I am standing at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, NC. It’s a magnificent structure high atop a hill overlooking the field where their historic first flights took place. The memorial features strong words etched into its surface. Words like “dauntless resolution,” “faith” and “conquest.” I am waiting patiently for tourists to vacate long enough to take photos, and I watch a family snap some of their own. The husband wants his wife and very young daughter to stand at the base of the memorial while he does his best to try and capture the moment.
The wife and daughter get into position but before the husband can take one photo, his wife says, “Do I look fat?” The husband shakes his head no, and gives her an encouraging smile. She yanks on her shirt, repositions herself, clasps her arm over her daughter’s shoulders and the two smile while the husband takes several shots.
Afterward, the mom says, “I am the least photogenic person I know! I look terrible in photos! That’s why I take the photos. I don’t know why I did this!”
The husband says something to her I cannot hear, but the daughter takes her mother’s hand and says, “I love you, Mommy.”
This transaction was almost painful to watch, but I imagine it happens around the globe every second.
I felt empathy for all parties:
1) The wife who is uncomfortable in her own skin, feeling her size or perceived flaws are unflattering and not worth photographing, missing the joy of the moment and most likely, not loving herself for all the wonderful things she is.
2) The daughter, who is learning it’s “normal” to find flaws with one’s self and put herself down if she believes she’s imperfect, and who also perhaps could not find joy in this moment upon hearing her mother’s angst. I don’t know whether to love or cry at her efforts to help her mother feel love as it feels like a role reversal, with the daughter so young.
3) The husband, who must likely battle his wife’s perceptions of herself that do not match his own, and for whom it may never feel like a battle he’s winning.
This example is precisely why I threw myself into the topic of self-loathing and produced The Self-Loathing Project. The constant verbal and non-verbal assault women (and men) have with themselves is pervasive.
Perhaps you have similar feelings when a photo is about to be taken. Perhaps this will help you see things from a different perspective. You really are fabulous just the way you are. With some effort, you can believe what others do, too.
Pick up a copy of The Self-Loathing Project for a little help and perspective with that—or any number of resources that now exist on the topic.
#theselfloathingproject #selflove #loveyourself #authorkatherinecobb
If this book was required reading for girls and women, we might have a shot of truly doing the fulfilling prophecy of lifting each other up. Molly Galbraith isn’t just a mouthpiece for the “lift each other up” movement, she is providing tangible, thought-provoking exercises to help you find your way. That turns this book into a passive self/humanity-help book into one of action. And I love me some action.
When I think back on my relationships with women, there are so many words: friend, conflict, ugliness, caring, bully, partner, meanness, champion, envy, gossip, competition. I think that last one is the crux of the problem: women always feel they are competing with one another, whether for love, jobs, fame, popularity or whatever. It creates the idea that there’s not enough to go around, which makes it pretty hard to live in harmony.
I’m not the only one who found it easier many times to hang out with my guy friends, who seemed less complicated and certainly weren’t competing WITH me (although sometimes, admittedly, for me). Not to suggest men don’t come with their own set of complications and issues.
But women have also been the powerful forces in my life—guiding me, shaping me, and loving me. So I truly have come to believe we must lift each other up. And this book helped me with some of the bumps in that road I’ve had (with one of the best bits about forgiveness I’ve come across), as well as challenged me to verbalize my core values.
I highly recommend!
Molly Galbraith is the cofounder of Girls Gone Strong and the author of Strong Women Lift Each Other Up.
#mollygalbraith #strongwomenlifteachotherup #lifteachotherup #women #girls #womenempowerment #womensupportingwomen #benice #bekind
This Independence Day, freedom was on my mind. Three decades ago when I started my recovery from “addictionisms,” one of the twelve promises stated I’d know a new freedom and a new happiness.
Over the years, I’ve put in the work, and that promise—and the other eleven—has come true in spades. But the scales tipped in my favor again in the past months with some stragglers—mostly about conquering some issues that prevented better health.
Freedom—or enslavement—comes in many forms.
In the past year, I’ve witnessed:
• Someone struggle with addiction, and another begin recovering from it.
• Someone find their soul mate, another leave an unfulfilling marriage, and another repair a union that was very nearly lost.
• Someone’s child struggle to return to himself after a debilitating injury and another child soar with accomplishment.
