~ 1 ~
True Femininity isn't all barbie dolls and wedding dresses.
One of the most important things I've learned since starting TFG has been that true femininity has little in common with what I think femininity actually is. True femininity is much more elusive and enigmatic than, "It's when I wear makeup, jewelry and skirts all the time." While I can't really define what true femininity actually is, I can tell you that it's tough - like Mother Theresa picking dying beggars up off the street tough. Yet it is also soft, like hosting a tea party soft. It's being loving and challenging, compassionate and unflinchingly honest and fair, and a truly feminine woman is weather-beaten yet un-jaded, all at the same time. It means we women sometimes pick up the sword and at other times we pick up the broom. And for me, this was revolutionary. I could finally be who I was meant to be, no longer worried about whether being who I am was feminine - or feminine enough. I can do what needs to be done in the moment, whether it's shovel the driveway, cook a gourmet meal or dig a ditch, with as much grace and poise as I can muster, and still be the lady that I am. Can I get an Amen?
~ 2 ~
True Modesty begins on the Inside.
In working with young adults it was surprising for me to learn that immodesty is primarily a heart-sickness, more than anything else. Sure there are those folks who have merely been badly formed in one or two areas of their lives, but they've been the exception. Anyone, man or woman, can act immodestly while their bodies are fully covered, and even nakedness can be modest. (Hiram Powers' statue of a Greek Slave is an amazing example) Modesty is much harder, and much more work, than just putting on a longer skirt or a less revealing top. Modesty requires us to master a whole list of other virtues and goods; like chastity, purity, patience, sensitivity, charity, moderation, decency, silence and discernment amongst many others. It also requires us to guard against unhealthy curiosity and voyeuristic explorations of the human body. Learning this has made me more discerning when faced with immodesty - in myself or in others - and has alerted me to my own immodest tendencies.
~ 3 ~
Meal Planning Works.
I don't know what I did before I planned my meals, but I know that I wasted a ton of money. And time. And food. And energy. And I had a whole lot of cereal for dinner. Yes meal planning requires more work up front, but it cuts down tremendously on what I call the 4:30 panic. My plans are rarely perfect - there's always a wrench thrown in here or there - but at the very least I'm not throwing out major amounts of food anymore and a good bit of my sanity has been preserved for other use.
~ 4 ~
Words Have Meaning.
Those who know me might describe me (depending on how you know me) as a bit laid back, and I suppose I am to a certain degree. I tend to be uncaring about very specific matters sometimes, not worrying about finer details because doing so causes my brain to hurt. Yet when I picked up a pen and paper to start "for reals" writing, that laid-back part of me went out the window. Words, in general, began to mean something much different to me, as I couldn't say that I had, before that time, ever spent hours combing through a thesaurus for just the right word. But that's become a regular occurrence, word-hunting, which is my reality these days, and it's not a bad thing. Words have power. They can build others up, or tear them down. I've seen words eviscerate and humiliate. And I've seen them make a woman glow with pride and admiration. And we women are especially charged to use them well, as we tend to be a touch more talkative than our male counterparts. The words we use matter - especially those we use to talk to ourselves. The words we use in our self-talk are important because they are shaping our thoughts, which are shaping our actions/reactions, which are shaping our personalities, which is shaping our lives in one way or another. When I realized this, I started talking a bit more sweetly to myself and to others.
~ 5 ~
Drink Your Water.
My spiritual director tells a (fictional?) tale about a woman on a life raft with her small child. All water aboard the raft is strictly rationed and the woman is caught giving her small portion to her child. The point of his story is that she will die, very quickly, if she doesn't drink her water (ie. take care of herself first) and after that happens it's very likely her child will die as well.
And so it goes for ourselves. If we do not take care of ourselves and give our bodies, minds and souls what they need to not just function, but function well, it's simple. We will physically, mentally and/or spiritually die. Drinking your water means knowing what it is that gives you life, and what it is that sucks life from you and then saying yes to that which is life-giving and no to that which is life-sucking, whenever it's possible (and important) to do so. We must do this, especially if we're caregivers (and all women are caregivers in one sense or another) or we will end up angry, resentful, tired and burnt out. So drink your water. Do it, or die.