I’m around middle school students quite a bit lately and I’m reminded of that stage in life when we become hyper-aware of other people and often every choice we make is driven by how we perceive they will see us for it. It’s a hell of a way to live. This is why so few people think of the middle school years with fondness. They are brutal because we give our power away to other people who have absolutely no business having it, no idea how to handle it and are completely obsessed with protecting their own fragile egos.
A few brave souls sail through this ordeal without it damaging their sense of self too badly, but many people actually hold onto the scars they gained during that time and it makes them that much more apt to be safe and small in their future lives.
Oh, the amazing accomplishments we would all be capable of if we weren’t so bloody concerned with saving face. Think about all the things you might have tried if you knew you couldn’t fail. Your life would probably be so much more colourful and exciting and joyful right now, right? Have you created a safe little world for yourself and convinced yourself that you are perfectly content within it? What makes you do that? Fear. Fear of failure, fear of rejection. Fear of what others might think. Curiously enough we aren’t nearly as afraid of looking at ourselves in the mirror every day, knowing that we are living well beneath our potential as we are of the opinion of the unnamed “everyone” out there who we fear will judge us if we take a leap and fall. And that is totally jacked up
I always tell my kids that other people are far too worried about themselves to worry about anyone else for more than a fleeting moment. Are you going to sell the riches of your infinite life potential which is truly only bound by what you can imagine, by your imagined opinion of what other’s opinions might be? People who barely give you a passing thought anyway? Doesn’t that sound juvenile and crazy? That’s how most people function though.
Imagine going to a dear friend’s funeral and saying, “well he basically didn’t do one single remarkable thing with his life, but thank god nobody ever thought of him as crazy or ridiculous when he tried. That’s a huge comfort. I’m so glad we are going to lay this man to rest with him having lived a totally safe vanilla life, utterly under the radar. It’s so great that we are going to bury him with his untapped potential and his passions unexplored. Whew.” When people come to my funeral I would absolutely rather they were laughing their asses off at all the crazy dreams and schemes I went after with all the energy of my heart and talents. I would rather they speak fondly of my spectacular failures in every possible area as I explored the edges of my world and capabilities than looking at each other wondering what could be said about me that might be remarkable or memorable in any way.
When I go on a training run 2 weeks before a ½ marathon I like to finish with a little gas in the tank. I don’t like to leave the training course completely and utterly spent. This gives me a psychological edge for the race. Knowing that I have achieved the distance with a little extra in me gives me the reassurance that on race day I have a cushion. I have extra to give on that day if conditions are bad or my body isn’t playing ball. I don’t want to leave actual race feeling anything but completely exhausted though. I don’t want to leave wondering if I could have kicked it up a notch there at the end and improved my time by even a second. I want to be exhilarated by knowing that I left absolutely everything out there. And then my time can be anything. I can’t ask for more from my body than everything it had to give. If I have trained well and I run without ego and with grit and courage, I don’t care what time I get.
Life should be that way. If you run your own race and you run it with courage and discipline and grit..then who the hell cares what the results are? If you give it your all, the results absolutely do not matter. What matters is that you used your life. You found out what you were capable of. You asked the universe for what you wanted, you took what it gave you, you expanded on it. You shared it. You developed your extraordinary talents and discovered ones you had no idea you had. You stretched, you grew. You experienced pain and fear and failure. You experienced a wide range of emotions. You left it all out there. You did not live for other people. You did not live a tiny life with your entire goal that of being Saving Face but hating the one staring back at you in the mirror every morning and every evening. You lived your life to see that face, bruised and bloodied, grey with fatigue, puffy from crying, incandescent with your joy, knowing that it had given it’s ALL that day and to be proud of it.
Go Slay Dahlings. Your face looks perfectly lovely.
Stop Waiting for the Mood, the Motivation, the Moment
by Kitty Slayer
When last we spoke, we talked about how we need to start seeing our individual selves as Enforcers of Change and how that only happens when we take control of our own lives. No major influencer, no mover and shaker, no revolutionary made it happen by only acting when the mood struck her. That’s not how that works. That’s not how life works. That’s not how anything hard and good and remarkable happens.
