Living Female: The Intersection of Femininity & Residual Anger

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For most of my life, I have subconsciously rejected the fact that I am a woman. Key word: subconsciously. Yes, I was born a female, and I’ve always identified as a woman, but the majority of my actions have reflected an intentional masculine energy. At a young age, I considered myself a “tomboy” (a term that was offered up by my mother before my elementary school track meet). I rejected dresses after age 7. Brushing my hair and doing girly things were not appealing. I opted instead for wanting a baseball cap (but never wearing one because of the head-sweat itch) and a skateboard (that I never used because I was terrified of breaking a bone). It all may seem counterintuitive- it totally is- but my rejection of embracing femininity was not simply an identity crisis or a stance against “girly things”. It stemmed from my ingrained and societally-absorbed perception of weakness  … and I ran in the opposite direction.

This trend sustained itself for years. Up until VERY recently, I’d frequently make bold stances on not wanting children (for a variety of reasons), along with making the redundant declaration that I’d never have a traditional wedding because I didn’t “want to uphold a Barbaric traditional that insisted I be sold like property.” Nah, thx tho.  While these opinions are slightly rooted in authentic reflection (and I have a hard time imagining that these opinions will shift) I’ve been doing some deep reflection on what it means to me to so abrasively reject the normalcy of embracing my role as a woman in this backwards-ass, parallel universe I (most days) feel like we’re living in.

Let’s just say, this reflection has taken me on a journey. A journey filled with lots and lots of anger swimming to the surface. In fact, I have found myself beginning to display mini versions of my mother’s rare-but-intense fits of rage. (If you listen to our podcast, you know that now, I’m going to switch from psychic to psychotherapist.)

Disclaimer before I go down this road: My mom is the best. She is an amazing woman. But keep in mind that her identity is a feisty Italian from Northern New Jersey. For members of this subgroup, as you might know from personal experience or from watching episodes of The Sopranos, showing weakness in any form ain’t ever an option for this breed of “lady”.

Years ago, my mother recounted an episode of Dr. Phil or Oz or one of those [???] that was allegedly so insightful that she just had to share her awakened understanding of the origins of her few-but-sometimes-frequent anger fits. “It’s called the warrior gene,” she explained. “It’s genetic! That’s why I practically black-out when I get into ‘the zone’ and I’m ready to attack”. Like a pit bull. Like a wild, uninhibited savage. (As I’m writing this, I’m chuckling to myself because my mom stands at a tall 5’4 with a super petite frame. She is not the maniac I’m painting her to be. Like I said earlier, she’s feisty and passionate and will fight for her beliefs and her children.)

When initially learning about this warrior gene, I kind of eye-rolled, patted my mom on the back, and sent her on her way. I didn’t put much stock in this. And while I still kind of don’t, my understanding of my mother’s definition of the warrior gene has aided in my reflection of my own anger. No, I don’t think I have the warrior gene. In fact, I think I’m pretty patient overall. My dad once told me that he could’ve sworn I’d end up being a Kindergarten teacher. See? I’m gentle, damn it!

But this is why these newfound spouts of anger have taken me aback with lots of concern. I have been finding myself growing suuuuuper impatient with the people in my life. My demeanor has been changing. My state of “calm” has diminished significantly. I wouldn’t necessarily categorize myself as “unpleasant”, but honestly, I don’t know if I’d want to hang out with me somedays.

With all of this being said- and if you’ve made it this far, I applaud and appreciate you- my reflections have revealed something just truly f’ing fascinating. You ready? The closer I get to acknowledging and adjusting to my femininity and my role as a woman in this world, the more frequent my anger and impatience find ways of showing up. Jeez, I could burst into tears right now as I type this, and that’s because it’s true. It’s the truest thing I may have ever written in any journal entry ever.

Let’s unpack this.

In this hyper-patriarchal culture, women are told that our role is explicitly defined for us. Blah, blah, you’ve heard the shpeal countless times. Go on Instagram and snoop around, if you need some reminding. Any type of diet/gym-focused Instagram account will do. Obsessive-girlfriend memes and viral videos are absolutely everywhere. I wish I could say that’s the worst of it, but we all know that it’s not. The role of the traditional woman show up in school as teachers, in hospitals as nurses, down the street at your neighbor’s house as the homemaker. Less traditional but nonetheless prevalent- we show up as  bosses who must repeatedly demand respect from colleagues, religious leaders who are more than likely spreading the word within a patriarchal system, and mothers who are balancing work and school, all the while trying to raise woke kids and concurrently manage a household. Fuck this noise. See why I’m angry?

