group 8! women: raw. honest. loved.

lindseyfinalalisonfinalaleasefinaltinafinaljaymefinalmackenziefinalnicholefinalconniefinal

Stereotyping.
Generalizations.
Judgment calls based on face value. Based on outward appearance.
Judgment calls with no merit attached to them except merely what we alone have felt to be true. They seem to be a combination of what society and media tells us to be true mixed with what we have possibly experienced to be true based on our slight interactions. Does this make them correct? Obviously not.
They’re hurtful. They’re unnecessary. And we most often are wrong.
This group was a definite reminder of that.

- The skinny, pretty girl who seems to “have it all”…who actually feels just as much of a failure as you do. What is wrong with “just her”?
– The outwardly happy and confident mom who struggles with feeling like she’s never enough. Is she fulfilling each of her roles the way that she should? Is she an adequate mom/wife/friend?
– The brave and intimidating one who is listening intently to what you’re saying, but giving you no reaction, who inside is actually just questioning what your reaction is to her. Is she being social enough? Funny enough? NICE enough??
– The seemingly strong mom who sometimes wonders if her maternal path was the right one, and instantly feels bad for having such a thought. Does it make her less of a mom? Did she disappoint you by saying that?
– The one who is so creative and seemingly fearless, who actually fears so much. Is she losing you? Is she enough for you?
– The pregnant mom with the beautiful smile and calmness about her who is scared to death of bringing another child into this world. Will she be able to raise another child successfully?
– The quiet one in the background that gives a shy smile and has interesting things to say when she feels confident enough to speak up, who is constantly feeling like the outcast. Why do you like her? Are you around only because you feel sorry for her?
– The stone-faced beautiful girl who is scared out of her mind of being vulnerable. Why trust you when she can just trust herself? Why put herself out there when she may lose you?

Can you relate to any of them? To all of them?
I certainly could.

Since beginning this project over a year ago, I have met so many women involved with it now that, had I given you an assessment of them just based on my first interaction, I would have been so off-base, so far from understanding what makes each woman who she is.
This project has taught me to slow down.
To remember that if we give ourselves a brief period of time to really get to the core of a person, that the nuances, the supposed “bitchface”, the shyness (which I’ve often misjudged as ‘bitchiness’…I’ll admit it), the seemingly cold exterior…hell, even the laughter, the over-exuberance, the hatred of silence, the need to be the center of attention (these could describe me at any point in my life)…these traits generally all manifest themselves because of something much deeper that is happening. Something that this person is not usually bound to share with you within the first few minutes of meeting them. Maybe not even after years of ‘knowing’ them.

Please, get to really know them. Or, if you can’t do that, at least reserve your harsh judgment about them. You don’t know the whole picture. Even if you think you do, you don’t.

There was so much interesting discussion that went on in this group…I touched on a bit of it, which is all I’m going to do. I hope to release some videos here and there that can bring you into the group and the feeling of the night. Only then will you understand how intense it was. If I even try to explain it in words this will go on forever. I would rather that you read the stories of the ladies, in their own words…

Here is one video for you – please take three minutes and watch it, as it is very powerful. This was the discussion that took place after Alison read her insecurity and elaborated a bit on why she feels that way. The reactions from the women are heartfelt and impacting. Please keep in mind that the ladies did not know each other before this…

(links to past groups can be found at the end)

lindseyinsLindsey ~
“I believe that my biggest insecurity for me at this time is the fact that I am pregnant. I am pregnant with a child in a culture and society that I have a hard time believing in, and one I don’t trust. Our American ways have lost sight of our human ways, we buy into the “look like barbie” bullshit, we spend thousands each year trying to be something besides ourselves. We are not taught by society to love ourselves for us!

I am exhausted, yes the pregnancy does that too, but I am exhausted trying to be something society wants and not being what I want to be. I just want to be me. I want to teach my second child to just be. I want to live in a world that professes its love for all living things, one that cherishes the belongings of this earth, not spending time consuming and destroying it.

Some days I love the world and all its glory, everyone and everything has a special place in this grand sphere of energy. We all are different and we all have different strengths and weaknesses that fuel this fire. I truly believe that if we as a species and entity could only see the beauty we possess in our souls, beyond the negative thoughts, the cultural ‘lessons’, the masks that we all choose to hide behind. Than maybe just then we are making progress as being who ‘we’ are supposed to be and our souls and fires inside could burn the negativity and lies fed to us by a corporate American society. It’s my hope and prayer.”

Lindsey’s friends and family:

“Lindsey is, beautiful loving and courageous. :)” – Nicollette

“My Lindsey is an amazing woman with many facets. I have been fortunate enough to witness her take life by the horns and make her visions come to fruition. She is one of the most independent people I know. Self-motivated and willing to do the work. She has always made me proud to be her friend and has continually impressed me with her determination to be a great mom, an all-star student, a driven employee, the life of the party, a loyal friend, an open hearted lover & a die-hard Seahawks fan…. All of these in an honest way. One of my favorite traits about Linds is her raw, open, up-front style. She doesn’t put on any fronts in order to receive acceptance. She is one hot goddess too – gorgeous smile, the cutest nose ever, lovely tattoos, beautiful curves… All of these attractive traits, but her confidence and self-love is what puts her truly over the top for me and is inspiring to those who spend time with her.” – Jaime

“Here are my thoughts feelings and words on my dear friend Lindsey…

I was blessed to meet Lindsey around 9 years ago. She is gorgeous (inside and out), and her smile and the light in her eyes can pull anyone in. Lindsey has one of the largest hearts of anyone I know, she always has a shoulder or ear to lend, and THE best hugs. As a mother, daughter, granddaughter, sister, and friend, she is an inspiration. I am grateful for this woman in my life. She is a very hard worker, completing any task she sets her sights on, while staying open to the universe for its sway (be it gentle or rough, she perseveres). Always a fun time to be had with this girl, anytime & anywhere! And an incredibly easy and rejuvenating friend to be around.

