Tag Archives: women

J.T.’s Footwear

I enjoyed last night’s Super Bowl but was distracted by Justin Timberlake’s footwear. I like Justin Timberlake and believe he is a very gifted true artist. I’ve watched him grow up from his Mickey Mouse Club days to N Sync to his very cool current status. I especially love it when he performs with Chris Stapleton.

J.T. wore a nice pair of comfy white tennis shoes and they distracted me because I was picturing all the female artists who do all the same moves on 5 inch heels. As long as men get to wear shoes like that while women don’t, I’m going to claim that the world is not yet just.

Men get to wear comfortable undergarments, boxer type swimsuits and flat shoes. For some reason, they have no make up expectations, very few hair worries and only have to shave their faces.  The only thing I can see that might cause them discomfort is a necktie and they have control over how that feels. They don’t wear Spanx that I know of.

A couple of weeks ago, while shopping for a black tie event, I saw that they now have Spanx for arms. I nearly collapsed in despair right there in front of the display. A very rich woman named Sara invented Spanx and I have bought plenty and been quite grateful for their power to spare people of my lumps and bumps. But arm Spanx? No.

Is it not enough that we are smashing our thighs, tummies and rear ends into submission? Now, our arms too?

I can just picture us in all our Spanx, falling off our 5 inch heels, our carcasses exploding out of our Spanx like busted cans of Southern Style biscuits, while we lay there mumbling, “This is not the look I was going for.”

So today, I say no. If J.T. gets to wear comfy tennis shoes while dancing, so do we.

When my baby grandson was born, I had a ringside seat. I am freshly aware that he came into this world shoeless, Spanx-less, perfect, 100% fearfully and wonderfully made.

Scripture reminds us that we are created in God’s image, all of us, male and female. (Genesis 1:27)

We are enough just as we are. We are good. We reflect the divine. Maybe it is time to dress like we believe it.

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, writer, wife, mother of three, Mimosa to Keller and breast cancer survivor. Today she is wearing comfy tennis shoes and no Spanx. You can hear her speak this week at The Well event for women on Thursday evening, February 8 at First UMC, Grapevine, Texas. Meal tickets are sold out but program-only tickets are available for $15 all week at http://www.fumcg.org/cindyryan.              


In Celebration of Women

I just spent an entire weekend at a women’s retreat. In between my speaking segments, I listened to lots of women’s stories. It helped me remember all over again how much I love the bonds between women and our strength, compassion and resiliency, especially when we have each other. While we were retreating, other women marched, spoke up and found their way to the streets all over our nation to express their hearts. Recently, through the Me Too movement, women are drawing lines in the sand about what we will tolerate. Something is happening, women are in the middle of it and I love it.

Recently, I had a request to republish a column I wrote that ran in the Colleyville Courier in 2013 in a newspaper column I had at the time called Real Life. Today seems like a good day to do just that.

It happened 25 years ago. To me it was a non-event; to another person it was a major event. How could two people have such different recollections of the same thing?

I have two girlfriends I still talk to regularly who were my friends then. I called both of them and asked for their memories of the event. “Do you remember that day when…?”

I am grateful to have women friends I have counted on year after year. And, of course, both of my friends remembered the event like I did and immediately took my side. That’s what girlfriends are for.

Gale Berkowitz writes, “Scientists now suspect that hanging out with our female friends can actually counteract the kind of stomach quivering-stress most of us experience on a daily basis.” She cites a UCLA study on friendships among women, which reports that women respond to stress differently than men. Women produce hormones, which make us actually seek one another out to “tend and befriend” rather than the male stress response of “fight and flight.”

The Nurses’ Health Study from Harvard Medical School found that the more friends women had, the less likely we are to develop physical ailments as we age, and the more likely we are to be leading a joyful life.

So there it is, scientific proof that women need women and that spending time together is good for us.

Jennifer Louden, in The Woman’s Comfort Book, suggests women should ask themselves the following questions regarding friendships:
Who do I call when I’m down?
Who energizes me?
Who do I like to play with?
Who would I call in a crisis?
Who would bring me food if I was sick?
Who would I give my house key to?
The answers you give are clues to your nurturing network.

Another set of questions:
Who makes me feel tired?
Who causes me to have tension in my jaw or a stomach full of flutters?
Who do I find myself breathing shallowly around?
The answers are clues to your toxic relationships.

The rest is simple. Spend more time with the life-givers and less time with the energy-drainers.

Today, I celebrate energy-giving friendships among women…where we can talk for hours and never run out of things to say; where we can ask each other, “do you think it’s menopause or am I just always this snappish?”; where we can commiserate about men and children and what’s wrong with society; where we can trust that our tears, our laughter and our occasional inappropriate words are going to be heard in the spirit intended; where we are given the “just right gifts” that our friend just knew we needed; where we can compare parenting techniques, recipes, work and body issues—and wonder of wonders, live longer and stronger because of it.

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a writer and pastor. This column is written in honor of L.P. and her amazing circle of friends. 

