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Live Beautiful | Courtney Kirkland: August 2008

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Live Beautiful | Courtney Kirkland: August 2008

Live Beautiful | Courtney Kirkland

August 28, 2008

Late Night Pondering...

Josh and I were talking last night before we fell asleep, and somehow we got on the subject of women fixing themselves up and getting dressed up nice for the men that they are with. Whether they are "with them" in the sense of being married or dating or engaged...whatever aspect of that you choose to take it in. It was during this conversation that I learned that the quickest way for a woman to irritate and aggravate the man she is with, is to stop fixing herself up...or as Josh termed it "stop taking care of her appearance." He referred to his dad complaining that his step-mom never made any effort to look good and didn't put any time into her physical appearance.
To men, he said, it was a pride thing. Kind of like who has the highest batting average in baseball except with woman...you know, whose girl cleans up the best? They want to be seen with a woman who cares about her appearance. I guess it's a bragging thing. We all know men have a thing for appearances and outward beauty, and I guess they don't want to be seen with an ugly woman. I guess all of that goes back to old times when woman had a certain appearance they had to maintain...think Scarlett O'Hara and the women of her era. Their sole purpose was to look good at parties and impress the men they were going to be surrounded by. They had an appearance they had to upkeep. My guess is that it's one of those subconscious things that just never goes away.
Josh seemed to think that when a woman stops fixing herself up, that it's because she is lazy and doesn't care about herself anymore. While I'm sure that there are some women that this rings true for...there are very obviously people that don't care about their appearance. But for the most part, I don't think it's accurate to say that about ALL women. To be honest, in some ways, men are just as responsible for a woman's lack of enthusiam about her appearance as anything else.
When I started thinking about this (yes, I was thinking...a dangerous thing, I know...) there were two very distinct and very obvious points that came to mind:
1. Men are physical beings, influenced and affected most by appearance and beauty. (Duh...we learn this early on.)
2. Women are affected by feelings and influenced by actions.
Learning that men are impacted by appearance is something that girls learn early on, but are more prone to notice and more suceptible to be hurt by when they get older and start to take part in that hellish state of being we call "Dating." That's why men are most likely to struggle with pornography addiction and suffer from the traps of infedelity when they get married. (And for all of you men who may be reading this that think that I'm being Bias...pull up the statistics on google. They are there and both of the previously stated comments are true.)
Now the second point I made was less obvious, but when I explain it, women especially, will grasp what I'm saying. Girls are more likely to be influenced by feelings than men. That's why it's hard to find a woman who is ok with a one night stand. We get too involved. We get emotionally connected. Think back to childhood. Call a litle girl a name on the playground, she's most likely going to cry. Tell a middle school girl that you think she is ugly, and that's going to follow her wherever she goes. Men-cheat on your girlfriends, and see what kind of an influence and an impact that has on her. Women also respond to actions. Look at how defensive women get of their children. Go back to that same little girl on the playground...take her dolly away from her. One of 2 things will happen-she'll cry and go tell, or she'll get her dolly back, no matter what it takes. Men-cheat on your girlfriends...let me know how that turns out for you.
Alright, so what do these 2 points have in common? What do they have to do with the topic at hand- men wanting their women to look good, and women desiring to look good for their men? Everything. Girls, guys respond to the outward appearances of women. Sure, later on in relationships they care for who you are on the inside. But I'm not naive enough not to admit that what makes a guy even want to get to know you, is your appearance. How you stand out in the crowd. Go to a bar or a party...the attractive girls are the ones getting hit on. Not the ones with the good personalities. It sucks, but it's the truth. Men, women are influenced and persuaded by the way things make them feel. If a woman feels like she is beautiful and appreciated, then she will take the time to BE beautiful. So what does this mean for you men? YOU have to take the initiative to make your woman feel like she has a reason to fix up for you. If she thinks that her efforts to look good are in vain, then she's going to stop trying. Sorry, but it's true. If a woman feels like she gets herself dressed up and her attempts to impress her man never get recognized, then you're going to be hardpressed to get her to care anymore. But a woman who feels treasured and feels like her man thinks she is the most beautiful woman out there, will respond to his actions and respond to the way he makes her feel. (Usually, guys, in more ways than one if you understand what I'm saying...)