Lindsey is:
Kind
Open
Intelligent
Vulnerable
Loved by many
Non judgmental
Loving
Gentle
Strong ( ^yes both at the same time, and thats just her)
Caring
Beautiful
Determined
Intellectual
a Lover of life
Funny….hilarious!” – Jessica

“A few words about Lindsey: Lindsey is one of the most honest, tell-it-like-it-is ladies I know. There are no hidden agendas or subtext with Lindsey; what you see is what you get. I have always assumed this is because she is so confident and has the courage of her convictions. We have been friends for nearly 20 years now, and I can honestly say, she is the most loyal of all my girlfriends. Not only does she go out of her way to make time for me on my infrequent visits back to the USA, but she usually is the driving force behind organizing my social calendar with all our friends. This is a reflection of Lindsey’s natural leadership qualities, combined with her generous nature. I feel like I can tell Lindsey anything, and since she is so open and accepting of her own flaws, she is able to be the same about mine. That is probably the glue that keeps our relationship strong; a mutual respect and understanding of not only our strengths, but our weaknesses.

I love that lady!

I hope she enjoys her photo shoot and hearing what all her loved ones think of her.

With best wishes,
Rowan”

alisonins Alison ~
“Asking someone what they’re insecure about is like asking for a laundry list of the things that they hate about themselves. I could make that list pretty easily, and it would be a lot of the same things that most of the women I know fixate on constantly. It’s not our fault. Media and society tell us that we should be able to have it all: the awesome career, the perfect body, the great guy, the busy social circle, a great wardrobe, and so on. I have about 31% of those things, and it makes me feel inadequate. And because I feel inadequate, I feel undeserving. That’s really the main thing: I never feel like I deserve the things I have or the things I want. It’s such a hard and embarrassing thing to admit, but it’s related to all of these things that I love.
I really love work, and it’s actually one of the spaces in my life that I don’t feel undeserving. It makes sense because it’s quantifiable; I can see the results based on the work that I complete and the effort I put forth. I can logically see that I deserve things, like projects and extra responsibilities, based on how hard I work. In spite of the pride I get from my job, I also work under constant fear that at some point, I’ll stop deserving things. It’s maddening. I worry constantly about letting someone down and not deserving the next thing I want — a promotion, a raise, whatever it may be — but that motivates me to keep the bar high on my work, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Outside of work is where I more have trouble. I have great personal relationships with people, but sometimes I don’t even know why. So many of my friends are these brilliant and talented people, and I’m just… me. Sort of funny sometimes, reasonably attractive if I comb my hair, generally a hard worker, just some girl from a small town who is literally faking it every single step of the way. There is nothing that I find particularly outstanding about myself, and yet, I’ve made my way into a truly exceptional group of friends. Honestly, it feels fragile sometimes.
My mom constantly tells me how proud she and my dad are of me. I don’t doubt that they truly feel that way, but I don’t feel like I’ve done a lot to deserve it. I go to work and things like that, but beyond that, I don’t feel exceptional, certainly nothing to be proud of beyond the facts that I breathe air and pay taxes. I know what pride feels like – that big, swelling feeling in your chest, and I don’t know what I could ever do to inspire that for them. My mom tells me constantly, “I’m so proud of you.” It feels like I’m cheating her somehow, or I could be doing something better that actually deserves pride and praise.

I don’t really date because I’m particular. Somehow, in spite of being selective, I still find the wrong men. My last two serious relationships ended due to complications involving other women. And when that happens, you start thinking to yourself, “What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with JUST me?” And then you go down this rabbit hole of comparisons. The other girl must be prettier, smarter, funnier, better at life. You do this horrible side-by-side comparison of all of the things that they must be that you’re just not. Then, irrationally, you start thinking that maybe you don’t deserve love or to be happy. It sounds so stupid on the surface — and still, it’s true. Getting burned like that forces you to feel a certain way; I feel like I must be undeserving of someone’s love and affection and kindness somehow, or maybe not even that — more than someone else is more deserving. It’s the absolute worst. It forces me to trip myself up, question myself constantly, and also to not put myself out there when I should because I’m terrified of that rejection again. It happened recently where I’ve had all of these feelings for someone for a few years and just couldn’t bring myself to put it out there until recently, and because I waited so long, I may have waited too long.

It’s not that I sit around and feel sorry for myself about it constantly or lack confidence in the things I can do well, but I when things happen, I never feel like I deserve it. When they don’t happen, it’s because I feel like I didn’t deserve it.”