Your Battery

A friend asked me this morning if I had quit blogging since I hadn’t written here since before Christmas. That’s the problem with working for yourself, sometimes you forget to work.

The truth is I’ve been focused on finishing the holidays, writing for some upcoming speaking events and getting my nest re-emptied again. It seemed like it took a while to clear all that out and get back on track with healthy living and such.

As 2018 begins, I’ve noticed how obsessed we all are with our phones. Actually I noticed that way before 2018 but now I’m paying attention to how we act about our phone batteries. Have you noticed?

We keep a close watch on our phone battery levels. At my house, we fight over chargers and we make sure every vehicle has one. I’ve noticed airports and other cool places now have charging stations everywhere so we can always plug our phones in on the run.

One of the most reassuring Christmas gifts I got was an inflatable solar phone charger so in case of a power outage, natural disaster or nuclear war, I can use my own breath and the sun to charge my phone and still play Words with Friends and check Twitter to see if the world has ended. Thank you Russell and Albert!

So, at the risk of pointing out something obvious, I would like to invite each of us in 2018 to care as much about our own personal batteries as we do about our phone’s charge.

When was the last time you told yourself, “I’m running low here, need to go plug in, unplug or take it easy?”  When was the last time you checked yourself in such a way multiple times a day?  When was the last time you deleted anything to save your own personal energy or power source?  Anybody out there taking specific personal actions to “clear out some memory” to make room for what is really essential?

I’m headed this weekend to speak at a Women’s Retreat from Friday-Sunday. I already think it is a miracle because a group of busy women managed to clear their weekend in order to re-fill and charge their own batteries.  We’ve already won. I probably don’t even need to say a word.

In a few weeks, I’m speaking at another event which is also by design, a time for women to re-charge. If you live near the Dallas/Fort Worth area, join us:  http://www.fumcg.org/cindyryan.

In the meantime, I’m going to consider that my need to re-fill is just as vital as my phone’s need for a full battery. And, that I need re-charging just as often. My phone and I are pretty much one entity anyway, we might as well fuel up together too.

The Power of Pink

It’s that time of year when pink takes over sports, products, articles and all facets of media as we focus on how breast cancer has or will change the lives of 1 in 8 women and many men. Yes, I know some people don’t like the pink emphasis, but I do.

Six years ago at this time, I was newly diagnosed with breast cancer. I had two weeks where I knew before I could widely tell people because I hadn’t seen a surgeon yet and did not know The Plan. During that time, I had a couple of days at the university I attended, Texas A&M. It is where my dad went to school and my brother. It is where I met my husband. It is where I met some of my still best friends. It is the undergraduate university for all three of our children. Woven throughout my Aggie experience is the Corps of Cadets at A&M.

The cadets now wear pink carnations at a home football game each year to increase breast cancer awareness. Six years ago, at a home football game, in the midst of the crowds, I sat down on a curb in the shadow of the football stadium and lost it. I wept for all the not-knowing I was in the midst of. I wept for all I feared I might miss. I wept because I was weeping in public on a curb at an event that was supposed to be fun. I wept because cadets have to wear pink carnations.

Last Saturday, six years later, I found myself standing in a spot very close to the same spot where I lost it. Since then, I’ve finished treatment, thanks in part to a new test (The Breast Cancer Index) which gave my doctor more information about my specific response to treatment. I’ve benefitted personally from advancements made due to the hype/funds raised and spotlight on this disease.

In the last six years, I’ve worn lots of pink. I’ve seen two children graduate from college, our daughter get her Master’s degree and our youngest graduate from high school. I helped plan and attended our daughter’s wedding. I was there (right there) for the birth of our first grand baby and now am excited about another one on the way. It’s true! And in and out of all that, lots of sweet, precious, normal life.  This time as I stood in that  same spot, instead of melthing, I was watching our third child as drummer in the Aggie Band.

In that six year time frame, I’ve lost two friends, Lina and Sharon, to breast cancer. I’ve seen others diagnosed and fight back (Rhonda, Robin, Vickie, Tana, Melissa, Terri, Kim, Stephanie and Kenda.). I’ve been encouraged by another tribe of  women who  fought the disease before me. They inspired me by being happy, healthy and telling me I’d get past this. One even told me, “You’ll one day have days where you won’t even think about it,” She was right.

Pink matters to me.The ribbons and the hype supports us in the fight. It honors my journey and the journey of so many.

This weekend the entire Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M once again wore pink carnations. This time our youngest son wore one. He was 13 when I was diagnosed. I wore my new pink Aggie breast cancer shirt even though most everyone else was in maroon. My husband had no trouble finding me this week in the crowds.

The back of my shirt says “There’s no place like hope.” That says it all. Cadets in carnations give me hope. Pink is hope. Thank God for hope.

Room, Space, Beauty…

I’ve been so focused on stuff and space these last months. Today is the first day in well over two months that I’ve been home without workers here and without needing to either move items into my house or back out of it due to our remodel project.