Alright, for all of you men that read this that are too dense and oblivious to figure out HOW to go about doing this, I've put together a little list of things for you to start with. Simple things that don't require a whole lot of effort on your part, but will mean alot to the girls in your life, and will get the response from them you are hoping for. Some of these things have to do with the physical aspects of a relationship and beauty, but others just have to do with making a girl feel like she has some significance in your life (which, believe me, is as equally important.)
1. Don't let your woman catch you looking at porn. Don't let her suspect you look at porn. If she does catch you, don't lie about it and try to hide it...you're caught...might as well deal with the consequences cause women don't forget stuff like that. Don't let her see you checking out other girls when she is around. Don't make implying comments about other girls or toward other girls. And obviously...don't cheat on her.
That sounds simple enough doesn't it? Too bad the above mentioned are for some reason the easiest things for a guy to do to screw up a relationship. According to a study I found on google, the number 1 recorded reason behind fights between couples, is a man checking out another woman when his girlfriend/wife/fiance is around. I am sure that whatever men may be reading this are sitting here right now thinking "What does it matter if I look? I'm not touching and there is nothing wrong with that." Aside from being totally pig-headed, according to the bible, "Everyone who looks at another woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28). By looking at another woman, whether it be in the mall or at a restaurant, or on a porn site, you are implying to the woman in your life that she is not beautiful enough to catch and keep your attention. She is not good enough for you. She does not captivate you and you do not solely desire her. That may not be true, but it's what it implys.
2. Tell her she is beautiful.
This seems simple enough. And alot of guys probably do tell their girls that they think they are beautiful. But, when? When she is dressed to go to church? When you are out on a date? Those times like that are when women expect it. Why? Because it's polite or because it appropriate. Want to impress her and get it to stand out and mean something to her? Tell her she's beautiful when she doesn't expect it. I don't mean when she's been at the gym and is dripping with sweat. I said be sincere, not lie to her. But if your at home just lounging around the house and she has that natural beauty thing going on-tell her. If you are out running errands or buying groceries or something and it strikes you, tell her. It's times like that that women feel like the really are beautiful, because there was no certain occasion to draw that comment out of you.
This may be a personal pet peeve, but guys refrain from telling your girl how "cute" she is all the time. Sure, there are times when "cute" is the appropriate word, but girls don't want to hear that they are "cute" from the men that they care about. To me, cute is the word you use to describe a puppy or a newborn baby, or a little old couple you see holding hands. Not the woman you love. Why does this bother me? Go back to that girl that your woman just caught you checking out as she walked by...are you honestly going to tell me, or the woman you are with, that "cute" is the word you would use to describe that girl? I don't think so...
3. Show her through the simple things how much you care about her.
Again, it's the SIMPLE things that you do that mean the most. You don't have to go out and buy some expensive jewelry or spend a fortune on a big fancy dinner...do the small things. Below is a list of the small things that come to mind that mean the most to women. Guys, take notes:
  • Leave her a note somewhere that only she will find it, telling her how much she means to you. Or text her during the day, just to let her know that she is on your mind. Women like to know that no matter how busy their guy gets during the day, that they are important enough to them to cross their minds during the passing by of life.
  • Buy her flowers. It doesn't have to be a dozen red roses, or a dozen of anything for that matter. Find out what her favorite flower is, and bring her a few...or even just one. Trust me guys, a single rose (of any color most likely...but find out her favorite) will do wonders and earn you a ton of brownie points.
  • One morning when you are both off work and have no reason to get out of bed early, fix her her favorite breakfast and bring it to her in bed. Again, you don't have to go all out with sausage, bacon, eggs, and grits...bring her her favorite. For me, that would be as simple as a bowl of cereal or 2 Eggo Waffles. (Pregnant cravings...gotta love 'em!)
  • Watch a movie that SHE wants to watch, without complaining, and without interruption. Really watch it. Don't spend the whole time texting or getting up and down off the couch. You may be surprised by her choice of movie, and you may be surprised by how much you like it.
  • Ask her about her day. Ask her about the things going on in her life. Talk to her...and actually listen when she responds. Don't ask something, and then tune her out. You are kind of defeating the purpose.

