Tuesday, May 31, 2011

When I grow up I want to be.......

When I grow up, I want to be.......

As a child, did you dream of what you would be when you grew up? Did you want to become an astronaut or a movie star? Did you aspire to be a doctor or a nurse..... or maybe it was a circus clown? Did you realize your dreams or were there expectations placed on you by others for something different ?

With so many changes taking place this year, it has been a time for a lot of self-reflection. Thinking back to when I was a small child, I wanted to grow up to swim with whales and dolphins. I didn't care about the science or the research. I was much too young to think about that; my desire was only to swim with creatures that fascinated me. Beyond that, I was never a child who had huge aspirations for anything specific, except in my child's mind, I wanted to "help people". I didn't even know what that meant exactly. On the other hand, my brother knew from a very young age that he wanted to work in the news department. He wanted to be the next Walter Cronkite. He walked around with a little Fisher Price tape recorder for years. I am extremely proud to say that at the ripe old age of 16, he got into the news buiness and remains there today, working for ABC in Los Angeles.

I've often wondered as an adult if I have been successful. I've questioned whether there was something missing because I didn't have aspirations to do the so-called "huge" things or because I couldn't define what I wanted to be by a specific career or role. I have felt insecurities at times based on others' perceptions of me because of those things. Sometimes I even felt as though I had somehow let people down. However, yesterday I saw a quote that resonated with me on a very deep level. Perhaps it could even be said that this has been my life's "mission statement".

"When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down "happy". They told me I didn’t understand the assignment. I told them they didn’t understand life." ~John Lennon

When I read that quote, it was like someone was speaking from my soul. You see, I will probably never be a CEO or a famous actress. I will probably never have millions of dollars or a mansion on a hill. I have held jobs that some would never consider and I have sometimes lived in ways that make me appear simple. I am far different than I am perceived, however, the perception of others no longer weighs on me.

I have been present and watched countless numbers of people taking their last breath; moving from this life to whatever awaits in their personal eternity. I have held their hands, listened to their last words, their wishes, their sorrows, and their regrets. How ironic, that in death, life becomes clear. The things that become crystal clear when you are staring death in the face are those things a lot of people may have perceived as trivial previously; i.e. spending time enjoying the beauty of nature, the giggles of a child, the unconditional love of a pet, and the time spent with family and friends. You don't hear people speak of how much money they have in the bank, or how proud they are that they are the CEO of a corporation, or how nice that car in the driveway looks.

I'm about as far from perfect as one can get, but when I look at myself through my OWN eyes and not through others, I see someone who has been a big success. I've held roles that were meaningful and truly helped society, but my greatest success is that I am happy and I have helped PEOPLE. I got to be exactly what I wanted as a "grown up".

Have you become what you wanted to be when you grew up ??

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Wild Women Do.....

Wild woman.  Bimbo.  Cougar.  Barbie.  Slut.  A variety of labels.  Some more degrading than others, but labels nonetheless.  What do they mean and why are they randomly thrown about?  Who decides whether these are appropriate and who is deserving of such a label?  Why do women seem to be subjected to more labels than men, even by their own gender?    Which one would you give me.... or would you label me at all?

I've heard things that have been said about me, but the two labels that seem to have been tied to my wagon the most frequently are "wild woman" and "cougar".   I don't find the term "cougar" flattering and I certainly don't wear it as a badge of honor, although if someone else chooses to do so, I have no problem with that.  First of all, I don't see myself that way at all.  I do not pursue (and am not interested in pursuing) men way younger than myself.  My daughter will tell you tho', I seem to draw the 20-something crowd.  They seem to seek me out, NOT the reverse.  In another aspect, it annoys me because of the double standard that exists.  If a woman seeks a much younger man, she is called a cougar.  A man, however, is not only EXPECTED to pursue younger women, but celebrated when doing so.  That same double standard seems to apply with sexual patterns/behaviors.  If a woman has sexual relations with many men, she is a slut.  A man is applauded, sometimes even rewarded and celebrated, for the same type of behavior. 

I had a friend in high school that was labeled a slut.  She was tormented, talked about, teased, and truly bullied.  Her life was a living hell for several years.  She changed schools, her family changed phone numbers, and they eventually moved.  People accepted that label of my friend at face value because a popular football player started it.  Interestingly enough, my friend was a virgin until she married. 

What about the Wild Woman label that is so often attributed to me?  What consitutes a "Wild Woman"?   I enjoy life.  I live it to the fullest and I know how to have fun.  Why does that make me wild?   I am judged on what people PERCEIVE me to be doing versus what I am really doing.  I am NOT permiscuous.  I DON'T drink a lot.  I DON'T do drugs.  I may occasionally break a minor rule or law (i.e. speeding), but under most circumstances, I am a law abiding citizen.  Have I danced on table tops?  You betcha (and completely sober too)!  Do I sometimes spend time with people half my age?  You bet I do!  Do I enjoy a variety of music and go to (*gasp*) concerts?  Bet your boots I do!   Is that wrong?  Does it make me wild?  If that is the case, call me WILD!!  :-)

Why do we have to label people?  Do you accept labels at face value or do you try to get to know a person as the individual they are?  I admit, I have been guilty of things like this in my past, but as I've aged and hopefully matured, I have learned that much of the time, a person is NOT what many people perceive them to be.  One of the most remarkable things in the world to me is the person who is UNIQUE.   Who wants to live in a world where everyone is the same?  BORING!    Let's try celebrating our differences!  

I am unique!  I am an indivdual.  I am ME!   I might be a WILD WOMAN....and that's okay with me !  :-)