Called Out.

Nothing lights me up more than friendship with bold, powerful women. The kind who don’t take shit from anyone, who want a life of humor and adventure and no-less-than-absolutely-fucking-awesome. The ones who call it like they see it, shoot straight, walk the talk, be the change, play big, go hard, sprint to the finish.

So. Lyndsey Fryer, you got me.

This beautiful bad-ass challenged me to dust off my keyboard and write something, immediately.

8 questions to celebrate my blog and my life and our partnership. Lyndsey is pure soul and creativity. She is the reason I had the courage to leave my lawyer job and join her team at lululemon. I knew if she was a part of something, it had to be the real deal.

And I was right.

Here’s to you Lynds, and all of the other exceptional women in my life who show up and demand the best of me, all of the time.

1. What do you want to be known for?

My leadership. Even when I was little I had the sense I was destined for a big life. Like the first woman President or Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. People followed me, even when I was really young. In my teens, and early twenties, I felt great pride in my powerfulness. I felt I could walk into a room and own it, like I was the only voice in the room that mattered and the only perspective people listened to.

A little older and a tiny bit more humble, I think of my leadership differently. I want to be the woman who opens space for other women to find their power and share their perspective. I want people to remember me as a woman who made them better, smarter, more capable, who made their voice stronger, and elevated their potential.

I want to live a big life, not for the bigness of it, but for the bigness it creates in others.

2. What inspires you most about others?

Vulnerability. And selflessness.

3. Share something you are proud of?

Camp have-a-lot-of-Fun. My best friend Amy and I built an empire. From the awkwardness and insecurity of 40 strangers, most of them teenagers, we created a beautiful, loving family where everyone is accepted and celebrated exactly as they are. My CHALOF kids (who are now, in many cases, adults) remind me what we are all capable of when we choose laughter over judgement, courage over fear, love, above all else.

4. A snapshot of my life in 5 years.

It’s a Friday in April and I’m on my front porch drinking strong coffee as the sun comes up. I’m wrapped in three blankets and a down jacket because I’m still not used to this “not California” cold. I’m waiting for my mega-babe boyfriend to bust through the back door, sweaty and sexy from an early morning mountain run. He’ll fix up a delicious, organic breakfast and I’ll wonder how I fed myself properly before him.

I didn’t.

In an hour, I’ll head to the airport. I’m flying to London for my dream job as a training manager at lululemon. My mom will call me on the way to reminisce about my childhood as “the worst flyer on the planet,” as she marvels at my traveling career.

She does it every time.

Life when I’m home is beautiful and simple. We hike and ski and play soccer. We cook and dance and laugh, constantly. My boyfriend is manly and sweet and insanely smart and I when we argue,  I never let him forget that “I used to be a lawyer,” even if I barely remember it.

5. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given and by whom?

Before I went to law school, I met all of these incredible, older women in the Sacramento yoga community. For a year and a half I was surrounded by power and grace and wisdom and my whole life is better for it.

One of these lady goddesses once told me, about tough decisions: “You’ll never know before you make a decision whether it’s the right one or the wrong one. In most cases, you won’t ever know. The important thing is, you make it. Commit to something, and be brave.”

Christine was brilliant and successful and always grounded me in “what I already know.”

6. What’s the best/worst purchase you ever made

Best: My law prom dress my third year of law school. It was a magical night the memories from which are still so alive I can smell them. It was so perfect and so awesome I don’t even feel bad about the ridiculousness of attending a “law prom” in the first place.  I didn’t buy the dress. I rented it. But that night I owned it, all the way.

Worst: So many tanning booth packages and tiny tanning goggles.

I used to hide the goggles in the center console of my red 4runner because my mom would lock me up if she found them.

I want to die just thinking about it.

7. What word makes you cringe?

Amongst.

I loathe myself for grammar snobbery.

8. What is your signature dance move?

My signature dance move is that I’m the first on the floor and the last one to leave it. Having a wedding? Worried about awkward social guests and on a limited liquor budget? Invite ME! I dance my ass of under all circumstances and drink very little. I can lighten up even the most serious, sober crowd. I think I was an NBA mascot in a past life and I’ve got the energy to prove it.

Find me here. On Facebook. Email me or just show up where I live.

Down to travel. Will bring my own date.

 

Body Talk

I first hated my body when I was eight years old. It wasn’t long enough, or strong enough. All I wanted was to be a little more muscular, with broader shoulders, and more powerful legs.