4. Take her out. Show her off. Let her know that you are proud that she is with you. It's so easy when you have been together for a long time to just sit at home every single night and watch TV. But, guys, take your girl out every once in a while. I don't mean every single night. But occasionally, put in the effort to make her feel like you are proud to be seen with her. Keeping her at home every night can give off the vibe that you are ashamed to be seen in public with her.

5. Show her some affection. No, I don't mean suck each others face off when you are in public, but don't be so hardcore not to show a little physical affection toward your girl. Put your arm around her, hold her hand, kiss her in public. Those little things will go a long way. It makes her feel attractive and confirms that you have eyes only for her.

6. Don't act like a jerk just because you are around a bunch of guys. This is a common issue. Just because you and your girl are out and some of your guy friends are around, doesn't give you the right to act like a jerk. When the other guys start giving the waitress a hard-time, don't join in just because they are doing it. When they start making cat-calls at girls that walk by, don't join in because they are doing it. And have some consideration when it comes to going out to eat with your girl and your buddies...Don't think that your girl wants to eat at Hooter's all the time. We all know why men go to Hooter's...and it's not because of the chicken wings.

7. Be a gentleman. The way you act when you are dating your girl, should carry over when things get serious. I don't care how long you have been together, there are some things guys should always do for girls...whether they are little girls, old ladies, or your girlfriend/wife/etc. Open doors-this includes the car door. If you a girl with her arms full, offer to help her. Use manners...this means chewing with your mouth closed, being polite, and refraining from releasing bodily gases in the presence of a woman. If it's cold, offer her your jacket. Make sure she is comfortable. All of those little things you did to impress her when you first started dating, will continue to impress her long after you've been together for a while. It's those courteous things that make her feel like she is as important now as she was in the beginning and that she is worth the extra little bit of effort that it may take to be a gentleman.

8. If you want your woman to feel beautiful, give her the opportunity to make herself beautiful. Ok guys, we all know that your dressing routine involves a shower, a shave, and getting dressed. To a woman, there is a whole lot more that goes into getting ready to go somewhere and making herself feel beautiful (and I'll say it for you, a whole lot more time involved.) There is shower, hair, makeup, and the all important process of picking out something to wear. Guys, if you want your girl to fix herself up, then STOP COMPLAINING WHEN SHE DOES! Nothing is more irritating to a woman (atleast to me) than to be trying to get ready and a man nagging that you are taking too long. You want us to look nice, so shutup and let us get ready. Go sit on the couch and watch TV or something...entertain yourself without bothering us. Similarly, guys, let your girls do whatever it is that makes them feel beautiful. I don't mean give them free reign to spend hundreds of dollars at a spa each week. But every woman has something that makes her feel beautiful...sometimes they have more than one thing. For me, nothing makes me feel better about myself than a fresh haircut and getting my eyebrows waxed (yes it's painful, but I have a fetish about unkempt eyebrows). I like to get new makeup occasionally, it makes me feel fresh. And I loooove having my toes done. If your girl enjoys these things, let her divulge once in a while. If it's a new shirt or pair of shoes that make her feel like she is beautiful, don't complain because she went shopping again. Tell her she is beautiful and compliment her. (Again, a line has to be drawn somewhere...2 or 3 new pair of Jimmy Choo's is a little bit excessive.)

I know these seem like rules for dating, but that's not what I intended for it to become. I just believe that when men take the time to treat women like they should be treated, it makes women feel like they are appreciated. And when they feel appreciated and feel like they are beautiful to the men that they care about, they want to look good for them. Josh and I read a wonderful book called "The First 90 Days of Marriage" by Eric and Leslie Ludy that made some significant points directed at what I'm talking about. In one section, Eric says : "A woman is desirous of her husband in direct proportion to her husband's remembrance of her throughout each day." Furthermore, he says, "When a woman feels beautiful in the eyes of her man, she is eager to let him know how much she delights in him...a woman needs more than to feel beautiful physically; she also needs to feel cherished inwardly." Now, I know not everyone is married, but the point is the same. Women respond to being thought of and recognized. Guys, if you put a little bit of effort into making your girl feel good about herself, then she will put the effort into making herself look good. Most of the time, women get dressed up, not for their own benefit, but to impress those around them. If a woman never gets praised and feels like her efforts aren't being noticed, then why does she want to waste the time to fix herself up? Think about it. Laziness on a woman's part goes so far, and then comes the lack of enthusiasm from men.