Alison’s friends and family:

“Alison is one of my best friends – she is probably the warmest person I know. She loves deeply and sincerely. She is a woman of substance and knows quality when she sees it. She cares about others more than she cares for herself. If she spends 50 dollars on herself, she’ll turn around, without even a second thought, and spend 50+ on someone who might just be having a bad day. Alison reminds me of sunshine because its hard not to be happy when she’s around. She is physically beautiful, but even more gorgeous on the inside, which, in turn, radiates on the already lovely outside. She’s hilarious and witty. She’s intellectual and opinionated, well read, and can debate her side with solid facts. I love her. She and my parents adore each other too. I consider her family for many reasons. Faithful, honest, fun, sincere and protective – she will go to war for any of her friends or family members. Very creative and artistic! She loves music…I think of her often when I hear a fun tune. I could go on I suppose, let me know if you want me to – I am a huge Alison fan!” – Rebekah

“Hi,
I was contacted by you on Facebook to provide a few positive traits of Alison. Where to begin…
Alison is driven, unique, and loyal. She will lay herself across railroad tracks for any one of her friends or family members, and makes sure to personally connect with these people on a regular basis. She is endearing, enchanting, smart, quick-witted, brave, caring, and feels with her whole heart. I love her dearly. :)
Hope this helps! Sounds like an amazing project. I hope to see the end results!
Thanks!” – Heather

“Hi Alana!
My words about Alison:
– loyal
– smart as a whip
– generous friend
– beautiful soul
– amazing encourager
– Alison has great energy and is such a fun friend to be around..shares honestly and makes connections with everyone
I think this is such a great project! good luck,
Stephanie”

“If you took ALL the sunshine and bottled it up, you would have Alison. She is bright and unique and touches everyone with her vibrant smile. Her warmth is radiant and comforting. As a friend, she is irreplaceable and I thank my lucky stars that she is in my life.” – Julie

“Strong-willed, caring, thoughtful, fiercely loyal, fiercely honest, amazing listener, wise, true friend, big heart, talented.” – Matt

“Alison is the most engaging person I know. It’s nearly impossible not to be distracted by her beautiful green eyes or her fantastically endearing smile. She is intelligent, articulate, passionate, funny, talented, beautiful, selfless, and thoughtful. As if that weren’t enough, she is a wizard of cupcakes and other baked confections. Alison is one of the most important people in my life! All I have left to say is this, “No… you’re awesome!”
Best Regards,
Daniel”

“Alana,
I need to start with an apology, I’m sorry this is arriving at the last minute. I couldn’t decide if your message was spam, glad I finally opened it. Alison happens to be one of my favorite topics so this won’t be hard. That said, here goes.

Ali is a blessing, a true miracle. With a little bit of a rough start, this quiet little unassuming girl has won many hearts and made countless friends. Loving and kind.

Intelligent and wise beyond her years. She is so bright, teaching herself to read by the age of three. As a first grader she told me that she would be president one day and I told her that she could do anything she wanted to do. Older people love her. She has always been able to listen and connect with people … to actually “hear” them.

Determined and goal oriented. As a freshman she went to Washington DC, with a group of adults, as a student ambassador for our local industry. She went hoping to change the world and shine a light on governmental consequences. She was able to meet with many of our leaders including speaker of the house. This relationship, with business and governmental leaders, led to her being a featured student author in a statewide magazine.

A princess and a queen, literally. She stepped out of her comfort zone and ran for queen of our local festival and won. She not only won the title, but the respect and love of her community. She has always been a princess to us, a girlie girl that has never been afraid to get dirty. Her enthusiasm shines.

Competitive. Her older sister became a cheerleader and she followed, challenging herself to work harder. Hard work earned her a spot on an elite cheer squad that traveled to France.

A leader. As a senior she decided local veterans deserved to be publicly honored. She organized an assembly drawing the community and student body together starting a new tradition at her school.

Hardworking. Alison is a true believer in “give it your best”. She is never content with doing the minimum and sets goals for herself. When she meets that goal she will work to best that mark.

Entrepreneur extraordinaire. Alison creates beautiful cupcakes for weddings and parties.

Brave. Alison is not afraid to try. She has traveled the US working for a summer concert tour and then driven across the US to promote the release of a new product for a major company. Ali is not afraid to ski down a black diamond run or climb an old growth tree to talk to protesters. She shows no fear when rock climbing, even walking past a rattlesnake in the process (ok … she froze for a minute and then ran). She is able to give a speech or conduct a seminar for coworkers like it’s just another day. Climb Mt Adams.

Independent. Flat tire, rain, heels, dress – need help? No problem, changes it herself. Tell her she can’t, she will.

A daughter, a friend. Although she is my daughter, she is also my friend. I enjoy hanging out with her … she makes me a better person.
Thoughtful Compassionate Generous Driven
Selfless Amazing Open & Learning Beautiful inside & out
A book that you want to read … you can’t put it down. It’s a wonderful and intriguing adventure.

Strong in the face of tragedy. Alison is able to share the sorrow of others while silently lending strength, even in the face of her own sorrow.

For all of the above reasons … she is my hero. To say that she makes me proud is an understatement. I smile whenever I think about her. I am her mom … and I love her.
I hope this helps you.” – Lori

aleaseins Alease ~
“I’ve had my kindness mistaken for weakness in the past. So, I tend to keep people a certain distance from me until I feel that I can bring them closer; its hard to trust people sometimes. So, I make sure to trust myself always.”

 

Alease’s friends and family:

“Patient, healing, intelligent, intuitive, spontaneous, creative, innovative, sunny, beautiful.” – Julie

“She is an amazing cook and loves to bake. She makes an amazing fruit cobbler.
She loves music in my genres and always seems to know about bands before they’re cool.
She is always willing to help you no matter what. Especially if she sees you need a ride or some food, and she is always generous with her time.
She is well-spoken and can talk her way into any venue to see any band. It’s her superpower.
If you need anything else, let me know! I hope this helps and best of luck with your project.” – Del

 

tinains Tina ~
“Am I enough? That’s what it all boils down to.
I’ve never really cared what strangers thought of me, but my friends and family? That’s a different story. One of my biggest insecurities, the one I’ve chosen to focus on for this project, is that I worry I’m not enough for them. I try to be the best friend/family member possible but is it enough? Am I smart enough? Nice enough? Caring enough? Funny enough? Pretty enough? Selfless enough? I could go on..

