For the Ladies.

Hello my dears.

It’s not always easy being a woman. I’m sure it’s no picnic being a man either, but I can’t really speak to that. But I know what it’s like to be a woman. To be told by society and church and people what you’re supposed to be, how you’re supposed to act, what you’re supposed to do, and how you’re to live your life. It becomes a cacophony of endless noise. So much to process. So many lies and half truths to wade through.

Sometimes the best advice is the simplest and the easiest.

These words are for all the good women who are trying to figure out life as best they can; some thoughts on men, life, and love. I hope they give you something to smile about, a bit of encouragement.

On Men…

Wait for the man who will never hesitate to tell you how beautiful you are, no matter the time of day or location or occasion. Wait for the man whose eyes light up when he sees you, whether you’re wearing a sexy black dress, jeans and a sweatshirt, the sweat from your workout earlier, your pajamas, or a mud mask you put on with a greenish hue. Because you are absolutely beautiful in every one of those moments and deserve the man who will recognize it.

Wait for the man who doesn’t tell you that you owe him your body, or that he’s been patient long enough, or that if you really loved him you would sleep with him. Wait for the man who doesn’t use your love as weapon against you. Wait for the man who doesn’t look at you and see all the things you can give him, ignoring the gorgeous, wonderful soul standing before him. Never settle for a man who demands what you aren’t ready to give. Never believe that by saying no you are missing out on your only chance to find happiness. Because happiness exists when your no is heard and your hesitance is respected. Wait for the man who will wait with you.

Don’t wait for the “right guy” or the “nice guy” or the “perfect guy”. Instead, wait for the man who is good, the man who is flawed like you and has his own past and baggage and bad days. Wait for the man who will share that with you, letting you see him for exactly who he is, not for what you imagine he should be. Wait for the man who will be himself with you; the man you feel safe being yourself with.

Wait for the man who will encourage you in your pursuits, who supports your dreams. Wait for the man who will dream those dreams with you, who believes in you even when you begin to doubt and second guess. Don’t wait for the man who tries to fix you, but for the man who makes you better simply by loving you for everything you are, faults and scars and all the good things.

Wait for the man who will be a true partner in every sense; for the man who believes you are worth pursuing; for the man who loves you and never hesitates to tell you.

On Life…

Take chances. Every day do something that freaks the hell out of you. Because the things we regret most later in life are the things we never did. Never let fear hold you back or convince you that you can’t do it or you shouldn’t do it. And just maybe the chance you long to take is the one that will change your life.

Be yourself. Be as weird, quirky, odd, awesome, nerdy, fashionable, sarcastic, passionate, creative as you want. Never apologize for being you, for doing what you love. Never believe that you have to tone down what makes you you in order to be accepted by those around you. Embrace who you are and share it with the world.

Laugh often. Because I think we’ve become far too serious these days. The world is a sad, desolate place, and we’ve let that seep into our bones and weigh us down. And that’s a shame, because there is so much in our lives that we can smile and laugh at. And sometimes we do stupid, ridiculous, embarrassing things. Laugh at those things, and remember them.

Travel wherever your heart takes you. We get comfortable in our little corner of the world. But there is so much to discover when you take a trip; when you hit the open road and drive until you can’t drive any farther. Until you reach happiness. Go somewhere new.

Know you are beautiful. There are days when you may not feel lovely or pretty or stunning or gorgeous, but even on those days, when you look in the mirror and can’t meet your own eyes, you are beautiful. You might not be perfect, and that’s okay. You are only to be yourself, completely and imperfectly. And every part of you – your body, your mind, your spirit, your heart, your soul – all of it is beautiful in every moment. Finally believe it.

Be kind – to yourself and to others. Life has a way of beating us up, and if we beat ourselves up in the moments in between, we never give ourselves a chance to be happy. So when life is hard and you feel defeated, remember you don’t have to always have everything together. It’s okay to be a mess, because you will always be strong enough to put yourself back together.
And be kind to others. For if you are fighting and struggling in your life, chances are that those around you are as well. Show kindness and grace rather than frustration and rudeness. Show compassion always.

