Linkage: On Being Kind to Ourselves

Singles and Sorrow [Auntie Seraphic]
Of course there’s sorrow sometimes. Be gentle with yourself.

Let’s Exercise Because We Love Our Bodies, Not Because We Hate Them [Verily]
Endorphins are one more good way to treat yourself well.

Four Ways to Stop Your Period from Getting You Down [Verily]
Pragmatic tips.

I Gave Up Dating for a Year, So I Could Learn to Date [A Practical Wedding]
Sometimes, time to yourself is a very good thing.

Body positivity gave us plus-size models. It also means we objectify more women. [Washington Post]
Beyond appreciating every type of beauty, can we also acknowledge that we don’t have to be beautiful to be valuable & loved?

Can We Just, Like, Get Over the Way Women Talk? [NY Mag]
All humans have vocal static. Let’s listen to the message underneath.


And as a bonus, a photo of a wedding being celebrated in the war-damaged St George Church in Homs, Syria. Churches see baptisms and weddings and funerals, joy and sorrow, gratitude and heartbreak. God grant many years to Fadi and Rama!

More here.

Building a Story

There are two ways of thinking of satisfaction. One is the passionate/companionate love hedonic view, that the best life would be the one with the most passion in it. The other is a narrative view, that the best life is about building a story.

If you think that the best life would be the one with the most passion in it, then yes, that strategy [of many short relationships] would be much better than getting married. Falling in love is the most intense and wonderful experience—the second-most intense, after a few drugs, which are more intense for a few hours. Short of that, falling in love is the most wonderful thing.

But I didn’t get much work done when I was falling in love with my wife. And then we had kids, we finally had children, and that was totally involving—and it would be weird to be such a romantically-involved couple when you’re raising kids. And now that that insanity has passed, I can return to writing books, which I really love doing. And I have a life partner who I think about all day long. And that’s not tragic. That’s not even disappointing. I have a life partner. We work together really well. We’ve built a fantastic life together. We’re both really, really happy.

If you take the narrative view, there are different things to accomplish at different stages of life. Dating and having these passionate flings are perfect when you’re younger, but some of the greatest joys of life come from nurturing and from what’s called “generativity”. People have strong strivings to build something, to do something, to leave something behind. And of course having children is one way of doing that. My own experience having children was that I discovered there were rooms in my heart that I didn’t even know were there. And if I had committed to a life of repeated sexual flings, I never would have opened those doors.

If you think the whole point of life is to gaze into your lover’s eyes all day until you die—well, then, I wouldn’t want your life.

— Jonathan Haidt, in Aziz Ansari’s Modern Love

Dear Middle School Me

I found this open letter on Facebook from a friend of mine:

Dear Juniors Clothing manufacturers:

I want to punch you in the face! And then when you hold your hands to your broken bloody nose I am going to knee you in the nuts! Why am I spewing these threats through clenched teeth? You made my little girl cry, more importantly, you made my little girl feel ugly and fat and that is unacceptable! And I just can’t tolerate the way you treat her anymore!

My 10 year old baby girl was tearing up because you make your t-shirts so d–n small at the waistline she can’t even fit in an XL Junior. I am not saying that she is a little thing but I find it ironic she can fit into a girls’ size 16 or a boy’s junior small but can’t fit into any girl junior sizes. Why the size differences? In theory the sizes should get bigger the higher the age range, but not with your products for girls.

You’ve made the decision to only make paper thin t-shirts with waistlines made for people who have had their last two ribs removed. What the h–l is wrong with you! I swear the hypocrisy is just too much. You make your sizes so small and then use these stick thin girls to model them. And yet somehow you are amazed that our girls have eating disorders and other body shaming image issues.

Your stupid shirts undid hours of me telling my girl she is perfect the way she is, that she is beautiful, that she is not too this or too that! She is lucky; she has a mother to tell her that the fashion industry is unrealistic, that there must have been a mistake in manufacturing and the sizes are wrong, or whatever excuse I can think of to make her understand that the fault is not in her “real girl” body but in your product!

So if you see me coming down the street, you better change sides or go in a different direction fast because I am going to kick the crap out of you.