I try so hard at everything I do… but is it enough?

I’m a stay-at-home mom. Is that okay? When other moms do it I think “hooray for them!” But I worry that I have to do it because I’m not smart enough or successful enough to have a job. And speaking of being a mom, am I nurturing enough? Am I patient enough? I’m sure the answer to that is no! Am I doing enough for my children? And my husband? As a wife, am I loving enough? Sexy enough? Supportive enough?
I think you get the point…. Am I enough?”

Tina’s friends and family:

“Hello Alana-
When asked to write a paragraph about Tina, I honestly didn’t know where to begin. I wanted to begin writing for the last few weeks but was always at a loss for where to begin and how to possibly sum up all the moving, amazing parts that comprise Tina. She is caring, she is funny, she is creative, she is multifaceted. I have a lot of respect for her as a mother and wife and I have shared some very funny times with her. When we first met, we clashed in very typical A-personality type conflict. We are both loud, center-of-attention-loving people. However, after that we hung out again and we both realized that we were the same and the friendship was instant. Tina brings out the fun in a situation. No matter where you are with Tina, I guarantee it will be a blast. She is not afraid to be exactly who she wants to be. I consider myself blessed to know her.
Thanks Alana, I think this is an amazing project!” – Thera

“I’ve known Tina her whole life…she was an active and precocious young child and very loving as well. She hasn’t changed much as an adult except she has gotten more beautiful each year. When I say beautiful, I mean the outside and the person. She has the most beautiful big eyes that I’m totally envious of and let’s not even mention the curly hair. Her “inside” is more deep. She is brave and honest. She is funny and kind. She knows how to be a confidante and friend and she is truly a caring person.” – Deb

“My wife Tina is the most amazing person I have ever met. With her beautiful hazel eyes and her perfect smile, I was putty in her hands from day one. Tina has a way of making a fully-lit room brighter as she walks in. Tina always will put someone else’s needs before her own. She is a great mother to our beautiful daughters (thank you, by the way). Okay, enough about what’s on the inside…. Tina has a ravishing body – the way her jeans look when she puts them on is more than enough to make my heart skip a beat or two. I love everything about my wife ‘cause when you put a body like that with the awesomeness that makes her…. what’s not to LOVE.
P.S. Tina, I fall more and more in love with you every day, you are my dream come true. I am very proud to call you not only my best friend but also my wife. I LOVE YOU!” – Tom

“Tina was a handful as a child – stubborn, strong, smart and funny. Sometimes it was impossible to discipline her as she could get you to laugh at the drop of a hat. Always her own person, never bending to others’ rules or opinions; she was Tina, like it or leave it. You never knew what she would do next.
Now she is a woman. I adore her – she is stubborn, strong, smart, funny and wonderful. She is impossible to get mad at. She is Tina! She is her own person, you never know what she will do next. She is wacky, sincere, passionate and wise. She is beautiful, inside and out. I am so very proud to call her my daughter and my friend.
-so hard to keep this under 16 pages.
Thank you!” – Laurel

“When I met Tina, the first thing that struck me was her fearlessness. It wasn’t something she just put on to face the day, or a show of any kind, her fearlessness was something that came from deep within her. She truly knew who she was, and wasn’t afraid to be who she was. I admired her immediately!
As the years have passed, and I have gotten to know her more, I only became more astounded by the awesomeness of Tina! Just to list off a few attributes (off the top of my head):

Tina is…
(of course) Fearless
Kind
Generous
Beautiful
Fierce
Confident
Creative
A Wonderful Mother! Nay SuperMom!
Talented
Loving
Strong
Smart, wait, Super Intelligent…would Genius be too much?

I have seen her take on things (that no one really wanted to do) and give them all of her energy, wisdom, and creativity, and turn them into something amazing. She knows how to engage people, make them feel welcome, and at the same time, be firm and stand up for what is right. She knows the power of her “No”, which is something some do not ever learn. She also knows the power of her voice, and uses it wisely, kindly, firmly, and with grace. The best part of all of this, is that all of the qualities she possesses within herself, she is passing on to her beautiful girls. (Honestly, I would willingly offer myself up for adoption if Tina would adopt me…that’s just how great of a mom she is.)
This world is a better place because Tina is in it, and I am a better person because I know her.” – Nancy

“I think it’s safe to say Tina and I jumped into our friendship feet first!
It was only a short time after becoming friends with Tina that we started scheming to get our families together for an extended camping trip. Our husbands had not met and our kids were virtual strangers, but hey, Tina and I liked each other so that’s all that mattered, right!?
Somehow we pulled off an amazing trip full of wonderful memories and made lifetime friends.
Being friends with Tina is easy, I don’t feel that I am somehow competing with her, or have to try to impress her on some level. And, as women, I think we all know how this feels with some of the people in our lives.
She has a diverse group of friends, family, and interests, so she has something in common with everyone, And judges no one. Tina has a lovable quirkiness, is always quick to share her beautiful smile, crack a joke or offer consolation when needed. She has an uncanny sense of knowing if you need to talk or just want to hang out and have a quiet drink, or seven.
She is a proud nerd, a craft queen, and a fierce list-maker, in fact her lists have lists!
Tina is a beautiful woman, a caring mother, dedicated wife and loyal friend. She will admit her faults, and always tries to rectify the wrongs in her relationships. Her generosity is boundless, there is always room for you at the dinner table or your favorite beverage in the fridge, she’ll even give you the last of her tequila.
Becoming such close friends with someone at this point in my life was unexpected but has made me remember that life is ever changing and never rule out the possibility of inviting people into your heart. From Lady Dates to camping trips, Tina is one of my favorite people to spend time with.” – Karla

