Let It Go: An Anthem for Girl Power

frozen_elsa_by_meddek-d6w674hDisney’s movie Frozen has a song in it called “Let It Go” that seems to have taken on a life of its own. I loved the movie, and I know my son enjoyed it, but…it obviously didn’t resonate with him the way it did with me.

In fact, as I was caught up in the story and song (and the new reclining lounge seats in the theater were a lovely bonus), he turned to me and said, “It’s good and all, but I think there’s too much singing.”

Well, Doug Downer, what’s up with that?

I’ve since read countless Facebook comments from my friends with little girls remarking that their daughters know the song by heart and won’t stop singing it. It is so popular that Disney re-released the movie in a sing-along version.

So…why? Why is this song so popular?

Well, just take a(nother) listen…

It is a captivating song about embracing your power and letting your fears go to become the person you were meant to be. Who doesn’t love that?

Yet it is definitely something that has caught on with girls more than boys. Granted, it’s not the typical movie that would become a boy’s favorite—after all, it is about two sisters (“ew!”) and their story, so it is not necessarily something that boys would gravitate toward, but I think there’s more to it.

Though Disney can’t seem to have a female lead that isn’t storybook gorgeous, the song’s message is not about embracing the power of your sexuality but rather your true gift…whatever that might be. If you notice in the clip, it doesn’t take Elsa long to hone that gift into amazing beauty once she decides to declare it.

And now, lookout people, because I’m about to go uber soapbox here.

We need to embrace who we are—all of us—but we need to particularly teach our girls that they need to embrace who they are and not try to fit into the cookie cutter mode of what is “expected” of women in this culture.

Maybe our girls are rocking out on it because they need to hear that it is okay to let it go and be themselves. Maybe they need to hear it more than we are saying it. Even in 2014. And maybe we grown women need to hear it, too.

Like the words in the song, we need to not care about what others say and let go of that “perfect girl” and the “good girl” and find out what beauty lies within us.

It seems like a non-argument to raise each other up for our true gifts and encourage our own truths, but that’s not what we as a society are teaching really, is it?

In this culture of celebrity and over-sexualized objectification, I think we have a lot more work to do.

I remember learning long ago how even in body language females are taught to “fold in” while males are taught to stretch out, and I find it to be true—women are encouraged in general to take up less space.

And then I see little six-year-old girls in dance class being taught how to bump and grind like grown women and wear full makeup and dress beyond their years, and I wonder what message they are taking away from that.

And girls who only want to be cheerleaders (go ahead and call it a sport, but it is rooted in cheering the boys on rather than participating in the sport itself) because they don’t want to “be a jock,” and I wonder why that label is so unappealing to them.

Please know that I am not saying that being a dancer or cheerleader is inherently wrong—but I do think that we need to pay attention to the messages that might lurk within.

After all—if that is the true gift for someone—to dance or do complex cheerleading mounts, then go for it! But if it is done because of “shoulds” and fears of not wanting to stand out in the “wrong” way, then I say we need to LET IT GO.

Let it go. Forget what the world sees in you or expects of you and look for what makes your heart truly beat…and then DO it.

Without apology. Without worry that you will be seen as less.

Because it is only when you let it go and let yourself be who God made you to be that you can be all the MORE you were meant to be.

Even if it means being out in the cold…just remember to tell yourself…

…the cold never bothered me anyway.

The Joy of First Raindrops

Today’s Frabjous Friday post is all about perspective.

Living in the Chicago area, let me diplomatically say this winter bites. I have pretty much had it with the snow. But in the video below, we get to see a little girl experience rain for the first time. What joy she has.

Share in it, my friends.

And let’s remember that after the harshness of winter comes the beauty of spring.

Kayden + Rain from Nicole Byon on Vimeo.

I can only imagine what giggles her first experience with snow would bring!

[Email subscribers: please remember you will have to click through to my blog to view the clip.]

George Bailey, I’ll Love You Till the Day I Die

I’m a bit of an It’s a Wonderful Life fan. (Like…it’s my very favorite-est!) I’ve already shared a bit about that. To me, the movie resonates deeply on a number of levels. But it’s Frabjous Friday time, so I won’t get into a long discourse on why this movie is so amazingly awesome.

What I will share here is a new joy that the movie is bringing me. See, I’ve always been an old movie buff, so it’s no shock that my relationship with IAWL began when I was just a kid (back in the day when the copyright had expired and they showed it approximately 20,498 times a season). But in this day and age, most people under 30 (or maybe even 40) are pretty much not interested in a black and white movie. (“It’s booooring.” Sigh.)