Go after what you want. It’s easy to talk ourselves out of the things that we dream about, the secret passions of our hearts. We think we don’t deserve them or we’ve been told that we don’t. But you do. You deserve to chase after your dreams. You deserve the happiness that comes with making them come true. And perhaps it’s hard. But the best things in life will make you fight to keep them. So never stop pursuing the things your heart longs for.

Create things. Anything. Write, draw, paint, take photos, knit, make movies, sculpt, dance, compose music, scrapbook. Be artistic. Whatever it is that brings a smile to your face and joy to your heart, make it come to life. Because when you create you are making beautiful things and bringing to life a piece of your soul. You are making something special and wonderful that only you can make. You are bringing something into this world that wasn’t here before, and maybe you can bring joy and healing to someone else through your art.

On love…

Love yourself, because you are worth loving. You are an amazing, talented, lovely daughter of God. You are the only one in the entire world who is like you. Love yourself for all the good you bring into the world; for all the happiness and light you share with those around you. Love yourself because God created you and loves you. Love yourself because you deserve to be loved by the one who knows you best.

Love others, even when it’s hard. Everyone needs to be loved, to be told they are loved. We were created in love, and we crave that. So share that love with those around you, with friends and family. Love those who are like you and those who are not. Love those you make you smile and make you scream. Love those who seem unlovable, because they are the ones who need it most. In loving others, we better learn to love ourselves.

And lastly, I want to remind you that you are lovely and worthy and amazing even in the darkest times. You are strong. You are an inspiration. You are enough and you are good. And you are allowed to believe it.

Thank you for reading! And maybe (definitely) follow me on Twitter >> @cassiclerget.
I’m pretty entertaining.

Advertisements

Can I have a guy best friend?

One of my best friends is Cory Copeland. (And he probably thinks this post is all about him now…)
“How can you be best friends with someone you’ve never met?” you may be asking (my parents and sisters wonder this constantly). Well, when you’re awesome and attached to your iPhone like some sort of sick lifeline, it’s not that hard. Our friendship is based on a love of writing, inappropriate comments, and mutual respect. And I know that if ever I need anything, even someone to break me out of prison and smuggle me out of the country, he’d do it. (He just can’t put up bail money. “Starving artist” and all that.)
Cory listens to my wine-induced random musings and laughs at the Pinterest photos I text him, and I tolerate his constant music suggestions and random descents into Southern colloquialisms. (Poor man is Texan. And has an accent no matter what he says.)

But one of my favorite things about our friendship is that Cory is…a guy. And not because I have some secret dream that one day our friendship will turn into some romantic monstrosity reminiscent of a Nicholas Sparks novel. (We’re both cringing.) No, I like that I can get a male perspective on things (I like to ask him embarrassing relationship questions). I like that he sees things in a way that I don’t, has experienced things I haven’t and couldn’t. And I like that he’s relatively drama free. (Relatively being the key word.)

I’ve had people tell me that our friendship won’t last because men and women can’t be friends. That it just doesn’t work because it either ends up in a broken disaster due to unrequited love, or because they try out the romance and crash and burn, or because one of them inevitably ends up dating someone else and awkwardness and/or jealousy ensues. (Cory and I actually wrote a post together about this.)
And I’ve had people say that we should just date because obviously we’re perfect for each other! We are rather similar in a freaky sort of way, so if the friendship works out so well, why not take it to the next level? Why not move into a dating relationship? Why not get married?! (Cory just fainted.)

Why not, why not, why not…

I think that we have a tendency to look at friendships as secondary to romantic relationships. We look at the men or women we are friends with and see the potential for something more. And when you choose to be friends with someone, you are acknowledging, in a small way, that there are parts of this person that you like, that you find appealing. You connect, and that connection can be intoxicating.

And soon we begin to look for more; always more. We see friendships with the opposite sex as leading to something. Friendship is simply a stepping stone to something better. Why else befriend a man or woman if not for the possibility of romance? What other purpose does a friendship with the opposite sex hold? Why go through all the hassle if not for some sort of benefit? (Not those kind of benefits, people.)

