Strong Women Today: Seen & Heard…

When you think of strong women in the world today who comes to mind? Serena Williams? Melinda Gates? Your mom? Your sister? Oprah Winfrey? Angela Merkel? Michelle Obama? Becky Hammon? If you don’t know them, look em’ up. Drop some knowledge on yourself.

If you follow the news at all, you know all about Serena Williams and what went down at the US Open. You might even be able to relate to a certain level of what she had to go through. And some of you will look at it and laugh it off as a female overreacting. Using the gender card or the race card, but the majority of it revolves around the fact that gender equality still isn’t where it needs to be and that men get away with much more than women do.

One of the things I’ve learned in these last few years is that many men are uncomfortable dealing with a strong woman. They aren’t used to them. They’re used to women pretending to be dumb to make men feel superior, playing the damsel in distress, the pretty faced bimbo. A lot of guys want to lead all the time and don’t want to follow. Their ego takes a hit. It’s a power struggle. This past year seems to be a year where I am very blunt and direct when it comes to people and men. It had me riding that line wondering if I’m being a b**** or if I’m just being honest? Because if you’re blunt and honest with guys that’s what they tend to classify you as. But why? ….Because you don’t let them walk all over you? Because you don’t give them what they want or act exactly as they prefer? Because you aren’t acting the way society claims a “lady” should act? Just handle everything with grace.

Be seen, but not heard? It could go on and on, evidence trickling from relationships to the workplace. Accept lower benefits or a salary than the man working next to you in the same job position. Put up with powerful males trying to take advantage of the women working beneath them. Men taking advantage of their power and position. Not all men of course, but more and more are being put into the spotlight within the past year.

SPORTS:

I know that in sports seeing a woman throw a fit out on the court is seen as them being childish and over the top. While men are out there in the refs’ faces, getting in fights, swearing, doing far worse than most women dare to. Not saying that’s the way to go, but the repercussions of each person doing it, are very different. For men, it’s accepted as a part of the game and maybe they get a fine or two every now and then. However, women are held to a different, quieter, more restricted standard. I don’t think the world is ready for this generation of strong women, but they better start preparing because one by one women are finding their voice and one by one we choose to put up with less nonsense every day in our fight for equality. Equal pay would be a good start. Equal rights is getting there. I will say that equality is better than it once was, but it still has a long way to go. And as history shows time and time again, we need people who are willing to push against the barriers we have in place, in order to make progress towards something better. We need people to question the present in order to open ourselves up to a better future. A special thank you to the female professionals who are opening doors for the rest of us and future generations to come.

DATING:

One thing I want to set straight in the dating world today is that it’s not that strong women have attitudes, it’s that they have standards. You hear all the time that you teach other people how to treat you. What you allow is what will continue. “Strong women intimidate boys and excite men.” That’s a fact, my friends. It’s okay to know what you want and not be considered a b****. It’s strong women that help boys turn into men. It’s those women that challenge men to do better, to be better. They are the women who push their man to go after his goals and do all the little things behind the scene. Strong women challenge the people around them to be better and stick up for the people that can’t or haven’t learned to do it for themselves.

This past year and half has made me tired of being surrounded by boys calling themselves men. It also makes me appreciate the men that do live up to the name, but I’m tired of guys disrespecting women because that’s what they’ve gotten away with for so long. I’m annoyed that boys think, “Wyd?” is an acceptable conversation starter or that only sending invites to hang after 9 pm isn’t a slight slap in the face. That if you have a girlfriend, no… I do not want to “talk to you and see where it goes” just because you enjoy hanging with me. No, you cannot have your cake and eat it too. That’s not how it is “supposed” to work….but, that’s what it’s become. We’ve let those little/big things slide and in doing so we created a new, lower standard for so many young women growing up today. I was told a few months ago that I need to be nicer to men. I thought about it, but decided that no, I do not. Could be why I’m single, but I don’t think women should have to put up with some of the nonsense guys throw at them. I fully believe that sometimes they need to be called on it. How else are they going to grow and know how to treat the next lady in line? Ladies, don’t be afraid to be vocal. Your voice deserves to be heard, too. Strong is the new single. Be proud you’re an intelligent, outspoken woman that will find a MAN who’s not threatened by it.

