What Defines a Woman… [scratch that] a Person?

 

I’m sitting at the table tonight while my four children are getting ready for bed.

The eleven year old asks a question about something she’d like to purchase with money she has recently acquired.

Somehow, said eleven year old ends up weeping on her bed… overwhelmed by the choices she faces in the years ahead of her.

When she walks back into the kitchen, hair disheveled, nose red, eyes swollen, it is hard for me to breathe.

She is me. Crying as a child, the only daughter, realizing that one day, I would be the only one in my family with a different last name.

Why are you crying?”, my parents asked.

When I get married, I will no longer be a ‘VanBibber’. I will be different from the rest of you“, I replied.

Tonight’s conversation was that. And yet it also veered so far from those sentiments.

Why are you crying?”, we asked.

The girls in my class already know what they want to do when they grow up“, she replied.

But so do you. You want to own your own animation company and create cartoons. Have a cat of your own. See the world.”

(blank stare)

Oh…

Their plan is to get married, have children and own a big giant house.

Suddenly, my self-confident child, so sure of her purpose and dreams, is doubtful.

Her dreams don’t look like everyone else’s.

And that makes her a target.

We want everyone to look like us. Dream like us. Think like us.

It makes us feel better about our own choices, doesn’t it?

But that doesn’t make those choices better, or more right for us.

And that doesn’t make them any more likely to come true. If being my own independent-free-spirited self and having four children has taught me anything it’s this: We aren’t all cut from the same cloth.

We all have different purposes, hopes and dreams.

Mama and Riggy, can I call you anytime I need advice, when I grow up?

Of course, Sweetness. We are always here for you.

Just be you, my sweet girl.

Just be you.

linked up with Just Write

This Week At “Living the Life Fantastic”

I’m curious: Are you trying to doing everything possible to stay passionate about your dreams? Or are you neglecting them and becoming good at the things you don’t want to be doing?

We are born to dream.

Please share your thoughts on this post: Stay Passionate About Your Passions

a cautionary blogging tale: is ignorance really bliss?

If you haven’t already, be sure to read the intro first.

*UPDATED: I have commented on the response to this post here*

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Once upon a time, there was a blogger (Fantine), who had built a nice little home in the blogging meadow. She’d been through a rough period in her life and blogging had given her a spot to sort through it and figure things out.

She met many amazing, supportive women online; women who, like her, were raising small children or had already done that, and were willing to share their wisdom.

The internet meadow was beautiful.

Rainbows, sparkles, confetti and sunshine abounded.

One day, from out of the blogging forest, a blogger named BackStreet emerged. She was funny, charming and smart. They quickly became friends.

One conversation lead to another and soon, they were brainstorming names  and ideas for an online women’s magazine that BackStreet was wanting to start. Many play-date meetings took place at BackStreet’s home while they both worked hard on the magazine, hopeful that it would be a success and they would be set up in beautiful palaces within the Land of the Internets.

They knew they’d found their golden ticket.

For over a year, just about every waking hour was spent committed to seeing this happen. At the same time babies were nursed, children were schooled, babies were born, families were moved, dinners were prepared, sleep was back-burnered.

Early on, the discussion came up about making their partnership legal. After all, both of them had their fingerprints all over the project.

BackStreet said she would have her attorney draft papers that made Fantine a 50/50 partner, not just in name, but legally. They were both broke at the time, but Fantine completely trusted BackStreet, and was fine with waiting until it was financially feasible to have the papers drawn.

At some point, the decision was made that they would try to start a blogging conference to go along with the magazine. Earlier in the year, Fantine had met Fairy Godmother; someone who had a background in “the business”, and she introduced her to BackStreet as someone who might be able to advise or help them.

Despite the fact that Fantine started noticing less talk from BackStreet about “we” or “us” and more talk about “me” and “I” (clue 1) she focused on the goal, pushing aside concerns. She’d invested so much of her time and they were so close to making it.

Besides, BackStreet was her friend. She’d never had a friend like BackStreet. Ever.