• Someone delight in getting their bodyweight below 200 pounds for the first time in decades and another who embraced every one of their 200-plus pounds.
• Someone welcome a miracle baby into the world and another take their own life.
• A widower find a second love and another become a widower.
• A dog overcome trauma and a traumatized dog be put down.
Life brings us everything on the continuum. We can’t know light without darkness, so I count my blessings for both the ying and yang.
Perhaps this will prompt you to take stock of how you are free, or where you are still enslaved—and also show how we each define or experience those aren’t always the same. Wherever you are on your journey, I believe when we seek answers, they will come. Maybe not as quickly as we desire, but the answers are there, waiting for you. May freedom ring loud and clear for you.
I just finished reading the riveting MY DARK VANESSA, which tackles the subject of a young female student falling in love with her predatory male English teacher. It called to mind TAMPA, another book I read where the roles were reversed, involving a predatory female teacher grooming and attracting one of her young male students. Both are compelling reads and force you to see why some of these lines feel murky and blurred, while also revealing the steady, surefooted nature of the pedophile mind.
#mydarkvanessa #tampa #tampathebook #kateelizabethrussell #alissanutting #whatareyoureading
We love to emphasize romantic love when Valentine’s Day hits. And let’s face it, romance and companionship and love are all wonderful and life affirming to experience (except when they’re not). But it’s hard to be fully immersed in those things if you don’t love yourself.
And I know a lot of folks who do not love themselves, whether they are aware of that or not.
You can go from one side of that spectrum to the other. I know because I’ve done it. And once you flip that switch, you not only can fill those incredible shoes you’re wearing and embody the full glory of you, but you can also begin to truly experience giving love away.
P.S. This heart-shaped potato came in my five-pound sack recently. Isn’t that a nice message from the universe? They’re all around you if you look.
#katherinecobb #loveyourself #selflove #theselfloathingproject #liveyourbestlife #believeinyou
I love to review the year once we’re kicking off a new one. Here’s what stands out from this past one, in no particular order:
1. Weeza Joins the Pack
A young hound dog a beautiful shade of auburn showed up at our property on January 15. She appeared malnourished and abandoned, likely by a hunter who didn’t think she panned out as the huntress hoped. She also presented as abused by her skittish, anxious and distrusting behavior, but she stuck around when we showered her with love, kindness…and food. It took time for her to trust us, but every day she made continuous strides to overcome her fears and give in to all the goodness we could provide. Ultimately, she chose to stick around, and we chose to care for her. It’s been a wonderful, heartwarming and life-affirming true story to witness and take part in. As I shared her story, little Weeza fast became an online sensation, bringing joy to many who bore witness to her brave heart.
2. A Whole Lotta Writing
I wrote a new novel this year—expanding my foray into the domestic suspense category to examine how love and hate are just two sides of the same coin. Currently titled Little Wife Lies, it’s: A husband with anger issues. An unfaithful, scheming wife. When the ugly truth is revealed, only one will be left standing. Editing begins in earnest in 2021. I also wrote a fun “pandemic parody” microvella plus some additional microvellas under a pen name. And I rereleased Skyline Higher, my first novel, under the new title, Falling, with some improvements and a new cover. It received a very nice reception.
3. The Great Outdoors is Always Reliable
Even despite the whole Rona thing, I feel blessed because quarantining and social distancing aren’t discernable from everyday life here in Nature Central. It’s a pretty great place (and a pretty, great place) to live during a world crisis. I'm so grateful for my backyard lake, surrounding woodlands and abundance of fresh water and air. I also managed to get out for a few hiking excursions in both Virginia and West Virginia plus a visit to Natural Bridge, and those outings were definitely restorative. The Great Outdoors and moi? We’re like peas and carrots.
4. Year of Learning
When some work shifted out of my hemisphere due to the pandemic, I delved into a lot of learning—related to writing, marketing or personal growth—that was often achieved through webinars or online classes. When life hands you lemons, better get to making some lemonade and do something productive or worthwhile with the hand you’ve been dealt.