Accepting the fact that I am a woman in this world with feminine qualities and attributes subconsciously means to me that I’m accepting defeat. I’m accepting weakness. I’m accepting that my word will never be seen as valuable as long as I continue to express emotions and demonstrate compassion.

This realization has me feeling all types of things. I’m caught in this uncomfortable place because my options are few.

  1. Regress. Push back this newfound understanding of femininity and conform once more. Go back to eating animals as to not risk offending anyone. Sit back while misogynistic decisions are made around me. Sink back into my safety net and keep my mouth shut. My anger will probably evolve into depression because that’s what depression is, after all. Repressed anger. But at least the only causality will be me.
  2. Move forward and get uncomfortable. Continue to explore my identity while still grappling with and trying to suppress the residual anger. This may hurt the people around me, as I’ve compared myself (not the outbursts, just me) to a hurricane- category 5 status. Just the idea of hurting others at the expense of my pain is just enraging. But there it is.
  3. Unapologetically feel what I’m going to feel by authentically living in the awakened female experience. Anger, sadness, joy, all of it. If people are causalities of this awakening, so be it. I’d imagine a very small percentage of women take and/or have taken this path. These are the trailblazers. The level 5 Souls, right? There’s a difference between acting out of selfish desire and absolute necessity.

At this stage, I’d like to say that choice 3 is so obvious and enlightened and a no-brainer. Sure- on paper. In actuality, there is a fine line between all of these options, because the newness of every day presents this exact challenge. The challenge of choice. Every soul has the choice to do good and do bad, and all results can be justified within the frame of individual logic. Right now, I’m processing what my soul needs to progress in this life.

To get to some type of conclusion, I think about what my counseling session with my spirit guide will look like when I’ve completed my time here in this body. I imagine us sitting in a spirit-world coffee shop, soy lattes in hand, my animals by my side, and my guide saying, “I’m glad you picked the right choice over and over again.” That’s all any of us can do, really.

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Making Meaning Out of Our Dreams

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Get out those dream journals, y’all! For this episode, Juan and Charise are chatting about the ever-mystical concept of dreams. At one time or another, we all have certain dreams that stay with us, haunt us, enlighten us, or flat out confuse us. Luckily, the sistuhs are here to help decode some of the meanings behind what happens during your time in Dreamland. Do you struggle to make meaning out of your dreams? Are you always dreaming of your ex-boyfriend? Do you claim that you “never dream”, but you’re eager to remember some messages sent from your spirit guides? Well, honeybunz, this might be the episode for you. Come by, come by!

Declutter Your Crap & Replenish Your Soul [PODCAST]

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Hiya, Hot Cakes! The Spiritual Sistuhs are chattin’ about chuckin’ away your trash! The concept of minimalism has been making its way into the mainstream as of late, but funny enough, this concept is not a revolutionary idea in the spiritual community.  The sisters are discussing how narrowing down “not-so-necessary” items has helped replenish the soul and realign values. (Think we’re cray? We are, but we promise that this makes total sense.) Physical unnecessary items can clog one’s precious mental space, and deciding what to get rid of can be just as soul-cleansing as the actual cleansing itself. Decluttering is a constant process, and you are not expected to embark on this journey alone! See below for a lil’ bit of minimalism inspo 😉

 

The Minimalists: theminimalists.com

^Search for their documentary, “Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things” on Netflix!

Denise Lynn’s Soul Coaching Online Resource: Soul Coaching

Living Out Your Story with Intention

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Hi, Tribe!

If you are interested in the things that we talk about here on Real Talk Universe, I highly recommend that you check out the podcast, The RobCast, hosted by Rob Bell. I am a loyal listener of The RobCast. I find such value in Rob Bell’s interpretations, messages, and goofy demeanor. I just love this guy!