When did friendships become such a horrible thing, I wonder. When did the idea of a man only wanting friendship from me become some sort of insult? An affront to my womanhood? I understand the horror of the dreaded friend zone, believe me. I’ve been there many a time. Sometimes those feelings are deep and the rejection can hurt. But I feel as if we’ve romanticized romantic relationships. We’ve made them into this amazing, perfect, wonderful thing. Nothing is better than romance, than a chance at a fairytale happily ever after.

Why settle for friendship when we can have more?

To me, friendships can be better than love, more than romance, and absolutely beautiful. Not that they supersede romance, but perhaps they can offer something different yet wonderful in that particular time in your life. There is something freeing in befriending a person who understands you and cares about you for you, not for the romantic potential they see in you. They see your worth as a person without putting pressure on you to be anything more than that.

Not every man or woman you meet will be a person you end up dating. But to say that they have no place in your life because there is no potential for romance is to deny yourself the chance to grow. Every person we meet has something unique they can teach us. Imagine what we miss out on by cutting ourselves off from the opposite sex? That is half the population, ladies and gentlemen; so many missed opportunities.

It also can lead to a sort of objectification of the opposite sex. They are only good for one thing. And that seems unhealthy to me. Because men and women do not merely offer each other the potential for physical intimacy or romantic love. We are so much more than that, we can connect on so many other levels. We can offer so much more to each other.

Maybe not all male/female friendships can last. But then again, not all female/female or male/male friendships work out either. Certain people come into your life at just the time you need them. And maybe that is only for a short while. Or maybe it’s a lasting friendship meant to go the distance. As we grow and change as people, the relationships we have will evolve as well. And maybe in this moment, having a guy for a best friend or a girl for a best friend is just the friendship you need. Don’t discount a friendship because it isn’t moving towards romance or because everyone says men and women aren’t meant to be friends.

So, befriend people who challenge you, support you, and love you for your past and encourage you in the present. Befriend people who care for you and respect you. Befriend people who see you for the wonderful person you are and not for the things they imagine you can be. But really, pursue friendships with people that you can do life with. Surround yourself with friends who make you happy, because that is the most important thing.

Thank you for reading! And maybe (definitely) follow me on Twitter. I’m pretty entertaining.

Am I worth it?

I had the lovely pleasure of chatting with my favorite New Zealand friend yesterday morning. Granted it was about 6am my time, so I’m not sure how scintillating my conversation was. Nevertheless, it was a lovely chat, with Micaela being her blunt and endearing self while I listened to her rather perceptive comments on my love life (or lack thereof).

She posed an idea that I hadn’t quite considered, though in retrospect it seemed a bit obvious. But we’re often blind to the glaring realities of our own lives, I think. Which only serves to illustrate the value in friendship, relationships, and fellowship. With no attempt at sugarcoating (woman after my own heart), she suggested that I intentionally place myself in the friend zone with men, because I don’t believe I’m worth more than friendship.

Huh.

Really, I should stop befriending people who know me better than I know myself.

The thing of it was, I couldn’t really deny the truth that lingered around her words, typed out in black and white for me to see. I couldn’t say she was wrong. I couldn’t come to my own defense and laugh off her insinuation. I couldn’t do any of those things, because the longer I stared at the words, the more I wondered how true they may be.

Do I really think that little of myself to intentionally sabotage any potential relationships by placing myself in a platonic male/female friendship with no chance for romance to slide in and catch me off guard?

Do I actually believe I’m so undeserving of a great romance that I end the possibility before there even is a possibility?

Do I truly consider myself unworthy of any relationship with a man that is a bit more than friendship and deeper than infatuation?

Have I become that girl?

Her words made me pause as they sunk into the cracks around my heart, a heart I’ve guarded viciously from the men that have come in and out of my life. I don’t trust them and I don’t trust myself. I fall too quickly and I’ve been hurt before. More times than I care to remember. It’s embarrassing how quickly men seem to lose interest; I’m not worth the chance in their eyes. It chips away at my heart a little more with each vanishing possibility. How many times am I supposed to give a man the power to hurt me? How long before there is no more of my heart left to give?

