Beach Body Madness, Do you have it?

Beach Body Madness | Sedruola Maruska

This post was moved from my other blog to this one because it’s more appropriate here. Beach Body Madness is something we all go through.

It may mean something different to you, but it represents the same thing: feeling that we’re not good enough for the things we want because of someone else’s idea of what that should be.

Where beach body madness begins:

Me: I’m gonna get into a bikini next year
Hubby: Okay
Me: I need to lose this belly first
Hubby: Okay
Me: Ugh, that means I need to workout hard, I hate working out.
Hubby: Okay

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this conversation with my husband. I’m going on and on about how I need to whip my body into shape so I can fit into my desired bathing suit and he’s going along for the ride.

He knows better than to jump in with commentary because there is never a right thing to say. He’s a smart guy.

My hubby thinks I’m beautiful. He told me so. He’s not worried about my baby pouch, he had a part in putting it there.

He wants me to be happy and comfortable in whatever I put on so he’s going along for the ride.

I’m pretty sure he also thinks I’m a maniac . . . he hasn’t told me that, I’m guessing (smart guy).

But the other day I was getting dressed for work and I stood in front of my full length mirror, again, thinking how I wanted to get into a bikini and what needed to happen first.

Then I stopped.

Really? Something needs to happen before I can be happy to wear what I want to wear? Why?

Why do I think anything needs to happen before I do something that is clearly going to make me happy?

I’m a beautiful, strong & intelligent woman and yet, someone else’s idea of what my body ‘should’ look like in a bikini is holding me back from putting one on.

It’s beach body madness!

Beach Body Madness, Do you have it? | Sedruola Maruska

 

If you have a body, and you’re on the beach, wearing what makes you happy. . . hot dog, you have a beach body!

Sometimes I feel resentment toward those who constantly lament their bodies, and yet, here I am, in the comfort of my walk-in closet, my safe place, lamenting the few inches on my belly that mean absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of life.

And yet, how many times have we not “worn the bikini”, whatever that means to you, because of a story we’re constantly telling ourselves?

Did you miss the party because your makeup wasn’t “just right”? Did you opt out of date night, again, because you were too afraid to spend time alone with your love because that would lead to nakedness? Did you leave that awesome dress at the store because it wasn’t “made for your body?”

Ugh, I’m tired of not walking my path, but sidestepping it to please someone else.

I’m not there yet, but I’m on a journey to wearing that bikini this summer. No, I’m not working out like a fiend or starving myself. I’m shopping for a bikini that I will love and that will love me back!

I’m looking at my body in the mirror every day and saying “look how beautiful you are!” Because I can’t expect it to come from anyone else but me. My husband loves me, but if he told me every day that he thought I was beautiful, I’d have him committed, or I’d commit myself since it would drive me nuts!

Bottom line is, I need to love myself enough to accept or gently change what doesn’t make me happy. But . . . BIG BUT . . . that doesn’t mean I’m mean to myself and chastising myself at every turn hoping for change or to suddenly fall in love.

Perspective

I’ve got a designer body! I’ve had two babies. One at 38, the other at 42. I’m pushing 50, and I look HOT!

I can and will always take care of myself so I can be here for my babies and grandbabies, but I’m not going to beat myself into submission because someone else says I need to look a certain way to have what I want.

I’m going to love myself enough to love my body and be proud that I’ve had the privilege of having babies. That I have a baby pouch that was created in love.

I’m going to love my body, and not judge myself so harshly that I can’t wear what makes me happy.

Beach body madness be damned! I’m getting and wearing that bikini this summer. . . We all have many “bikini” issues, this just happens to be one of my many. Thankfully, that mirror was kind and I was ready to listen.

Beach Body Madness, Do you have it? | Sedruola Maruska
Me in my new bikini Feb ’17

Please ponder the thought: What’s your “Bikini” issue? How will you work to move through it? What lesson do you think it will teach you?

Beach Bodies are figments of our imagination . . . let’s start living in the worlds we actually inhabit.

UPDATE: I bought and wore my new bikini when we went on vacation this past February. . . I LOVE it and it felt so incredibly great!


War on Your Intellect

War on Your Intellect | Sedruola Maruska

The war on your intellect is getting crazy!

You know what I’m talking about. The feeling of guilt you get when you talk about a topic intelligently and someone looks at you as if you’re speaking Greek.

The war that’s being waged on those who think by those who simply react. That intellect war.

Don’t cower! Never relent! Being smart and thinking with your analytical brain as well as your creative brain is important. You have knowledge for a reason. Don’t let anyone take that away from you because they’re not willing to get to where you are.

