What is Femininity?

This is what hiking does to me. I start thinking.

Look ma, no ropes! Just pure chutzpah

I just returned to the motherland after 4 days/3 nights of hiking in the Grand Canyon’s North Rim. I backpacked with 35 lbs on my back, over treacherous terrain with the possibility of falling into the canyon due to the narrow, unmaintained paths. After we finished, we headed to Vegas for some R&R and see to Cirque de Solei and some good grub.

Honestly, I hated Vegas. It was a completely different world from the Grand Canyon. It’s like, let’s compare God’s creation to manmade plastic structures designed to mimic buildings (again manmade) in ancient Greece, Paris, and New York. Or, better yet, let’s take several different vices, including gambling, prostitution, and flat out stupor-drunkeness and smash them together in one city.

Like I said, hated it.

Where I could be free on the trail, talk how I wanted, look how I wanted (including wearing the same shirt for 4 days), Vegas was the total opposite. I felt almost peer pressured into dressing up, wearing makeup, speaking succinctly (hard to hide the Texas drawl sometimes), etc.

And now, I emerge from this experience with some new thoughts. Well, ok, not new, per say, but refreshed.

If you know me in person, you know I am a minor feminist. Meaning, I’m not a bra burner, but I am aware of women’s rights and how far we’ve come. I’ve read the Feminine Mystique as “recreational” reading and it had a huge impact on me. That said, I pose a question for you:

What is femininity? How is it defined?

Is it by the length of our hair? Whether we’ve shaved our legs/not? Done the laundry? Birthed children? Made dinner? Or maybe it’s our strength, our honesty, down to earthed-ness, and compassion.

Or is it our versatility to do all of the above?

I was inspired by this thought in part to a blog post by Cassandra Forsythe’s post, What is a Beautiful Female Body? and Some Women Think Biceps Are Gross. She writes about how a woman in her boot camp class fears the “bump” growing on her upper arm, i.e. her growing biceps.

As a female, future Registered Dietitian, workout enthusiast, former athlete, and now Grand Canyon Conqueror, this question begs for some contemplation.

I pose to you the same question that I keep thinking…to you, what is femininity?


Thoughts on the article “My Not Drinking Bothers Friends”

“My Not Drinking Bothers Friends”by Megan Knas was posted on the front page of CNN.com today. With a title like that, how could I ignore it? You can read it here, but I’ll give you the bullet points (aka direct quotes):

  • When I first quit drinking, having to say no to cute cocktails and slender-stemmed wine glasses filled me with bottomless shame.
  • I’ve since grown into my life as a non-drinker — a life without starting awake covered in sweat and wringing my hands as I fumble to recall what I said or did in the previous hours — and embraced my choice to abstain.
  • I sleep like a kitten. I feel clearer and calmer than I ever did during my decade-long stint with booze. I enjoy beautiful mornings. I don’t let secrets slip.
  • When you’re sober, especially if you want to stay that way, you have to be at peace with where you are.
  • You have to believe you’re already where you need to be.
  • If someone makes the difficult choice to quit drinking, it’s quite possibly to save her life, not a commentary on anyone else’s and definitely not an issue to be mocked or interrogated at a social gathering.

I can’t seem to support Knas more. It’s refreshing to find a successful writer such as herself (published on cnn.com, that’s a big deal!) and enjoying life. She mentions how much she enjoys dancing while being sober. Couldn’t support you more, sister!

Personally, I don’t drink. It’s just something that I do not enjoy, something that I don’t want to spend time doing. Plus one side of my family has a bit of a history with alcohol, so it’s something I”d rather avoid. Like Knas, I don’t judge people for drinking. That’s like when friends tell me not to judge them for eating potato chips. Silly.

Another bonus point she makes, on which I agree: What’s better than living in the moment, living in the now?

If the reality in which we live isn’t the reality that we desire, booze won’t make that reality better…it’ll only soften the edges or blow up our into more difficult problems, broken hearts, dissolved friendships. Tends to make you-know-what hit the fan, fast.

And that’s messy.

So I’m not saying booze is bad or drinking is the devil. We each have our own personal reasons for not engaging in certain activities, and I have mine for not drinking.  We are “allowed” to do what we want to do as adults, without peer pressure. Save that card  for middle school dances.

These are a few of my fav-orite things

I figured it was time for another rally of my favorite stuff. Materialism at it’s finest.