My method of coping is cowardly. I wouldn’t have known if it hadn’t been painted so vividly for me. Because instead of gathering courage against the hurt, I gave in. Or perhaps I gave up. I stopped trying to be seen as the romantic woman. I stopped trying to win a man’s heart. I settled instead for winning his laughter, his respect, his confidence. I chose to be friends with men, closing off any chance for something more, something deeper – a romantic love. I use friendship as a barrier. I have for years. Because one day I told myself that was easier, safer. If I didn’t let them close, they couldn’t hurt me.

I didn’t want to give a man the chance to tell me no, so I said no for him.

I cut myself down. I belittled my worth. I convinced myself I’m not the sort of woman a man falls in love with. And maybe even today, as I write this, a part of me still believes that. It’s hard to let go of the lies we’ve told ourselves. After enough time passes, the lies become so familiar they must be true. I believed my lies. I believed I wasn’t worthy or deserving. I believed I would have to always settle for less. I believed that was safer. I believed it was all I was good for.

Besides, why take the risk when I’ve already played out the conclusion, time and time again?
Well, because…

By taking a risk you are acknowledging you are worth it, even if the feelings aren’t returned.
Because it means you’re stating how you see yourself instead of settling for how others see you.
Because otherwise you will never know how they really feel.
Because life without risk isn’t really life.
Because romance can be better than friendship.
Because if you get rejected, you will be okay and it isn’t the end of the world.

Smart girl, this Micaela.

My inability to take a chance has nothing to do with the men in my life and everything to do with how I see myself. Honestly, if someone told me, at this moment, that I was a lovely young woman who would find an amazing man some day, I’m not sure I would believe them. I can’t imagine it, because for far too long, I’ve told myself I don’t deserve it; I’m not worthy of it; I’ll never find it.

I let my insecurities dictate the path my life will take. I let them hold me back. I let them cloud my vision and bewilder my heart, until I can’t recognize anything but the insecurities I’ve failed to overcome. I’ve only lived half a life. I’ve forgotten that I am strong enough to overcome my fears.

My value as a woman isn’t dependent on a man being attracted to me. My worth as a woman isn’t defined by a man’s interest in me. I don’t have to be pursued to be good enough or woman enough. My value, my worth as a woman is intrinsic. It isn’t something someone gives to me, and it’s not something a man justifies.

It’s already there. I need only to recognize and accept it.

Thank you for reading! And maybe (definitely) follow me on Twitter. I’m pretty entertaining.

Where we aren’t hiding.

{I’ve done a few versions of this post for the ladies titled “Where they aren’t hiding.” The “they” of course being men. But I thought I could try and help a brother out and do a “Where we aren’t hiding.” The “we” of course being women. You’re welcome.}

We ladies, I’ve heard it said, are mysterious. What are we thinking? Why do we do the things we do? Why are we crazy intense? Why do we overthink everything? WE DON’T KNOW! We are women. We don’t have to make sense. (And yes, you can quote me on that.) But our, shall we call them, unique qualities makes us kind of a moving target. We’re all over the place. Literally. We’re flighty, indecisive, and we can’t stay still. (Okay, that’s mostly a lie. Heaven forbid I insult my own gender…)

Regardless, sometimes finding a nice girl can be hard. No matter what eHarmony or ChristianMingle (ugh) tries to tell you, dating just isn’t all that easy anymore. And who really thinks those match.com commercials are “real life couples”? Please. Meeting people has only become more frustrating, because we live on Twitter and Facebook, our phones attached to our hands. So how can you find the girl of your dreams? Honestly, I have no idea. I’m kind of crap at that whole “dating” thing. BUT! I can give a bit of insight as to where us lovely young ladies ARE NOT going to be found. (Granted there are exceptions to every rule…Like I said, this dating thing is a mess.)

Here are a few places that I, in my stereotypical fashion, offer as places where you men may spend a lot of your time while us ladies will not. Read on if you dare.