“It is the best when neighbors get along. Even better when they become friends. To the moon when they can help one another through the daily grind. Tina and her wonderful family are of the third kind. I could not feel more blessed to have such a great neighbor and friend. I believe our friendship formed when I had my third child. Her girls adored the new babe and gradually we started talking and leaning on one another. Well, at first it was me doing all the leaning ~Tina made sure to get my little guy to and from school each day. I still cannot express how absolutely amazing and helpful that was. That is the Tina I have come to know: sweet, generous, non¬judgmental, compassionate and silly.
As a neighbor, I can always count on Tina to have that cup of sugar or embroidery hoop. My kids are welcome to come by to jump themselves silly on the trampoline or stay for an all day hair-dyeing session. Her house always has an open door. Tina gives it to my kids straight, in a funny and irreverent way that I like. And when the time calls for it, she can be super serious too. I really like that about her – she doesn’t take herself too seriously. And the best part about being neighbors with Tina is the food. Good homemade food. If she mentions something she is making that sounds good
and I intimate that I might really like to try it, she brings it over. Immediately. Lots of it! The best.
As a friend, Tina is loyal and really very sensitive. I have been through a lot in the past year and she has been very respectful of my space, all the while being very sensitive to what I might need~ more often than not that ends up being a really good beer and an open mind. She understands some of my struggles more than most people and she is very careful and sensitive to those particulars. I never feel judged by Tina. She accepts me as is.
Tina is beautiful. I really love her quirky and cute style ~ a mix of tomboy and glam. I think she is an amazing role model to her two girls. She sends the message to them that they can be who they are. You see it in their distinct personalities. And they are both so nice, so interesting and sooooooo funny. Like their mom.
I think Tina is pretty rad and I think anyone is lucky to count her as their friend. I know I do!” – Jenn

“I’ve known Tina almost longer than I’ve known anyone else in my life and I’m so proud and amazed at the person that I’ve seen her become over the years. She’s a bold, intelligent, creative woman who doesn’t always see what an incredible person she is and what an inspiration to other people around her.
One of the things that I like best about her is that she comes off as fearless, even though I know her life isn’t easy. She’s never afraid to be honest and tell you what she’s thinking. But behind the honesty is also a ferocious caring. She tries to do a lot for the people in her life, even when it involves her sacrificing part of her time, her resources, or even herself. Tina is one of those women who always seems to have room for one more, whether it’s sitting at the dinner table or camping or just being friends. I don’t think she realizes how much all the little things that she does add up in the long run.
Along with these traits of caring, she’s also incredibly intelligent (though like most genuinely smart people, she has no real idea or belief of this). She can think up the most amazing creations and then put them to life. Sometimes that’s a costuming project, other times it’s building some sort of incredible macabre contraption. She reads voraciously and even better, she shares what she learns and what she likes with other people, bringing her gift and understanding of books to those around her. She’s also quick-witted and comes up with solutions to a lot of everyday problems that most other people would just give up on or let go. Tina has always been both resourceful and a lot of fun, two things that don’t often go together.
I could go on and on and probably still not really hit the essence of what I want to say, or how much I admire her. I am so very glad to know her and that she is someone that my children look up to. I wish I had the words to say really how awesome she is but there aren’t enough out there!” – Gwen

“Tina is so very STRONG. She gives herself, without hesitation, to her family and friends. Strength is something that is hard to come by.
TIMELESS BEAUTY. Tina has a beauty that is far deeper than many get to see. While she can pull off anything and everything, she holds a fascinating inner beauty as well.
She is LOYAL. Having a constant person in my life has not always been easy, but with her it has.
Tina is PROTECTIVE. She cares so deeply for those in her life that she will stand by you. Even when she does not agree with you.
Only someone who possess the ability to truly LOVE UNCONDITIONALLY is able to stand by. Even when things are tough.
TRUSTWORTHY. When Tina is a friend to you, be assured that you can confide anything in her.
Tina is incredibly HONEST. This is a quality that very few people get to say they possess. Tina can.
The amount of PASSION that is put into everything Tina does shows what kind of person she is.
Only an ADMIRABLE person has all of these things.
UNIQUE, LIVELY, LOVING, INTELLIGENT, CARING, KIND.
These are just a very few of the things that cross my mind when I am asked to describe my best friend. Tina is the conditioner to my shampoo.” – Brandi

