Celebrating Strong Women: Strong is the New Sexy

10628722_10100683415686469_5260412961739833615_oI’m so excited to introduce Kristin Menson! Kristin and I met in Paris and have kept in touch, thanks to the magic of notecards mixed with social media. Kristin is a family of one (two if you count her furkid) living in the bayou state for her 10th year which all began as a trip to volunteer following Hurricane Katrina. By day, she works to connect partners working on solving community issues and by night she swims, bikes and runs to raise money for research on a rare disease close to her heart. She can also be seen at the dog park, volunteering at the food bank and helping with a local triathlon club.

Strong is the New Sexy

I never imagined I would be 38 and single with no kids. Growing up I was one of those kids who would draw pictures of her wedding dress. I talked about what I would name my kids. I wanted the American Dream–a fulfilling job, a husband, 2.5 kids, and a dog–a dream reinforced by the American church. But there were other plans for my life.

In college and just after, I began to take notice of some amazing women who were not married. These women were strong and doing things that left an impact in their wake, from Gabrielle a college minister to Marilyn a missionary in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. These women weren’t waiting around for a guy to do anything, they were doing it themselves. So after college I followed their example and ended up in Paris after a couple of years working with international high school kids and that’s where I got to meet Annie.

As a single woman doing it yourself becomes a way of life. Something breaks, you have to fix it. You get sick, you take care of yourself. You have an idea, you get it done. Your dog kills a mouse in the house, you have to clean up the crime scene. Strength is not an option it’s a requirement. Now don’t get me wrong, I know plenty of strong married women including Annie, the author of this blog, but I think the strength of the single woman gets overlooked, especially in the church where we celebrate families and forget that “one” makes a family, too.

I remember when I became strong enough to say that I was a family of one. When I did it was very well received, but it took many years because I looked at myself as an individual as did much of society…but I live in a house that I own and celebrate life’s ups and downs with myself and make decisions on my own…and I am ok with that. I am a family unit.

Outside of my family of one (but if you count my furkid of one year, we are now, two), I surround myself with strong women of all walks of life. We don’t all subscribe to the same belief system or ways of doing things or even the same definition of strength, but these women have shown me that women can do great things…that doing something #likeagirl is worth doing! Women can be healers, coaches, hunters, athletes, mothers, executives, bosses…and they can be beautiful, powerful, sexy, strong, intelligent and more all at the same time! They can wear pink on Wednesdays and still kill it as a lawyer in the courtroom…they can be a marathon running mother of four with a full time job…they can be raising money for rare disease research by training for and completing an Ironman triathlon.

Looking back on my life, which I did a little this morning looking for a picture of Annie and I from our days together in Paris, I don’t think I would have it any other way. I know that I may not be single for the rest of my life, but right now, it’s where I am and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have done many things other people only dream of…I have lived in Europe, traveled a lot and as far away as Asia, moved across the county (a couple of times) been to 49 out of the 50 states, completed an Ironman triathlon–that’s 1.2 miles of swimming/112 miles on the bike/26 miles of running. I learned many lessons during those experiences that have come in handy when life has gotten difficult, when the job didn’t turn out the way that I hoped, or when the tumor decided to take up residence in my leg, or when the guy I began thinking about in future terms decided things were over. Here are just a couple:

  1. You are more than you think you are and can do more than you think you can. A quote famous in the endurance sports community by the founder of the Leadville 100, one of the hardest foot races in the country–Kenneth Chlouber. It’s true, you really can. You may think you can only run when being chased, but you can run whenever you want. And you may think you could never run a marathon, but you can if you are willing to put in the time and effort to train for it. And what you decide to do has a ripple effect on the other around you that you will never know about. Watch this TED video if you want to hear more about that (link: http://on.ted.com/Dudley).
  2. Big Dreams are contagious. You can quote me on this one. If you want to dream bigger for yourself than hang out with people who have bigger dreams than yours. When I was lying in my hospital bed after having a baseball sized tumor taken out my thigh bone I could have been content with just walking again but my friends and I had signed up to do an Ironman together. At the time, I had no idea if I would be able to complete the race 51 weeks later, but I worked harder because I was dreaming big and my dream was supported by those around me who stoked the fire with their big dreams.
  3. Strong is the new sexy. Strength is something developed on the inside over time. Mental strength and physical strength both take time and experience to mature. And it is only when they are truly tested that you are sure they are there. Other people will often see our strength before we do and it’s ok to hold on to their faith that it’s there until we develop the confidence in ourselves. Embrace your strength and draw from it when times get tough, that’s what it is there for…that is why you put all that work in on the front end. Sexy may fade away, but your strength will always be there.

What lessons about strength have you learned over the years? What experiences have helped to develop your inner strength?

If you want to hear more about my story and what I am up to (usually running, biking and swimming) feel free to check out my blog at kokoroux.com.

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