1. Massages: Not that I’m in an intense/highly stressful/high expectations-related work/school situation, *winks*, but massages certainly helps to relieve some tension. I’ve only gotten a few since I’ve been transplanted here because they are rather expensive. Personally, I like a male masseuse cuz they are stronger, flat out (that’s a huge step, denying my inner feminist). Usually it’s some old guy, and that’s fine. Last time, I got a really cute young guy…and it was kind of awkward. Not sure if I can continue this expensive luxury when I get back to the motherland, but it was enjoyable while it lasted!

Mexico Trip 2010

2. Adventures with Dad: On my last trip, we went to Mexico with the company that award me a scholarship. We loved all the construction work, fellowship with the company, opportunity to travel and time together. For our next excursion, we will go to the Grand Canyon with one of REI’s adventure groups (click the link for our specific trip). We are going backpacking for 4 days with a group of 9 folks, including 2 guides, around the North Rim. The public can access the South Rim, but since we’re special, we get to hike the North Rim (it’s all rocks, right? Kidding). I’m expecting some beautiful sites and look forward to getting back to nature. These trips (previously been to Big Bend National Park) are FANTASTIC! (with emphatics) because we enjoy spending time together, seriously. Oh, AND nature is awesome. When you are out there in the middle of nowhere and see the stars, I mean SEE the stars (no light pollution from the city or clouds), it reminds you of the life that’s around us…that we are so infinitely small in this huge huge universe. That there are so many important things in life that we don’t recognize, that we forget about because we are so consumed in the hustle ‘n bustle of daily life. Ok, stepping off soapbox.

3. Friends and Family: *cue “aawww” track*. I have to say that I honestly could not have made it thru this experience without the support of so many friends and family members. I was encouraged, inspired, and brought to tears by the words of these incredible humans and I cannot thank them enough for that. It helps it believe in yourself, true, but when others believe in you more than you do…it’s an act of love. And I have no idea how to line up these pics, obviously  😉

Bingo and Happiness

I am rotating in long term care this week (“nursing home”). It’s a nice facility and the staff really cares about the residents. The staff normally has scheduled events for the residents, like crafts, karaoke, and the beloved bingo. Now bingo…it’s a BIG deal. You don’t just cancel bingo and not have a good reason for it! Sadly, they had to cancel all activities yesterday. The sign on the walls said “today is a free day, do what you please.”

When I first saw the sign, I thought it was like a quote of the day type thing. As if to say, enjoy your day, your time is what you make of it, make yourself happy, etc. Then I learned about the bingo cancellation…but I’m still going to go with my first thoughts there. I’m sort of a metaphor-whore…that is, I love metaphors, comparing real-life situations to whatever other real-life situation. It’s helpful for clients too, to explain things and make comparisons (like calories and bank debit/credits).

I’ve learned many things in this internship that go beyond a clinical education in nutrition and dietetics. One of my struggles has been to find happiness outside of work, to maintain some sort of joy. In college, that was provided for me via college activities, sorority events, volunteerism, and an abundance of friends. However, when you are on your own and starting off in a completely new environment, things change. Your life is what you make of it. You are in charge of your own happiness, no one else is. If you’re sad, mad, angry, or happy, then how you choose to deal with it is your own responsibility, no one else’s. And ya can’t call anyone for a late night Bear Trail!

So, at least for today, do what pleases YOU. It’ll bring joy to your heart   🙂

Letter to a Gecko

Dear Mister Geiko Gecko,

I am very sorry to hear of the loss of your brother/sister/mother/father/spouse/child last night (your species should work on identifying genders/ages, for reals, it’s hard to us humans to tell). It started off as a series of unfortunate events that led to the above-stated demise.

Before continuing on, I must recommend to you that choosing a profession as a burglar was not the best option. Yes, you are a very accomplished individual, what with an international contract with a huge insurance company. Yes, your species has survived evolution, the ice age, the dinosaurs, and the Bush administration. And yes, you have somehow bridged the gap between lizard communication and English. I commend you on that. After all, it is the 21st century. We haven’t figured out teleporting yet (disappointing) but we have lizards that talk. Good.

Unfortunately, you cannot survive the sheer brute force of an old-lady-comfort shoe compounded against your body and a white wall committed by a young female with passive aggressive tendencies. No, your friend didn’t really see that coming, and yes, that’s not fair. But again, he/she made his/her decision when he/she entered the domicile. And, you know what else isn’t fair? Your accent. It’s fake. We all know you have an American accent and are posing as a Brit. Bam. EXPOSED!

Please be advised that any more breaking/entering (or even lack of breaking) will end up in the recurrence of the above event.



