No Thank You

Inspired by Lauren Fleshman and Oiselle

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No thank you to covering up and hiding behind clothes that feel safe. No thank you to keeping the tank on while running in 100 degree weather, for fear of being judged as not thin enough. No thank you to ideal body types and unrealistic standards. No thank you to diets, restriction, and food rules. No thank you to excuses like “I’m not hungry” or “I just ate”, when your mouth is watering and your stomach is rumbling. No thank you to gluten-free, fat-free, carb-free. No thank you too anything ‘free’ other than my own body. No thank you to BMI charts. No thank you to earning desert and exercising away guilt. No thank you to arguments about macros and why “that diet worked for me”. No thank you to Weight-Watchers and Flat Tummy Co. targeting teens.No thank you to scales. No thank you to diet culture.

No thank you to gazing eyes of strange men. No thank you to catcalls and “you should smile more”. No thank you to “hey baby”. No thank you to “bitch”, when I ignore you. No thank you to older men calling me honey. No thank you to looking over my shoulder when I’m walking alone. No thank you to holding my keys between my knuckles. No thank you to checking the backseat before getting in the car. No thank you to pretending to talk on the phone in parking garages and on the street once the sun has gone down.

No thank you to undermining educators. No thank you to scripted curriculums and shackles on creative freedom. No thank you to teaching about Christopher Columbus as if he were a hero. No thank you to standardized testing. No thank you to taking resources from “failing public schools”. No thank you to buying books for my classroom with my own money. No thank you to taking work home every night, yet barely earning enough to make ends meet. No thank you to iPads as babysitters. No thank you to neighborhoods so unsafe that kids can’t play outside. No thank you to low expectations placed on low-income students and students of color. No thank you to segregation. No thank you to guns.

No thank you to gender stereotypes and unequal pay. No thank you to questions of marriage and children. No thank you to “that’s so cute” in response to my profession as an educator. No thank you to mansplaining. No thank you to fear of failure. No thank you to the linear career path. No thank you to settling. No thank you to the appreciation of what you have as an excuse not to want and work for more.

No thank you.

 

For My Role Mama

This week, Oiselle is celebrating moms and which inspired me to go a little bit beyond the “best mom ever” Instagram post to honor mine.

On this day, an undisclosed number of years ago, superwoman was born. I call her mom. You can call her Cathy.

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Growing up, my mom was always active. I swear, the woman never stopped moving (still hasn’t stopped). By day she’d chase the children she provided daycare for around our back yard and by night she’d instruct countless aerobics classes out of the studio she owned. I’d watch (and try to keep up), as she jumped around the room shouting motivating anecdotes into a microphone without ever stopping to take a breath. Richard Simmons can’t hold a candle to her. From a very young age, my mom has shown me what it looks like to be an active woman, confident in her own skin and in control of her health.

Around the time I was nine or ten, she decided to seek out self-defense training to better teach women how to be confident in the skills necessary to protect oneself from an attack. A year later, I no longer watched her from the back of an aerobics studio, instead, I watched her from the outside of the karate floor. Soon, I joined her. Before too long, my mom had climbed her way through the ranks and I sat in awe as she had a black belt tied around her waist for the first time. For years I trained and competed, side by side with my mother, a unique experience I will always cherish. Now, she’s a master of Tang Soo Do and the owner of her own school. She teaches children and adults of all ages self-defense skills, respect, self-confidence, discipline, and a slew of other hard to come by characteristics. My mom has shown me what it looks like to take risks, be in charge, lead with grace, and exude strength.  

I don’t believe my mom got serious about running until I got serious about running in ninth or tenth grade, but when she puts her mind to something she’s all in. By my freshman year of college, I was standing at mile twenty-five of the Corning Wineglass Marathon cheering her to the finish. Four years later, I was standing at the starting line of the very same marathon next to her. Running my first marathon alongside my mom is something I feel incredibly privileged to have shared. Despite five knee surgeries, she keeps going, winning her division in a 5k just a few weeks ago. She makes the Energizer Bunny look pathetic. Through running my mom has shown me what resilience, pride, and humility look like.

From college track meets to Boston Marathon’s, she’s been my cheerleader for it all. She’s brought me champagne after a marathon PR and tissues after a marathon disaster. No matter what, she always tells me she’s proud. She reassures me when I call her crying stressed about work, school, money, friends, or running and she threatens any guy who ever makes me feel worthless. I cannot think of a time when I turned to my mom and she wasn’t there ready to support me unconditionally. My mom has shown me what it looks like to be a dedicated, loving, and selfless mother.

Through it all, she has never put herself first. I wish she would take the time to treat herself as number one but her heart is just too big. Not only is she my number one fan but she’s the number one fan of my sister, my niece, her karate student’s, and students she works with at school. She gives a little piece of herself to everyone she meets and it’s hard not to feel inspired when you’re around her. I’ve seen her hurt and it kills me, but I can only hope to live my life in a way that makes her proud and brings her joy. I am so honored to have the privilege of being her daughter.
Mom, thank you for dedicating the past 25 years of your life to inspiring me and others. You will never understand how much you have taught me or the way you influence my daily life. I am in constant awe of all you do and I could not ask for a better role mama. I’ll come home soon so we can drink wine and watch Lifetime movies. Happy birthday, I love you.