FRIENDSHIPS:

Who is your TRIBE? …..Two of my former ISU WBB ladies, Lyndsey Fennelly & Kelsey Carper, own an indoor cycle studio called CampusCycle over in Ames/Ankeny, IA. Their business morale is built around creating an environment that empowers, inspires, motivates, and builds their community and its members up. They call it their TRIBE. It’s not just for women, but I thought it tied in well with this and was worth the recognition.

Strong women lift each other up. They empower each other. Strong women surround themselves with other women who make them a better person. They surround themselves with women who challenge them, women who are there for them when they need a boost. Strong women learn from other strong women. My other former ISU teammate/friend, Allison Lacey has a website dedicated to empowering women. It is broken into 3 different sections: KNOWING strong women, BEING a strong woman, and RAISING your daughters to be strong women. For any of you who haven’t checked it out already, I also highly recommend doing so! It’s called KNOW.BE.RAISE. I’ll include the link to it and Campus Cycle at the bottom of this page. (And if you haven’t noticed by now, the ISU WBB program produces some pretty BADASS women 😉 Coincidence? Or maybe its the standards we were held to/high expectations of some quality coaches that helped shape us a tiny bit. Idk.)

But for all my ladies out there stop gossiping and spreading rumors. Stop tearing other women down for being different, having a different body shape, or wanting something different for their lives than you do. Stop throwing shade at the women you should be sharing your LIGHT with and in doing so, you give them permission to let their LIGHT shine and burn brighter too. A candle loses nothing by lighting another. Who is in YOUR tribe? Who helps you burn brighter? Who helps you tear down those glass ceilings?

What I really wanted to say is, don’t be afraid to be a strong woman in the world today. Give yourself a voice and stand by your morals and what you believe. Break barriers. Ask questions. Raise each other up. Voice your opinion. Create new standards and opportunities for our young women growing up in the world today. Help blaze the way for a better, more equal tomorrow. Because the world needs a little more good to outshine the bad.

Be POWERFUL. Be STRONG. Be KIND. Be YOU.

Check out KNOW.BE.RAISE & CampusCycle in links below:

KNOW.BE.RAISE- Alison Lacey-Otzelberger

CampusCycle – Lyndsey Fennelly & Kelsey Carper

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Take a Step Outside…

Since I’ve gone MIA for a bit I figured I should throw an update out there to catch people up on my adventures. I am currently living in Beirut, Lebanon. From what I’m told, the night life here is great and the food is spectacular. So far I’ve managed to make my daily home base a café right down the road called “HOOK” where I’ve made friends with the owner and her family. The area I’m living in is very much a residential community where people park wherever they can find an empty few feet of space and I’m sure a few dozen people get hit by cars on the daily because the lack of sidewalks. It’s definitely a different world but the people are very nice. A few blocks down the way is a more ritzy area where there’s a great social scene. A few low key bars and nice restaurants to eat out at, mostly by myself. Haha One thing I’ve learned traveling, living in a foreign country, and trying to get the most out of every place I visit is to not be afraid to go out and do things alone. Not everyone is as eager to fully immerse themselves in it and some people are just here to play ball and get paid. I find that a bit sad, but to each their own. Not everyone gets this opportunity to get paid to experience the world and not everyone will get to live somewhere completely out of their comfort zone like we do. The other day I went out and had a glass of wine and devoured an entire pizza while onlookers watched me enjoy my table for one and be the fatty my momma raised me to be. Corn fed and Iowa Bred. I won’t lie though, I was initially nervous because I had never been to the Middle East and because of all the tension over here. But Beirut isn’t at all like I imagined and hasn’t in any way made me feel uncomfortable living here. Even though my tall, Amazonian, ginger self gets stared down literally everywhere I go.  I kind of stand out just a wee bit.

