Friday, May 30, 2014

Graduates! Be Selfish!

Congratulations!  Such a milestone—finishing high school! Your family won’t have to tell you of their unending admiration for you.  Those feelings for you, they’ll wear on their sleeve and tell you over and over of their pride and unabiding love.  However, there IS something that they might NOT tell you, something important that you need to know before you pull out of your driveway and off to your new adventure--something so essential that it must be heard by every graduate. 

Although you probably learned the opposite all your life, let me tell you that these days after high school are ones in which it is essential to be…selfish.  That’s right.  It is time to think only of you.  You are enough, and you are worthy, so very worthy. 

You are worthy of an intellectual journey all your own.  Drink in all that your professors have to say.  Take advantage of educational experiences abroad.  Join clubs.  Act, sing, dance—Grab those four years of literacy, mathematics, history and science and squeeze the life out of them.  You are worthy of the best that education can offer.  Your brain is capable, your thoughts valuable, your contributions endless and needed.  Yes graduate, you are worthy. 

You are worthy of loyalty and love without compromise.  As you move into adulthood make a promise to yourself that you will seek out those who see your value, who know your goodness, who build you up and would never tear you down.  When you find them, hold onto them, because you see they are scarce in this world.  But scarcity does not mean that you settle.  You will need those that are true to you on your life course.  You are worthy of nothing less. Never ever accept anyone who isn’t keenly aware and fiercely protective of your worth. 

You are worthy of finding your purpose.  Take your time.  Let it come.  There is no rush.  Experience life to the fullest, try new things and someday…there it will be…your reason, your destiny.  And whatever it is that you find, you are worthy of exploring it to its highest possibility.  Don’t let anything stand in the way of who you want to become, of your earthly purpose.  If you fulfill that, everything else will fall into place.  
You are worthy of self-interest.   Your empathy and kindness is something to be celebrated indeed, but be sure it doesn’t cost you more than you can pay—your sanity, your peace of mind, your ability to do what you want to do, see what you want to see, go where you want to go.  The selflessness that you carry within you is admirable, but let me suggest or even urge that over the next few years, as you enter into adulthood that you remember to put yourself first more often than you do now.  You and your needs are worth it.  Rumi says to “Respond to any call that excites your spirit.” This quote should be the battle cry of the young!  I am certainly not saying “go ahead and be selfish”.  I am simply saying that words like “what is it that I want for myself?” and “I won’t take part in what wouldn’t be good for what I need right now,” are words that should move to the forefront of your mind.  Believe me, when you start your career, when you marry, when you have children, when your parents age there will be plenty of moments where selflessness and sacrifice will be necessities and must-do’s.  But at 18…it is perfectly ok to do what is best for you.  Don’t ever forget that that doing for yourself is something in which you are worthy. 

And finally great, gregarious graduate, you must think about yourself and know your worth because despite what the fairy tales tell us, there are NO knights in shining armor whose sole purpose is to rescue damsels in distress, no princes on white horses, no magical fairy godmothers.  You only have you and your sense of self-worth to get you to where you want to travel, to pull you up by the boot straps when you slip and fall.  Only your worthy self can turn your saddest days into happy ones, and your darkest places into light.   When it comes right down to it…down to the nitty gritty…YOU are all you’ve got.  

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Response to the Woman with a Louis Vuitton Bag

A few days ago, HuffPost Parent published an article by Anjali Joshi who made the decision to use her Louis Vuitton handbag as a diaper bag in

"an attempt to break out of the rigid mommy mold that society imposes on me and show the world that I am a woman like any other who exists not only for her children, but for herself too.

This idea, that a handbag could possibly define us as women, has dogged me since reading it. This is my response to her and any other woman who thinks that her worth is solely a result of what she wears and the material possessions she has acquired.

So you own a Louis Vuitton bag.  You saved and scraped from a meager teacher’s salary, and when you had your son you made the decision that you’d continue to carry it, and the reason for that, you say, is very simple.

My bag is an attempt to break out of the rigid mommy mold that society imposes on me and show the world that I am a woman like any other who exists not only for her children, but for herself too.

I agree with the sentiment above.  Oh how I agree.  It is tough on mommies to maintain some semblance of the woman before...the woman that’s still there under the Lifesavers, McDonald’s toys, juice boxes and used tissues that now occupy a once pristine handbag.  But, I am concerned about the idea that said handbag (albeit a Louis Vuitton) be the sole thing that represents you as the woman “who exists not only for her children, but for herself too.”  A handbag?  A handbag is going to help preserve your role as a woman? Is that truly the symbol you want to use to represent you, the one you want to use to break you out of your mommy role?   I’ll be blunt.  I don’t like the message.  Not one bit.   

We’re treading on very thin ice here.  Haven’t you heard the news?  Women are second class citizens when it comes to work and pay and positions of power.  Espousing that material possession help us to remember who we were before children just helps to feed that kind of cynicism.  Women are so much more than fashion and makeup and shoes and high heels.  We are so much more.   My dear fellow mommy,  preserving the woman you are OUTSIDE of mommydom can be achieved in so many ways other than hanging on to a meaningless piece of merchandise.  What about the career you dreamed of?  How about volunteer work, a cause, or some sort of political involvement?  Dance in a production!  Sing on stage!  Get involved!  Get involved!  Your passions before your child are probably still the passions that you have running deep and full throughout your entire being.  Find a way to make them a real part of your world.  Find a way to be both the fantastic mama AND the woman with dreams, aspirations, wants and wishes.   Endeavors, not material possession, are what will help remind us that we are more than just a mom.  BEING the woman--allowing her to be or become through action will represent you (and other women) in a way that speaks to our potential, to our drive  to our successes and achievements so much more than clutching a bag (a material possession) from days gone by.  

And what about your son?  What message does the idea that “my handbag makes me a woman” give to him?  Don’t we want the future men of the world to learn that women are just as ambitious, just as capable, just as deserving of equal pay and equal consideration?  Like it or not it is our job, the moms of the world, to teach them to respect, revere and see as equals the opposite sex, and I am sure...absolutely sure...that a handbag will not be the symbol of that revolution.  We must choose well the decisions we make to preserve and uphold our rights to be women as well as mothers, and I hope for your son’s sake, and yours as well that it becomes clearer to you that you, your wishes and your dreams are far more worthy and eons more valuable than even a Louis Vuitton bag.