Beauty is…climbing mountains.

I was never athletic growing up. I did beauty pagents and McDonald’s commercials. Not soccer and softball.

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You know that beautiful quote, “She believed she could. So she did”? I have loved that quote for many a moon.

But today I did not believe I could. But I did.

She didn't believe she could.

 

We are lucky to live near several parks and recreation areas. We have bike trails out the wazoo. One such trail leads to one such park– a state park that is riddled with hills. It is where cyclists go to die. Leading into the park, there is a mountain. Ok, we are in central Missouri, so it is really more of a hill. Anyhoo, I decided today would be a good day for a nice 20 mile ride. It has been a while since I have gone that kind of distance, and I would really like to participate in a “metric century” (67 mile bike ride) in the summer. So I though today was the day to do some training. I hoped on the trail and planned to head in the direction of the big scary state park. I knew I was not quite ready for the hills therein, but I thought I could handle the road TO the park. As I happily coasted down the never-ending hill that led to the park entrance, it dawned on me. I would have to turn around at some point. I would have to go UP this beast. Not going to lie. At that point, I cussed a little.

Flash back to TWO summers ago. In another state park near us. My husband is patiently teaching me HOW TO RIDE A BIKE. Yes, ladies and gentlemen. My 30 year old booty was on a bicycle seat for the first time. I got to the point where I could go straight. But turning was out of the question. And those little pillars at the beginning of trails that indicate cars are not allowed– they were terrifying. I was sure I would crash into each one. And I did hit a few. I would walk my bike DOWN hills lest I get to going too fast and loose control. I would walk my bike UP hills because my legs just could not do that. I was a mess. Not even a hot mess. Just a mess. But I kept peddling.

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Today that hill seemed to have no end. Going up it, I remember thinking at least three times, “Yeah, I can’t do this. Pull into that driveway.” But then that driveway was behind me. So I thought, “OK, at THAT sign I am going to have to stop.” But then the sign was behind me. Why wasn’t I stopping?! I literally NEVER told myself to keep going. I never said “You can do it self! Slow and steady! You got it!” There was literally NO positive self-talk. And then, I was at a flat bit. And the mother of all hills was behind me. What just happened?!

When I got home I texted my husband: “I climbed the hill outside Babler!” He expressed File_000his pride. And I realized that these physical feats mean a lot to me. I was never athletic growing up. I did beauty pageants and McDonald’s commercials. Not soccer and softball. The lessons I learned doing those things were many: Eye contact is a lost art, casting does not have time for your silly questions (for real though, don’t ask Danny Goldman what your motivation is), it feels damn good to command a stage (even if you don’t know you are doing it at the time), practice practice practice, be articulate (those interviews, man!), go to every audition no matter how “small” the part is, win gracefully, loose gracefully, and always ALWAYS thank the judges.

What I didn’t learn then is what I get to learn now– the awesome things my body CAN DO! Did you know I can run?! I got that handy “Couch to 5k” app last summer– and I ran 3 miles straight MULTIPLE TIMES! I even got the “Couch to 10K” app in my exuberance. I got up to about 5 miles STRAIGHT. But that shiz takes a long time. Now I’m back to nice little 2 milers. And I can RIDE A BIKE! Those things are crazy– just two little wheels holding you up! Like high heels, but scarier! Because stilettos can’t go 20 miles an hour. Human bums were not meant to sit on those little seats for long periods of time. But we do! Because we can!

I have spent a while saying things like, “I’m not a runner, but…” or “I’m not a cyclist, but…” I think that is toro poo-poo. Do you run? Yes? You’re a runner. Do you pedal a bike for any distance at all? You are a cyclist. I bought my bike from a second-hand bike/coffee shop. I do not have those cool, but so easy to make fun of, padded shorts. Sometimes I forget which finger to use to change my gears correctly. But I am a cyclist. Just ask that hill outside of Babler.