Let’s talk about the myth of motivation. Many of us buy into the notion that at some point we are going to get that magical spark inside of us to ignite enough to create a steady burn that allows us to take control of our lives and fulfill our potential. Maybe deep down we believe that it’s just one day going to strike like a lightning bolt and everything will change and we are going to heed its call. In our bones, we just know we aren’t going to die without realizing our dreams, without figuring out how to keep our homes reasonably orderly. Surely we aren’t going to die before we figure out how to get fit and stay fit. Before we take that trip, write that book, run that marathon, start that business, tell that person how much we love them. Certainly, our time won’t run out before we create the life we were meant to have? Here’s what we don’t like to think about. That happens all the time to people. Probably more often than it doesn’t. They die. They die with unmet potential.Unfulfilled dreams. Frustrated passions. Look. I know this isn’t lovely to think about, but it’s really necessary to acknowledge from time to time that we get one life and we don’t know how long it’s going to be. There really is no time to waste on getting on with it.
Motivation is nice. Here’s how I see it. Motivation gets us going fleetingly. It relies on outside stimuli. Motivation is like that fun friend that checks in from time to time and you have the best laughs and you are like, “we should totally do this more often this so great” and then you know, 6 years go by before you do. Motivation and Mood are those fun buddies. They show up At The Moment. The Moment is a surprise party that the M & M buddies throw for you. You don’t know when it’s coming, you have no control over it and it’s awesome and spectacular and you will remember that night forever but if you are hinging your entire social life on waiting for Mood and Motivation to get it together to throw you a surprise party, you aren’t going to get out much.
Did you know that our brains are designed to keep us from doing anything new, risky, brave, hard? We might have the urge and if we don’t follow through within milliseconds, our brains will start to propose ways to talk us out of it. This is Science. We decide we are going to do something a little bit out of our comfort zone. It might be cleaning the bathroom, it might be running a marathon, it might be leaving an abusive relationship. We have the idea, the urge, the spark. Then. We hesitate. The Brain Brake activates: It’s going to be too hard, too tiring, too risky, too time-consuming, too expensive, too embarrassing if we fail. We can do it tomorrow. It directs us to other things to anesthetize the desire to move out of our comfort zone. Social media, TV, food, sleep, easier tasks, and of course Valid Excuses as to why we can’t do hard things. Those things are for Other People to do. Those things are for us to do but only One Day. Ah yes, that one fine day when Mood, the Moment, the Motivation really takes hold and gets us going. Here’s the thing. We are basically hardwired to survive but not to reach our potential or even to explore what we are actually capable of. It all goes back to survival. When human survival was actually plenty challenging. Just staying alive back in the time of the T-Rex was pretty damn badass. Now that we have that more or less down, we get to evolve and do other amazing excellent things.
Except most of us don’t. We stay in caveman mode. We shut down the potential our imaginations dream up before they can become reality.
So: how do we overcome the survival/sabotage instinct? It’s actually so simple. Truly simple. But, oh honey, you aren’t going to love this. It’s a dirty word. Brace Darlings. Here it comes:
Discipline.. Ew. Yuck. So not sexy. STAY WITH ME THOUGH. Do not shut this down.
If you are busy saying, “oh well, I’m out then. I’m just not disciplined” I will say to you. That’s a pretty lame excuse. You are going to need a better one. Most people aren’t born disciplined. Discipline is a decision. You can build discipline, by practicing it and working on it. Like a muscle. Little by little. You can. And then discipline starts becoming who you are. And discipline gets you the results that you want. The life that you want. The body you want. The dreams you want. But how do you become a disciplined person? Well, first you decide that you want to be. That what you want is worth trading in your current situation for. Because you can’t have both.