Eventually, the conference went off very well [BackStreet and Fairy Godmother were the shining stars. (clue 2])

With the success of their mini-trial conference, the official one was on track for the following February, with the help of Fairy Godmother.

But conversations were happening  and decisions were being made without Fantine. There was a total disconnect between the public and private personas. (clue 3)

At the same time, crazy demands were being placed on her, followed by her loyalty and commitment being called into question.  The “we”s were starting to refer to BackStreet and Fairy Godmother… not BackStreet and Fantine. (clues 4, 5 and 6)

And so it continued.

Fantine was increasingly pushed aside, being moved further and further out of the picture. Having already invested so much into the projects and being so close to the goal, she struggled with what to do.

Fantine wrote up her thoughts on the pros and cons of walking away, so that she could talk with BackStreet.

After all, they were friends.

The conversation never happened. There was a confrontation on another issue; Fantine expressed her grievances, offered to stay through the conference and in the end, was told that, due to the grievances she’d expressed, she could not be trusted and that all she had ever been was “just an employee”.

Their working relationship ended that day. So did their friendship.

In the end, Fantine was shown something that shook her to the core: an email from earlier on in the project in which BackStreet stated she didn’t have any intention of having legal documents signed.

______________

So. There it is.

Even now, as I read this, I struggle with frustration. With anger. With jealousy.

All of this over a community whose mission statement was about empowering women. Helping them find their happiness.

I’ve struggled with the fact that from a business perspective, it happens every. flippin‘. day.

Every day, people make decisions that are “business, not personal”.

And this, apparently, was what my cautionary tale boiled down to from the outside.

Business.

So get over it.

But it’s not.

Because in the end, I think what I suffered with the most…

…even more than being stripped of something I’d invested an enormous amount of time and creativity into.

… even more than seeing the other person go on and get the praise, recognition and applause…

was the loss of so many other friendships.

People suddenly had no need for me. My twitter stream screamed with silence. My inbox sat nearly empty.

I experienced grief.

Mourning.

The very community that I was trying to help lift up and promote and empower turned their back on me for standing up for myself.

I made people uncomfortable just by my presence. So I was avoided.

No one wanted to reach out to me in public, for fear of ruining their own chances of success.

So, what the heck did I learn?

Where is the moral to all of this… my cautionary tale?

It’s this:

The moment you put your hopes and dreams into the hands of others, you screw yourself.

I gave all control over to someone else.

I take total ownership of that.

So much did I want this, that ultimately, I allowed my own dreams to become blended and co-opted by someone else. I helped make their dream come true while forsaking my own. I handed over control of my future and signed the check over to them.

I’m responsible for that.

Don’t do that to yourself.
Make your dreams your own.
Take charge of them.

Because honestly? I wouldn’t wish the last two years of trudging through this on anyone. Not even the other person involved. There is nothing pretty about it. No one likes a pity party. No one likes to be around someone who just sits in their own crap and misery.

So learn from me. Take my advice.

Do it your way. OWN IT.

*UPDATED: I have commented on the response to this post here*

(photo credit)

My Excellent Fashion Adventure

I was clearing off my camera’s memory card this past weekend and realized that I had left y’all in the dark about some old news recent excitement in my life.

When I was in 5th grade, we were asked to write about the career we wanted to have when we grew up. I chose a lawyer and/or a model (because, like, lawyers on tv are like, sooooo pretty, ya know).

My dream came true (at least part of it) at the end of February when I was able to make a trip to Paris for fashion week. It was exciting and thrilling. Or C’était excitant et saisissant, as my new French friends like to say. The food! The wine! The cheese! The food! Oh, and the fashion… the lovely lovely fashion.

Armed with my camera, I made myself comfortable in the front row of all of the top shows, seated next to Rhianna and Lucy Liu at one, Victoria Beckham and Claudia Schiffer at another.

Look at me, y’all!

I wore this outfit, which I knittedknit witted… knit myself on the flight over. Fussy’s hat is the perfect compliment to any outfit. Thanks, Fuss! (or Foo-say, as my new French friends call her.)

Compared to me, poor Rhianna looked so frumpy… even though she tried to jazz it all up by choosing some grandma shoes.

