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Follow Friday #4: The Myth of Doing It All

1 Mar

Happy Friday, everybody! Happy March, as well!

After a pretty great week of workouts (including yesterday’s blogger meet-up – more on that later), I am pretty ready for a rest day today. My behind is pretty sore. On this books this weekend is a much-needed Trader Joe’s date with Stef, a birthday brunch for our friend Eric, and hopefully getting some yoga in, as well.

Follow Friday #4: Sam from Scarlett Called Scout

Previous Follow Fridays:

I came across this blog thanks to my roommate, who had it up on her laptop one night. I was intrigued by the title of the post, so I decided to go and read it for myself. Samantha has a really great voice and I love the layout of her blog – simple and clean. The post in question was about the myths of perfection in a work-life balance.

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[ source ]

Her post was inspired by Debora Spar’s article in the Daily Beast called ‘Why Women Should Stop Trying to Be Perfect’.  In Sam’s brief post, she contemplates her own future as a career woman and future mother and comes to the conclusion that we have to let go of the myth of “having it all” if we want to have a shot at being happy.

“In order to be happy, we’re going to have to figure out our own individual concoction of working hard, seeking help and letting go. We’re going to have to stop trying to have a perfect career, perfect house, perfect body and perfect family. We’re going to have to get help from the people around us and we’re going to have to stop judging each other for the ways we aren’t so perfect.”

Amen, sister.

There are two different ideas I want to address in her statement. One, the idea of getting over the concept of perfection (whatever that’s supposed to mean) in our lives and just deal with the fact that sometimes we are not going to have everything together and some areas of our life will need improvement and work. The other notion that struck me was that we have to stop judging each other. Did Mean Girls teach us nothing about girl-on-girl crime?

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Ladies: we have to help each other out here. We all have our own issues (whether we make them public or not) and everybody is fighting a battle. For generations, women before us have fought tirelessly to earn rights we take for granted. Yet we face challenges that few generations have seen before us. Spar laments:

“Indeed, rather than leaping with glee at the liberation that has befallen women since the 1960s, we are laboring instead under a double whammy of impossible expectations—the old-fashioned ones (to be good mothers and wives, impeccable housekeepers and blushing brides) and those wrought more recently (to be athletic, strong, sexually versatile, and wholly independent). The result? We have become a generation desperate to be perfect wives, mothers, and professionals—Tiger Moms who prepare organic quinoa each evening after waltzing home from the IPO in our Manolo Blahnik heels. Even worse, we somehow believe that we need to do all of this at once, and without any help.”

Studies are showing the women are participating increasingly in the work force, while maintaining the amount of work they had been doing domestically. Do you know what that means? It means that women all around the country are running around like crazy people, trying to fit everything within a 24-hour day.

“Almost by definition, a woman cannot work a 60-hour-per-week job and be the same kind of parent she would have been without the 60-hour-per-week job. No man can do this; no human can do this. Yet women are repeatedly berating themselves for failing at this kind of balancing act, and (quietly, invidiously) berating others when something inevitably slips.”

For those of us who aren’t yet parents, think about this:

  • Have you ever been a full-time student while working full-time?
  • Have you tried to balance more than one job in order to save some money?
  • Do you feel the need to “have it all together” at the ripe old age of 25?

We are not alone. You are not alone. We can change this, but it will not be easy.

We must instead forge partnerships with those around us, and begin to dismantle the myth of solitary perfection.”

In order for us to be successful in all we choose to take on, we have to rely on community. On those around us – our families, our significant others, our friends. If not to help us through the hard times, what is the sense of building such close bonds?

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[ via Pinterest ]

“Meanwhile, American women may also want to consider returning to the kinds of social structures that prevailed in earlier decades, to things like coffee klatches and neighborhood clubs that we have somehow banished from our more atomistic and hard-driving schedules. Recently, I found myself listening enviously as a high-profile businesswoman from Mumbai described her backup network. When one mom had an early-morning meeting, she dropped her toddler off with a neighbor; when another had to travel abroad, a friend handled lunches and carpools for her kids. These Indian women also spoke of their extensive family networks, of the parents and in-laws and cousins who lived nearby and regularly pitched in with the myriad tasks of daily life. Few people in the United States live this way anymore. Instead, we move away from our parents, away from our childhood friends, away from the communities that might help us achieve saner and more balanced lives. In most parts of the country, we don’t even let our kids roam around the neighborhood, chauffeuring them instead in solitary splendor and ripping them from what might otherwise be—used to be—a neighborhood.”

We are social creatures for a reason. We did not evolve to be a solitary, isolated species for good reason – where would it get us? Nowadays, connectedness is easier than ever before. Why do feel so isolated? I can Tweet, Facebook, text, or call someone and reach them in five seconds flat, but why don’t I pick up the phone when I need help?

If we are going to “do it all”, we have to acknowledge that we can’t do it all alone. Let us use the miracles of modern technology and communication to improve our lives and make us closer to those around us, not drive us apart. Let us bring back the carpools, the potlucks, the book clubs. More power to the workout buddies, the study groups, the shared babysitting.

We are all fighting our own battles, but it doesn’t mean we have to fight them alone.