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Beauty is…radiant authenticity

May is National Fitness Month, so all month we will be talking to women who inspire health and happiness #MotivationMonday

According to her site, Shauna is a nerd, a jock, and a hip-hoppin’ yogi.

She holds degrees from Stanford, UCLA, and Johns Hopkins.

She is an athlete who is sponsored by Under Armour and teaches fitness classes all over the bay area.

She is also a scholar, with a PhD in Public Health.

In June, Shauna will be in Arizona speaking at the Girls For Progress conference, an even that was created by a 12 year old girl to inspire girls to change the world.

Now that is beautiful.

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Photo by Dana’s Eye Photography www.danaseye.com

 

 

Can you share one of your favorite memories from growing up? When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Favorite memory growing up was the day I got into Stanford. When I was little, if you asked me what I wanted to be, I would’ve said, “I want to go to Stanford.” Clearly, not the answer to the question, but that’s all I could focus on.

On your site you describe yourself as a jock AND a nerd. What were your most challenging experiences in each arena? What got you through them?

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Photo by Matt Roy Photography www.mattroyphotography.com

 

Physically [aka as a jock] the most challenging things have been in body acceptance, which I struggled with more when I was younger, but is still a constant challenge now and dealing with injury. I don’t know that I’ll ever “get through” the body image thing, but I definitely get better at letting it go. I focus more on what my body can do, rather than what it looks like and that has been game changing for me. Dealing with an injury as an athlete is always traumatizing, often more mentally and emotionally than anything else. Again, it’s about refocusing attention from the fact that I can’t do something to what I actually CAN do and how amazing the body is at healing.

On the nerd side, the most challenging was very distinguishably my PhD. By far, it was the hardest thing I have ever done, but it taught me the most about my ability, work ethic, mental and emotional strength, relentlessness, and endurance. It’s a lengthy process with tons of steps along the way. Looking too far ahead was incredibly overwhelming, so I had to be present with where I was, put my head down, ignore any doubts and just work my ass off. Those are all things that I continue to apply now.

You are a health and nutrition expert. What is your guilty pleasure?

I don’t allow guilt around food, so I don’t have one. I am ok with eating whatever in moderation and with consciousness.

What was the best piece of advice you have received? What was the worst?

Best: Write your own rules. Worst: I don’t remember probably because I just stopped listening!

Pepsi or Coke?

No, thanks. 😉

What is the best song to sing to in the shower or when you are alone in the car?

Anything 90’s rap.

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Photo by Matt Roy Photography www.mattroyphotography.com

What is your ideal state? (In a perfect world, what are you doing? Where are you living? Who is surrounding you?) How will you get there?

I am currently living in my perfect world for me at this moment. That may change in the future, but this is where I’m supposed to be right now and this is what I’m supposed to be doing, so it’s perfect for me!

Just about everyone has something they want to improve about their health or physical state. How do you recommend they get started?

Find something that you like or that piques your curiosity. If you don’t like it, you won’t do it. Period.

What is your definition of beauty?

I think there’s beauty in authenticity. There’s something about when the inner heart and soul comes shining out to the rest of the world that is magnetic and magic. It’s when you wear your inner you on your physical body. It’s radiant authenticity.

Beauty is... radiant authenticity
Photo by TRX Training. www.trxtraining.com/yoga (Edits mine)

 

 

Beauty is…a marriage of passion and reason

Mary Wollstonecraft is often lauded as a pioneer of Feminism. Her most popular book, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, was published in 1792 and is considered a groundbreaking work that laid the foundation for the argument for women’s rights.