After losing our kitchen for a while, our den and living room, our bedrooms and bathrooms, I’m celebrating space. I didn’t realize how important it is to me to have my chair, my table right there for my coffee, my patio, my journal where I can find it. I realize now, I like having a bedroom, a computer hooked up and family pictures to look at. I’m also celebrating closets instead of clothes in the garage.

My daughter gave me a sign with a quote from Elsie de Wolfe that reads, “I will make everything around me beautiful-that will be my life.” I’ve spent time these past months making room and space in our home for beauty. I have donated carloads of things to now let someone else enjoy. I’ve given away big pieces of furniture. I’m making room for beauty.

And then, I make this speech every year, I simplified Christmas yet again. No need to keep reading if you are the person who loves all your boxes of decorations and you love putting out each and every decoration. I’m not writing this for you. Carry on, with joy!

I’m writing to those of you who dread putting it all out and packing it back up. I’m speaking to those who feel they should hold onto a decoration because Aunt Marge gave that to me and so on. Here’s my advice: just don’t. Just do less.

I feel like women bear most of this holiday burden.  We tend to be the decorators, the bakers, the list makers, the shoppers, the event planners. We do all these things plus our jobs,  our parenting and our work in the community. I have long believed this is TOO MUCH for many of  us.  We should stop.

In past years, I’ve downsized all kinds of what I previously believed were holiday musts. This year, since I had just purged and moved back into my treasured spaces, I felt I simply could not now haul box after box from the attic and put it all out in the name of decorating for Christmas. So I didn’t. We have a tree. We have some Christmas dishes to eat on. I have whole rooms that used to have all kinds of stuff that now just don’t. The room I’m writing in right now has a single manger scene in it. I love it. The spaciousness of it all is beautiful to me.

One of the whole points of Christmas is making room for something new to be born. Isn’t it strange how we over-decorate, over-buy, over-hype and then the baby is relegated to  the stable out back?

Room. Space. Beauty.  Here, I can breathe now. Here, I can  watch and wait. Here, I can light one little candle and let it be enough. Here, I will see what new-born gift God has for me. Room. Space. Beauty..

Six Days Later

I’ve wanted to write since last Tuesday’s momentous election.  I really have. I’ve had so many thoughts and concerns, just like you.  I’ve read too much, watched too much, seen so much since that time. I’ve disconnected a little bit. I’ve walked a lot. I’ve talked to friends and relatives. I couldn’t find the words to write. Or, I had too many words, some of them not appropriate for a blog, so I knew that wouldn’t do. I just needed to let some things simmer until I could articulate something.

One of the more amazing realizations of the last week for me has been a humbling understanding that not everyone sees the world like I do. It floors me that this is true. Not all Christians agree with me. We do not have the same values. Not all women agree with me. Not all white people think like me. I am humbled by realizing this. I sort of thought we were all one big happy family. We are not. I am now, six days later, feeling humbled by this.

No matter how you voted you have to agree we are in for some serious changes and that is hard for all of us. We do not know how this will turn out. Six days later, I’m aware that change is coming.

I was so stunned by the election’s outcome that it disoriented me for a while. On the day after, my daughter sent the Thanksgiving menu. I actually thought, “We are going to still have Thanksgiving?” I’m better now. Of course we will have Thanksgiving. Six days later, I’m still grateful for so much.

Six days later, I realize how much I need my touch points. I need to hang on to that which grounds me and gives me hope. I need to rely on routines and rituals: prayer, journaling, exercise, music, home, family, friends, nature. Thomas Merton put it like this, “If you yourself are at peace, then at least there is some peace in the world.” Six days later, I am working at being at peace.

Saturday started as a gloomy day for me, but I went ahead and tied up my tennis shoes, leashed my dog and headed out for a touch point walk. We found ourselves accidentally in the middle of a 5K to raise awareness for a disease. Once you are accidently in a 5K you can’t get out and so we walked. Little girls in tutus walked by followed by little boys in super hero capes. Old people ran by (how do they do that?) I saw people of all colors. Moms and Dads with strollers. I saw people who were clearly of different faiths. I marveled, “Look at them, all of them, out here raising awareness.”  Some had shirts on in memory of someone who had died from the disease.

Later, I engaged in another touch point, planning our family’s weekly menus and buying groceries. In front of the store, teenagers were collecting food items for the hungry. Shoppers were coming out of the store in droves with extra bags of food for those in need. It surprised me. I actually said out loud, “Well would you look at that” to no one at all except myself.

Then, the coach from my son’s high school football team sent an email with pictures. A third grade football team had disappointingly had their opponent forfeit the last game of the season. They had no one to play them. The coach called on his players to suit up and come “play the little guys to make their last game memorable.”  These big high school football players, who only the night before had played a play off game themselves, suited up, playing these little boys on a beautiful fall Saturday morning.

Six days later, I still have no good words. I feel humbled. I feel the changes coming. I feel the need to engage in those basic touch points. I am ready to have Thanksgiving. And, I still see good people who care, doing good things all around me.

Our country is torn and anxious right now but it is the same country where people do 5K runs for others, where the hungry are fed and where giant high school athletes care about little boys who just want to play football.  Thank God for that. Touch points.