I am small and scrawny and struggling to stay at the top of my age group on my swim team. There’s a girl who keeps setting league records and getting the majority of the coach’s praise. We are the same age, but side by side, I look like her underfed, adopted little sister. There’s my friend Sara, who is already taller than my mom. As soon as we dive in the pool, she’s two body lengths ahead of everyone else. Especially me.

When I’m 13, I resent being short again. I’m angry at my parents for passing on the wrong genes. I watch Tara Crossbattle hit for the U.S. Olympic team and dream of playing volleyball like her some day. I stare across the net during my club games and see girls who are 6 foot 2 and 6 foot 3. In junior high.

I feel hopeless. and frustrated. Like I’ll never be good enough.

In high school, I experience a brief period of body confidence. “Skinny” is suddenly desirable, and highly revered. I still feel like an unworthy athlete, but my friends express envy about how my butt looks in my jeans. A boy, who relies on copying my homework to pass French 1, tells me one morning that, “my boobs are big for my size.”

I take it as a compliment, I think.

At 16, my body changes. There are curves in womanly places and my belly peeks out over the waistband of my pants. For a while, I appreciate feeling sturdier on the soccer field and barely notice the difference in how I look. Eventually, something somebody says, or does, or how I feel, or what’s going on in my life, or a combination of these and so many other things, trigger dissatisfaction.

And I resolve to be “skinny” again.

I stick to eating regular meals and a few, healthy snacks. I get a gym membership and occasionally run outside. My shape is narrower and my muscles are better defined. I observe the connection between my behavior and my body and feel fueled by the power of it.

The importance of my health is quickly overshadowed by the intoxicating sensation of controlling my weight. Suddenly, I feel stability and have leverage in a life that has otherwise been ruled by chaos, for the last three years.

I shrink around the middle and my collarbones are exposed. I can almost squeeze my fingers together when I place my hands on my hips. I run six or eight miles on the bike trail after school. When it’s too cold or too dark, I spend an hour and a half on the treadmill, trotting at my top speed.

I go to birthday parties and dinner dates prepared with an excuse about why I can’t eat. I am poised and believable. I limit myself to a single subway sandwich, then one bowl of cereal, then  just a single protein bar, for the whole day.

When I fall asleep at night I tell myself I’m not hungry, and I salivate thinking about the seven inches of “Kashi GOLEAN” that awaits me in the morning.

“I can make it until then.”

My mom is worried and takes me to the doctor, several times. I smile confidently and answer all of her questions, with lies. “I started running to get in shape for soccer.” “I eat ‘more than a salad’ for dinner.” “I got my period last week.”

At rock bottom I binge on five or six mini powdered donuts while my friends and I are hanging out in my kitchen. I disappear upstairs, turn on the faucet in my mom’s bathroom, and force myself to throw up.

Starving myself felt normal, compared to this.

My downward spiral comes to an unexpected, but life-saving halt when my mom and I watch “Behind the Music: Karen Carpenter.” The same week, I see a picture of myself from the most recent school dance. I look like a skeleton, or a ghost, or a bobble-head.

Like the walking dead.

The eating comes slowly and not without set-backs. I sometimes still stuff down a Luna bar before going out to dinner and claim “I already ate.”

In the twelve years since then, I am not anorexic. I am sometimes a binger, but only a regretter, not a purger, anymore. I stop running in college and find my way to a yoga mat. I feel my body strengthen and watch my arms and abs take shape. The more I can do, and the better I feel, the more gratitude and admiration I have for what my body can do for me. What it’s always done for me.

Yoga helps me learn to nourish my body with healthy, whole foods and be aware of the sensations of being too full or too hungry. My relationship to my body changes.

But it’s never perfect.

I’m still married to a size 26 in my fancy jeans and a J.Crew double zero. I still panic a little when the folds of my tummy look extra juicy when I come into plow pose, at the end of class. I still think “I better stay thin” because I’m almost thirty, and still single, and how I look on a first date still matters, maybe more than anything else.

This is my story, some of it at least. And if you’re a woman, you have a story, or many, about your body, too. You have hated it and loved it and resented it. You’ve starved it and shamed it and celebrated it. You’ve wanted it to look different, or like it used to, or like you know it never will again. You’ve looked at other women and compared theirs, to yours. You’ve wanted to be a size two or squeezed into a size six or desperately prayed for bigger boobs.

I typically don’t like to draw hard lines, but ours is a uniquely female struggle.

