Monday, June 27, 2011

Our Deepest Fear

We just finished up our second full week of camp. First week was blind campers AND cub campers and the second week was junior campers. This is the first summer that I've actually thought: "Oh, this is why people like camp so much!"

I think I've finally found a role that suits me (har, har) because I am now the pool director and NOT a counselor. Counseling was one of those things I felt like I was actually pretty good at and yet, I just didn't enjoy it. It was a bit too much intense group time for me. It wasn't just finding socks, applying bug spray, and getting everyone to bed at a decent hour, what most exhausted me was just the constant time with that many people for 7 days. It doesn't even matter who it was: if it was needy cub campers or a group of friends from school, I get my energy from being alone and there is not much of that in a camp environment.

I lean introverted. On the spectrum, I've got a lot of extrovert in me, but at the end of the day, I just want a few quite moments alone and I'm now in a position at camp where I can get that. Ahhhh!

I'm the youngest child in my family. I didn't really grow up with someone younger than me. Kids have always been somewhat of a conundrum to me and I'll admit my patience for them has been sparce. I enjoy the kids more and more as they get older. I have a hard time paying attention and holding valuable a conversation that revolves completely around Justin Beiber and peanut butter. What I have enjoyed about these weeks of camp is watching the development of girls.

As cubbies the girls are carefree and sweet and they want lots of hugs.
As juniors the girls are funny and silly and they cluster in groups and start to notice boys.
As tweens they've become more aware of what it means to be a "girl" and they spend more time in front of the mirror, more time talking about their bodies, and even more time pining after boys.
By teen camp, the girls are goners. They are SUPER aware of their appearance, their weight, their hair (and what they hate about it), their body (and what they hate about it), and what they should and should not eat (based mostly on what they've heard their mothers say).

Mary Pipher writes about this phenomenon in her book Reviving Ophelia. I'm reminded of it every summer. She talks about this incredibly saddening transition from girlhood to womanhood where only a few girls make it out alive (alive meaning, with their soul and sense of self-worth). At ten they're silly and daring and they want to go swimming and catch frogs. At thirteen they're shy and awkward and their spirit cowers in the shadow of the more ambitious and confident boys. I'm not saying this is true of all females ever, but it is overwhelming to me the prevalence of this shift as we go from week to week at camp.

Like Baylee. I spent one day this week subbing for the sports class because the instructor was on his day off and I taught the class last year. I asked Baylee, "Do you want to play basketball with us?"

She shrugged her shoulders, "No, they're all bigger and faster than me."

I pulled her aside, "Baylee, let me let you in on a little secret: there's a good chance (thanks to genetics) that some boys will always be a little bit bigger or faster than you, but I don't want that to keep you from playing. Come on, let's give it a try."

She did. She's a short and scrawny 9 year-old with glasses and she wore jeans, but she ran and shouted and leapt and dribbled as best as she could. At one point, I asked Hudson (one of the staff kids) to pass her the ball more and he did. In fact, every time his hands touched the ball, the next hands were Baylee's. He'd get it, kick it back to her, and she would clutch it with both hands, swing it low to her ankles and huck it high completing a beautiful Granny Shot. At least 18 tries later: it went in.

I wanted to cry. This is what I was blessed with as a kid. A few generous mentors (women, but mostly men) who gave me a shot, who told me that yeah, I could play sports. Who believed in me, if even for five minutes of their time, and that made all the difference.

If anything, in my limited role with these girls, I want them to feel that too.

At meal times I intentionally correct them when "good" and "bad" begin to enter their vocabulary surrounding food: "You are neither 'good' nor 'bad' for eating this ice cream. Look, I'm eating it and I don't feel guilty or 'bad' at all!"

At the pool, I stop body bashing language at the door: "This is a safe place. If you want to attack your perfectly designed bodies, you'll need to stay outside. But I'd appreciate it if you'd only talk well of yours and each others appearance."

On the Darebase field, I encourage the girls who are out there giving it their best and I hope they can see that girls can play hard and compete just like the boys.

These are little things, but I know they made a difference to me and I hope they make a difference to them. No, not every girl is giving up by not playing sports, we've all got our interests and our strengths. But I think it's incredibly important to positively intercept this stage in their lives when they're are asking, "Who am I to be?" and to replace fear with hope.