5. Significant Health Decline then Reboot
The perfect storm of injury and malady, gym closures and inhaling copious amounts of pandemic ice cream caused my health to significantly deteriorate on multiple levels, not to mention tip the scales to a worrisome place. In desperation, I tried something, well, desperate. In short order, the great reversal and reboot was On Like Donkey Kong. In the final third of the year, I lost close to 45 pounds and over 45 inches and all discernible health metrics had improved. My lifelong gut issues are at bay, I’m not popping antacids like candy, I have no cravings for sweets, I’m off allergy meds, my joints don’t ache, I am finally understanding and changing some longtime unhealthy habits and I have energy, radiate more joy and feel comfortable in my own skin. The best part is feeling like I am in control of myself, queen of the castle, captain of my ship, firmly grasping the wheel of this hot rod. I can plainly see why this is working and how I can go forth and continue said awesomeness. It’s a relief I really can’t aptly describe, and I am hopeful for longevity as I am so tired of this un-amusing ride called weight and health management I never seem to fully exit (like The Vortex minus the carnies!). My success has inspired others, and it pleases me, even more, to help pay it forward.
6. The Fungus Among Us
As I have in recent years, I delved into the intriguing “secret” world of fungus. They grow prolifically in this wet, steamy part of south-central Virginia. I snapped a lot of photos on my discovery walks of the colorful, vast varieties…never growing tired of peering into their strange, pop-up world.
7. Turtle Watch Fakeout
I was so excited when I came across one of the painted turtles from the lake laying eggs near our driveway. We took action to protect the nest from known enemies, but when the hatchlings didn’t show up in late summer, I went back online to find out why. Turns out, many babies will wait it out until spring, and just hang out in the nest those extra months. So, while Turtle Watch 2020 was disappointing, Turtle Watch 2021 is eagerly awaited!
I really enjoyed the wonderful friendships that blossomed this year. Some were relationships that got a boost from the move, while others were completely new to me. It was an unexpected pleasure that prevailed despite social distancing!
As has become my norm, I was able to remain grateful, hopeful and present in 2020. Peace and blessings to one and all as we kick off a new year.
A writer friend was grappling with her perceived reality about her talent, dream and relevance. In our online group, she wrote:
“…I cannot write. I am average at best, and my voice is meaningless. I'm clearly irrelevant. So my goal this week is to clear this passion and dream I've had since elementary school completely.”
Other writers and I rallied around her, trying to help her process these feelings of failure. And while artists are particularly prone to questioning their talent and significance, these questions plague many.
It got me thinking about the idea of relevance. Is my writing relevant or irrelevant? Will it ever have significant impact? What about my life in general has relevance? What is irrelevant?
My answer is that relevance can only be defined by the individual.
It’s about what matters to me, not what matters to the world. Do I hope to make a significant contribution to the world? Sure. Do I hope to leave the world better than I found it by doing so? If I can, yes. Am I actively pursuing those ideals? Every single day.
To my friend, I wrote that passion is innate, but craft can be improved and nurtured, and to define her own relevance—as much of what she’d based her feelings on were the input of others or comparison to others. Plenty of writers from our group also chimed in, where we collectively acted as buoys until she could float on her own. And float she did before week’s end, realizing the truths she needed to carry on.
Don’t let the world, or others, define your relevance, tell you what success looks like or squelch your dream.
I’ll leave you with this quote by Donald Hustad:
“Somehow, about forty percent of churchgoers seem to have picked up the idea that singing in church is for singers. The truth is that singing is for believers. The relevant question is not ‘Do you have a voice?’ but ‘Do you have a song?’”
When a friend suggested (joked?) that I make a video of me reading from Fifty, Four Ways to share online, my brain took it a step further. I thought, why not act out some of the parts?
First I had to find a passage from the book that wasn't 1) too complicated (with four female narrators, sometimes they are together in the same scene) or 2) too racy to act out. I chose the one you're about to see between one of the females, Lynn, and her hairdresser, Bruno. It's silly but fun, and I hope you enjoy. Stick around for the bloopers at the end if you want, too.
And if you haven't gotten the book, reading this while holed up during a pandemic might just put a little kick into your, ahem...relationship!
Commemorating the 27th death anniversary of Natasha Singh: I didn’t know the forever in BFF would be a solo ride
I’ll never forget the call.
My parents had only just arrived in Virginia. We, along with my then-boyfriend Greg, were in my studio apartment in Falls Church, jubilant after sharing our engagement news. It was April 16, 1993.