 

This past Sunday (June 18, 2017), I found the latest podcast to be extra insightful as it really hit on a topic that’s been weighing heavy on my heart lately. Story telling. Creating your journey. Having a true voice in your own timeline. Basically, are you living out the story that you want to tell? Here’s a snippet from that episode:

 

“A culture tells you stories about what matters, what’s significant, what makes you happy, where the joy is, what you’re doing here, and if you don’t get really intentional about the story you are living, you will get sucked up into the story of your tribe.” –Rob Bell (The Robcast, A Goat for a Boat)

 

Just genius, right?

 

This was especially impactful for me, seeing as how the lull of summer time tends to unlock deep reflection. All my life, I’ve known that I was a leader trapped in a follower’s body.  I had ideas- good ones- but these ideas were accompanied with heavy doses of anxiety and social fears. I had solutions for issues, both societal, personal, and familial, but when I spoke up, I was dismissed, and this dismissal ran deep. I was dismissed so often, time and time again, that I began to lose my voice, my drive, and my willingness to solve.

 

The voice of a young leader in the making was muted, and it stayed that way.  Luckily, as many of us do, I grew up. But concurrently, as many of us do not, I learned. I met the right people. I surrounded myself with the right minds. Gradually, I learned that I needed to cut out the ones who no longer serve me.

 

This rags-to-riches story did not occur in one elegant wave of a healing wand. With my voice as stifled as ever, I went to college, developed an eating disorder, joined a sorority, and dated a narcissist. I dabbled in the waters of wanting something more- accepting leadership roles just to prove to others I was worthy, setting goals that were signed to self-sabotage. Do you see what I was doing here?  I tried to live out my journey on my terms, all the while having NO IDEA what my terms were. Everything I did and strived to accomplish was driven by societal expectation.

 

One morning, as I was well into my 20s, I woke up. The curtain was lifted and thrown off the handle. I took a deep breath, exhaled the mental clutter that clouded my judgement, and I screamed, NO MORE. No longer would I live in accordance to what the world expected from me. I was going to live my life on my terms. I was going to live out my story the way I saw fit.

 

Rags-to-riches stories always end with a positive permanence that is 100% unrealistic. I have many moments of anxiety.  My social anxiety is very real on most days (Praise hands for self-checkout registers at Target.)  Some days, I want to quit all the things and sink into my bed for hours. And THAT is REALISTIC, as I know that those days are a part of my story too. My story is comprised of joy, fear, enlightenment, nervousness, encouragement, shame, laughter, and vanilla-frosted cupcakes, like any other person in our culture. But the difference is that IT’S MINE.

 

Friends, I ask you: How will you continue to intentionally live out your story? How will you ensure that your story is YOURS?

How “Twin Peaks” Unlocked My Healing Journey: Making Peace w/ Food & My Spiritual Purpose

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*Spoiler Alert: Reading further will reveal information about the plot of Twin Peaks, Seasons 1 and 2.

*Trigger Warning- This article contains the following content: eating dysmorphia, eating disorders, and challenging relationships with food.

 

My Rock-Bottom

In 2013, I was in the grip of a vicious body dysmorphic episode.  I was extreme dieting, jumping from one diet fad to the next in weekly intervals. I would download the Weight Watchers app on a Monday, only to drown myself in Vegan documentaries on Friday. I joined an “afterschool” Crossfit club at the middle school I was working at. After work, I’d drive to my mom’s house on Friday afternoons, and I’d go for a six mile run or go on the treadmill for an hour. If I neglected to do this, (see: opting to take a nap after work instead) I would fall into a pit of shame. My world revolved around shrinking, and I was sinking.

 

Before this point, I had dabbled in the diet world, but nothing like I was experiencing in 2013. There were a few reasons for this.

  • I was living alone in a family-centered city that was not designed for single millennials to thrive.
  • The city I lived in was not pet-friendly. It was a dog park desert. There wasn’t a local place where I could take Clementine and meet people.
  • The average resident age was 56. Enough said.
  • Everyone who taught at my school was in their family-raising years. I found myself connecting more to their kids when they’d tell stories about their children who were in college.
  • Because of everything above ^, I used this as an excuse to focus on (what I thought to be) the most important necessary change: My weight.

 

(Sidebar: I want to make sure to point out that I wasn’t aware that anything was wrong with my eating habits. I thought this was completely normal behavior for a young woman in her 20s. A year or two later, this realization fueled my craving for body image activism and eating disorder awareness.)

