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Friday, June 27, 2014

#LikeAGirl

"You run like a girl.
You jump like a girl.
You swing like a girl.
You tumble six feet over a four inch beam… like a girl."

That was one of my favorite quotes as a young gymnast.  I think I even had a t-shirt with those words printed on it.  (I had another one that said, "If gymnastics was easy, they'd call it football." but that's beside the point).

I remember being so proud to be an athlete as a kid.  I also remember my peers assuming that since I was a gymnast, I wasn't going be good at basketball or volleyball or running.  I'm not sure when that started, or when I started believing it…. but I do remember a period of time when I was determined to prove my peers otherwise.

Three of my GymHawks, RUNNING like girls toward the
finish line at a charity event!
As a little girl, I remember playing on the playground at recess and swinging from the monkey bars.  I would show off my gymnastics skills to anyone who would watch, and the reaction was usually the same, "DO IT AGAIN!!"  Kids are great that way.  When they are little, they appreciate something spectacular, and something out of the ordinary… and then they want you to teach them how they can do it.

As they age, kids start to get jealous, they get mean and sometimes insulting when they don't understand why someone else can do something they can't.

By 5th grade I had completely vacated the monkey bars at school.  I was getting enough gymnastics after school hours and to be honest, the playground, with all it's angst, wasn't fun anymore.  In 5th grade I spent every recess on the black top playing touch football with the boys.

I always felt the need to prove things like "You run like a girl" were inaccurate.  I took the fitness challenges in PE far too seriously, and would frequently ask the teachers if I could try again to achieve a better score.  I think that there was a part of me who thought I'd failed if I didn't beat most of the boys.  Perhaps it's the perfectionist attitude, but I did NOT want to be considered "a girl" when it came to athletics.

We always stop to take a moment to make sure these kids
can still be kids.  Girls are GOOFY!!!
Why not?  When did "You run like a girl" turn in to a negative connotation?  Why did I feel the need to be anything less than myself.  Why was one attempt at the 600 yard run not enough?  I came across this beautiful ad today and it really made me thankful for the job that I have.

Always #LikeAGirl  (please watch!!)

The young girls in this ad are so confident and proud of being a girl.  They appear strong and confident


and happy.  The older individuals have obviously succumbed to believing the stereotypes without any regard for their own emotional well being.  LADIES>>> DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT EVER GIVE YOURSELF LESS CREDIT THAN YOU ARE DUE.

The ad states that girls change their perspective during or after puberty.  That is asinine to me.  Why, during the most vulnerable times in their lives, do we as a society allow our young women to feel worse about themselves?  They are already confused.  They are already trying to make sense of the world.  And we throw around negative connotations like, "you swing like a girl?"

Can we please teach our children to respond to words like that with an outpouring of excitement.

As women, we need to encourage support amongst women.
It is not okay to tear each other down.  Spend more time
building each other up and you will see mountains move!
"HELL YES, I SWING LIKE A GIRL!  I AM A GIRL!!"

This movement, is one I will absolutely be a part of.  With my own little female army at the helm, I can only pray that I can help a small percentage of these girls to realize their own potential.  I hope that my athletes know how powerful they are, how smart they are, how beautiful they are, how strong they are, and that doing things "like a girl" -- might just be the best way to do them.

Love True,
Allison

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Everything Beautiful is Flawed

"Even the stars, they burn.  Some even fall to the earth.  We've got a lot to learn… No I won't give up." -Jason Mraz

"I won't give up" cover by Lennon & Maisy Stella

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed to the point of exhaustion.  Even during a time in my life where, "hectic" is not a word I could justifiably use to describe my days.  I started writing a blog entry over a month ago, and still have not completed it.  I've been blocked… unwilling to let my mind or my heart open up to the emotion that is required to write this story.  In fact, I feel like I've been holding a lot in when it comes to writing.  Something that isn't good for me… as writing as become my outlet for recovery in so many different aspects of my life.

I don't know what it is about opening ourselves up that seems so scary.  We protect ourselves, maybe from getting hurt, maybe from falling in love, maybe from being vulnerable… who knows.  We take this part of ourselves and we bury it deep and far away in the hopes that no one will uncover our secret, discover our weakness or reveal our true selves.

What's wrong with being ourselves and being damn proud of who we are… straight down to our faults.

I'm a perfectionist to the core, but absolutely NOT PERFECT.  Does that mean I'm defeated?  Sometimes I do feel that way.  And then sometimes I am able to remind myself, "Al, you're human.  You're flawed.  And that's beautiful."

Like Jason Mraz says, "Even the stars, they burn"- nothing beautiful is without its flaws.

For a perfectionist… that's a harsh reality to deal with.  No, my house is not spotless.  I have clothes sitting in the dryer that have been fluffed and re-fluffed more than once (instead of being folded).  I sometimes forget to respond to emails.  I regularly send bills in on (or after they are due), and I definitely put off handling confrontational situations.

But I am kind.  I love doing things for friends and family, and inspiring people makes me feel whole; Being perfect is just a shadow of the person I used to want to be.  Though sometimes it is hard to keep those desires at bay… I know that I am the happiest, when I'm simply being Al instead of comparing Al to what she could be.

On Tuesday, one of my little gymnasts gave me a thank you note that she had made for me.  In it, she praised me for inspiring her.  She used words like "Example, Selfless, Kindest, Role Model, and Amazing." She said my determination was endless and encouraged me to continue being Me and not somebody else.

This eleven year old knows what's up.

Why did it take a child reminding me of what I preach to them each day for me to remember it myself?  Sometimes I'm amazed at these kids and what they retain from us.  They truly are sponges and are just looking for us to show them the way in the world.  It is one thing for me to encourage their own self belief… and to inspire them to live their dreams and be true to themselves… But what kind of person would I be if I didn't set an example by LIVING what I believe in.

New attitude, new approach and a new level of lenience for myself.

Be who you want to be TODAY and share that with those you love; and DO NOT be afraid to take your own advice.  Your flaws are what make you YOU… and thats what makes you beautiful.

Love True,
Allison