothering come to light in the news. From the criticism poured out online over the Disney gator attack to the Cincinnati gorilla incident, it seems like the entire world expects mothers to be perfect. Certainly all mothers strive to be the best they can be, as they should, but social judgements and expectations can leave many feeling the pressure.
I’ve talked to enough moms to know motherhood is challenging—there's no such thing as perfection, no matter what society tells us. Still, so many are left feeling lackluster because of the high standards society tells us we must live up to. If you don’t have kids? The pressure’s still there, just in a different form.
The 2016 woman doesn’t—or can’t—stop at motherhood, though. The expectations for perfection continue into the workplace. We must strive to climb the ladder, regardless of our selected career choice. We are expected to further our education, go after the promotion, or better our career pathway all while maintaining our family. It doesn’t matter if you’re genuinely satisfied with your position. Women who don’t go after these things are often perceived as unmotivated or not taking advantage of opportunity.
Add to the motherhood and career expectations the standards for health and
beauty, and you’ve got yourself a perfect concoction of stressors. The media tells us we must work to disintegrate our love handles, blast away the muffin top, and eat the perfect balance of fruits and vegetables. Ice cream on a summer night, or *gasp* takeout for dinner? Where’s your motivation?
Thus, the “we can do it all” mentality ultimately leads to an incessant, almost impossible juggling act. Instead of "we can do it all," the sentiment seems to have shifted to "we must do it all perfectly." Those who haven't achieved this standard--which, in truth, is probably most of us--face criticism from society and from ourselves.
What Female Empowerment Should Mean
As with so many things in life, being a self-fulfilled, happy woman in 2016 requires a knowledge of your true desires.
You can do it all… but that doesn’t mean you have to. Further, if you do decide to do it all, it doesn’t mean you have to hold yourself to unrealistic, perfect standards.
Women in 2016 are strong, multi-tasking go-getters. We can pursue our desires.
We can go after big dreams. We can live multi-faceted lives. That’s a beautiful thing.
However, we shouldn’t let the “we can do it all” ideal tear us down or force us to pursue lives we don’t want to claim. Female empowerment is not about forcing us into hectic lives with crazy restrictions and standards. In fact, it should be the exact opposite.
Thus, the true statement we should be striving to achieve is: Modern women can live the lives they seek.
Women CAN do it all... but it doesn't mean we have to.
Lindsay Detwiler is the author of three contemporary romance novels includingVoice of Innocence, Without You, and Then Comes Love. She is also a high school English teacher in her hometown. She lives with Chad (her junior high sweetheart), their five cats, and their mastiff Henry. You can find out more about Lindsay atwww.lindsaydetwiler.com, www.facebook.com/lindsayanndetwiler, or on Twitter @LindsayDetwiler.
In a world swirling with talk of Pilates and the danger of carbohydrates, you sometimes feel alone.
At the lunch table, when those around you are talking quinoa and boiled chicken, you’re eating last night’s delivery pizza leftovers—on a good day. You see the glares from the women around you, silently questioning how immature or irresponsible you could be. Don’t you care about your health?
In the gym, you’re the woman in the corner laughing because her Downward-Facing Dog pose isn’t even close to being on point. You’re huffing and puffing after twenty seconds in the plank position because there’s just no way you can make it a minute. You’re the woman who is sneaking breaks during crunches when the instructor isn’t looking. If you make it to the gym twice a week, it’s a victory because let’s face it—sometimes Netflix binges are real.
Again, there are glares from other women, the women who are putting more weight on their bar instead of less. There are condescending looks from the women who are self-proclaimed plank lovers and Tree Pose experts. Their scowls at your laughter scream of their judgement. Are you even trying? Don’t you want that six-pack by the end of summer? Do you only come here once a week?
In a world that touts gluten-free as the healthiest choice and sugar as the devil, you love your dose of white pasta and ice cream. You love fried foods, and you’re not afraid to dig into the candy bowl when you feel the need. Food, for you, is a friend, not an enemy to be combatted. Calorie counting makes your head spin.
It’s not that you don’t care about your health. You try to eat some fruits and vegetables. You try to show restraint from time to time and get your cardio in. When your pants start to feel snug, you cut back, you get it together.
But you’re not perfect. Dieting is hard. Exercising is hard. Give you a good book, a glass of wine, and some delectable pastries any day, and you’ll rock it. But healthy-eating and a jog after work? It looks like it might rain, so maybe you better stay in. And, uh-oh, you’re fresh out of vegetables. Guess it’ll have to be take-out until you get to the grocery store.
The world will try to tell you to stop making excuses, that you can do this. The world will tell you to put your mind to it—this is your life, your body. Don’t you want to rock the bikini this year at the beach?
Over the course of your struggles with diet and exercise, though, you’ve learned one thing: There’s more to life than body perfection.
Sure, those girls in bikinis are envy-worthy in your magazines. Sure, you wish your muffin top would simmer down. You know you’d feel stronger, better, more energized if you turned down the afternoon doughnut at the office or skipped the ice cream tonight.
But life’s about balance. Your life is about so much more than how few calories you can eat or how many burpees you can do.
So gym-hating, food-loving women, be proud. Do not let anyone food shame you or gym shame you into feeling like you’re not worthy. Eat your chips and salsa with a side of candy for lunch with pride. Do your best in your workouts, but don’t be afraid to laugh when you roll off the ab ball. Be who you are and pursue what matters most to you in life.
Life’s about finding joy. For some, joy comes from the challenge of the gym. For some, joy comes from fueling their body with the best food choices. For you, though, joy comes from a completely different place. Know that’s okay. Ignore the glares at lunch or the scowls in the gym. Do what you can to be healthy, but know it’s okay if it isn’t your only mission.
Know you are beautiful, six-pack abs, quinoa addiction, or not.
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