The living situation was not ideal, but it certainly wasn’t hopeless. I could’ve socialized more. I could’ve joined a club. I could’ve found a way to make friends. But I chose not to. And this is when my Netflix account took center stage.

 

Twin Peaks: Characters With A Purpose

Because I was busy not putting myself out there and enjoying my early twenties, I locked myself up in my empty, three-bedroom home to sulk, cook diet-food/vegan recipes, and watch Netflix shows. What I need y’all to take away from this is that Twin Peaks was introduced into my life during a very fragile time. Sometimes, I wonder how I would’ve received the show if I wasn’t so spiritually delicate at the time.  I believe it was this delicate state that allowed me to fully absorb the messages and interpret all of the ways in which Twin Peaks is metaphysically twisted and profound.

 

At first, I didn’t know what to make of it. This show is quirky af. If you have not watched Twin Peaks, here is a quick synopsis of the show.

 

“FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper, a mystical loner and eccentric nature lover, comes to the small Washington state town of Twin Peaks to investigate the brutal murder of a young high school girl named Laura Palmer and soon becomes entangled in most of the town’s problems and situations.” (IMDB.com)

Twin Peaks is disguised as a murder mystery, even though it unfolds into a dense, spiritually-“woke” series. There’s a demonic spirit that possesses people. There’s a parallel universe that houses evil doppelgangers of main characters. There’s a secret, deck-o-cards-themed brothel that recruits girls from a perfume counter in a department store (Intrigued yet?) The character development was enough to hook me, regardless of the various subplots. BUT, it was the spiritual implications of the show that impacted me on a metaphysically level.

 

Agent Dale Cooper, an outsider, arrives at Twin Peaks to solve the murder of local teen, Laura Palmer.  It is quickly revealed that while Dale Cooper is a lively and quirky dude- I like to think of his character as the male, 1990s version of Jess from New Girl (pltumblr_muq0gpVjgy1rafoj2o1_500ayed by Zooey Deschanel)- he has something that Jess from New Girl does not- a clearly defined life purpose. Dale Cooper enters Twin Peaks ready and determined to solve this mystery, and he does so with a smile on his face and a donut in his hand.

 

Watching the first few episodes, I found myself wrestling with my own demons right out of the gate. Cooper naturally possessed qualities that I did not:

  • a passion for his career goal
  • a social intelligence that allowed him to connect with others effortlessly
  • an analytical mind frame (with flairs of creativity)
  • an infallible level of confidence (spiritually and socially)
  • a spiritual framework to guide him personally and professionally
  • the ability to TRUST HIS INTUITION and use it as hard evidence to ultimately solve the crime of Laura Palmer’s murder (as well as the rest of the spiritually-steeped plot)

And I wanted those things.

 

 

The Start of Healing My Eating Disorder with Donuts

Before Agent Cooper, I had never so readily connected with a character outside of the female identity.  And come to think of it, I haven’t connected with a character outside of the intersection of my identities since. He had an impact that I couldn’t explain, but at the time, an explanation wasn’t necessary.  While I didn’t know it at the time, this was the beginning of my healing process. When I finished the first five-or-so episodes of Season 1, I impulsively got into my car, drove to Bennett’s Fresh Roast in downtown Fort Myers, and I ordered a coffee and a strawberry-frosted donut. (My first of many in the years to follow.) I drove with the wrapped, forbidden treat in the passenger seat- ugh, the symbolism is unreal- and I parked at Centennial Park in front of the Caloosahatchee River. I stood by the riverside and slowly sank my teeth into the donut. I savored every sugary, sprinkley bite.

 

And I cried.

 

Y’all, I cried for a long time. I cried because I knew I had to unlock whatever bullshit chains I had wrapped around myself. I cried because the donut was so good, and yet I still viewed it as my number one enemy. I cried because I was so lonely and lost- and my soul knew that the strawberry-frosted donut was the most joy I had experienced in a long time. It was as an act of rebellion, and I felt shame.

 

I cried because I knew that I was sick and that I needed help.