Pretending that you’re less smart than you actually are doesn’t do anyone any favors. We need thinking people around. We need creative people around. We need your intellect around.

I actually think I can do a better job verbally so here’s a video from the Left Thinking channel to help you grasp what I’m saying.

Be bold, be strong and be proud!

 


 

Old White Men in Wheelchairs Scare Me

Old White Men in Wheelchairs Scare Me | Sedruola Maruska

I’ve never told anyone that old white men in wheelchairs scare me . . . until now.

We moved back to New York City, after living in Salt Lake City for two years, when I was ten going on eleven. It was culturally shocking. . . but that’s another post.

I was in the sixth grade and everything was new. Instead of riding a school bus I rode the city bus. I needed a bus pass and I walked to and from the bus stop every day on my own. I was a big girl.

We lived with my grandfather while we were looking for our own home, so everyday on my walk I passed this beautiful house with a lovely manicured yard. I used to imagine what it would look like on the inside or what the people were like.

This was the first time I was living in a neighborhood with houses so I was really in awe. Some days I would see people around, but most days I would walk the quiet streets home and meet my grandfather waiting at home.

It wasn’t long before I started seeing an old white man in a wheelchair passing by in the streets. At first he rode by silently. Then he began to say hello. We’d moved from a predominantly white city so white men in wheelchairs were just like every other white man I’d ever met. It never crossed my mind that this man’s presence was odd or that I needed to be concerned.

One day on my walk home this man rolled up to me:

Man: Can you help me with something?
Me: Yes.
Man: I need to get to the door of that house (pointing to my dream house) but I can’t reach the doorbell, can you help me?
Me: Sure (excited to finally meet the people who lived in that beautiful house)

We went over to the house where I started to go to the front door

Man: No, we need to go to the back door, it’s easier for me

So we moved to the back door (which was really a side door) and I rang the doorbell. I stood waiting for an answer with this man right behind me.

Man: Wow, you have a lot of dirt on the back of your skirt (as he proceeds to wipe it off)
Me: Really? (trying to look back)
Man: Ring again I don’t think they heard

I turn to ring again. A hand goes on my skirt again, but this time to lift it

Man: How did you get this dirt on you, it’s on your panties too
Me: I don’t have any dirt on me
Man: Yes, you do (preparing to pull down my panties)
Me: No I don’t! I don’t think anyone’s home (moving to go)
Man: Oh, I’m sorry, I guess they aren’t here, thank you

As I walked quickly back to the sidewalk he followed. When I got to the sidewalk and began walking home, my grandfather came out of the house looking for me. I was a few minutes late and he wanted to make sure I was okay. He saw me with this man on my heels.

Grandpa: Hello Sedie, are you okay (looking at the man behind me)
Me: Yes, I’m fine
Grandpa: Who is that man, are you okay?
Me: He needed help, I’m fine

That was the last time I saw that pedophile. That was the last time I ever spoke about that pedophile. That wasn’t the last time an old white man in a wheelchair made me nervous.

From a very young age I learned to take responsibility for my actions. Doing that meant I took responsibility for what happened. I could have walked away and ignored the old white man in the wheelchair. . . As a good and respectful girl, that wasn’t an option.

Good and respectful girls don’t walk away when someone who is clearly your elder and needs your help asks you to help. You help.

I’m realizing how we as women are programmed to do the right thing and “boys will be boys”. Because of that many women repress feelings. We walk around with wounds and scars thinking we deserve them instead of seeing that they were inflicted without our consent. I wasn’t responsible for that pedophile’s actions, and yet I felt responsible.

Never seeing that man again doesn’t change the fact that for a long time I had a reaction to any old white man in a wheelchair that came in my vicinity, never a young man, never a man of any other race.

So when people take lightly assaults that happen and are brought to light I cringe. If what happened to me took years to reconcile, and I never uttered a word of it, how much bravery does it take to come forth after a sexual assault, harassment or rape happens? How devastating must it be to get shrugged off or to watch your assailant get a lenient sentence, no sentence at all or a pat on the back because “boys will be boys”?

We need to give our girls permission to be strong warrior women. We need to let them be loud, rambunctious, unruly and obnoxious just as we allow our boys. Using the phrase “boys will be boys” while restraining our girls does them a disservice. Girls need be assertive in their purpose.