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August 27, 2008

Finding Your Other Half...and yourself

I know I have only been married for a few month, before all of you out there start with the whole "You haven't been married long enough...just wait till things get hard..."ordeal. I understand that. I also understand that (1) Marriage isn't for everyone. (2) Marriage is Hard work...something you strive every single day to perfect. (3) In my opinion, there is only 1 person out there for each individual.
Now that I have gotten that out there in the open, I wanted to follow up on the writings of last September. I previously questioned whether or not I thought that I would ever be able to open up and let myself get to know someone intimately, and be known intimately. I went through a lot of bad relationships...seriously, ask my sister. I was in a rough spot for a long time in my life, simply on account of one bad relationship after another. I was broken and hurt, and really just down on myself all the time. On top of worrying with guys, I was trying to decide what to do with my life, dealing with some issues with my parents...just a whole lot of junk going on at one time. I've always been on a much more mature level than most people my age, and I've always been equipped to handle a ton of things at one time, but I was just literally at my breaking point.
During all of that, was when I got my new job in the Intensive Care Unit at our local hospital. That's when I met Josh. I started working in the Unit at the very beginning of August on day shift...doing training, taking classes, all of that fun stuff. I didn't actually begin working on our 3-11 shift until September. I had heard all about Josh from the first day I was up there. Not in a "You guys should go out" kind of way, but more of a "There's this guy you'll be working with, he really knows his stuff, I think you two will really get along..." kind of way. We met for the first time during shift change while I was on days. Immediately I put my guard up, because I could sense automatically that there was something there. There was just something different about him than there was anyone else that I had ever met in my life. We eventually started working together 5 or 6 days a week, and got to know one another, but it wasn't until October that I gave him my phone number, and that's only because he was supposed to be calling me about a textbook for a class I was taking. After that though, he started calling when we left work and talking me home ( I lived an hour away from the hospital we worked at) to make sure I made it ok. We talked alot about basic stuff, and later, even after I had made it home, I'd sit on my front porch for 2 or 3 hours and we just talked. About everything. About anything. It was during those phone conversations, that for the first time in my life, I was able to open up and be myself.
I tell you all of this, because that, in itself is the point. I still have an outlet when there are things on my mind, especially when Josh isn't around. But Josh, is my outlet. Never have I known anyone that could listen to everything that is on my mind, and know by the way I'm talking and the things that I'm bothered by whether or not he should even say anything or try to help.
I think, now having met my "someone", that there is that opportunity for us to let ourselves be known. But, I think that the only time that we should do that, is when we are sure and 100% trust the person that we are talking to. It's a hard thing to break yourself down, let down that wall and be completely and honestly open with someone. It's a feeling of vulnerability to really be known by someone. It's like be exposed to the world. When you let someone get to know that intimate person that you really are, they have every arsonal that they need to break you down. It's a subconscious fear by everyone...to be known...to be exposed...to be embarrassed.
It's something that used to terrify me. I think everyone has at some point or another, had a mistake thrown up in their face and been ashamed of something they have done. I know I have. But, by allowing myself to open up to Josh the way that I have in the time we have been together, not only have I been able to forgive myself for a lot of the stupid things that I have done and the horrible mistakes that I have made, but he has helped me to discover more of who I really am...just by examining my own life and my own experiences. It's good to be guarded...until you can find someone to confide in. Someone to really and truly talk to without the fears and the pressures of being judged and being misunderstood. Until that outlet becomes available...seek out that venting place...that place to channel yourself. It's such a release to be able to just "be" and not have to worry about the rest of the world. I guess I understand why people turn to meditation. Use art...use photography...use music. Who knows? Someone out there may be the next Picaso...or Ansel Adams.
Anyways...that's my thoughts and my follow up on that. Did I find someone to know me? Yes I did...and he's the greatest thing to ever happen in my life. Did I discover myself? Yes I have...but that, I believe is a journey that lasts and lasts. We are recreated every morning when we wake up...we add new pages to our books...and those pages, are discovered and rediscovered by ourselves and by others day in and day out. But it's not something to stop doing...not something to stop exploring.