That’s why the fact that my kid is loving It’s a Wonderful Life is a huge joy to me. The torch has been passed. My kid is starting to “get” the depth that the movie has to offer, and I am delighted. As the years go on, I’m hoping his love for it grows, and that he’ll be able to share it with his child one day.

That’s all I’ll say on my beloved movie today. Except if you haven’t seen it in a while (or…ever?!?!?), you should make the time to do so. It will be time well spent. (And someday I’m going to watch it with the sole purpose of counting how many sayings from the movie have become a part of our family’s lexicon–I’m a little scared to find out. I know it will be a number deep into the double digits.)

Happy Frabjous Friday, folks. I hope you were all able to make some wonderful memories this Christmas season…after all, it IS a wonderful life!

[Email subscribers: please remember you will have to click through to my blog to view the clip.]

My Friday Is Not Black

I don’t get it.

Amidst the post-holiday haze, I nearly forgot that it’s Frabjous Friday time. What do I find joy in today? That I did not participate in the ridiculousness that is now infamously termed “Black Friday.”

The irony of the “event” was not lost on my 10yo son, who made the connection between having a day set aside for giving thanks immediately suffocated followed by a day where people clamor to buy buy buy!

In my lifetime, this phenomenon has grown from having stores open at a normal time on Friday…to having them open at 4 a.m….and eventually to some that are opened at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

I don’t get it.

I know some people have made it a part of their holiday tradition and they love it and life is awesome because they got the $12 big screen TV…but that’s not me.

I’m sorry for the people who are forced to work these goofy hours and miss out on their own family holiday. There is no joy in that to me.

Nor is there joy in hearing all the stories in the news about people behaving like bulls or worse. Hello, Common Sense? Clean up on aisle 4!

But…since this is Frabjous Friday, the joy for me is in hanging out today and getting creamed by my son in the game of Life. And finishing a beautiful book that he and I were reading together (Wonder, by R.J. Palacio–I highly recommend it). And eating leftovers. And watching my absolute very favorite episode of The Andy Griffith Show (the one where Opie accidentally kills the mama bird and then takes care of the babies…LOVE).

THAT, my friends, is Frabjous Friday.

Hope you, too, were able to spend some time with those you love and make some simple, loving memories. That’s the one “buy” that’s truly priceless.


You Can See It in the Wagons

old radio flyerCan you hear it?

Pft-pft-pft-pft-pft-pft-pft-pft-pft-pft-pft-pft…It’s the sound of a helicopter parent…Better duck!

We hear a lot of “when I was your age” lamenting, but parents—myself included—need to see that we are a big part of the change in how kids’ lives are these days. Let’s face it, parents: we’re a bit nuts.

It dawned on me that you can see it in the wagons of “then” and “now.”

The wagon I had when I was a child was a slick red metal Radio Flyer. It was maybe five inches deep, and there were no bells or whistles to it. It was simple…the rest was up to you.

My friends and I pulled each other in it. We pushed each other in it. We loaded it up and went on numerous adventures. We tied a rope to the handle and then tied the other end to a bike for extra speed. We found hills to see just how fast we could go and how badly the steering would be by holding the handle while riding. That wagon was a springboard to our imagination.

When I was 8 or 9, I took my wagon and loaded it up with books I no longer wanted. I then—without my parents’ knowledge (which was not typical in my household)—went around the neighborhood trying to hawk the books. I sold one for 60¢ and was delighted…Until my wagon and I got home to a toe-tapping, arms-folded mother. I then had to have my dad accompany me back to the house where I made the sale and apologize and explain that I had been in the wrong. I must have looked sadly pathetic because the person gave me back my book AND let me keep the money. A small offset to my shame.

Yes, my wagon and I have many memories together.

Today’s wagons are…a little bit more involved. They are thick plastic with seatbelts. And cupholders. And canopies. And those are just the basic models. Others have coolers…tables…cargo storage…and more. I see them at the zoo, parades, the mall. Parents pull these wagons. After all, the child is belted in safely and passively taking in his surroundings.

Watch out! They're not belted in!
Watch out! They’re not belted in!

They are so specific in design that they grow obsolete quickly. I can’t remember the last time I saw a kid older than 4 or 5 hanging around a wagon. Do we even know how fast these chubby plastic wagons go?