 

Sometimes, the realization of needing help is just as important as the actual recovery. Months later, I would begin to make substantial progress in my recovery journey.  My cousin introduced me to the book, Intuitive Eating, which helped me to finally discard those chains of food guilt and dieting obsession. A short year later, I’d make Body Image the center of my research in grad school. Three years later, here I am- writing about how the process of healing my body dysmorphia has manifested into a sense of purpose.  Funny how nothing is coincidental, right?

 

After the trip to Bennett’s, I went home to Clementine, and we finished the rest of the series together. It wouldn’t be until years later that I’d re-watch the series with new eyes, a new perspective, a healed heart, and a new support system. I’d grapple with the deeper issues that the series presents, because I had acquired the emotional space to sit with those concepts. (And maybe my interpretation of those concepts will be another post later on- someone could write a book on this. Maybe they have?) For now, I know that I’m looking forward to enjoying the revival of Twin Peaks with my renewed-sense of purpose, a pot of freshly-brewed coffee, and a ton of donuts.

Our Flaws & The Human Experience

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Adult Charise is very happy that Teenage Charise can still live her truth. After all, I haven’t changed that much.  I still wear glasses. I still wear skinny jeans (now “jeggings” ‘cause I don’t gots time for something without a little stretch). I’m still sarcastic and dark-humored and boundary-breaking. Still, I am insatiably consumed with appearance, in both positive and negative lights. I seek approval and validation from my peers and elders. I allow myself to get swept up in whatever current fad interests me- and these fads can last a hot 10 minutes a piece.  Needless to say, I am no stranger to obsession.  Romanticism is my game, y’all. Imagination is my default mode for safety.  I am patient with strangers, but I am short-tempered with the people I love. I snap easily.  I seek purpose in all things, and that purpose has to feed a part of my soul that is hungry.  If I ain’t hungry, I ain’t eatin’. That’s just who I am, but I fought it for a long time.

 

Adult Charise is loud in her mind.  Teenage Charise was loud in real life, and there was no reelin’ her back in.  Regret. Regret. Lots of regret. Those bottom-barreled feelings are steeped in bad dye-jobs and daddy issues. I willingly lose touch with the world, and sometimes, I enjoy it.  I like sitting in my feelings and stretching them as far as my sanity will allow. Wrap a little bow around this bundle of emotion, and you’ve got the disconnected side of Charise.

 

I know these pieces sound bad. They sound like I need a therapist and a wake-up call, and fast! Well, let me tell you a secret- I’ve exhausted my therapy options (for now) AND I’ve had more wake-up calls than I can count. Truly. Because of my extensive therapy sessions (ranging from high school to college to adult years), I have learned many valuable lessons, although one is relevant for this post. I would not be living (and REALLY living) my human experience if I was any different. Spiritually, we are gifted our strengths and weaknesses based upon what our souls need to learn in order to grow. The universe recycles the necessary components of our journey and makes a little care package that ultimately ends up being us! And voila! Here’s our human experience, waiting to be unwrapped.

 

I can acknowledge these characteristics (flaws, as our society calls them) and because of this, I am hyper-self aware. So painfully self-aware that it often makes my human experience … painful.  Ya feel me? I have a feeling that many of y’all do. Seeking guidance through spirituality is such a “woke” personal trait. It shows a few things:

  • You’re seeking knowledge in an unknown territory. (Unsure if you know, but it’s real hard to prove any of this stuff) &
  • You’re acknowledging that something bigger than yourself is behind this. (“Whatever that is”, right?)

 

I can acknowledge my flaws, and place them to the side when absolutely necessary. I’ve learned stuff from them, even if they’re still playing lead in my personal screenplay.  But that’s alright, because as long as we’re reflecting and writing and spending time in nature and trying our best to navigate this world while concurrently juggling these flaws, we’re still growing. And ultimately, that’s the point.

Friendships of a Spiritual Nature [PODCAST]

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Today we have a good-ole’-fashioned wine & beer kiki for ya! Juan and Charise do a lot of drinking and cackling as they tell some of the most significant spiritual stories of their friendship by recalling the cast of characters who have been part of the journey (and we use names, henny!) Buckle up for a wild game of spiritual connect-the-dots and for some education about the friends and family who might be in your own soul cloud.

(SPOILER ALERT: We discuss the final scenes of the show LOST.)