Listening when they speak and acting on what they say gives them the power they need to be strong. Not shrugging them off as “too emotional” or “girls”. Don’t overfeed the caretaker within ignoring the warrior. Let’s appropriately feed both the caretaker and the warrior. They are not mutually exclusive. They co-exist within her, society kills the warrior.

“Let girls be girls” should be said often and mean the same as it does for boys. Let girls own their bodies so they can choose to experience pleasure and report pain. Don’t push them into uncomfortable situations so they look “polite”, respect their feelings. Believe them when they say they’ve been hurt, don’t shrug off tears. Stop fearing the power within but allow that power to grow.

Throw out the double standard used in raising girls and empower them to know their feelings are valid. A woman’s natural instincts will always come into play but to be whole she needs to listen to the inner voice that says “yes” and the one that says “no”. We need to understand that those instincts are for her protection and should always be honored.

In my marriage, what makes me powerful is what makes my husband powerful. Mutual love, respect and the belief that the other is capable.

We need to let our girls know, too, that we love, respect and believe in their capabilities instead of molding them to play out parts imposed by society. Only then will there be true strength in society. Only then will the scales be balanced when it comes to our views about assault. Only then will we freely voice our opinions, show our feelings and build something remarkable together.

I’ve grown since I was ten. I’ve allowed myself the opportunity to be who I am and so have those who truly love me. Old white men in wheelchairs no longer scare me. . .


“Mommy, can I change my color?”

Mommy Can I Change My Color? | Sedruola Maruska

“Mommy, can I change my color?”

From the moment my kids came into this world they have challenged and helped me grow the views I hold about myself, the confidence I have as a mother, as a woman and as a woman of color.

If you read the post on my worst conversation with my daughter you already know she’s wise beyond her five years. This is no different, especially since it took place when she was two.

I don’t remember where we were going, but we needed to get ready quickly. I jumped into the shower and took my baby girl with me. As we showered she noticed that I had hair in places she didn’t so, true to her nature she spoke up.

Sia:    Mommy, why do you have hair there?
Mommy:    Because all women have hair there, it’s something that happens when you grow up and become a woman
Sia:    Will I have hair there too?
Mommy:    Yes, when you grow up you’ll have hair there too

I enjoy answering my kids questions no matter what they are. I think if they ask me and I answer truthfully, without judgement, they’ll keep asking and we’ll be able to teach them a few things before the world does.

The conversation continued and I was not quite ready. . .

Sia:    Does that mean when I grow up I’ll be able to change my color too?

*Pause*

The commitment I have to being open with my children in a loving and calm way has been challenged often. At the very moment she asked that question I felt an overwhelming sadness and fear in my heart. No matter what, I need to continue this conversation and deal with myself later.

The first questions I wanted to ask was “Change your color? Why would you want to do that?”. But instead I decided to seek her view instead of coming from mine.

Oh God, where are we going? Please help me remain composed?

Mommy:    What do you mean baby?
Sia:    When I grow up and have hair there like you, then can I change my color to look like you?
Mommy:    Oh. . . no baby, we can’t choose our color. Maybe your color will look more like mommy, but we can’t choose.

As a black woman married to a white man I have insecurities about a few things (I won’t get into them all here, now) one being how my babies will react to what the world will throw at them as mixed humans.

To be honest, one thing I never expected in this journey of motherhood to mixed babies is the momentary sadness I feel, at times, knowing it’s my blood that will bring them their greatest challenges. So this conversation flooded me with hope.

Yes, I fully expected my daughter to want to change her color to white, but I failed to see that she was already a little cocoa with a lot of milk. When I look at my children I don’t see color, I see my babies. Just like when I look at my husband I don’t see a white man, I see my husband. I see the core of my life. But in that short moment, I thought my daughter did see the negativity that the world saw in my color and wanted no part of it. . . .

There’s always more growing to do.

My fear stemmed from my personal conditioning and not from reality. Daughters want to look like their mamas (even secretly) and instead of thinking that’s where my two year old was going I thought the worst. How would I handle her NOT wanting to look like me? Could I bear that pain?

But just like I love my babies unconditionally, they love me. They aren’t caught up in the world’s ideas about race. They look at us, my husband and me, and see people they’ve known all their lives who’ve been here protecting, feeding, playing, teaching and housing them (I’m not sure they realize all that goes on either 🙂 ) for better or for worst.

Letting my kids feel and speak freely has been a lesson in life for me. The conversation we had in the shower that day sticks with me. Not because of my daughter, but because of what I felt my knee-jerk reaction was and the reasoning behind it.