Sports Center. Now, I understand the awesomeness of sports. Truly. I grew up with a dad who started his own fantasy football league when I was two (it’s still active), and a mother who sees March Madness as a major holiday. So, guys, I get that sports are important. I get that you need to know who won, who lost, the stats and standings and bracket match ups. But while you are sitting there, watching the evening recap of every sports event that happened that day, all of us lovely young women are out and about, doing our thing, looking for you. And where are you? On your couch. With a remote in your hand. And you wonder why you are single? (Besides, wouldn’t watching sports be much more enjoyable if you had a cute sports fanatic sitting next to you?)

Guy’s Night. Guy’s Night is sacred. Girls have our own version of this, usually with chocolate, wine, and a movie starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Ryan Gosling, or anyone with a British accent. Sometimes you just have to have a night the with guys. But if every night turns into a guy’s night your chance of having a date night exponentially decreases. Because while us ladies like to take charge every so often, those of us who are sane (translate: respectful of your space) are not going to infiltrate a guy’s night in search of you. Every so often, your poker and beer can take an evening off. (I don’t really know what you men do at guy’s night. Sorry if the poker and beer thing was too “stereotypical.”)

Radioshack (and such; also related to hardware stores.) You guys like your toys. And with good reason. Who doesn’t like a nice piece of technology?! I nearly wept at the beauty of the iPhone 5 and long for the day I can hold it in my hand and love it like my future child. Too awkward? Anyway, while women like to buy cool electronics, we are less likely to spend hours in Radioshack or Best Buy to do it. So while you fawn over your HDMI cables, hands free devices, and wifi set ups, we’re hanging out in Target. And guess what? You can find pretty much the same thing over there! Seriously, if you want to know where the single girls are hiding, hit up Target. No lie. We LIVE there. And sometimes we venture into the electronics section. Who’d have thought?!

Some other situations you gentlemen are less likely to find us ladies in are while you play video games and/or computer games (ie any version of Halo or World of Warcraft), comic book stores (I reference The Big Bang Theory for this one, folks), and Hooters (that’s from my dad…so take that as you will). So in your search for a lovely lady to share your life with, maybe take a break from your routine and change things up. Go somewhere different, try some place new. Check out a new coffee shop or bookstore. Get involved in church. And for real, walk around Target. You’ll thank me later.

Thank you for reading! And maybe (definitely) follow me on Twitter?

My blank slate.

My mother once said I was a doormat. It was about five years ago, during an especially difficult year at college, and I was incensed. My mother, the woman who should be building me up and encouraging me as my friendships were falling apart, stood across the counter from me, looked me in the face, and said I was a doormat. I let people walk all over me. I didn’t do anything for myself. I wasn’t the girl she had raised, the woman she knew I had become. I wasn’t me anymore. (She’s pretty no nonsense, my mother.)

I wouldn’t hear it. I refused. She didn’t know me. I spent most of my time down in Portland for college. I only saw my family about one weekend a month, and I talked to them on the phone even less. I’m not usually the sort to wallow in self pity, but what my mom said kept going through my mind. I heard it in my sleep, while I was reading, as I watched a movie. The words kept pestering me, insisting I hear them and remember them. They demanded my attention.

My mother, as mothers usually are, was quite right in her rather determined diagnosis. After some reflection and a healthy dose of brutal honesty, I agreed. I was a doormat. No, I had become a doormat, which wasn’t the same at all. Because that means at one point, I wasn’t a doormat. I wasn’t someone who lost her sense of purpose, her goals, her own personality. I wasn’t what everyone made me into. I was solely and completely myself. I was my own driving force. But at some point, between high school and college, I receded. I dimmed. I faded into what my friends wanted me to be, what I thought guys wanted me to be, what I thought society wanted me to be. I forgot myself.

When I remember my first year of college, I remember myself as a blank slate; tabula rasa. I walked onto campus and was ready to become. I could shed everything I was and start fresh. I didn’t have to worry about pleasing my parents, my church, my friends, or if I’m completely honest, God. I could make myself into the best version of Cassi. It was all up to me.