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I wouldn’t say my living accommodations are spectacular at the moment but I’m just accepting where I am and working with what I got. On a positive note, I’ve only been electrocuted about 3 times since being here. One while trying to use the washer and another while trying to use my stovetop. Lebanon is already trying to kill me. Lol But overall, I’m not high maintenance and I’ve become very good at adapting to my surroundings. We don’t have a car so our teammates pick up the other Americans and I for practice daily. Which also means I do a lot of walking if I want to go anywhere somewhat close to me. It’s okay I could use the extra exercise and work through all my untapped reserves from not playing consistently for a while. We’ve played two games so far and lost both of them. One of them was to the top team in Lebanon but the other should’ve been easily won. I however wasn’t making anything for the life of me besides 3’s the first game. Makes sense right? Lol The further out you get the more accurate your shot becomes? The second game I played much better but not well enough to pull out a W. It can only go up from here though after every game my body feels like it got hit by a truck. I definitely do not bounce back as well as I could in my college days of taking charges and running around with an endless motor of energy. I’ve been living in compression tights, a knee brace on for walking around, and ice bags strapped to me since day 1 of practice. Haha

My sleep schedule has yet to become regular. It doesn’t help that the other Americans go to sleep at like 3 or 4 AM every night. The first week I was sleeping mostly during the day and awake for most the night. The last few days I’ve had a sort of insomnia and averaged about 3 hours of sleep per night. One would think I would be super productive with all this time but you’d be wrong. Still adjusting. I’m getting better though. I spend my days doing schoolwork at a coffee shop and nights practicing or working out. But boy did I miss this, getting paid to play basketball and have the freedom to explore the world. I get to dedicate my time to learning and investing in myself in the areas I value the most. What more can a girl ask for? J

For now, I’m just enjoying where I’m at and learning from where I’ve been. New year, New you. Not the same girl I started off as at the beginning of this long basketball journey but boy have I learned a lot. If you ever get the chance, step outside your comfort zone. Hang with people you don’t normally hang with. Experience a new restaurant, coffee shop, fun activity, event, or bar. Learn a different language or travel to a different country. What you know, where you’re from, and who you are, is just a speck of what this world is made up of. The world is bigger than you; so take a risk, take a chance, and step outside… I promise you won’t regret it.

Dare To Do More Than Dream…

Anyone who knows me knows that my journey hasn’t been the easiest, nor has it been the hardest anyone’s ever experienced. I’ve been through the ringer in the pursuit of my dreams and still pending…

The funny thing about DREAMS is that a lot of times we are looking at those who are already living their dream, but we don’t see the journey it took them to get there. We don’t see the tears, the blood, the sweat, and often times the unfair, broken moments crashing down around them. We don’t feel  the lonely nights choosing not to do what everyone else does in order to stay on track. We don’t feel the pain, the disappointment, the frustration, the heartache that made the fact that they actually made it happen that much more impressive. We don’t always get to see, read about, or understand the DNA of other’s successes.

For many, a dream is just that… a DREAM. Something unattainable. Something you go to sleep for, so you can fantasize about. Waking in the morning; crashing back to reality. Back to that mundane job you hate with coworkers who don’t want to be there either. Back to that weekly routine of waiting for the weekend. That 9-5 grind on repeat. Something that only those lucky individuals you read about or watch on TV are blessed to be living. Something other people do or live. Like they were “dropped” into that role or won the lottery for it. Praying for that miracle life to be sprung on you.

In my opinion, too many people are just “dreaming” and not “doing”.

Ask yourself: What makes you happy? What motivates you? What kind of change do you want to make in this world? What kind of impact do you want to make in your short lifespan? How do you really want to live it? What kind of work are you willing to put in to get it?

Dreams are meant to be chased. Dreams are meant to be clawed after. Dreams are meant to take pieces, take chunks out of you along the way. Dreams take work! It’s your dream, so why shouldn’t it take parts of you and your time to fuel, to create it?! They say nothing good ever came easy. I believe it.

