She is Fierce

There’s an overused quote (well, let’s call it a quote particle, since like many other quotes it is rarely used in full context).  You’ve probably seen it on t-shirts and Facebook pages and inspirational Instagram posts:

“…and though she be but little, she is fierce.”

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[[Yes, the nerd in me – the scholar that I imagine I am – the bookworm who spent a few months in college – does get annoyed when people say things without truly understanding them.  When quotes are pulled from the sky without any kind of appreciation for the words that encapsulate them.  When some of history’s most talented authors are reduced to snappy pink lettering in a mere 1080 pixels by people who may never discover the masterful works they belong to.

This misused morsel of verse currently making the rounds as a girl power anthem is actually part of a comedy by William Shakespeare called A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  It isn’t as much a statement on a woman’s strength as it is an insult to a certain character’s (Hermia) diminutive size.   Her sister describes her as a vixen (a hellcat) in their school years.  She is a hot head.  A brawler.

Once insulted, she objects to being called “little” or “tiny” and is subsequently referred to as a “dwarf” and a “minimus of hindering knotgrass (a weed)”.  A bead.  An acorn.

I don’t know about you, dear reader, but that’s certainly not how this powerful woman would like to be described.

For the purposes of this blog, though, I am willing to put all that aside, so please keep reading…]]

I took a gentle vinyasa yoga class this morning and enjoyed it immensely.  It’s a class unlike most of the others I take at the gym, because instead of intense exercise and lots of sweat, vinyasa is more about finding my center, focusing, and learning to balance.  It’s a class I deeply appreciate because all my other classes are pretty brutal, and it gives me a chance to re-connect with my body and check in with myself while still working my muscles. It’s a challenging class, too, because while the other classes concentrate on strength and agility, gentle vinyasa is all about the core – the part that keeps me stable and holds me up when things get hard.

What makes a person fierce?

As I squeezed my eyes shut tight in some desperate attempt to concentrate and steady myself in Half Moon Pose, I thought about the importance of repose, especially in the midst of struggle.  Gentleness as essential for fighting.  Peace as a means to win wars.  The ability to stop and re-center, to take inventory and  in order to prepare for what lies ahead and recover from what has already been accomplished.

Warriors have that. Leaders have that.

I talk a lot about having the heart of a lion, or the raging fire that burns inside me and drives me forward, but so seldom do I mention the stillness.  The wise man.  He is not the thunderous voice that yells at me to keep fighting.  He is the low, barely detectable whisper that summons my spirit to simply continue living.  He is my perseverance.  Perhaps surprisingly, he is the most important part of my inner workings.  Every day I seek him out – whether to read a book, to take a walk, to sit with myself and take deep breaths – I know that I need him if I am to continue to conquer and reach my goals.

Reflecting on some conversations I’ve had this week, I keep coming back to this quote.

…and though she be but little, she is fierce. 

Little and fierce.  Yes, I am. Have I always been fierce?  Undoubtedly.  Both of my parents tell stories of my defiant nature, my strong will, my refusal to accept that something is true just because someone else says so.  Is fierce something I became after years of feeling underestimated and discounted because of my size, or my lack of experience, or my gender?  Yes, absolutely.  I know what it’s like to be underestimated, ignored, dismissed.  The truth, then, is both – my fierce is a healthy mix of nature and nurture.

Similarly, three-year-old son is a bear to deal with sometimes and I honestly think part of his rage stems from being the smallest in the family.  He wants so much to be big like his brother and he just isn’t yet – but that doesn’t mean he isn’t capable, or smart, or brave, and he will make damn sure you don’t forget it.  He is wild, and loud, and so very confident.  He’s got a walk that’s so self-assured most grown men would be envious.  He has much to prove and yet he does not want your approval.

The other side of that coin, the side that few people get to see, is the sweet and curious boy who seeks out his mommy at night in order to climb into her lap and sit.  He doesn’t want anything else – just to be still, together.  Gentle and quiet and safe, he snuggles up against me to be reminded that he is protected, and to rest before the next day of wrestling giants begins.  As is true with all the world-changers that have gone before him, he needs a time of respite and a place to feel grounded in order to find his fearlessness.