And Marianne Williamson says it best:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be: brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Update

This is what's happened in the last month (not necessarily in sequential order):

-I flew to Tennessee
-I became an "official" lifeguard (thanks to Jeremy, who is LGI certified)
-I met a returned SM and listened to her tell me stories
-I stayed up until 2 a.m. talking with Emily Carlson about...everything
-I played Dare Base with over 100 screaming children
-I drank a Sonic cranberry limeade
-I ate Taco Bell at midnight
-I laughed with friends
-I am now the pool director at camp
-I got mad that I can't eat gluten and ate gluten anyway
-I got sick
-I laughed and joked with campers who are blind
-I was hit on by blind campers
-I sat indoors with 50 anxious campers waiting for the rain to stop
-I hit a cub camper in the face with a dodgeball
-I flew to Northern California
-I went to the Ghiradelli chocolate factory
-I sang Sara Groves with my best friend, Rachael
-I got to sing (and cry) her down the aisle for her wedding
-I visited the Redwood forest
-I played basketball with junior campers
-I resented wearing a swimsuit for 6 hours a day
-I called my sister
-I listened
-I learned
-I felt loved
-I was humbled
-I was accepted
-I was frustrated
-I was tired
-I was cranky
-I laughed
-I wrote a blog

Friday, June 3, 2011

More Rosie

If you have ever read this blog, you should probably just stop because Rosie Molinary is saying everything I want to say anyway.

My dietician showed me this blog, and I knew immediately that Rosie and I should be great friends.

A few highlights:

" 'Have you lost weight?'

There is a smile in her voice, an upbeat tone to her question. In her world, it’s a great question to ask a person. In my world, not so much. . . And I don’t know what to say. . . What are the right words to use when you fundamentally believe it’s absolutely inappropriate to mention anyone’s body size- no matter how you are mentioning it- and someone has just mentioned your body size to you in a way that she thinks will make you happy?

. . . The truth is that when we say to someone, “have you lost weight?”, what we are really saying most times is that we think that person looks great– maybe she seems happier, emotionally lighter, maybe she’s wearing a color that really complements her, maybe her eyes are lit from within with her inner-confidence or happiness, etc. When we say to someone “have you lost weight”, it is very rarely about the weight."

I wish Rosie would stop stealing the thoughts from my head and writing them with such grace and flow that I could only pray for. Oh well, I suppose it's people like Rosie Molinary and Brene Brown and Jean Kilbourne that give me hope that this (i.e. self-acceptance, grace, worthiness) is still worth talking about.
Sharing.
Spreading.
Getting angry and passionate about.
Getting involved with.
And living.

Rosie

I recently stumbled upon this blog. I can't remember how. But I did. And I like it.

Her name is Rosie Molinary. She has written two books, one of which is called Beautiful You. Which I'm pretty sure I need to read because the subtitle is "radical self-acceptance." Oh, Rosie. You're speaking my language!

In this latest blog, Rosie writes a letter to Celebrity Magazines.

A few highlights:
"Famous girl on the beach in her bathing suit? Let’s play: Pick Her Apart. This time, you’ve deemed her a few sizes too small. She’s a role model, how dare she?! Next week, likely, the game will turn to someone who is deemed too big. She’s a role model, how could she?!"

"Somewhere, some magazine editor thinks these judgements, these stories, these photographs will make us feel better. And that they are viable news. But that’s not true. They can’t make us feel better. And nobody’s body should be news. Even if on the surface we think, “oh, I look better than that in a swim suit,” what we subconsciously learn is:

1. that it is not just okay to judge another woman’s body, it is sport.

2. that there is a universal standard that can be applied to any of us.

3. that our bodies are fair game in assessing who we are.

Trust me, no one walks away from these judgment panels improved. We all walk away collectively wounded. And what happens with a festering wound? The infection spreads to those even beyond the magazine’s pages."

"So, here is my dare to you. Stop it. Perhaps for just one week you make a vow to stop the body critique. Just like we’ve implored young people everywhere in the past few years, make a commitment to stop the bullying. Do us all the favor of redirecting your energy and emphasis so we, too, can redirect ours. Be better than you’ve been. Be more magnanimous than you’ve been. Be kinder than you’ve been. Quit teaching us that judgment is the price we play for living. Teach us, instead, the joy we can experience in living."

"End the promotion of a narrowly defined beauty mystique that invites so few of us to the table and then ceremoniously kicks us each out when we age or eat or cry or love or live in some way that seems too much."

Mmm, Rosie. Preach it.