The pursuit of my dream has broken me physically and mentally. It has tried me over and over again. Most recently, it has put me through not one, but TWO Category 5 hurricanes playing in Puerto Rico. It has left me lonely, staring at the ceiling of a gym at 3 AM wondering what I was even doing. Asking myself, “What am I thinking for daring to dream something so BIG, that at times feels unreachable?” It’s created a lifestyle where having a real meaningful relationship with anyone worthwhile is nearly impossible. Again, staring at the ceiling in a foreign country, where I’m all I have, wondering what’s wrong with me? Taking me to the darkest parts of myself with every knee operation on my resume. It’s left me bawling my eyes out alone in my cold Poland apartment, knee swollen in unbearable pain and heartache knowing another surgery awaited me after a 28+ hour travel day back home. It’s driven me to push my family and my friends away at times so I could bask alone in the crappiness of it all, knowing I’m the only one who understood the heartache I felt. The only one who could see the details unseen or read the language of the pain inside my soul. It’s taken pieces of me inside and out and at times, without meaning to, from those around me as well..

I’m nowhere close to achieving my dream but I do know I’m closer than I would be sitting on my ass dreaming of reaching a destination without the ambition to get in the car and drive. Basketball isn’t my life but it has given me a platform and the confidence to share my struggles with others. It’s given me the ability to help others and motivate young minds. In a way, I guess I’m already living my dream.

In my silence, I found my voice…

In my breaking, I found my making…

In losing myself, I found myself…

In my journey, I found my dream…

The struggle is a part of the dream process. Your steps are the keys pressed down to make the notes, creating the music to the masterpiece of your life.

The question is: How much of that masterpiece are you willing to write? How much are you willing to fail? How much are you willing to fall apart, only to put barely put yourself back together again and again and again?

Dare to DREAM! Dare to claw after them and make them a reality! It’s not going to be easy. It’s not going to be fast. It’s not going to be instant gratification. You have to climb to get to the top of that mountain. Ever notice that books are written about and movies are made about those people who faced adversity and overcame it? Those are the stories we like to hear. Those are the people who have the best stories and those same people were dreamers once too. Don’t settle to be less of the person you’re capable of being! Whether you would love to open a business, succeed as an athlete, graduate from college, or even just to live your life you want! Make those steps. Get up and start walking! Start working! Just simply START! Wake up from that fantasy every damn day and start living into your dream, until it starts to become your reality. You’re capable of so much more! You’re capable of more than just simply sitting around dreaming.

Start “Doing”…

 

Dating… in a world where less is more??

Now let’s talk about how hard and oddly how easy it is to find yourself single in this world today. Like, how do you meet other human beings of the opposite sex or same sex depending on your preference, these days? It’s a serious question!! I like having a drink or two every now and then but even then I don’t really have much success in meeting quality guys at the bar, club, local Chipotle…Not to mention, they have to be at least 6 ft to even get on my radar and maybe a ticket out of the friend-zone…if they are lucky. Trying to talk to a guy or even date one is so mind boggling and a rollercoaster in itself. You don’t know how much of yourself to show to them because you don’t want to show them all the crazy you are snuffing out for the time being. You want to seem at least sane and a bit normal (whatever that is anyway). It’s an endless battle for girls at least to be stuck in their head like: “What is he thinking? Why did he say this? Oh he didn’t text back. That must mean he doesn’t like me. What are we?”

Then we all have these crazy moments when we somehow get to the extreme like: “He didn’t text back. He doesn’t respect me. He probably is talking to another girl, three, ten. Yep he’s definitely a player. You deserve so much better! Go off on him for ignoring you. Naw, don’t show him the crazy. Meh, whatever. light him up, he deserves it. …. * no response for 2 hours* “ Okay crap, backtrack and apologize. Blame it on the one – five margaritas.” “Okay you spilled all crazy out and he hasn’t replied. You’re so stupid. Delete him and ignore him if he ever messages back… This is probably why you’re single. ” “oh he texted back! *waits 1 hour for revenge*.. Hey babe, I’m sorry too for being a little crazy.”