I believe this is a common thread woven in the stories of history’s overcomers.  The one quality that separates losers from victors.  Stillness.  Perseverance.  A willingness –  a compulsion, even – to come back to ourselves, to re-align and re-group.  To “huddle up”, as my dad says.  This is the calm, stable part that holds us up when things get hard.  The well from which courage is drawn.  It is almost indescribable to those who do not know it, and invaluable to those who do.

Fierceness is about so much more than fighting, and size is irrelevant to heart.  It has nothing to do with being combative or loud and everything to do with quiet stillness.  It is not the obvious drawing of a sword on the battlefield.  It is in the moments we don’t talk about enough – the in-between times when we reflect on how far we’ve come and steel ourselves for what is next.  It is in the ability to pause, reflect, balance, breathe, and focus.

In life, as in vinyasa, it is not the arms or the legs that keep me balanced, but the core.  My inner workings, where sits a small whispering voice that beckons me onward, even on the toughest of days.  Fierceness is born in the moments of quiet determination and reflection.  It is not the roar of the lion or the lap of the wildfire flames that make a great warrior, but the less obvious, less celebrated, sheer will to remain steady and to keep moving forward.

…and though I be but little, I. AM. FIERCE.

 

 

 

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Up, Up and Away!

Nosh –  Red meat.  Lots of ground beef with A1 (what makes me love A1 so much? I think it’s the Raisin Paste.)  For Labor Day, Dad cooked ribs and barbecue and then after that we had leftovers with A1.  It’s seriously delicious.

Tunes – I hate the new Taylor Swift song.  I don’t mean that ironically.  I don’t love it so much I hate it, or hate it so much I love it.  I just hate it.  At work I’ve been switching the Pandora station from Smooth Jazz to Beethoven for Studying.  I love Beethoven.  The channel features a variety of talented composers, and many selections remind me of attending the symphony with my grandparents.  A favorite for me this time of year is, as I’ve mentioned on the blog before, Moonlight Sonata.  For some reason it always makes me think of Christmas.

Wanderlust –  We surprised my Dad with a trip to the Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival for his birthday. It’s an annual event hosted by Callaway Gardens, but none of us had ever been.  Riding in a balloon was a “bucket list” item for my dad, and I have always wanted to see the balloons up close.  A fun time was had by all, though I will say that I definitely prefer having my feet firmly on the ground.  Aside from the balloon rides, they also had Disney’s Up! playing in one of the auditoriums, live music and fair food, stilt walkers, and a huge Classic Car Show.  It was great fun!

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Fitness – Yoga, particularly head and handstands.  I have a great fear of anything upside down, so this week I’ve been practicing kicking up to headstands and just being at peace with the feeling.  I’m hoping to get much better at it and progress to the next yogi level.  Whatever that means. I basically just made it up.

Spiritual – Christie Marie Sheldon has some great videos on YouTube on energy clearing and raising vibration.  I’ve been vibrating lower and lower, as the universe has kicked me in the teeth a few times this week, so I googled and found these gems.  They are insightful and inspiring, and I highly recommend.

Dreams – UPDATE ON LAST WEEK’S DREAM::: MR. DECKER IS MY FRIEND ON FACEBOOK!  He was one of my favorite teachers ever and I’m so happy to be connected with him again.  Also I had a dream last night that I was in some old town in Prague or perhaps Croatia.  Some Eastern European city with rich history and beautiful buildings.  Nikolaj Coster-Waldau was there, and he asked me to dance in the street.  We also had some inside joke going about me wearing a tiara, but I can’t remember why it was funny.  Anyway he wasn’t Jaime from GoT, just Nikolaj and it felt very real but then I woke up.  I wonder if it was one of those dreams where your spirit and someone else’s spirit meet up (astral projection) and you get to hang out for a while, and then you go home.  I’m going to let myself believe this, anyway.

Photos – Balloons! Obviously.  Also, my eldest son, The Dragon, just passed his High Blue Belt test at karate so like the proud and slightly overbearing mom that I am, I took about 1,000 photos of that.

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TV and Film – Beautiful Creatures on NETFLIX.  If you love the idea of an eccentric Jeremy Irons in a cream floor-length coat and a thick Southern accent, who may also be a warlock of some kind, you will like this movie.  The film isn’t centered around his character, but he sure makes it watchable.

