Show me the love

“It ain’t the money or the diamond rings, honey I ain’t impressed with your material things” *

I spend a lot of time thinking about love. You see, in my spare time, I am writing a fictional romance set in my hometown of Manhattan, Kansas. In the last nine months, I have spent time writing, thinking, and researching ideas for this story. In that time, I have made several observations. The clearest of these observations? Many people believe that romance and love are demonstrated through showy displays of affection or gifts of material possession.

Americans we are a materialistic society. We marvel in the latest gadgets and newest toys. We liken success with an ever increasing ability to purchase. Thus, it makes sense that when it comes to romance we would do the same. We want a romantic partner to surprise and delight us with the best of everything.

So when we see these displays of attention they impact the way one considers even our own relationships. Right? As we scroll through people’s flashy proposals or other type of attention getting display of affection, a small part of us wonders why our other half doesn’t do the same for us. And that’s when the harm really happens. Little by little we begin to compare ours with another’s. And, when we do not have those same things happening for us, we decide there is something missing in the relationship in which we are involved.

That’s the worst thing that we can do. Comparison is the thief of joy. All of a sudden your spouse picking up dinner from a drive thru isn’t as special as that fabulous weekend getaway that your BFF got from her honey and posted photos about last week.

The worst part of this type of comparison is that it causes one to become completely self absorbed.

“Why doesn’t my honey do this for me?” We complain.

But here’s another question we should be asking, why don’t you do the thing you want for your honey? Why not make your person feel as special as you want to feel? More importantly, why does a display of affection require any type of material possession? Why does true love equal a weekend getaway or a shiny new bauble? I don’t know that it does.

I feel this type of pressure most around my birthday. People know that my husband is a person who is generous with his time and money. But, I normally encourage him to avoid extravagant displays of affection.

After all, how much someone spends on you is not a direct correlation to how much they care for you.

Does it matter to you how much your partner spends on you?

*Lyric taken from Paula Abdul’s ‘It’s just the way that you love me.”

Support Your Sisters

Ayuda a tus hermanas.

Whether you say it in English or Spanish, supporting other women is important.

Over the course of the last year, I have had complex feelings about what it means to be a woman in this world. On the one hand, I feel comfortable identifying as woman. I always have. I have never minded the mandates and conventions placed upon my gender even though I may not have always abided by them. But over the last year, I have found the cultural backlash against women to be overwhelming. Depressing even.

For that reason, I plan to make 2021 my Women’s Appreciation Year. This means that I am going to take active steps to appreciate and support women. I endeavor to fully embrace this concept in a number of ways.

Arts

In the arts arena, I intend to focus my purchasing power on female artists, authors, actors, and musicians. Beyond that, I am going to take extra steps to introduce my friends and family to those that I love. As gifts, I will consider giving the gift a of book written by a woman. I will write a positive review about a blogger and share her through my social media. I will create a playlist with women’s music that moves me and share it to my colleagues.

Business

There are many ways to support your sisters in business. First, contemplate all of the friends and family members you have that are in direct sales. Second, think of all of the things you purchase from your favorite big box retailer. Finally, think of the friends that you can purchase from instead of the retailer. Need skin care? Talk to your cousin who sells Rodan and Fields. Want to try a new mascara? Give your friend whose been a long-time Mary Kay consultant a call.

The key to purchasing from friends in this manner is to purchase ahead of your needs. You do not have the luxury of running out of a product when you purchase the direct sales method because it can take a few days for your purchases to come in.

From there, expand your horizons. Check out women owned businesses in your town. Don’t know how to find them? Call your local chamber of commerce or use your favorite search engine to discover women owned businesses.

Professionals

I am talking attorneys, accountants, and doctors. If you have never done so, consider hiring a female professional. If finding a female professional seems onerous, stop sweating. Call your state’s accounting, bar, or medical association for a list of referrals. Ask your friends and family members about professionals they have used in the past. Finally, start looking at business websites after a search engine check of “Female Attorney” (or accountants or doctors) and the name of your city.

Now it’s your turn…

How do you plan to support women in 2021?

Building your bucket list

Ever since I can remember, I have had a running list of notables that I longed to accomplish. Nothing written in stone, just a few things that I thought would give my life dimension. Over time, I began to develop a written list. And, I have begun to accomplish those goals.

It can seem obsessive to create a bucket list. You make a plan for future fun. In time, you hope to make enough of an effort to check some of those items off your list. I admit; I love it. It is probably my most American of traits.

If you are interested in developing your list, permit me to impart some thoughts on how to proceed.

Create your list

The purpose of a bucket list is to help you grow. Therefore, creating a bucket list requires self-analysis and contemplation. If you need help creating your bucket list, start by answering a few questions.

Do you like people? Do you like being out in nature? Do you wish to take risks? Do you like to learn?

When I thought of these questions, I realized that I do like people and being somewhat in nature. I recognized that my risk taking days are over but my days or learning are not. Based on my answers to the questions above, I added the following items to my bucket list:

Learn (at least one) foreign language; Travel to every State in the US, Travel to every country in the Americas and Europe; Create a blog; and, Become a published author.