“I am honored to have the chance to write about my beautiful friend Tina. She and I often laugh about how we met when our children first started preschool at Bryant. I had moved to Tacoma when my twin sons were tiny infants recently home from a long NICU stay. As they grew to school age, it was quite apparent they had serious developmental issues. I didn’t know a single person in Tacoma, and was so isolated those early years that I hadn’t made any friends. I would stand on the playground waiting for school to end, scared and sad at what new bad news would await as the teachers brought the children out. Every day, this beautiful young woman would also be there. As soon as she walked in, the other moms flocked to her, seemingly drawn by her incredible light. She was clearly the “it girl.” Naturally, I hated her. Maybe hate is too strong of a word, but I certainly turned all my negative emotions on her, the perfect mom with the perfect kids and her perfect friends. I stood there watching every day, willing myself not to break down in tears.
Then one day, Tina simply walked up to me and introduced herself. She said she had noticed me always alone, and invited me to come stand with her and her friends any time. This is the heart of what Tina does and is: she draws people in with her grace and warmth, making them feel welcome and accepted. She takes care of people. Time went by and we formed an unlikely friendship. I learned part of the reason she was so popular on the playground was she had been suckered into being PTO president when nobody else wanted the job! I also learned that she is not perfect; she is delightfully imperfect. Tina’s specialty is taking in and nurturing people like me, the misfits, the broken people, the weirdos, showing us love and acceptance. Over the years, as my children’s disabilities have grown worse and have shown to be permanent, she has been an amazing support. Most people are uncomfortable with others’ grief and actively discourage it. Tina has supported me and allowed me to grieve and cry and helped me to accept my situation and heal in a way no one else in my life has done, not even my closest relatives. She has brought joy to my world when nothing seemed joyful.
Tina is what I call “an old soul.” Young enough to be my daughter, she has grace and wisdom far beyond her years and my years as well. She endured and experienced more adversity in her childhood than many people do in their lifetime. A child of divorce, she dealt with having an absent father. She and her sister nursed their mother through three bouts of cancer. Tina developed a woman’s body while still essentially a child, and had to deal with all the weirdness society puts on girls who develop early. She has dealt with her own medical issues and lives in near constant pain. Despite all this, she is strong and cheerful and constantly takes care of everyone else. Tina is endlessly generous and kind, a trait she got from her amazing mother and clearly has taught to her amazing daughters. Her entire family is kind and accepting of my children. Her daughter has protected my boys at school even at her own social jeopardy. That shows how well Tina raises her children!
Aside from her beautiful personality, Tina is also just a gorgeous woman. She naturally has the kind of beauty women like me spend hundreds of dollars at Sephora trying to get! (Not that she and I can’t shop the hell out of a Sephora store together!) Tina radiates beauty. I love how daring she is, and has so much fun changing and playing with her look. She likes to make fun of herself and her interests and quirks, and I believe she has no idea how much people admire her.
Tina, I am so proud of you for going through with this, and I hope you have a wonderful evening! I love you!” – Linda

jaymeins Jayme ~
“Insecurities I feel comfortable sharing with a room full of people? Ha! How much time do you have?

Growing up, I was a fairly confident kid… as much as kids can be, I suppose. Smart, precocious and extroverted were adjectives that many of the people in my life would use when describing me. I had a great childhood. I was highly advanced in early academics, was involved in music and sports at an early age and had plenty of friends throughout my teens. It was, by all accounts, a regular upbringing, with plenty of confidence-boosters to go around. Except for one thing: My parents weren’t around. I mean, they were around in the sense that they were home on occasion, made sure that we had food to eat, were enrolled in school and that we always had a roof over our heads. You know, the basics. But when it came to the supportive, present and encouraging parents that every kid needs in those formative years (and I so craved), they just couldn’t put away their “pre-kids” lifestyle and my sister, brother and I were often left to figure it out alone.

This affected me in many ways, but I think the biggest psychological impacts have been creating an enormous feeling of never being good enough for the people in my life, as well as an intense fear of failure. Winning combo, right? I covered it well for many years, but, the older I get the more these fears manifest in aspects of my life that I never imagined they would. Relationships (of all varieties), college, work; all of these crucial paths of adulthood have been covered over with the insidious weeds of abandonment and no matter how I try to maintain them, they always return.

I have forgiven my parents, but its another thing entirely to shed these insecurities that linger. I have an abundance of amazingly supportive people that surround me, a positive outlook and a bright future. Even still, I often can’t shake these questions that constantly circle my head. “Do they really like/love me, or are they just here?” “Am I (insert adjective here) enough for him/her/this?” “Did I do a good enough job?” These and other worries plague my thoughts, as well as a voice that screams from deep inside “You are going to fail. Don’t even try, because you will never be as ______ as ______.”

So what do I do? Carry on through life feeling mediocre and quitting everything as soon as it starts getting really good? I just can’t anymore.

In the past year, with the help of a very special person and one of the great loves of my life, I am learning to see and really know that I am good at many things and that I am worth loving. I hope being a part of this project only further instills this in me, and I look forward to it.

I can only be me, and though I may still struggle with who that is, I have to be the best version of me that I can, and trust that it’s enough.”

Jayme’s friends and family:

“Jayme is brave, strong, cultured, loved, fearless, beautiful, creative, and an amazing sister.” – Kenna

“Hello, Alana. Awww Yes, Sweet Jayme. Beautiful Sparkling Blue Eyes, Fun Hair Always, Sweet Smile, Fun Fun person to hang out with, hard hard worker. Love Her with a heart as Big as Her!!” – Peggie

“Miss Jayme is:
~full of love and life.
~wise and insightful beyond her years. An old soul.
~has a contagious laugh that lights up a room.
~a special friend.
Hope this helps! It’s truth!” – Angie

“Jayme is a beautifully honest woman who is compassionate, yet still takes care of her own needs. I find her to be very creative; so much so that I wrote it twice on my list of adjectives for her. She is loving, warm-hearted and thoughtful, even while delivering brutal truths. I was immediately drawn to her twisted but fabulous sense of humor. She is adventurous, open-minded and progressive. She cares about her community and making it a better place–whether it be with her thought-provoking writing/conversation or her contribution to the local music scene. She’s also one hell of a drinking buddy!” – Kelsey