Between the Pages – On a recommendation, I’ve started (today!) reading a new book called The Disappearing Spoon (And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements).  Available on Amazon here  So far, I’d give it a 5/10 but I’m only about 17 pages in.  I’m hoping the promised mischief, intrigue and charm are just around the corner.

Tech – Debating this week the iPhone vs. the Android.  My dad got an iPhone and he hates it.  I like my iPhone, though at first I thought I’d never learn everything or get used to it.  My husband has an Android phone, though, and swears by it.  So which is better?  Livewire breaks it down.

Vegetables and Yoga and Good zzz’s, Oh My!

Good day, all!

[Actually it’s night time here, but I refuse to accept that I spent so much time at my job and then consumed in my mommy duties that I’m just sitting down to blog at 8 pm.  Total denial.]

What’s up with YOU?

Here’s what’s going on with me lately… I am vegetarian again.  The story about that will follow.  In that vein, I will be posting some vegetarian and vegan recipes, hopefully some yummy holiday ones too, when I get a free moment.  I LOVE eating this way.  I feel so light, my mood has improved, skin looks smoother and plumper, and I’m sleeping much better.  I also discovered that I LOVE Alba brand (vegetarian, cruelty-free) skin care.  Papaya Enzyme scrub and Hawaiian Aloe/Green Tea moisturizer in particular. I’ll be posting about that later, too.  On to the news…

Recently I have been seeing a doctor about some abdominal discomfort. Something hurts – well hurts might be the wrong word – aggravates me is more accurate – on my lower left side.  He has ruled out hernia, fibroids, c-section complications or scar tissue, and appendicitis.  Yahoo.  After 2 ultrasounds he says it’s unlikely it’s cancer or any other growth.  Yahoo again.  It’s possibly: 1) severe constipation, 2) inflamed ligament (the one that connects the hip to the spine), meaning I need to ice it and stretch, 3) ovarian cysts (discovered on u/s but determined to be non-threatening) or 4) something like cancer that could only show up on ct scan.  (Wait… what?)  At least he was honest and said that abdominal stuff is the hardest, particularly with women, and that it’s difficult to diagnose.  So here’s what he decided to do: 1) Get me pooping. Pooping is good, he says. (who doesn’t like to poop, right?) 2) Rest from working out for a couple of weeks, 3) Give me pain meds.  Um… thanks?  After talking it over with my husband – and when I say “talking it over” I mean I talked it over, he listened.  Or fell asleep, I’m not sure and I can’t remember.  Point is, I decided not to get the prescriptions filled, partially because they were $85 (yowza!) and partially because I know that I can heal my body naturally and with gentler measures.  SO, my treatment plan the past week and a half or so has been: 1) Cut out all meat and dairy.  I used to be vegetarian, sometimes vegan, so this is not new territory. My tummy likes this way of eating, I have less bloating and more pooping.   2) Purchase a good probiotic. These good little guys eat the bad stuff in your gut and get things “moving”. So yes, this is poop related also.  (Seriously, I like to poop.)  3) Put down the diet soda.  I was only drinking one a day, but one daily is enough to throw off the body’s internal ph, cause acne, sleeplessness, gas, and other things.  Plus this means I automatically reach for the water more often.  4) Incorporate yoga and meditation. Stretching, yes.  Relaxing, yes.  The main reason, though, was to ease tension and get rid of the day’s stress.  Since I’ve been working full time (4 months now), my whole life has changed.  Some areas in small ways and other areas, pretty drastically. Yoga and deep breathing/meditation helps me center, and I have found that it also helps me sleep like a baby. Well, like a baby that sleeps.  Score!  Meditation, visualization, deep breathing are all AMAZING techniques to become calm, to create peace within, and set the tone for the day.  I even use “power thought” cards that say things like “All is Well in my World” and “My Healing is Now in Process”.  Sounds silly, but it works! 5) Lastly, I increased my cardio.  I was only lifting weights because I’d been feeling burnt out on the other activities.  The problem was that I was also feeling a bit ‘bulky’ and possibly eating an excess of protein following a bodybuilder’s diet.

Bottom line: I feel good.  HOW good?  Good enough to shoulder-dance to “When Doves Cry” at 4:45 this morning, while driving to the gym.  That should tell you everything you need to know.

I should be a doctor.