Baby Boomers and Technology

Last night I got a phone call from my dad asking me how to load his iPhone with music from iTunes. This would’ve been an okay request, if I wasn’t already asleep and if I hadn’t been working that evening on work-related stuff (i.e., pleasant” would have been an antonym of my mood). It also would’ve been a-okay request if he purchased his iPhone recently…but he’s had it for over a year. Or maybe he’s never used iTunes before? Wrong again. He purchased a shuffle THREE YEARS AGO and is very familiar with the system. Or wait. No, I know what it is! He’s one of those self-proclaimed computer “illiterate” and doesn’t “get along with technology”? Incorrecto. He purchased a black-and-white laptop when I was 4 years old…meaning, he was ahead of the curve (gosh I loved Math Blaster!)

Yesterday I was at a conference about childhood obesity. Out of the 5 presenters, three stated at the beginning of their Powerpoint presentations that they were “technologically challenged” and therefore needed help finding out how to start the Powerpoint. Start it. Like, how to begin the presentation. Initiate the ppt.

Now, I’m all for helping people with technology, being patient (patience, baby boomer grasshopper!) with the student, etc. I realize baby boomers did not grow up with computers like I did and did not have a Microsoft Office class in college. And I realize, yes, that there are people from Gen Y who don’t “work well” with computers.

But there is a tipping point. If these baby boomers can’t keep up with basic technology like Word and Ppt, how can they even function in the office? If those presenters I saw were at a sales meeting…BOOM! customers lost. People expect you to know how to use Office. It’s not even on resumes anymore because it’s just implied that you know how to use it. It’s sink or swim baby.

So let’s teach a (wo)man to fish here. Go to a continuing ed class. Get your unemployed college student to show you how to use these “dern computers that have a mind of their own.” But don’t expect to stay afloat in the rapidly developing work world if you don’t know that F5 STARTS THE POWERPOINT EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

Rant. Check.

My Past Lives

I have many interests and passions that I want to pursue in life. Some of them I enjoy so much that I wonder from where that interest derives…aka, why do I like it? The only reasonable answer is that I had several occupations in my past lives. If I believed in past lives. And was reasonable.

Biblical Times: Carpenter

I love to build stuff. Legos, building blocks, the Sims…love it all. When I was a kid I wanted to be an architect. And then when I started going on mission trips in high school, I loved power tools. And demolition, of course, that’s the best part! Then my dream was squashed when my mom told me that there weren’t enough architect jobs, especially for females. Dream-squasher. However, assuming that we are going in some sort of chronological order here, I would have had to be a male in order to be a successful carpenter in Biblical times (such a strange scenario in that I had a gender change and was able to meet Jesus. But roll with me here.) That’s just the way it is. Women weren’t carpenters. They couldn’t even own land. You were basically a baby-generator. Which leads me to my next occupation…

Late 1800’s: Feminist

Those of you that knew me in college know that once I read The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan, I told EVERY FEMALE about it. It basically changed my life and gave me some more purpose, not that I wasn’t loaded with that already. Wikipedia says that …”according to The New York Times obituary of Friedan in 2006, it “ignited the contemporary women’s movement in 1963 and as a result permanently transformed the social fabric of the United States and countries around the world’ and ‘is widely regarded as one of the most influential nonfiction books of the 20th century.’” So thanks Amazon.com for recommending that book for me.

In the late 1800’s, I would’ve been in the front lines, fighting for women’s voting rights from the start. This former life is where I get my “fight the man” spunk. It doesn’t matter who “the man” is or even if “he” lacks XY chromosomes…just fight him. He’s oppressing you. Whatever “he” represents.

Sometimes, I wish that I didn’t believe in women’s rights so much. Like, let’s just not have a job. No need to use that college education. Just…be a baby generator. Crank ’em out. That’s all that women are good for anyway, right?* (My caveat here is if you want to be a family woman, then go for it. Reach for the stars, be the best mom you can be! I am merely saying that motherhood isn’t the only role of the female in this world.)

Haha. Yeah right.

Early 1960s to 1970s: Hippie

If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again…classic rock just moves my soul! And if I had enough guts, I might consider growing dreadlocks. Maybe. I was once told I was born in the wrong decade and I’ve since stuck with that. I just love love love the music, the clothing…all of it. However, I think it’s a good thing I was born in the late ’80s…had I been a real hippie, it would’ve been too easy to get, er, caught up in the movement if you know what I’m saying. I did live on a farm last summer for a bit…that’s kind of hippie-esque. Modern day hippie. No. Scratch that. Modern day sweat-y is more like it.

And where would I be today if I had been stuck on LSD in the ’70s!?! I probably wouldn’t have as clean teeth (still going on zero cavities, thanks!).

And I probably would not be a dietetic student  😉