Of course, I was there only to observe and photograph the models, as I don’t have 2 pennies to rub together right now, let alone pay $10K for the latest styles, no matter how hip and cool they make me. Fortunately, some of my designer friends were kind enough to loan me some fancy frocks to sport around while there.

Here I am doing some site seeing:

Headed out for some dinner and dancing:

Headed out to visit the French countryside:

I took photos of some of my favorite outfits. They are so flattering for any body shape and size. Exactly what I look for when considering what to throw on for a trip to the grocery store. Take a look:

This one will cover that pimple sprouting on your chin or at least draw people’s eyes away from it. You can mix and match all of those pieces for more options. And as an added bonus, I believe I heard someone mentioning that it filters the air before you breathe it in. Isn’t that FAB!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This one? Perfect for those "fat days" we all have every month. It will hide and conceal any bloating. And see those stilts she is walking on? Adding all of that height will fool everyone and make your body appear proportional!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Since we wouldn’t be caught dead wearing the same outfit two days in a row, here are two more options for concealing any facial blemishes and/or bad hair.

Ditto for another bad hair day:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Bloating AND bad hair day:

I must say that I had so much fun traipsing around Paris. It was all so fabulous. There is just so much to love! And on top of it, I looked so cute doing it! Don’t you agree!

So, I may be having to really force myself to fight the frump… but I’ll always have Paris…
Isn’t it grand to pretend to be someone else and paste your head on other people’s bodies be me?

(originally posted march 6, 2008)

My Excellent Fashion Adventure

I was clearing off my camera’s memory card this past weekend and realized that I had left y’all in the dark about some recent excitement in my life.

When I was in 5th grade, we were asked to write about the career we wanted to have when we grew up. I chose a lawyer and/or a model (because, like, lawyers on tv are like, sooooo pretty, ya know). My dream came true (at least part of it) at the end of February when I was able to make a trip to Paris for fashion week. It was exciting and thrilling. Or C’était excitant et saisissant, as my new French friends like to say. The food! The wine! The cheese! The food!

Oh, and the fashion… the lovely lovely fashion.

Armed with my camera, I made myself comfortable in the front row of all of the top shows, seated next to Rhianna and Lucy Liu at one, Victoria Beckham and Claudia Schiffer at another.

Look at me, y’all!

You can’t tell in the above photo, but I’m wearing this outfit, which I knittedknit witted… knit myself on the flight over. Fussy’s hat is the perfect compliment to any outfit. Thanks, Fuss! (or Foo-say, as my new French friends call her.)

Compared to me, poor Rhianna looked so frumpy… even though she tried to jazz it all up by choosing some grandma shoes.
Of course, I was there only to observe and photograph the models, as I don’t have 2 pennies to rub together right now, let alone pay $10K for the latest styles, no matter how hip and cool they make me. Fortunately, some of my designer friends were kind enough to loan me some fancy frocks to sport around while there.

Here I am doing some site seeing:Headed out for some dinner and dancing:

Headed out to visit the French countryside:

I took photos of some of my favorite outfits. They are so flattering for any body shape and size. Exactly what I look for when considering what to throw on for a trip to the grocery store. Take a look:

This one will cover that pimple sprouting on your chin or at least draw people’s eyes away from it. You can mix and match all of those pieces for more options. And as an added bonus, I believe I heard someone mentioning that it filters the air before you breathe it in. Isn’t that FAB!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This one? Perfect for those “fat days” we all have every month. It will hide and conceal any bloating. And see those stilts she is walking on? Adding all of that height will fool everyone and make your body appear proportional!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Since we wouldn’t be caught dead wearing the same outfit two days in a row, here are two more options for concealing any facial blemishes and/or bad hair.

Ditto for another bad hair day:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Bloating AND bad hair day:

I must say that I had so much fun traipsing around Paris. It was all so fabulous. There is just so much to love! And on top of it, I looked so cute doing it! Don’t you agree!

So, I may be having to really force myself to fight the frump… but I’ll always have Paris…

Isn’t it grand to pretend to be someone else and paste your head on other people’s bodies be me?