Mother of a 10 year old girl with a “real” body

The struggle is real, and I remember being that girl. I am already wondering about the future when I will likely be that mom. I can’t change the fashion industry. I can only talk to the girls who have felt or currently feel the same way:

Dear Middle School Me,

Your mother is not frustrated with you. She loves you and wants to see all the potential you have unfold. The anger she is showing you in that fitting room isn’t at you, it’s at the industry who is telling you there are ideal body types and personalities.

Ready-to-wear clothes are cheap because there isn’t much customization. People used to make their clothes tailored to their bodies – that was the only way to do it. So today we have to conform to some standard silhouettes, which are mostly made with a woman with no boobs or hips or belly in mind. It’s just much easier/cheaper for clothing manufacturers to not worry about making clothing for the average woman’s body.

I remember being 10, 12, 16, 18, and 22-years old in fitting rooms. I remember those tears and the dread that back-to-school shopping brought. Trying any number of styles and colors in the hopes that one of them would finally be right for my body. And I remember not being able to accept the truth that I was more than clothes that didn’t fit.

There’s so much change right now, and not all of it is fun or easy. I completely understand that you just want to fit into something and belong. And the one thing that should fit, doesn’t — your own wardrobe. Girls begin to develop curves in their boobs, belly, or hips, but clothes that are in fashion for your age seem to ignore all these changes and demand that you be what they want and not what you are.

It’s rough. I’m sorry. I was in middle school over 20 years ago, and apparently, my tears in the fitting room are now being cried by you.

You are told before and after these shopping trips that you’re loved. That it’s not about the number. That God does not say “Oops,” and that Christ shining through makes you beautiful.

I know you WANT to believe these truths. And yes, the truth is that you are loved regardless of the body in which your spirit and soul were placed. But it’s nearly impossible to believe the truth when you can’t find a t-shirt that’s not either a sack or covers less than a swimsuit. You see other girls and women happy in their single-digit size clothing, and your rational mind is now tricked to thinking that a smaller clothing size equals happiness and joy. And when your shopping trips do nothing to negate your equation, the lies become irrefutable truths.

As you navigate these clothing battles, I do want to reiterate something — you are beautiful. If someone tells you otherwise, I hope you wonder what is hurting them that they would feel compelled to hurt you. It doesn’t take away the sting, and you are allowed to feel hurt.

Why do these manufacturers choose this cruel and unusual punishment that allow you to feel otherwise? I have no idea. There are clothes that will fit and help you feel the most “you.” You may have to look a little harder and smarter. There will probably be numbers or letters on the size tag that you don’t like, and it might not be the exact brand you want.

It’s hard in the everyday life of school and activities where competition and comparison wear away your esteem and confidence. Knowing your identity in Christ will be a process. It will be difficult to walk through and understand. Keep persevering towards the cross. Keep pursuing Christ and your salvation.

With love,

A 30-something still learning the same thing

P.S. Found this prayer from the Optina Elders; it’s a good one.

Grant unto me, O Lord, that with peace of mind I may face all that this new day is to bring. Grant unto me to dedicate myself completely to Thy Holy Will. For every hour of this day, instruct and support me in all things. Whatsoever tidings I may receive during the day, do Thou teach me to accept tranquilly, in the firm conviction that all eventualities fulfill Thy Holy Will. Govern Thou my thoughts and feelings in all I do and say. When things unforeseen occur , let me not forget that all cometh down from Thee. Teach me to behave sincerely and rationally toward every member of my family, that I may bring confusion and sorrow to none. Bestow upon me, my Lord, strength to endure the fatigue of the day, and to bear my part in all its passing events. Guide Thou my will and teach me to pray, to believe, to hope, to suffer, to forgive, and to love.


Friday Linkage

Everything I Am Afraid Might Happen If I Ask New Acquaintances To Get Coffee [New Yorker]

Why You Should Go To The Movies Alone [NYMag]

What I Learned About Marriage by Hiking the Camino with My Husband [Verily]

The Time I Ruined a Relationship Because I Tried to Be Perfect [Verily]

The Spinster Agenda [New Yorker]