Do you know? Do you remember her at all?
I certainly do.
She was in a word…Bold.
I am sure of it.
I don’t know if her parents and sister would agree or not on the bold part. Actually, I think her sister would and then her sister would tell her to stop talking in the third person because in this instance, it comes off a tad highfalutin AND no one her age and with that wackadoodle of hair should ever dally in the realm of highfalutin. That’s the great thing about siblings–they are most often the ones we unleash our true selves upon and let the chips–good, bad, or otherwise–fall where they may. Luckily, my sister and I had a greater number of good chips than the bad or otherwise. Truth be told, back in the day, I was more than a bit quirky (polite term for weird) and I think she was more than a bit tolerant. Worked out well for me though, especially when I exceeded (and then some) the limit of minutes allowed disrupting her aloooonnneee time with her boyfriend. I was doing stand-up for an audience of two and noone was throwing rotten tomatoes at me, not fresh ones either–go figure. I would get on a roll and could NOT bring myself to break away. Worked great for my parents too–I provided a built-in chaperone for the whole hormonally-charged scene and for whatever reason, neither my sister nor her beau ever made me feel like I was seriously cramping their style. The boyfriend just chuckled–that’s how I remember it or remember him–no belly laugh, snort, guffaw or chortle from that guy–just understated subtly (is that redundant?). Quiet little chuckles from him and outright laughter from her. Oh yea, and no tomatoes. Emboldening.
I miss that girl.
Bold, full of life, who-gives-a-rip, stand-up comic kind of girl. She might not have shone like a beacon at all times, in all situations but–she was there. I promise you. Hanging out, ready to break into song and/or dance with minimal provocation (all it took was the first few bars of any song on the Grease soundtrack and look out, but don’t judge her, it also worked with Meatloaf and Foreigner). I am sure she made her presence known to the outside world if not on a regular basis, at least enough to reassure herself it was okay to be seen, to be heard. For jokes, stories, thoughts, opinions to be released from captivity and shared with someone other than her sister. On occasion, she would hold back a few of those thoughts and put them in that internal hide-out migrating between her head and her heart–the same place she now stock-piles a truckload of jokes, stories, thoughts and opinions as they perpetually come into being. The hide-out, a vast space created for the sole purpose of self-protection. And just out of curiosity, when did it go from being just a handful of hidden thoughts to an entire semi-truck? And WHEN did that boldness high-tail it across the border to Canada in search of some hot-looking, French-speaking dude to whisper sweet nothings to her. And I mean sweet nothings–as long as he is speaking French, who cares what he is actually saying. In case you didn’t catch it the first time. I. Miss. That. Girl.
I have this great group of high school girls I have been “working” with over the last year and a half and without going into a ton of detail–basically, I am trying to increase their awareness of that bold, full-of-life, confident, amazing, young girl inside each of them. My hope is that by increasing awareness of her, it will decrease the chance they will eventually just let her go (and by let her go I mean stop believing in her). That instead, they will work to tighten their grip on her. And that no matter how much negative self-talk and/or outside influences try to pry those fingers free, they will hang on. They will fight for her.
Now, I can only speak to the young girl in each of us women, so would love to know if it is true of men as well. But until then, here is what I can give you. I see who we once were. Who I once was. Sweet girl. A little thing, standing in the midst of the tall grass in a wide-open field. Scraped knees, barefoot, stubbed toes, wild-hair, sun-kissed cheeks, arms splayed wide, face lifted to the sky, turning in circles with unfettered abandon. Not only embracing the world but shouting out to the world, “Here I am. Embrace Me…because, well, why wouldn’t you? I am Fabulous. I am Amazing. I am All That–simply because I am here and I am spinning!” Do you see her? She’s the same one that stands in front of the tomato-less audience of two saying “I am Clever. And Funny. And Confident. And Unafraid. I am All That–simply because I am here.” She is the one that says…
I Am Enough.