“Well what can I say about jayme-jams? She a balls out trailblazer. After becoming a transplant to Tacoma, she now exists as one of my major music resources & she’s a woman! Her skill, talent and ambition will take her so much farther & she’s already done so much. She has a strong & open heart to so many people, not just close friends. Always has a smile for me – even when she doesn’t feel like smiling, it’s still there. I couldn’t imagine her not being my friend and each & every day I feel closer to her. She’s so important to me. I have a huge toothache & am trying to squeeze this in before I pass out…while things of all sorts happen everywhere, I’m glad I get to experience some of those things with Jayme.” – Lindsay

“I’ve not met many people as caring and selfless as Jayme. This sweetness and care is infectious, and is quickly felt by those who have even just met her. She’s honest. Not to a fault…I find that term to be an excuse to be an asshole…just honest. Like Little House On The Prairie honest. Good, real.
Her tenderness has certainly affected me in so many positive ways over the course of our relationship. She teaches me patience, to slow down and reflect before judgment. To forgive. To improve.
Jayme is a fantastic woman and a fantastic friend. All should be as lucky as I.
Thanks,
Jason”

mackenzieins Mackenzie ~
“Mackenzie’s bag o’ insecurities:

Things I think sometimes when I’m in a room with a bunch of strangers, and maybe a few friends:
• I need a funny story so I can be engaging
• I hope no one tries to talk to me because I’m not sure I really want to have a conversation with a stranger. Nor do I want to act interested.
• Great, now I’m trying to avoid people. Stop being a bitch and socialize!
• Why does [random friend] keep flitting around the room without me? I must not be interesting enough.
• People keep gazing through me when I’m talking. I must be talking too much.
• Conversations aren’t being sustained! I must be talking too little!

I took the last couple of weeks to really think about what makes me insecure. I, of course, fell upon the usual suspects at first: body image, intelligence, money, etc etc, but none of those things really rang true to me. OF COURSE, throughout a lifetime these things have affected me in one way or another, but I realized what really got me to shut up and go inwards was this: I feel as if I am unlikable.

I’ve worked in the service industry, so my firsthand experience with being deemed “unlikable” actually happened more often than I’d like to think about. I feel, because I’m not immediately accessible, willing to listen to a stranger’s story about whatever happened in their life, or smiling all the goddamn time, I am not a likable person. I know in my heart, that it’s PROBABLY not true, but because of my experiences, and working with co workers that were extremely “likable”, “bubbly”, “always smiling” and “a joy to be around”, I keep finding myself trying to figure out their secret to being so popular.

But the “likable”-thing didn’t just start when I was waiting tables and tending bar, I remember it even earlier in my life; not necessarily a specific event or circumstance, but more of a feeling of being not as “cool” or fun to hang around. In grade school I was always reading books, and more often than not, had an opinion about what the kids were doing and whether or not I liked it, so when I voiced these opinions, they wouldn’t hang out with me. It’s not that I was “bossy” per se, but that I didn’t always want to do the things the other kids did. On the other hand, when I got older (middle school) and was quiet, I was teased and picked on because I WOULDN’T say anything. It was a classic case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. In high school, things got moderately better because I joined a sport, but in the end I still didn’t feel like I fit in my group of peers because I didn’t want to do my makeup over and over, I didn’t want to get drunk ever, I didn’t want to make fun of everyone all the time. When it came down to it, I just wasn’t very…”likable”.

Growing up when and where I did (Olympia, 1990’s, Revolution Grrrl Style Now!) I learned to be proud of my voice and the things I could say, the minds I could change, and really? The freedoms I was allowed to have. But I still can’t get past the whole “likable”thing. I’m not “nice” enough. I can’t feign interest like so many people that I know (people that will honestly say to me later that they can’t stand the person they were just talking to), and I just don’t giggle that much with strangers. I like to save that stuff for the friends that have earned it by making me spit beer out of my mouth in a full bar.

So, to be honest, I’m not a 100% sure if this is my insecurity, or if I’m airing my frustration with the weird sets of “rules” we put ourselves though to find a place within the pack. All I know is that I think of it everyday, when I meet people for the first time, when I go to work, even when I’m with my friends. I’m never quite sure if my people will stick with me, once they find out I’m not super friendly and sometimes I can be a bummer.

There! I did it!”

Mackenzie’s friends and family:

“I’m so grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to watch Mackenzie grow into the person she is today. It’s been so inspirational to so many people watching her take enormous risks and step so far out of her comfort zone to better her life. I’ve never met anyone so passionate, driven and goal oriented, and I’m so proud and amazed by her accomplishments every day.
When we met each other we were both a little lost. We were searching for different things, but instead found a sisterhood in each other. Growing up, all I ever wanted was a sister, and I was lucky enough to find her at 22.
In the beginning, I got to know her as a fiercely loyal friend willing to fight for what she believed in, no matter if it was the popular choice or not. As more time passed, I found in her a loving, emotional and empathetic sister who would do anything to protect her family. I got to witness her amazing love for my brother, which almost brings me to tears to think about. And now, after all these years, she has grown into such a confident, determined woman and I am so proud I get to tell people she is my sister.
Even if they don’t ask, I’m probably still gonna tell them.
Mackenzie– I love you more than if you were my blood because you are the family I choose. Thank you so much for being the beautiful, brave, intuitive woman you are. And for being my hero.” – Megan