I don’t know if at five years old my baby girl still wants to change her color, but she doesn’t need to. I want the inquisitive, fierce and amazing young lady she is to stick around no matter what her shell looks like. She’s amazingly beautiful from the inside out and I want her to know and embrace that always.

As for me, I continue to grow in the knowledge that many stories the world has told me, as a black woman, need to be re-written. My personal narrative is strong, rooted in a family and history that is fierce, but it can always be stronger. Who I am and what I project into the world is what my babies will see. It’s important that they see a strong, confident woman of color who is fiercely fighting for all that she believes. That way, they too can confidently join the fights that mean something to them.

No baby, you can’t change your color. You’re okay no matter how you look. I love you. . . go get em’!


 

Left Thinking: Journey to a new channel

Left Thinking: Journey to a new channel | Sedruola Maruska

It was November 2016 when I was left thinking about how far from decent we’d fallen.

The days were a blur of sadness, anger, fear, confusion and hopelessness. How were we going to recover from this?

As I usually do, I decided something needed to be done. I needed to do something. We couldn’t wallow, we needed to take action. I needed to take action.

The solution came quickly and easily: I’d start a new teaching channel on YouTube to help educate people on the meaning of words.

Education is what failed us. No one understood the words that were thrown around. They didn’t understand that picking up a word, without knowing its meaning, then using it willy nilly was not acceptable. They needed the meaning first. So that’s where I came in I was going to give them the meaning of words.

Words that were hateful, biting, cutting and mean were first on my list. Those were the ones I would tackle first because those were the ones being hurled like daggers. Yes, I was taking up arms with hateful words to fight hate. . . Thankfully, I had to take a bit of time between my idea and implementation.

It’s never a good idea to make decisions in the heat of emotion (that’s just a great general rule for life) so it certainly wasn’t a good idea to start my channel in the heat of anger.

Later came Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday. Through all the haze, sadness and hate I couldn’t find a good reason not to be Thankful. We gathered family and friends in our new home, created a couple of “mannequin challenge” videos, laughed and danced our woes away.

Thankfully I was also infused with more ideas for my new channel. The idea was still fresh and ready in my mind.

In December I had the privilege of attending The Massachusetts Conference for Women and the door to my soul flew open! I knew I was on the right track after listening to amazing women tell their stories and feeling their authenticity, I was almost ready!

The name “Left Thinking”  was chosen right before Christmas. I didn’t choose a release date. I still felt raw instead of rational.  Anger still bubbled up like a backed up toilet and I didn’t want that to be the foundation. It wouldn’t be sustainable.

Then I went to a 6 year old’s birthday party. Isn’t it funny how life throws people, places and situations at you once your intent is set? If you’ve ever had to endure a 6 year old’s birthday party you know there isn’t much to look forward to. But, my baby girl was excited to party with her classmates/friends so off I went.

Not long after arriving I saw a mom sitting over by the window, away from the adrenal rushed children, so I went over to sit with her. I said hello and we began to chat. Before long were were talking like old college buddies and sharing our dreams for the upcoming year.

We’d both been at the women’s conference, we both had simmering ideas and we both hadn’t wanted to engage in chit chat for the duration of the party. Turns out, we spoke the whole time then made plans to meet to chat some more.

She’s now my cheer buddy. She’s doing her new thing and I’m doing mine. We meet monthly to check-in and motivate each other forward.

I was on the right track.

On December 31st I released this blog in preparation for the YouTube channel release. I wanted a place to talk to you. A place where I could not only post the videos, but also other articles of note to challenge me and you to our best selves.

My second post was about a very real and raw conversation I had with my daughter. The response was awesome! I told my story and you responded kindly, openly and lovingly. You gave me the courage to push forward. The Facebook page came and in late January, early February I recorded my first videos.

Then we went on a family vacation.

We had an incredible time! That was the final signal to me that now was the time. We experienced time with family, but we also bonded in our own unit. We enjoyed being together and having the freedom to live our best lives. After our vacation I was again left thinking about why I wanted to create this new  channel. This was the do or “kill the project” moment.

The answer was simple.

I knew it all along.

I’m called to teach, love and support.

It’s my destiny.

So this week, I threw fear aside once again, and released the introduction video for the new channel “Left Thinking“.

 

The “Left Thinking” journey is about putting myself, who I am and what I think, out there completely and authentically. Then letting it go and moving on. It may anger, sadden or leave you confused, but ultimately I want you to be left thinking about who you are, what you think and what you put out into the world.

My superpower is teaching, supporting and loving positively. That’s what Left Thinking is all about. Won’t you join me?