I Am Enough.
I Am Enough.
Have you ever told yourself that? Have you ever told yourself that and believed it? Try it. Literally. I mean it. Get up (after you finish reading this WHOLE thing of course). Stand in front of the mirror (full length if you can). Make direct eye contact and don’t let go–no shifty eyes here. Hang on as you repeat those three words–I Am Enough–in your head, pushing away all others trying to crowd them out. Then whisper it to yourself over and over. Keep after it until it’s no longer a whisper, just a simple statement of fact. A statement of fact that packs an enormous punch–powerful enough to take down the rather tenacious negative self-talk AND that from outsiders. A statement of fact powerful enough to bring back the Bold. I tried it. Over and over again, I said the words to myself and even though I wasn’t standing in the middle of a field spinning in circles (hard to make eye contact in a mirror that way) with my arms splayed wide, something amazing happened. My focus began to shift from my stick-a-finger-in-a light socket hairdo to the words I was whispering and well…my heart just sort-of broke open. A crack. So, I kept going and ta-dah (pronounced TA-dahhhhhh!!!!)…Wide Open. Ouch. Seriously, it hurt. Wide open reveals wounds–some fresh, some long scarred over. Wide open reveals falsehoods, misconceptions and layers of gunk (for lack of a better word) in what appear to be all the ways in which we tell ourselves we are not enough (did I mention the light socket thing?). Wide open makes you realize you rarely hear from others the actual words “You Are Enough” and you certainly don’t say them to yourself. Wide open makes you cry and maybe begin to heal. So I say again…Try It.
I Am Enough.
Oh honey, Yes You Are.
I like to show the high school girls youtube videos, great quotes, inspirational and motivating clips to add to whatever we are discussing that week. And they allow me to do it. Did I forget to mention they are awesome? As I was researching videos to support this recurring thought of I Am Enough, something wonderful happened. I “stumbled” in a there-are-no-coincidences kind of way across a song, which led me to a band, then a youtube video, a website, another youtube video and then, well what do you know…a talking mirror. I am persistent like that. I start with a nagging thought and I don’t quit until the end result is a talking mirror. Check it out and then let’s discuss.
The Mrs. band courtesy of youtube
A couple of things about this video struck me. One was that The Mrs., while they are all outwardly beautiful, are more importantly, focused on helping women see their own inner beauty and they are using what they are passionate about, their music, to do it . A group of women lifting up other women, showing them that exactly who they see in the reflection is beautiful AND is enough. And let’s be honest, we need MORE of that, women supporting, celebrating, and lifting up other women. And two, did you catch the ages of the women standing in front of the mirror? It’s not the teenage girl, although I am sure there were some of those along the way but it was adult women–of ALL ages in this video. That’s what really hit me. It isn’t just the teenage girl who struggles with believing in herself. It isn’t just the teenage girl in need of hearing those three words. Saying those words. Believing those words. We all do.
Just to clarify…for me personally, I am not saying “I Am Enough” apart from God or my faith and that I don’t need Him or anyone else for that matter. That just wouldn’t make sense–especially considering the high school girls and I meet for a BIBLE study. I understand and believe He isn’t waiting for me to become the perfect package first (thank goodness), but meets me right where I am and loves me beyond what I can even comprehend–light-socket hair and all. Really, is there anything more emboldening than that? But, I think what happens is I (I, meaning just about every single woman out there) lose site of that. At times, I get it in my head but not always in my heart or vice-versa. Somewhere along the way, that little girl who is standing in front of the world saying “Here I am and aren’t I amazing?!” eventually loses some or all of that belief. It gets covered up, buried, or even worse, stripped away by life. And the “Aren’t I all that” turns into the “I Am not even close to all that because”…
Cue the gamut of because’s..
too big, too little, too slow, not smart enough, too clumsy, not funny enough and are those tomatoes behind your back, hair is too curly or too straight or “worse” yet somewhere in between, jean size isn’t small enough, shoe size isn’t big enough, didn’t make the right team, not strong enough, tall enough, fast enough, eyes are wonky, voice is babyish, hair is too short (I still remember the hunky boy who broke up with me in 5th grade because of it), nose is too big, lips too small…you are all going to be checking out those things on me now aren’t you? And that’s just some of the stuff that happens as you less than gracefully trip over your own feet in an attempt to saunter smoothly through the teenage years (notice I did NOT mention bra-size…ugh. We will not go there. You’re welcome).