The phone rang, the kind connected to the wall. It was Todd, Natasha’s once-boyfriend. He worked at the radio station as a DJ and saw the announcement as it ticked over the AP Wire. Natasha, along with sixteen others, had been killed in Afghanistan in a helicopter crash. She was a full-fledged journalist by then, abroad for a couple of years or so, pursuing a career she was passionate about, and actually using that bachelor's degree.
The air left my lungs at the news.
And then, grief engulfed me. Like a tsunami. Waves of intense sadness, helplessness and regret, obliterating everything in its path and drowning me in its undertow.
My head would rise above water and I’d experience the calm after the storm, where even occasional laughter at a memory or inside joke surfaced, briefly, before the crash of the waves dragged me below again.
It was at least a year before I strung together more than a couple of days without this avalanche of grief following me everywhere I went, maybe more.
She died at twenty-eight.
No one should die so young.
I realized, years later, after death claimed so many, many people I knew, that unexpected death causes a chasm of pain different from the kind you experience after you lose your dear grandmother, for instance, who lived a long, full life. It may be sad, but you take solace in all they had, did, experienced. Death is part of the natural order of things. But snatching the life of someone “before their time” feels cruel and undeserved. The younger they are, the worse.
Natasha was a light. She glowed with a brilliance that blinded. Heart-on-her-sleeve, authentic, and often, selfless.
She loved two men who shattered her heart and didn’t even come close to deserving her. She had one terrible habit: perpetual lateness. In our earlier years, she tried different techniques to force herself from bed in the morning. She placed her alarm clock across the bedroom with it set on high. In high school, I called and talked her from the warm cocoon of sleep to standing. Only then, would I hang up. She drank too much, so much that she would eventually give me a suffocating hug and slur how much she loved me. She had regrets and her own barrage of terrible experiences, but those aren’t mine to share. She once hoped to become a model and went through Barbizon’s modeling school—the one advertised in the backs of magazines—coming home with professionally posed pictures and understanding how to apply makeup. In college, she did mine and it’s the only time I’ve liked how it looked.
She loved photography. Back in those days, it was all manual, with fun filters and lenses and just you and your subjects. She shot so much film, she couldn’t afford to pay the developing charges. Thousands of images were lost. We were still in college then.
As kids, we used to love walking in the rain. If I find myself caught in the elements now, I can sometimes lighten the mood by remembering I once enjoyed such moments with her.
She rescued me from myself during one of my darkest hours. It helped me get on the road to recovery, a forever pivotal moment in my life. She would later rescue fellow reporters, part of her boots-on-the-ground, no-man-left-behind way of thinking.
I think and dream of her often. She is one of the biggest constants in my life despite being gone now for twenty-seven years, almost as long as she lived. What I also realize, in hindsight, is her impact on my life.
I have been raped, beaten, hurt, disappointed, drowned, afraid and suicidal. I have also known great joy, elation, success, victory and purpose. I have seen shattering world events, and terrible transgressions on, and in, our own country. But her death transcends it all. I can forget about these other moments, events and pain and joy, but I never forget her. She is never far from my thoughts.
I realize how lucky I am to have met her that summer day before fourth grade when my family moved to the Oakland hills. To go all the way through school as best friends, and experience college together as roommates. To get on an airplane and visit her after she left California to start her first job as a radio news anchor in a tiny place called Charles Town, West Virginia. To meet, through her, the man who would become my husband and cause me to uproot myself to the Mid-Atlantic, likely forever. To have whatever sacred time the universe gave us.
It’s a blessing.
One I no longer take for granted, wiser now about such things.
On the anniversary of her death or on her birthday in July, I like to celebrate her with some of the things we enjoyed: I take a drive and listen to the music we used to belt at the top of our lungs. I might watch Top Gun, one of our fav movies. I eat some Haagen-Dazs Chocolate Chocolate Chip ice cream, which she introduced me to during our college years (I probably shouldn’t forgive her that) and sometimes a cheeseburger (she finally got me to eat these, too, because I never felt cheese and meat went together). And I cry as much as I want.
Want to read more about Natasha?
I like this obit by one of her reporter colleagues:
A report of the crash in the LA Times:
Our neighbor growing up, well-known sports reporter Dave Newhouse, wrote this piece:
A brief history written by her family:
A collection of columns, articles and general a-musings.