I further defined my categories. For example, “foreign languages” can be identified by the specific languages if there are more than one. I currently speak English and Spanish. During the pandemic, I started learning Portuguese. I can now envision adding French and Italian to my future bucket list.

When creating your bucket list, another consideration should be how the categories are interlinked. For example, one of my goals is to travel throughout the Americas and Europe. Being conversant in multiple languages will make my travels easier. In fact, I see a link with my becoming fluent in another language with the increased likelihood that my spouse and I would live abroad during retirement.

Take active steps

Once you have one or more items on your list, work towards achieving those goals. Your bucket list cannot lay fallow for too long. You will have to carve out time for your endeavor. This is a good thing. Remember, it is important for every person to make time for themselves. I posit that taking active steps to accomplish an item from your bucket list will help you destress.

Another important note, it’s important to know when to stop. If, after you have begun working on a bucket list item, you cease to enjoy it, then let it go. Do not cling to those things which no longer serve you.

Now it’s your turn. How have you developed your bucket list? Share with me in the comments.

Need more ideas?

Needing more ideas to add to your bucket list? I have spent countless hours… “researching” (it sounds so much better than wasting time) online to cultivate the following list:

Learn to play an instrument;

Make every recipe in a cookbook;

Read a book a month for life;

Grow a bonsai;

Be an extra in a movie;

Learn to dance;

Watch the sun set on every continent; or

Become a master craftsperson.

The Cost of Being a Woman

Living in a patriarchal society creates burdens on women that men do not encounter. Whether intended or not, those burdens impact women’s financial, emotional, and physical well-being.

The financial costs

In my twenties, I was a woman preoccupied with her looks.


I spent much hard-earned money on clothes that no longer fits and shoes I no longer own. I was completely wasteful. Despite the efforts I made towards my looks I do not recall feeling more happy than I do now. In fact, I know that I was not happier than I am now.


This is not surprising.


From an early age, women are misled. We are told that to be happy, we must look a certain way. We are sold the idea that being a woman means having material possessions- clothes, handbags, shoes- and engaging in certain activities- manicures, pedicures, facials, & massages.


As a result, we place value on ourselves based on our beauty or bodies. That value then translates into dollars for corporate America. A recent article I read suggests that over the course of our lifetimes, women spend approximately $250,000 on their appearances. (For that story click here.) Women are wasting their financial resources.


The average price of homes in the US at $315,000 (found in this Dave Ramsey blog post). Thus, for the same amount of money as the average woman spends on beauty she could buy a home. Of course, men also spend money on appearance. But, considering that women are often paid less than men, one can argue that the financial burdens of being a woman are multi-tiered.

The Emotional Costs

Those who fall prey to gendered stereotypes believe that women are more emotional than men. Those who fall prey and are mysoginists argue that this is the reason why women cannot serve in high levels of leadership such as the US presidency. This type of erroneous thinking puts additional burdens on women. Women who want to counter the emotional stereotype may feel forced to act with more restraint than men.


The emotional costs of being a woman could be lessened. If society deemed it acceptable for both men and women to feel their full emotions. Additionally, a recognition that emotions are not gendered would also be helpful. Women can be aggressive, strong, and blunt. Men can be emotional, soft, and nurturing.

The Physical Costs

When I first started this essay, I thought my research would support my belief that women face higher cost or greater burdens in life than men. But there is one are in which women are not as burdened and that is overall health. An interesting article I found in this Harvard e-newsletter stated that women live healthier, and as a result, longer lives. While this article gave me promise for my health, the truly valuable information it contained was a list for men about improving their health. I shared the article with the men in my life.

Do you believe that there are additional costs or burdens to your gender? Why or why not?

Investing in Yourself

Every year, I try to contemplate different ways that I can improve my life through personal investment.

Invest money

In 2018, I hired a personal trainer. I committed to a two session per week schedule. This was an unexpected move. Like many women, I have a tendency to put other people, other responsibilities above myself.

Nonetheless, I began attending my twice per week appointments. Tuesdays and Thursdays, I would dropp off my stepson at school and then proceed to my sessions.

From 2018, to March 2020, I saw changes in my body that made me feel more confident and self satisfied. I saw a decline in the nervous energy that coursed through my body on a daily basis. It felt good to see an increase in muscle mass.

THEN CORONA CAME.

From mid-March to August, I severely limited the amount of time I spent in public spaces. And I much of my work undone.

But, the time to make a change is always today. Right? So with that in mind, I ask myself each and every day, what can I do today to improve my health? What can I do right now to improve my health? I try to ask myself these questions particularly when I am about to eat something or if I am sitting around watching television.

Invest time

In the early 2000s knitting and crocheting was all of the rage among celebrities and mid-American trend followers. I flocked to this trend and ultimately created two scarves. My friends Joshanna and Amy were the recipients of these gifts.

At some point during the spring stay at home orders, I found a bag that contained knitting needles, books, and wool. I have set a timeline for myself so that I can try to turn the products I now have in to some special items.

What are some of the ways that you invest in yourself?