But it wasn’t. I gave it up and handed it over to everyone else. I let other people determine me, create me. I passed them the pen and let them write on me, on my blank slate. I let them cover me in what they wanted, in what they needed. I let them leave their mark on me.

I’ve let men write on me, on my body, on my mind, on my heart. I’ve let them write their taste in music on me, their taste in “film.” I’ve let them write their opinions and beliefs on me. I’ve let them write their sexual type on me, their idea of pretty, hot, or beautiful. I’ve let them write their dominance on me, convincing me of my inferiority. I’ve let them write their fantasies on me, setting me up to fall short. I’ve let them write their expectations and needs on me. I’ve let them write their insecurities and physical desires on me. I’ve let men write their “ideal” on me, tattooing it on my heart and soul.

I’ve let women write on me. I’ve let them write their personality on me. I’ve them write their taste in clothes on me. I’ve let them write their paranoia on me. I’ve let them write their gossip on me. I’ve let them write their self esteem issues on me. I’ve let them write their negativity on me. I’ve let them write their flare for the dramatic on me, their addiction to the spotlight. I’ve let them write their pettiness on me. I’ve let them write their need for attention on me. I’ve let them write their idea of femininity and sexuality on me. I’ve let them write their history with men on me. I’ve let them write their depression, ignorance, and immaturity on me.

Everyone I met left their own tattoo on my skin, marking me whether I allowed it or not. I couldn’t erase them. They overwhelmed me, swallowed me whole. I tried to write over them, using word after word to cover up the ones I didn’t like. The words on my skin clashed, becoming run-on sentences and incomplete thoughts. I became a mess of everything, and the sum of nothing. I would stand in front of the mirror, look at myself, and see only a stranger. I would see what everyone else wanted or demanded of me. I saw what they needed, but not what I needed. As I tried to cover the words, they only dug deeper, leaving scars on my soul. And then, I stopped caring. I let the words be, letting them define me. I became them.

It is difficult to un-become something. It shouldn’t be, not when you didn’t want it to begin with. But you become used to it, comfortable with it. You look in the mirror and you start to recognize it. Even when you don’t want it, you cling to it, because somewhere along the way it started to make sense. You began to understand each other.

But we never, I believe, completely fade away. We never give up everything, because there is always a little part of us we strive to protect; that one thing we treasure, the one part of ourselves we are proud of. Perhaps it lies dormant, waiting until we are ready to accept it, to unleash it as we shed the words others have given us.

All the men I’ve met can’t erase their marks from my skin. Neither can the women undo their scarring tattoos. They can’t fix me or renew me. Some of the wounds go too deep. Some of them hurt worse than others. I can’t erase the marks from my skin. I don’t have the strength, it seems, to look in the mirror and say, “I need to start over. I need a new blank slate.” I don’t have the patience or the will. But truthfully, I don’t have the heart. It was too much responsibility that first time, having a blank slate. And I ruined it; I let others ruin it. And I don’t think I can put myself through that again.

I’ve stopped trying to cover myself in the words I want. Humans are nothing if not fickle creatures, and I have the tendency to change my mind between one breath and the next. So I don’t write on myself, but rather on paper. I write for myself, for the God who made it so, for the God who protected that part of me. Every so often I catch the glimpse of my fading tattoos, and ask God to take them from me. I give them to Him, one at a time, and He erases them from my heart and soul. He is patient with me, not demanding I give everything up at once, not hating when I stubbornly cling to some of them. He loves me through my healing, gives me grace when I may not deserve it.

He writes on me now. He wrote a new purpose on me, a new goal. He gave me permission to be something I never thought I could be. He wrote hope and love on me. He wrote potential on me. He wrote imagination on me, and a bit of creativity. He wrote forgiveness on me. He wrote desire and dreams on me. He wrote all the words I didn’t think I could have, didn’t think I deserved. But He gave them to me, one by one, when He knew I was ready for them. Some mornings I wake up and look in the mirror and see that God left a new mark on me, a new word He meant only for me. And I smile at them and work to become them.

Thank you for reading! Follow me on Twitter.