Thursday, February 25, 2016

Teaching Old Hips New Twists

I decided to take a giant, running leap outside of my comfort zone and signed up for a Burlesque class. Why learn to tap dance demurely or take piano lessons from a woman with a house full of cats when I can learn to strip to music? In front of other stripping women. Yep. Going for it.

I'm two weeks into a six-week workshop. What I feared so much before I now can't remember as it's really very much like a regular workout class. My legs and back hurt after the first night. My hips pretty much laughed at me when I asked them to shimmy. And, aside from the tall gazelle with the great ass, we're all just regular women in there. Learning the same awkward moves. Some of us have body parts that move better. Apparently butt reverb is a thing. I don't have it.

The side effect of taking a dance class of any type is that you start to notice more about how your body moves. Notice what different muscles actually do and what they can do. And muscle has memory. Whether you want it to or not. So you might fell yourself standing up from the toilet differently. Or you might be bent down to look at something on a lower shelf in Target and not realize until you're done that you just stuck your ass out and straightened yourself provocatively. Luckily nobody saw you that time. You hope.

Also? Your daughter doesn't want to see you practice because you're a mom and it's "sexual and weird." At least I'm getting the sexual part down. Probably in a weird way.

I do have a stage name in mind, but will still take suggestions. Must be sexual and slightly weird.

Ode To a Mockingbird

Harper Lee was not a prolific writer. I didn't even read To Kill a Mockingbird until after the age of 30. And yet, she is one of the most important writers in my life. When I found out last week that she died, I felt like a small part of my childhood died as well.

When I was growing up, without DVD's or Netflix or Hulu or any of the other couch-potato accoutrements, we watched movies on TV the night that they came on. There were a handful of them we watched every year. Some I still crave, like Sound of Music, and one or two I could never see again. (I'm looking at you, African Queen.) To Kill a Mockingbird was one of my favorites. I don't even know if my dad had read the book, but he insisted we watch the movie any time it was on.

I loved it.

I had difficult relationships with my dad(s) so I loved Atticus Finch. He was so wise and strong and Good. I wanted be be brave and saucy like Scout was. I wanted a brother like Jem and I wanted mystery and adventure on summer days. The film is black and white, but so easy to fall into. I swear I could smell Calpurnia's cooking, the dusty roads, feel the bark on the tree where Boo hides his gifts.

And Gregory Peck. I mean, come on. I didn't even know who Robert Duvall was for years and didn't realize he was in this movie until after I'd fallen in love with him as an actor. I don't think that's a coincidence.

Finally reading the book was just as glorious. Every page I lived in Maycomb, walked the dirt road to school, sat at the kitchen table with Atticus, Jem, and frequent guests, watched Atticus in the court room, listened to Tom Robinson tell his story, and learned the same lessons as Scout.

I like to think that my parents passed on important lessons they didn't know how to otherwise tell me through that story. I knew to never use the "n word" and that life just isn't fair a lot of the time. That there are injustices and some things can never be made right but that doesn't make the world a dark place. And people can surprise you in the loveliest ways.

I owe a fathomless debt of gratitude to Harper Lee for the memories of my childhood, for a book that I can dive into and emerge a better person each time I read it. Her words are forever etched onto my heart.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

It's Enough

I did a Pure Romance party the other night for a repeat customer. There was a woman there I hadn't met before. She was nice, open, easy to talk to. I liked her almost immediately. Throughout the evening, she readily participated with the other women.

In the ordering room, she told me that she had once worked at a big adult store. One of those with four stories and everything imaginable and vibrateable under the sun. With her experience and easygoing nature, I thought she would be a great consultant and I told her so. I'm used to people saying no. "Oh no, not me. I could never!" Followed by giggles.

But this time the "no" wasn't from embarrassment or being silly. Her reason was, "Nobody would take me seriously. You have to be pretty to talk about sex and I'm just not. Nobody wants to look at someone like me."

And my heart broke a little.

If I'm completely honest about her appearance, sure. Her hair was a little big and frizzy. She's a little chunky. Who isn't? Put some conditioner in her hair and throw on a cute scarf and there is nothing about her that isn't approachable. I wasn't relating to her looks, I was relating to her as a person, as a woman. There was nothing that made her less of a woman than me or anyone else there.

Why do we do this to ourselves? To each other? When are we going to stop making shallow judgments about ourselves? And how do we honestly communicate to each other that we are enough? That we're more than enough?

A main tenet of Pure Romance is empowerment. We talk about it. We think we practice it, but do we? Because empowerment is about more than speaking up for yourself. Right? It's great that you can ask for what you want in the bedroom, or at work, or from your friends. Our voices should be heard and we should be respected and we should be able to buy what we want without being treated like "the little lady."

But it also means we should do all of these things without worrying about what we look like. If we can't be open in a room with women who have the same insecurities, the same struggles, the same relationship worries, how are we going to overcome this?

It has to start with us. We have to encourage one another. Validate one another. Celebrate the accomplishments we each make. Pay a compliment to a random stranger. Tell a mom she's doing a good job. Motivate, celebrate, appreciate. Do it over and over until you believe it. Until you believe your women friends believe it.

Enough is enough. Being a woman is, gloriously, enough.
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