Then you start with something you really want to accomplish. I’d’ start with something that’s easily achievable but still outside of your comfort zone… Something you just haven’t managed to get down but you think it would be cool if you did. Let’s say, making your bed. Leaving your room looking orderly every morning. There’s a reason every damn motivational speaker tells you to Make Your Bed. Because it’s a small achievable thing and it starts your day off right. puts you in a mode of taking control, and when you come home at the end of the day you are reminded that you accomplished something good that day even if the rest of the day went to hell. Yet most people don’t bother to do it. So you start with making your bed. Even if you are late that day. You decide that making your bed is a non-negotiable like brushing your teeth. You do that for 3 weeks. It gets easier. Then it’s a habit. Before you know it, you are bed maker. That wasn’t so bad, was it? Let’s see… What else can you do? Can you start exercising every single day for 15 minutes before you are allowed to check your social media?. How about 30? Maybe you want to sign up for a 5k? You follow a couch to 5k program. You print out the program, stick it on your mirror. You check off every single box of that damn program with a red sharpie. You run the race. Before you know it, you are a runner. You run races on Saturdays which means you eat better on Thursdays and Fridays, you drink less, you save money by not going out.
This is how you get shit done. This is how you become a powerful person. A badass. This is how you start believing in yourself and trusting yourself to get things done. This is how you fix your own life and become an enforcer of change in your family, in your community and then in the world. This is how we change history. We start with making our own beds. And if you don’t believe in making your bed because of that study (do not quote that study at me, I read that study, thanks) or you already make your bed, or if you are tempted to find another excuse as to why this would never work for you. Find your figurative bed. Make it. Make it every day. Start seeing yourself as a bed maker. A thing doer. Then expand upon it. When you have an urge to do the hard thing that’s going to get you closer to you having the life you want: Do not hesitate. Do it immediately. Do not let the brain safety brake engage. Just do it. Then do it again. Every day. This my darlings, this is how we slay.
by Kitty Slayer
On my blog many years ago, as a sweet young Mormon mommy of four little ones, I wrote about a fascinating documentary I had happened upon on some wildlife channel. It was all about how a lion pride rolls in the wild. Being South African, I always stop to watch anything that is remotely pertinent to my mother country, and I have even played with lion cubs so I felt morally obligated to pay full attention. I was soon horrified to learn that those adorable little cubs are in mortal peril from the time they are born. Lions? Yes! LIONS. Their stepdads are highly likely to kill them when they hook up with their moms because I dunno…stepdads are, sadly, sometimes like that. ANYWAY. I wrote all about it in hushed and shocked tones, describing the way the lion stepdads just casually killed their step-cubs while the moms watched in uncomfortable silence. I felt sure that the moms were not at all amused by the whole thing, but they didn’t intervene, they just looked at him with what I described as “chilling hatred “in their eyes.
The narrator informed that in rare cases, the lioness mother might band together with other lionesses to run off the murderous Interloper but generally the ladies were just so happy that he was around that they were more preoccupied with keeping him there and maybe being chosen by him to get themselves knocked up. So this infanticide was par for the course. “Those poor moms!” I lamented to my blog audience in 2009, “that must be so awful to have to watch”.
Cut to 2017. We have this situation on our hands where the OSUH (Orange Stain Upon History) is the Interloper and he’s threatening all we hold dear and suddenly all I can think about is the Lioness documentary. It seems really pertinent in terms of the female organized Resistance, doesn’t it?
So I go looking for the little blog post I wrote about it so that I could perhaps reference, the actual documentary and Darlings, wasn’t I surprised? I didn’t remember my perspective being that way at all. Here I am in 2017, no longer that sweet or young, no longer a Mormon and now a mom of 5. And I’m reading my 2009 perspective, laughing incredulously. “Those poor moms?” Are you EFFING KIDDING ME? What’s poor about them?” Let’s review the facts:
Those chicks are in SHAPE. They are fierce, they are smart, and they move in packs. They have shown from time to time that they can organize to save their kids when they put their minds to it. What’s more, they are providers for the whole operation. They have every resource to prevent this from happening. And they let it happen. Poor lionesses, nothing. Like Dorothy, obliviously wearing her powerful ruby slippers, this situation is totally in their hands to control (or on their feet…or paws…wow this analogy is cumbersome but you get the gist). I pity them not. Poor cubs. They are the only victims in this scenario.
