Wonder Woman. She could leap tall buildings, move at super speed and fly through the air, all the while keeping her crimson pout and her raven coloured coif in check. According to legend, Wonder Woman was an Amazonian princess sent to planet earth to promote the ideals of love, peace and sexual equality. At the height of her popularity 30 years ago, when Lynda Carter donned the red and blue ensemble on television, little girls wanted to be the “no holds barred” beauty and little boys wanted to marry her. If you take a good look around today, it doesn’t take long to notice that not much has changed!
Modern women like you and I are encouraged to know it all, have it all, and do it all. We have top tier educations, we hold positions of power in business and we have our own bank accounts. In the face of women rising to unprecedented levels of success and public prominence Forbes has even created a list to name the world’s 100 Most Powerful Women! Thank you Diane Sawyer (Wonder-Journalist), Melinda Gates (Wonder-Philanthropist), Angelia Jolie (Wonder-actress and Wonder-mom)! But in our pursuit to shatter the glass ceiling on our professional rights, did we remember to find out who would do the 180 loads of laundry a year, make the 7,665 meals a year, and drive the kids to school and little league 1,460 times a year?
I have heard it whispered on the playground, mumbled in the coffee shop, and said in jest at the grocery store, that if a woman was paid for all of the work she does on a daily basis in her private life she would make around $150,000 a year. Well, think about it. What if money was no object? What would you pay for a person who was willing to work eight hours a day to pad your bank account and then live the rest of the time as your personal chef, shopper, chauffeur, babysitter, organizer, and launderer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? I can picture the tired faces reading this and imagine the offer would be for a whole lot more than that 150k! I would hire myself in an instant for twice that if I won the lottery! I can just, “Imagine the Freedom!”
Look in the mirror, look at your mother, sisters, friends – all wonder women! Are you starting to picture them in a shiny red bustier and indestructible bracelets already? It doesn’t take much to realize how much is expected of us as women today and how much we are doing to keep up with those expectations. The pressure on women to succeed as professionals, mothers, homemakers, students, volunteers, and more, is immense! And the scary thing is, most of us are so good at achieving these expectations, we make Lynda Carter’s rendition of the Amazonian superhero look more like spaced out Chrissy from Three’s Company!
When I was around ten years old, one of my older sisters entered a costume contest and dressed up as Wonder Woman. She had the whole outfit down pat – the projectile tiara, the indestructible bronze cuffs, and the golden lasso of truth. I remember thinking at the time that just like my sister, I wanted to be wonder woman for a day. As Wonder Woman, no one would see the ugly duckling I was trying to grow out of being or the insecure little girl who was scared of her own shadow. I would be able to walk with my head held high confronting the tragedies and injustices of the world my young self was already swept up in mourning. I believed that someday I would be like Wonder Woman; self-made, fearless, powerful and that I would do it all with impeccable style (of course!).
Today I am a grown woman (although my husband might sometimes beg to differ – especially on the days that our local drive through gets my order wrong and I make him give me his burger instead! Hey – I have allergies!). I have achieved good things, and I am grateful for both the opportunities and the abilities that have afforded me to do so. But with the demands that modern women face, I often find myself wondering why my indestructible cuffs are failing to shield me from the world’s criticism and, for the life of me, why my golden lasso won’t get my two and a half year old to tell me if he really ate any of the powdered Cascade!
As women, we all feel the utter exhaustion of having to do it all and be it all in this life. We all have those days where we are nothing of the super hero we think we should be. Forget fighting bad guys, and saving the world, on these days we can barely fight a bad hair day and decide what to serve for dinner! You and I have these days and I would make a good bet that if Wonder Woman had been a flesh and blood woman, she would have had them too! Days where she just felt like “Diana”, where she wanted to find the closest tub of Cookie Dough Haagen-Daazs, slip into her most worn out pajamas and cry her way through, “Titanic” for the umpteenth time!
I have these days, you have these days, and if Wonder Woman could leap off the pages of the Marvel comic books, she would tell us that she has them too! Sometimes we are so overwrought and overdone, that all we can do is drown our sorrows in 1500 calories and a cry fest over our favorite romantic comedy. But as I have gotten older, I have come to see that there is a lot we can do without inducing an ice cream hangover and puffy eyes. First, of all we can acknowledge that we are not meant to be “Wonder Women!” We are meant to be Laras, Sarahs, Shelleys, Nancys, Jaimes, Sharons, Jennifers, _____ (insert your name here)! That’s right, we are born to be exactly who we are best at being: ourselves. But how do we, exactly, find ourselves? How do we quiet down the wonder woman persona that seems to have taken over our lives?