Please don’t hear me as saying none of these differences is good or helpful. I’m all for child safety. But it seems to me that these kinds of wagons illustrate the current climate of parenting. Parents want to make it all good and perfect…but the truth is, it’s not.

Maybe it’s just me, but I worry that so much is already created for our kids that we are stifling their ability to design and create and learn on their own. I almost lost it this summer when I saw some kids selling lemonade in a store-bought stand. I wanted to knock on that parent’s door and say “Really??”

lemonade stand

We have enough judgment in this world without my butting heads with a parent who buys her kid a $40 lemonade stand, but…come on. Do we have to design or facilitate everything for them?

We need to let our kids breathe and explore…and make mistakes…and fail…and learn. We are doing them no favors by giving them trophies for merely blinking their eyes.

I’m sure I fell out of my wagon and skinned my knees many times. But you know what I did? I got back in and tried again.

And I need to do my best to let my kid realize that for himself, too. No, it is not easy to watch them learn “the hard way,” but sometimes it is the most important lesson of all.

PS—Happy Thanksgiving!

I Keep Forgetting I Don’t Pay Attention

The world in a nutshell
The world in a nutshell

I can rarely hold a thought these days, and I blame Al Gore. (Okay, not really, because he never really said he invented the Internet, people.) But between the pervasiveness of easily attainable information and the ability to communicate a million different ways, I have lost my mind.

The title of this post comes out of the mouth of my son. We were traveling down a street we drive on nearly every day, and he looked up from the book he was reading and wondered where we were. When I answered him with a little bit of frustrated disbelief in my tone, he answered, “Ohh…that’s right. I keep forgetting I don’t pay attention.” And it dawned on me how perfect a statement this was not only for him, but for me, too.

Not only am I pulled and tugged in numerous ways in my world, but I let technology grab on, too, and I find myself distracted throughout the day.

I know my brain has taken a hit in the retention category because when I attempt to read, research, and learn, there is a subconscious knowledge that I will be able to find it again. This is both terrific and horrible. Apparently, my little mind knows that so much is stored “off-site” that she doesn’t really have to rise to the occasion and commit to storing the info. My mind can be a little bitch sometimes. She’s smart enough to know she can be dense.

I remember how when I was a kid, if I wanted to learn about the Roman Empire, for instance, I would start with the World Book Encyclopedia we had in our house, and if I needed to know more, I would go to the library. I would read…focus…and repeat, if needed. Today, I would Google the Roman Empire, my eyes would dart and scan over several different sites, and…and. And little would stick for long.

But the old me is battling. I’m currently reading a book that is thick with great things to ponder and remember. Sitting next to me one day, my son asked me, “What are you doing? Why are you writing in that book?” and I had the pleasure—but also challenge—of helping him to understand why a person would mark up a book and make notes in it. “It helps me digest it and refer back to it more easily, Honey. It helps me to learn it.”

Sadly, though, it’s taking me a long time to get through the book because my little mind knows I mean business when I open it up, so I often find myself too tired (or whatever) to sit down and focus. That little mind of mine is sneaky.

I find that this way of thinking (or not thinking) has gone beyond affecting how I read or research, though. It affects how I listen, too. And that is unforgivable.

I need to pay better attention. The distractions that surround me are exactly that: distractions. They are diversions from something else, and too often that something else should have my full attention. And it’s hard enough to give full attention in a world where one thought leads to another and before I know it, my remembering that I need to buy milk has resulted in my thinking about how I need to get the oil changed and sign up to chaperone my son’s field trip and send three work emails and is that a squirrel in the tree?…

And here’s the final kicker to this line of thinking…I wanted to include a quote that I’ve loved for years: We are drowning in information, but starved for knowledge (John Naisbitt), and I vaguely remembered that I might have used the quote before. Turns out I wrote an entire other post at the beginning of the year on this same struggle of mine. I can’t even remember my own writing! (Sorry for the rerun topic, but since I didn’t remember my own writing, I’m going to trust that this doesn’t feel like a repeat to you, either…but still. Yeesh.)

Paying better attention is indeed an uphill battle, but I’m not raising the white flag quite yet. Are you with me? Oh, wait…someone just texted me. Can you hold that thought for a sec? I’ll be right back with you in a blink…

PS–This post was written while I had two 10yo boys playing/fighting/laughing/swordfighting/wrestling in the next room. Can you tell?