Mary was a passionate woman who considered independence to be the utmost goal of every individual, but especially women. She was raised by an abusive father and emotionally absent mother. As the oldest sister, she was expected to care for her siblings. Mary struggled to balance this role of care-giver that was placed on her, with the role of independent human she desired for herself. If she was alive today, I would like to think she would be a supporter of OperationalizeBeauty, as she is remembered as a woman who most definitely questioned–and shunned– the labels put on her by others.  When she made her way to London to pursue a career as a writer, she took a sort of pride in eschewing the style of the time. She arrived on the scene in thick-soled sensible walking shoes and a beaver cap. She felt she did not need to fit into a world she loathed (the world of the rich and well-connected), and would not waste time making herself attractive for the benefit of others. She absolutely detested the ideal of femininity popular during her lifetime, and eschewed the behavioral norms women were expected to abide by as well. For example, she found it silly that women were expected to lay in bed for anywhere from a week to a month after giving birth, and insisted on being up and about the day after having her first child. She insisted that having a baby was a natural process, not an illness.

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She was quite the conundrum. She did provide for her sisters, finding them employment and sending them money; yet, she did not take their feelings about that employment into account. She was a woman of reason and learning, yet she was fiercely passionate and emotional about causes and people dear to her heart. She was a great supporter of the Revolution in France and held idealized images of America as a land of true freedom, yet she seems to have absolutely reveled in the domestic duties of wife and mother. She valued independence above all, yet became deeply attached to a few people. The attachment she would foster was often unhealthy, and the absence of the object of her affection would send her into depression that resulted in at least two suicide attempts.

  henry-fuseli-by-james-northcoteOne of her objects of affection was German-Swiss artist Henri Fuseli (left), to whom she grew quite close. Though details are not known for sure, it is said that at one point, Mary showed up at his doorstep and asked to move in with he and his wife. Allegedly, she claimed she sought no physical relationship with Fuseli and posed no threat to his marriage; she simply could not live without seeing and talking to him daily. She needed a spiritual connection with him. Fuseli’s wife threw Mary out and forbade Henri from ever speaking to her again. Later, Mary would propose a similar, and incredibly unorthodox, living arrangement with her estranged husband (and father of her first child) and his paramour.

Mary was a firecracker to say the least. Prone to swings of unbridled 170px-josephjohnsonenergy and focus, as well as boughts of depression and self-doubt. Those close to her, like friend and publisher Joseph Johnson (right), learned to maneuver these dark spaces of Mary’s personality. Once, when penning a rebuttal to Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, she expressed to Johnson that she wasn’t sure if she should continue. Having already printed what she had written so far, he assured her that if she didn’t feel up to the task of completing the work, he would throw the printed pages into the fire and forget the piece altogether. With the perfect response, Johnson struck a cord with the proud and zealous Mary, who quickly got back to work and completed the piece.

Mary lived and loved fiercely. She is a shining example of a woman who fought for the right to CHOSE her own life path, which is what most feminist leaders have called for from the beginning. She wanted to be the one who decided what her life would look like. She enjoyed living and writing as a single woman in London and Paris. She likewise enjoyed living in a small cottage with a simple garden outside the city and raising her child (very much parallel to the happy suburban housewife).  What stayed constant in Mary’s life was her passion to carve her own path, the high value she placed on reason and education, and the overall driving desire for independence that informed much of her life’s trajectory.

If Mary could send in a definition of beauty, it might look something like this:

Mary Wollstonecraft Definition

Beauty is…how kind you are

Four years ago Daniela made a wish. She wished that she could make cakes for kids that were suffering with sickness, disability, domestic violence, or “any situation that made them feel sad or different.”

Meet Daniela Delgado.

All of our posts this week will revolve around this beautiful little lady.

At only eight years old, Daniela is reminding us what beauty really looks like.

Four years ago (yeah, that’s right, she was only four years old) Daniela made a wish. She wished that she could make birthday cakes for kids that were suffering with sickness, disability, domestic violence, or “any situation that made them feel sad or different.” Because every kid deserves a cake on their birthday.

And she has been baking up a sweet storm ever since.

Learn more about Daniela and her incredible work in tomorrow’s post.

Beautiful is how nice you are.
Beautiful is how nice you are.
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Beauty is…in their eyes

Being a mom isn’t always glamorous.

(If you are a mom, chances are you literally just laughed out loud because being a mom is pretty much NEVER glamorous)

But that’s not to say that a mom doesn’t FEEL glamorous from time to time.