One of the most powerful things we can do is to learn to listen to ourselves. We may only have two minutes or ten minutes, but every little second that we are tuning into our hearts makes a world of difference. In the midst of a flurried day where I feel like I am running on empty I have learned to stop myself, take a deep breath (because by this time my breaths are usually pretty shallow), and then exhale in a big sigh. I continue to take breaths in and out and just become present. I embrace my feelings, my emotions and myself and I just let my mind wander. As I think about my day, my life, and events in the world at large, my thoughts unfold and my emotions bubble forth. Then words like, “How?” “Why?” or, even, “Help!” often reach my lips before I realize I am speaking out loud. As these prayerful moments occur, I become aware of how I feel and why I came to feel this way.
Uncorking my bottled up emotions can sometimes make me feel like laughing or crying, going to bed or running around the block! But the point is that, I am feeling my feelings, I am getting connected to what is going on inside my head and my heart. As I take in the moment I am in, and really feel what is going on inside of me, I begin to remember that somewhere deep down inside, Lara is still there! Amidst the work, the family, the activities, the pressures, the passions, I am still the same girl who believes that a daisy chain tiara made on a whimsical and careless day, is just as powerful as the gold tiara Wonder Woman so boldly boasts! I am not called to be Wonder woman, I am called to be the most wonderful version of myself that I can be. To live in light of the fact that a good Creator made me just the way I am, loves me regardless of what I do and don’t do, and has a special plan for my life no matter what my days hold.
Taking the time to connect to yourself, to your thoughts and feelings, to remember that you are loved immeasurably and your life is taken care of, will lead to clarity, strength, and wisdom. By fostering moments like this, we foster attributes in our lives that give us the energy and presence of mind needed to do our very best but without being burdened by the pressure to achieve. We can be “wonder” women in our own right! Women whose lives reveal the wonder of what really matters; being true to our sense of calling in this life, cherishing those we love and making a difference in the world around us. And don’t worry if, in your moments of solitude, you feel like a babbling fool. Remember, you are just another Wonder Woman trying to get grounded so she can learn what it really means to fly!
10 Ways to Wind Down the Wonder Woman and Remember Who You Are:
1. Wake up ten minutes early each day. Before the alarm is ringing, the baby is crying, and the shower is steaming – spend this time in prayer, in silence, having a warm cup of tea or coffee, or reading something you love to learn about
2. Sit still and breath deeply for ten minutes. If I can do it – you can do it! This exercise is great for your circulation as well!
3. Trade five minute massages with the one you love! This is a great way to feel like yourself and connect with the person who matters most to you. The power of non-sexual touch is incredibly bonding.
4. Enjoy a brisk ten minute walk. C’mon Fido is not the only one who needs a good walk! Take a stroll that is good for your heart and head! This is a very important way to destress.
5. Spend ten minutes thinking and writing out the positive things in your life. This can turn your day from a downer to a down right celebration!
6. Immerse yourself in a scent that reminds you of who you are. I love perfume because it reflects that beauty that I want to foster inside and out! Favorites? LAMB original scent, Chanel’s Chance, and Body Shop’s Vanilla.
7. Make sure you sit with no distractions and chew your food deliberately for at least 10 minutes every lunch hour. This will help with your digestion, your calorie intake, and your peace of mind.
8. Choose one uplifting song to listen to everyday day. The power in a song is incredible. Anytime I need help remembering who I am and who I want to be, I turn to my favorite tunes! My favorites, Matt Redman, Carrie Underwood, and Lady Antebellum.
9. Remember to flirt with the one you love! Oh my hubby loves this one! It is amazing how a little innocent flirting with your beloved can transport you back a decade to those initial moments of bliss when you first laid eyes on one another!
10. Take ten minutes at night to yourself. Wash your hair, cut your toenails, take a short bath – anything! Find a need and meet it, you will be glad you did when that alarm clock starts moaning the next morning and your day begins all over!
Coming Next Week – Superman Responds – Our He Said, She Said contributor let’s us in on Kryptonite for men!