Would love to hear your thoughts about the article (seriously, go read it) and would especially love it if you would share ways you are building community around you. Sending lots of love to all of you for a wonderful weekend!

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Follow Friday #3: Lessons

8 Feb

You guys. THIS lunch.

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This lunch was the best decision I have made in a long time. Sliced grape tomatoes and Persian cucumbers, with two huge chunks of burrata. Topped off with a drizzle of EVOO and S+P and it just blew me away. This reminds me that simple foods can be amazing. You know how I feel about burrata, so it was guaranteed to be a success off the bat but wow. I liked it so much, I made it for lunch again today 🙂 I picked up the burrata from Trader Joe’s and while it’s a little pricey, it comes with two big balls of fresh burrata cheese.

Yesterday was another spin class and our instructor told us that we were going to be preemptively working off Friday night and Saturday brunch – gulp. Let’s just say there were hills. Lots of hills. For someone with crappy knees, it was pretty painful, but it got my blood pumping and the playlist was rockin’.

On my walk home, I saw this on the ground:

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Accompanied by this:

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Way to keep it classy, D.C.

There was nothing on my agenda for the evening except my date with Schmidt, Winston, Nick, and Jess on the latest episode of New Girl. My dinner came together really quickly, thanks to some 3-minute rice from Trader Joe’s, a thawed salmon fillet, and a quick sautee of some fresh green beans.

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I’m really digging this rice medley from TJ’s; it’s pre-cooked, so all you need to do is pop it in the microwave for a few minutes and it tastes great. The only seasoning I’ve been using for my salmon is this salt-free Grilling Blend from Mrs. Dash. I few shakes on the top of the fillet and it gives it a ridiculously impeccable flavor, given how minimal the effort is.

Okay, so today is Friday and I want to bring back my follow Friday posts. After deciding to do this segment of my blog, I gave it a one or two tries and eventually left it by the wayside, which is a shame because I love the idea. Basically, what I’m trying to do is use Fridays as a day to talk about things I’ve picked up from other blogs throughout the week, whether it be a recipe that was inspired by a fellow blogger or a topic of interest that was first suggested by somebody else. I read a ton of great blogs and this is a great way to introduce you all to some of the great writing that is out in the blogosphere!

Today’s Follow Friday is featuring Tina from Best Body Fitness. The particular post I wanted to chat about was one she wrote last Thursday, called Life Right NowIn her post, she talked about a feeling that she gets where the world (or God) is trying to tell her something. In her words,

“Do you ever feel like the world (or, in my opinion, God) is just speaking to you? You can’t seem to escape a particular message no matter which way you turn? Everything points to one direction and no matter how you fight it or think otherwise, you eventually recognize that you have to follow? That it’s the only way?”

For her, the message was to slow down and prioritize a life that was overflowing her plate. She didn’t feel good about half committing to something or someone and wanted to be able to be fully present in what she was doing. What she said after that struck me,

This is a lesson I seem to have to learn numerous times. We all have them, don’t we? I tried to avoid the messages but they kept coming louder and clearer.”

Everyone does have one of these and her idea reminded me of one of my favorite philosophies about life.

hereisyourassignmentI have this printed out and hung up on my wall at work and at home. I read this often, especially #4, which says: “A lesson is repeated until it is learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it, then you can go on to the next lesson.” Yes.

Have you noticed this happen in your life? Is there ever an instance where you feel you have successfully avoided an obstacle, only to have it manifest itself in a different form?

For me, this all goes back to my controlling tendencies. I’ve talked about my need to let go of control and expressed how difficult it is for me because it’s a defense mechanism. I know that this is my lesson to learn because I have seen it come up in so many areas of my life. For years I have made or ended relationships based on my ability to control them. If I felt like I was in a place where my relationship with another person is out of control, I would simply avoid it. Sometimes I do it very literally, by putting as much physical distance between myself and the person as possible.

No matter. When you think you have avoided something instead of facing it dead on, it will reappear in a different form. In my case, my struggle with controlling my environment reappears involving people with whom I cannot (or will not) end my relationship, like a family member or serious relationship.

A lesson is repeated until it is learned.

The hard part about knowing this is facing the eventuality that I have to confront my fears head-on. I can kick the can down the road, but I can’t grow as a person until I learn my lesson. It may take years, it may take a lifetime. And after that?

#5: “Learning Lessons Does Not End. There is No part of life that does not contain its lessons. If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.”

Oof. That sounds pretty daunting, doesn’t it? Wouldn’t it be easier to go on about our merry lives in blissful ignorance? Yes, but that’s not what makes humans such a fascinating and complex species. It is these lessons that shape us, give meaning to our existence. The amazing part is that each person is different. In a world of over seven billion people, each person has their own unique lesson plan in life. That’s pretty incredible.

The thought of continuing these lessons is scary. There will be pain and suffering and anger and sadness. But there will also be joy and satisfaction and love.

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[ annvoskam.comp via Pinterest]

So that is my Friday contemplation for you all to sit on. If you get a chance, maybe think about what your lesson is supposed to be right now.

Food For Thought: Do you know what your lesson is? Have you seen it presented in different parts of your life? 

Wishing everybody a wonderful end of the week and a relaxing, beautiful weekend!

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