Good news though–I have hope. I really do. Why couldn’t we just ban together to encourage these teenagers (girls and boys) to hang on tightly to the bold little thing they once were? FIGHT for it. We could introduce the concept of “I Am Enough” and help them see that no matter how they played in the game, or scored on that test, or who likes or doesn’t like them, or who put the chia pet on her head and called it hair, exactly who they are is enough. Who knows, maybe in the process, we start hearing, believing and applying the words like a salve to our own wounded selves. Did you hear me? I said FIGHT for it. (I am shouting now but it’s in a babyish voice so don’t get too offended). Don’t let all those things that you not only tell yourself but so does society, and the well meaning friend, hot boy in 5th grade (you know who you are but you’re not reading this anyway so it’s all good), best-of-intentions (literally) parents, teachers or coaches, or jokey jokerson at the high school basketball banquet who gag gifts you with an ace bandage (don’t ask–years later and that wound is still fresh) take you down. Don’t allow yourself to stock-pile who you are or once were into that internal hide-out. Don’t do it. If not for who you are now, for who you will be one day…
One day most of you will be a wife. A mother. (I am back to talking to the females here just so there’s no confusion). And thus begins a part of your life that is fraught with self-doubt, second-guessing, a multitude of humbling experiences (e.g. full blown tantrum smack dab in the middle of the mall with no preconceived exit strategy), body morphing, role-shifting, character building, faith-challenging experiences. The vast majority of which, chip away at the few remaining remnants of the “I Am Enough” campaign slogan running through your head until there is very little of that bold young girl left. And man, she was a sight to behold.
Do you remember that girl?
And just so you know, I am going back for her.
If I had been thinking ahead when I left her on the side of the road, I would have done so with the parting directive to “Stay alive no matter what occurs. I will find you” but you know the whole hind-sight thingy, not to mention, Daniel hadn’t gifted me with that perfect scene (perfect except for the fact he had his shirt on) until AFTER I kicked my bold little self to the curb (albeit gently and with a stash of m & m’s and dr. pepper for sustenance). I digress.
As I said, I am going back for her and I have a plan. But that is for another day. For now, I leave you with this and the hope that you will pass the message on to someone you cross paths with this very day…
My dear friend, You Are Enough.
With love, Kelly
And just in case you missed the whole Daniel thing–I leave you with this gift
The Last of the Mohicans
p.s. I have not forgotten about the give-away…it’s coming
p.p.s. a big shout out to my sister (I said shout out, not shout at…important distinction) for the time we laughed our heads off because “we” drove away with the canister from the drive-through at the bank, it wasn’t easy running back to return it while laughing hysterically (FYI–it did not go unnoticed that somehow I was the one who had to return it) AND also for letting me entertain you and Christopher LEE without ever feeling like my title of “Quirky Little Sister” could have just as easily have been “Third Wheel Weirdo”.
p.p.p.s Check out The Mrs Band on Facebook, @themrsband, #themrsband. Also, check out another amazing lady, Teri Johnson. I met her years ago through our lovely, dear, mutual friend Deanna. Teri has such a great spirit and energy and she IS making an impact! Keepingitpersonal.com, #TeriJohnson, @Teri_Johnson and listen to her on KIPRADIO.com. Coincidently (as in there are none), Teri recently interviewed members of The Mrs. Band on her radio show. You can listen here http://kipradio.com