When the founder of lululemon tells an interviewer, among other things, that “the pants don’t work for some women’s bodies,” the media, and maybe some of you, react. There are interpretations and misquotations and evaluations. I read one article where Chip Wilson “blames women’s bodies for defective pants.”

The thing is, he’s right. Women all over the world take all shapes and sizes and certainly not all of them are compatible with lululemon pants, size two through twelve. It’s a technical brand and if you’ve ever worn an oversized wet-suit, or too-tight ski boots, you know technical gear needs to be a perfect fit to be effective, and comfortable. And the perfect fit across the spectrum of shapes and features in a woman’s figure is, I would imagine, a logistical impossibility. It’s gotta be.

The other thing is, the man who founded a company that makes pants that look sensational on almost any woman’s body is hardly a villain in our story. Because if we set aside the flashy headline and the cleverly edited soundbytes, he sparks a discussion, I think, is worth having.

About all of the other things that don’t work with every woman’s body.

Like not eating carbs, or only drinking juice or giving up eating altogether. Like muscular arms and chiseled abs and the same waistline you had when you were a teenager. Like not gaining baby weight or not going out in public until you lose it. Like baking in the sun, or in a tanning bed because you like yourself better with “a nice, even glow.” Like judging yourself when you don’t “work-out” or finally feeling worthy when you do. Like looking in the mirror with a scowl, or a fast, deep, exhale, that signals disapproval. Like a wedding diet or a 21-day cleanse. Like every time we push food away and say “I can’t” in front of our daughters. Like when we look at other women and mentally scold them for being whatever thing we don’t want to acknowledge in ourselves.

Like every, single, message, every, single, day, that tells us how we should look and act and feel and express ourselves. How we should dress and shave and raise our kids. How we should be in the world, without taking into account who we are, already.

lululemon isn’t spreading these messages. In my experience, both as a long time consumer and user of the products, and as a new employee of the company, the message is one women actually need to hear.

One of self-empowerment and a purpose-driven life. One of possibility and courage and community and love. One of get out and sweat because it makes you feel good, not because of the pressure related to how you look.

Put these clothes on your perfect body, no matter the shape, and go out and kick some ass in this world.

It’s a message that is already uplifting my experience of being a woman. And a human.

And even if the pants don’t work for every body, the message is a perfect fit.

Ladies Leave Your Man at Home

I hate to interrupt all of the exotic Asia talk, but this is important.

On Saturday morning I feel exhausted. In a revolutionary act of Friday night bravery, I’d stayed out at a bar until 2 a.m. My friend and I lost track of time giggling at tales of childhood dysfunction told with hilarious charm and full-body animation by a tall, dark stranger.

I’m still wiping the crust from my eyes when our dance teacher skips through the studio door. She’s as radiant and energetic as I’d remembered from two weeks ago when we accidentally took her “Diva Hip Hop” class at Your Neighborhood Studio in Culver City, CA.

I briefly consider sneaking away and waiting out the class at the nearest Peet’s coffee.

I look over at the white-haired woman in a black mesh tank top and decide to stay.

Thirty minutes later I’m sweaty and re-energized. I’m watching a middle-aged Asian woman in a pink cotton V neck shake it like it’s a Beyonce Grammy performance. She’s chunky in a real-woman kind of way. Her hair is pulled off her face in the type of ponytail a busy Mom makes while she’s buckling her kid into a car seat and texting her gym buddy that she’s running late. I watch this woman get completely lost in the rhythm of her own body. Her face is soft and sassy. From fifteen feet away I can feel her release the heavy weight of everything else in her life.

Then it’s my turn. My group spreads the length of the wood floor. Each of us finds a space where our face meets our reflection in the mirror. Then the music comes on and we stop looking.

In the all-female dance class there are women of many ages. And races. And sizes. And experiences.

Some of us are terribly uncoordinated and others look like this morning is a warm-up for their gig on the sidelines of the Dallas Cowboys’ game tomorrow.

All of us are rocking it out like we were born to do it.

Here, our bodies are perfect, our minds are clear.

Right now our spirits are soaring.

I’m reminded that womanhood is a powerful thing. That sometimes it is hard for us to love each other, celebrate each other and accept each other. Because it is hard to love, celebrate and accept ourselves.

I’m reminded that when we stop competing and comparing, when we stop being self-conscious and self-critical, we find freedom. The freedom to sweat. The freedom to express ourselves. The freedom to be and act and look exactly the way we are:

Beautiful.