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The Inner You

How many people really and truly know you? I mean the real you. Not the person you pretend to be or act like when you are out around a bunch of people at work or at school. But that true inner person you are when you are alone at night, laying in bed. Who really knows who that person is? I was pondering that thought tonight when I was finishing up "The Choice" –the new book by Nicholas Sparks that came out Monday. (Yes, I'm done already. Great book for anyone who's interested.) As I read, I couldn't help but notice the way the two main characters seemed to really comprehend who the other was. But asSparks simultaneously gives insight into each ones thoughts and feelings, you see that even though the two are in love and know one another, they really don't always know the inner workings of their counter-parts feelings and thoughts.
Now, I'm not a complete idiot on this one. Just hear me out and have some patience because I have a feeling this blog is going to hit several different points, as I have a lot of thoughts swirling around right now. I know that it is pretty much impossible for anyone to know EVERYTHING about someone. I mean, my grandparents were married for almost 60 years before my grandmother died and my PawPaw used to say that discovering new things about her after all of those years was one of the best parts about marriage. But most of us walk through life with the inner desire to have someone know who we really are and what makes us tick. To meet someone that actually wants to know all about us. The things that happened to us to make us who we are. The things we want out of life. The things that scare us. Our hopes. Our dreams. Our inner most desires. (Yeah, yeah… cliché I know, but whatever. It makes the point.)Yet, instead of revealing those things about us, not only do we not put those things out there; 99% of the time, we pretend to be something different all together. There's not a soul walking this planet that can tell me that they walk around 100% of the time in what I'll call a true state of self. I don't even think it's possible. I mean, I try to be "who I am on the inside" and all of that every time I am out and around people, but with today's society the way that it is, I can't.
There are roles to fill, molds to fall into. Stereotypes, cliché's, etc. And as much as we all try to escape those things, we can't.I can sit here right now as I type this and think of several dozen things that not a soul knows about me. Even Racheal and Robyn- my two very best friends. Casey probably comes closest to knowing me the best, but that's because she's my sister and lives with me. But even so, things that I think. Things that I feel. Things that I want out of life. Things that I hope for and pray for every single day. Things I am afraid of, and not things like sharks or clowns (both of which terrify me), but real things.
Now, for the question. As much as we all (especially us girls) want someone to know us for who we are, to love us for who we are…do we really? Does anyone really want to be known that well, by anyone? Is it even possible? Even for people like my grandparents who have been with one another for years and years, is it possible for people to get to know one another that well? Well enough to predict one anothers actions, complete their sentences, know their thoughts? I don't think so.
The idea of someone knowing you that intimately, scares the crap out of me to be completely frank. It's almost like that dream you always see on TV or hear people talk about- the one where you go to work or school completely naked and exposed for everyone to see.In life, especially in intimate, romantic relationships, revealing yourself, usually ends up causing more humiliation and pain. Think about all of your past relationships that have ended. Ever been with someone who knew stuff about you that no one else seemed to know and been afraid of who they would tell now that they were no longer entitled to your secrecy? And lots of times, it's not even big stuff. The stuff that supposedly makes us "tick." Can you imagine what a person could do to you if they knew stuff like that? They could destroy you. And no, I don't mean physically. But they could wipe you out emotionally and psychologically. Letting yourself get close like that can set you up for pain.
So where is the stopping point? What do we do? Do we go through life hiding who we are to keep from getting hurt? When we meet that one person that we are supposed to be with, do we reveal those types of secrets to them? I don't really have much of an answer for this one. It goes hand in hand with that age old question I find myself asking occasionally, "Who am I?" Does anyone really know? Can we really self examine ourselves and our actions enough to truly figure it out? I don't think so. We can't figure ourselves out any more than we can figure out the future. That's like all of these career driven people saying they "know", I repeat KNOW what they are going to do for the rest of their life. There are some things that you just don't know….Again, I ask myself…what do we do?
What do we do with the inner desire to be known? To be understood? I think we all have an outlet. A way of channeling that inner self. Do we all use it? No. Not all of us. For some people, they use art- painting, drawing, photography…For other's, it's music. For me, I write. Don't know why, but it's always been something that has come naturally for me. Something I've always loved, and had an appreciation for. Besides these random, semi-philosophical blogs I post, I keep a journal. Not everyday, but most days I write. About everything and anything. Life, thoughts, fears, hopes…all of those little things we say we want other people to know about us. Will anyone ever know them about me? Will we ever even know them about ourselves? Maybe. Maybe not…whose to say?
"There are moments in life that serve as turning points. Moments where we have to make decisions. Choices. Choices that will make or break us. Change who we are, and we are destined to become. It is in these moments that we discover who are, who we were, and who we are destined to become. It's all part of the journey. It's all a part of life. Life is a discovery…it's a voyage. You can spend all of your time trying to decipher every move, predict every outcome…or you can enjoy the ride. Take it as it comes and for what it is. Because it is only in those moments, that we, as individuals, are truly defined."

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