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I can always tell if the kids are happy by the reflection in their eyes. If they are happy, I feel beautiful.

Meet Liam and Zak. These little cuties are aspiring actors. And this picture, taken during a recent photoshoot, makes their mom feel especially beautiful.

You see that light in their eyes? That’s what happens when they look at her.

Beauty is…the wisdom and time you give away

We are all struggling souls. And, for the most part, we are all doing the best we can with what we’ve got.

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Beauty is not what you are on the outside. It is the wisdom and time you give away to save another struggling soul like you. — Shannon L Alder

What we love most about this quote is the reminder that we are all “struggling souls.”

I’m not sure why judging each other– and ourselves– comes so easy to us. Were we born that way? Did we learn it? Did the dreaded monster “media” teach us? Whatever the reason it seems to be almost second nature. We often have to remind ourselves NOT to do it.

So here is another friendly reminder, from us to you. We are all struggling souls. And, for the most part, we are all doing the best we can with what we’ve got.

How will you share your wisdom and time today?

Beauty is…simple

Let’s be a bit more intentional, ladies. Let’s look closer to home for our images of beauty. Let’s tell our daughters (and sons!) that they are beautiful because of their passion, their drive, their empathy. Not because of their glossy lips and smooth complexion.

I remember some parts of Jr High very clearly. I spent a lot of time with those silly magazines aimed at tween and teen girls. You know the ones. They had posters of long haired boys with dreamy eyes. They had quizzes that define who you are and what you will be. And they had those lovely beauty tips.

Here’s the struggle I remember. There was this huge fad– to look as natural as possible, but with make-up. That seemed to be the aim of every product. To get natural looking shiny lips, you should use this lip gloss. To get natural looking smooth skin you will need this foundation. To get natural looking long, dark eyelashes, you should use this mascara. And here’s the thing– this seems to be a timeless trend in beauty.

I know it wasn’t new in the 90s and it is still popular now. What is up with this desire to USE products in order to look as though we DON’T use products?!

Now, I get it.

I get wanting to look presentable without looking like a clown.

Personally, I have this thing with the dark circles under my eyes. I don’t usually leave the house (or even the bathroom) without some concealer.

My beef is that we are presenting all of these images of “natural beauty” that are anything but natural! These ladies were in hair and makeup for at least a couple of hours. The lighting was just so. The camera angle was just right. And if the final shot wasn’t quite flawless enough, there is always Photoshop.

Let’s be a bit more intentional, ladies. Let’s look closer to home for our images of beauty. Let’s tell our daughters (and sons!) that they are beautiful because of their passion, their drive, their empathy. Not because of their glossy lips and smooth complexion.

This becomes especially difficult when your little one has spent the last 30 minutes locked in the bathroom trying to get her hair just right. Or has turned the dress-up bin upside down looking for the “prettiest” princess dress. She has put in all this effort, all this time and energy, when she triumphantly flings open the door, struts towards you, and says, “Ta da! What do you think?!”

Quick! What do you say?!

“Ohhhhhh, you look so BEAUTIFUL!!!”

That’s what I thought.

If you are going to stick with this reaction, you now have an extra responsibility. She needs to know beauty is not tied up in her hair-do or her princess dress. You need to praise her beauty when she rolls right out of bed. After she has been crying. When you are tucking her in. When she has been splashing around in a muddy puddle. When she gives her little sister the last bite of brownie. When she studies all week for a big test on Friday.

Or, you can re-evaluate your reaction. You can praise her creativity in hairstyle choice. Or her independence in picking out her own shoes and dress. Her dedication in making sure everything was how she wanted it. You can ask her if she feels proud, comfortable, happy. You can comment on how colorful and original her outfit is.

The point is to not equate the “stuff” with beauty. Beauty is not the hairstyle and its not the dress. Its not the lip gloss or the concealer. Those things can certainly make us feel prettier, more confident, more comfortable. But when they are washed off, our beauty remains.

It’s that simple.