Here’s what Darlings, brace. I’m going to get so real with you in 3, 2, 1. Yes, yes, the Patriarchy is real and it sucks and all that shit. ( I’m very clear on that after living with it under the magnifying glass of the LDS church). Yes, yes, all true. And guess what else is true? We’re 50% of the population. We are wicked smart, we are wired for organization and efficiency, we are strong, we’ve got the goods. And we’ve made all sorts of strides over the years. Amazing strides. We have females in every major sector now. We clearly have the power to change and we have used it effectively. There is hard evidence that we can and do, get major shit done.
Do inequalities still exist? Is misogyny still a problem? Is the so called leader of our country an enemy to women and devoid of a single redeeming quality? Of course. And so we can focus on that story. And we can easily get enveloped with the telling of it. Rehashing it over and over. We can stare bitterly at the Interloper as he eats our cubs, and discuss why that is so unfair and so unnecessary and so painful. Or we can look away and pretend it’s not happening at all.
There’s a third option. We can just get on with creating the reality we want. Do you know how women make a difference? Yes, they organize. Yes, they get mad. Yes, they identify and call out oppression when they see it. Yes, they are stronger in force. But the women I have observed who get stuff done don’t spend a lot of energy talking about what’s messed up. After they identify the problem, they focus on their vision for change and they figure out how to accomplish it.
The true leaders I have observed often come from very difficult circumstances. But that’s not their story. That’s their launching point. They start by learning from and leaving behind their own difficult and tragic stories. They draw power from their past, no matter what it is, and they truly believe that they can use it to better their futures. They identify themselves not as victims of circumstance, but as Enforcers of Change. They put themselves in the driver’s seat.
A bunch of declawed lionesses who are afraid of their own shadows because they are focused so hard on the traumatic story of watching the Interloper kill their cubs are nothing but pussy cats. And pussy cats are no match for a horny, homicidal lion. Here are some other realities. The lion is stronger and heavier than the lioness. And he also has a mane to protect his jugular. He’s genetically at an unfair advantage. But bring in a couple or a trio of lean mean hunting machine lionesses with a strategy to make it quick and clean? I’d place my bets on them taking out a fat cat who lies around in the sun all day waiting for the beef and humping the nights away. I would place my bets on those bishes any day.
Here’s what I’m trying to get you to take away. We have got to start seeing our individual selves as Enforcers of Change. I’ve personally spent a lot of time being mad at the Patriarchy, getting pissed about all the ways it is set up to keep women from being as powerful as men are in our society. and then being mad about the way we aren’t organizing properly as women and being disillusioned by how we keep getting in our own way. But how has that served me? How has that served the cause of equality? How powerful am I personally in my own life? Have I tapped into even a fraction of the potential, power, opportunity available to me yet? If not, why not?WHY NOT?
Consider again our exemplars. The legendary leaders. The chicks who organize change and actually see results in their personal lives and in the world. They have their shit together. They didn’t just crawl out of bed prior to changing the world. They got out of bed at dawn, made that damn bed with hospital corners, worked out, dressed the part. They aren’t shuffling around in their bathrobes miserably drinking wine and waiting for the magic to happen. They see themselves as infinitely capable of making the magic. And then they do.
How about you? Have you clicked your ruby slippers together yet to create the reality you want? Are you a lean mean life-slaying machine? Have you assessed your options, found them lacking, and then somehow pulled something perfectly magical out of thin air yet today? You have the power. To clean your kitchen, to run a mile without stopping, to leave that abusive relationship, to get a better job, to go on that trip, to change that law, to change the world? What are you waiting for? Click your heels and Go Slay, Darlings. Go. Slay.