It’s a constant mind game. I don’t know about you, but I go through phases where I find myself lonely and wishing I had someone to care about me/the things in my life and then I decide to actively try to date or talk to guys. Then there’s those times where I’m content just doing my own thing because putting energy into that area seems pointless and too time consuming. There’s also that phase right after a failed attempt to talk to someone and you’re like: “Well… THIS is why I am single and it’s really not so bad. I may just live here….. FOREVERRR. It’s getting pretty comfy in here. “

My problem is that I just want to be blunt and put it all out there. I want them to know what they are getting into. Which is, as you can tell from my previous posts, a person with “issues”.  Haha. I’m constantly fighting the role of knowing what I deserve and not settling for anything less than quality or anyone that doesn’t fit in my screwed up puzzle quite right. I’ve always said “You can’t force a puzzle piece into the wrong spot, the picture won’t turn out right.”

If you’re looking for just a piece to fill that hole, then it does the job but the overall scheme/ picture isn’t going to look complete and it isn’t going to be pretty. The right piece is out there, you just have to put the work in, be patient, and find it. Sometimes it just gets kicked around, lost in the chaos, or in between the couch cushions. I’d say this past year has tested me to practice what I preach and taught me how painful it is to let go of those people you care about but are no good for you. That however is a topic is for another day and another blog.

It’s weird how being blunt scares people off. How sometimes being too real and showing them your undiluted self, scares them. I just want to be like: I’m looking for someone for the long haul. Someone I can actually have deep conversations with, not just superficial/surface conversations. Someone I can relate to and can relate to me and let me tell you guys AND gals, there is NOTHING more sexy or more attractive than someone with ambition, intelligence, kindness, humor, and LOYALTY. Someone who knows what they want or even WHO they want. Nobody should ever tell you anything different. Have goals! Know the kind of person you want in your life for the long haul and know the kind of people you want to be surrounded by. Know the kind of person you want to be and be it! Have some sort of drive towards something! Have an open mind and constantly be thirsty to learn and gain knowledge! Don’t settle for who you are today because tomorrow’s going to come and you don’t want to look back and see that all you’ve been doing is standing in the same spot for the past year. It’s in our nature to want to feel fulfilled and accomplish things, no matter how small. Keep moving, keep walking, and run if you can!

I had a great conversation about this exact thing with someone months ago. It was my birthday weekend, so it only seems right that I was able to relate on this topic with someone else. It was refreshing to know for a fact that there are girls out there that have the same line of thinking as me and that I’m not just screwed up in the head after all those concussions I suffered in college. Nice to know that I only came out with the bare minimum “Dain Bramage” as my dad would put it. 😉

Dear men, let me just say that being a gentleman in the “old school” meaning of that word, will never go out of style. I don’t know a single girl who wouldn’t appreciate a door being opened for them, a call instead of a text, just to see how their day was. An ACTUAL date that requires thought instead of just “Netflix and chill”. Chivalry isn’t dead, it’s just that we allow ourselves to accept less and be less. Don’t allow yourself to be any less of the man you are supposed to be and ladies don’t allow your man to be anything less either. But don’t allow yourself to be any less of the woman you are supposed to be either. Be a real WOMAN or MAN in the purest form. Not that watered down version society deems acceptable as the “norm” now-a-days. BE better. DO better!

If you already are in a relationship guys, the best advice I’ve given some of my own friends is that “When in doubt, do more!”. When she says,  “Don’t’ come over.” You best be already on your way over. When she says she’s “fine”… She’s not and you best already be already at a McDonalds picking her up a Mcflurry or something sweet… Just saying… You’re welcome!! You’ll thank me one day when you find your better half, who makes your days all that much brighter. Like I said in my last blog, don’t settle for less than what you deserve because you deserve the world! But you also deserve to be pushed to be the best version of yourself possible. Don’t settle for being LESS than who you can be because people also deserve to experience the BEST version of YOU too!