grace under pressure

wayne_14x48

Lately I have not been living up to my name. There has been no grace shown to my loved ones or myself as work and life seem to keep throwing lowballs all around.

I’ve been reading/hearing a lot about grit lately. Passion and perseverance in the pursuit of long term goals. In the freakonomics podcast on the topic, grit expert Angela Duckworth says there are four traits that gritty people have in abundance: interest, practice, purpose, and hope.

And I’m hung up on hope. Or lack thereof.

I am not a particularly gritty person. My score on the grit scale was a measly 2 out of 5. It comes out to about the 10th percentile of the general population.

Two things stuck out to me as I listened to the podcast, though. The first being the idea of reference bias. We are our own worst critics, and the standards we judge ourselves by are probably much higher than objective measures. When I think about how much grit it takes to finish medical school, run a half marathon, and start over after a divorce,I am reminded that my 2/5 is relative, and also an underestimation of my grittiness. Yes, I get distracted easily and new projects will always be more fun to me than following things through to completion, but that does not make me worthless.

Which brings me to revelation #2: Shame is not a productive emotion.

In yoga, they are always telling you to let go of things that do not serve you. Shame is a heavy load that most of bear unnecessarily. I know it’s broken me more times than I care to count.

Duckworth goes on to say that it’s important to learn to substitute nuance for novelty. It will always be human nature to prefer the thrill of something new. But there is importance and even pleasure in the nuances. I think once you let go of the shame, it’s easier to focus on the interest and the purpose of your goal.

So shed your shame, feelings of guilt or worthlessness or not-enoughness. Feel yourself become a little lighter. We all need a little grace sometimes.

grace under pressure

31. Low Maintenance

I used to pride myself on being a low maintenance gal.

From bed to door, I could step in the shower and leave the house in less than 15 minutes. That didn’t mean that I could magically put on a face full of make up in that span of time, or knew the best way to wear my hair wet. I told myself that the extra fifteen minutes of sleep were worth it, and that I didn’t care what other people thought of me. I didn’t want to keep people waiting. I was easy-going. Low maintenance.

Maybe it’s the emergence of undereye circles, but now, I’m not quite the same person (most of the time; I still think the extra sleep is sometimes worth it).

I owe my roommate for this change of heart. She chooses her outfits with care, never leaves the house without eyeliner. She could run into her exes at any time without shame. It is all very intentional. And I am all about a life of intention. 

She helped me realize there’s nothing wrong with taking care of yourself. You should put your best face forward in clothes you love and feel good in. It shouldn’t be termed “high maintenance,” selfish, or superficial. I understand that we should all strive to live within our means (because credit card debt scares me more than this), but having polished nails and a good haircut should be considered good investments if the ROI is feeling great.

Talking about high/low maintenance always reminds me of this scene from When Harry Met Sally (above). Meg Ryan, as Sally: 

” Well, I just want it the way I want it. “

And that’s what it boils down to. 

There’s nothing wrong with sweatpants, hair tied, chilling with no makeup on (that’s when you’re the prettiest*).

Just make sure you give a damn about yourself. 

*I don’t think  Drake has ever actually seen a girl without makeup. 

31. Low Maintenance

18. Feminist Fridays

Just wanted to put this out there, as this resonates with me more than I care to admit.

Third-wave feminism and a look at two new books: 

Consider Spinster‘s concern with the way women melt into their relationships: “It wasn’t merely that my identity was constructed entirely out of my relationships with other people — my relationships were my identity. My relationships took the place of myself,” she writes. Anyone who has worked with younger women will tell you this mentality is neither unusual nor specific to Bolick’s milieu. Subsuming yourself in relationships, no matter how empowered you were raised to be, is a common affliction of growing up in patriarchy.

(so it’s not just me?)

“The only way for a woman, as for a man, to find herself, to know herself as a person, is by creative work of her own,” wrote none other than Betty Friedan. The secret that Toni Morrison’s story reveals is that women, in fact, do better by their loved ones — whether in traditional, unorthodox, or unofficial arrangements —  when they buck the messaging and become their most fulfilled selves, refusing to be swallowed by relationships or reduced to them.

My feelings about (third-wave) feminism and how women should treat other women can be summed up by Amy Poehler,

“’Good for her! Not for me.’ That is the motto women should constantly repeat over and over again. Good for her! Not for me.”

Preach.

18. Feminist Fridays

12. Better late than never

Sitting in a dingy waiting area of an auto body shop which consists of three folding chairs and a stack of battered romance novels feeling guilty for my poor car getting its oil changed at 2400 miles over the number recommended on the sticker in the top left hand corner of my windshield. 

I will never be the person who changes their oil on time.

I’m trying not to consider this a personality flaw. 

Instead, I will always be the person who remembers your face, and asks if you need more wine. 

I will offer to help with the dishes after dinner and it won’t be just a hollow gesture. 

Be as kind to yourself as you are to everyone else. 

Why is this so hard to remember? 

And because it’s 4/30 and I can’t help myself: 

 

(By ambardelmoral)

12. Better late than never

8.

Dove recently released another video for their Real Beauty campaign, in which women had to choose between two entrances: Beautiful or Average. The idea behind the video being that beauty is a choice, and you are not defined by our current standards of beauty. All you have to do is choose to be beautiful, and you will be beautiful. You can see the video for yourself, below.

I actually really enjoyed it, and sent it to many of my female friends when it came out. Per their wiki page, the campaign’s mission is “to create a world where beauty is a source of confidence and not anxiety.” I don’t see how anyone can argue with that.

But apparently there are a lot of people who disagree.  I came across one blogger who wrote a post entitled F*ck Beautiful. And maybe it’s true, maybe we need to get rid of that word altogether. It’s certainly not a lens through which we view men. Funny or Die even spoofed the ad with their Size Matters video. 

I understand that Dove is a for-profit company, and this is one of the most brilliant and successful ad campaigns, but I don’t think those things take away from the fact that it’s still helping us change the way we perceive beauty. I’m sure critics will say that I’m being overly simplistic and manipulated by the giant advertising machine, but I am enjoying all their videos without buying any of their products (Neutrogena 4 lyfe).

I know which door I would’ve gone through a year ago. Now, I hope I would choose beautiful.

8.

5. 

From The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer:

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

I spent an afternoon in a coffee shop last year repeating this poem like a mantra, like a prayer. Asking myself these questions and holding a moral inventory.

And now? Now, I am simply trying to enjoy the pleasure of my own company.

5.