“Let me first say that I am so glad to have the opportunity to brag about one of my favorite people in the WORLD… my friend, Mackenzie. We met at a time and age when everyone is finding themselves and riding on the coattails of adolescent insecurities – college. Mackenzie had the most refreshing self-confidence, raw honesty, and sense of identity of anyone else I had met up to that point in my life. We quickly became close friends, and eventually roommates. Although we now live on opposite coasts… 3,000 miles between us… I count her among my closest friends.
When thinking of what to write about Mackenzie… what words describe her best… almost every cliché good quality fits. The irony here is that Mackenzie is the least cliché person I know… the LEAST. When she first brought me to a scenester garage band show in Olympia, it was apparent to me then (and has been proven countless times since) that she is the essence of punk rock.
When I talk with her about losing her father to a long struggle with cancer, her strength, kindness, and empathy emerges in the most loving and authentic way.
Throughout our 15 year friendship and a lifetime of experience with people from all walks of life (the millionaire wasps of Manhattan… the political elite of Seattle… Ivy Leaguers… Art school hipsters) Mackenzie’s brain power rises to the top every time. She is a wicked sharp intellectual powerhouse. Unlike many uber intellects that I have come across, Mackenzie uses her powers for the good of the common (wo)man… gracing us normal-brained folk with her unique brand of humor that is a pure manifestation of her nerdiness.
She is constantly making me laugh. I am compelled to articulate the perpetual contribution Mackenzie makes to the feminist movement… not in a pretentious, overt way… but in the way that, by merely being the amazing woman she is, she inspires me to embody all of the aforementioned amazing qualities that seem so effortless for her. Mackenzie is infectious. I have never not wanted to be around her.” – Emma

“When I think about Mackenzie these are the things that come to mind: her big heart — love for her family and friends; creative; free spirit; brave and beautiful; smart and sassy; fun to spend time with and always lots of love.” – Kirby

“Hello Alana,
Hopefully this is what you were looking for!
Without coming off too much like a list but more of a description of what I see in my sister, Mackenzie.
-Caring
-Beautiful like her mother and strong and determined like her father
-Brave-Willing to take chances for things she believes in and stays the course
-Creative
-Someone I can Truly look up to as more than just a big sister, but as a role model
**On a side note, wanted to say what you are doing is pretty cool and good luck with it all!” – Kyle

“Kenzie is one of the bravest people I have ever met. Not fearless (she’s got all sorts of fears.) Not in a military action or cancer survivor sense; but in knowing her fears and limitations, and then just blowing past them like they can’t touch her. So many “I can’t-s” and “I’ll never be able to-s” have been voiced, ignored, and then proven wrong that I sometimes think she’s started making them up to make me feel better about myself.
She is an engine of wish-fulfillment for herself and those around her, and in the six+ years that she has been my other half, I still can’t figure out how she does it. My role as resident devil’s advocate/naysaying realist has become a figurehead position. It’s not through methodical planning or evil genius, just determination and intuition. You know those wishful thinking moments everyone has? She’ll say ‘wouldn’t it be nice if ___’ and then it happens. Because she made it happen.
“Wouldn’t it be nice if I could do my hobby full time?”
A year and a half later, she’s quit her job to run her own company.
“I’d like to own my own home some day”
A year later, we are signing mortgage paperwork.
“Wouldn’t it be nice if you quit your crap warehouse job and worked in IT?”
Six months later I’m doing database analysis and don’t dread going to work every day.
She made an offhand quip about buying a village in Spain a while back. I went ahead and downloaded the Spanish language tutorial on Duolingo, just to be safe.
She amazes me daily. I wish I could be more like her. I love her.” – Gabe

nicholeins Nichole ~
“Disappointment…that is my biggest insecurity. Hearing the word that I disappointed is what hurts me. I feel that everything I do is not enough and that anything I do is never enough. So to hear the word “disappointment” is the worst thing I can hear about myself.”

Nichole’s friends and family:

“Nichole is a relatively new friend to me. We met shortly after our sons were both born prematurely in November 2011, and bonded over the struggles of sick, tiny babies. I have learned a lot about motherhood from her, as she is a seasoned mom of 3. She has endless patience for her children and her love overflows around them. She puts her family above herself every single day and is constantly on her way to another activity, helping out in the classrooms, taking the kids to appointments, and still manages to chat with me about our days.
I see Nichole struggle to find enough time in the day for all her family’s activities, and rarely has an hour to herself, even when sleeping! She is so generous with her time and love, and even though I know she is exhausted and at times frazzled, she still holds her youngest till he falls asleep, even if she is stuck in a chair, dying to go to the bathroom, with a toddler wrapped around her torso. We send silly pictures back and forth of the crazy ways our kids have fallen asleep.
I wish Nichole got more appreciation for all the sacrifices she makes for her family. She is an amazing mom, a wonderful wife, and a kickass friend. When other women would have cracked under the pressure, she gets up and does it all again the next day. She’s an inspiration on how to be selfless and loving and never ask for anything in return.” – Ashley

“Hi, I’m Nikki’s mother-in-law, Maggie. Nikki is beautiful on the inside as well as the outside. She has a huge heart and open arms. She is always available to anyone day or night, which makes her extremely reliable. She’s also a very good friend.
I love her great sense of humor. She is delightfully funny. She is so much fun to be with! She laughs easily and makes friends easily because she is compassionate and quite lovable. She’s a great mom and an amazing wife. We are so lucky to have her in our family.” – Maggie

“She is a wonderful mother, very intuitive about her children’s health. Sometimes I think she knows their are ill before they do.
She is a giving and caring person, for animals as well as people. Nikki is family-oriented, she has a large extended family as well as blood relatives and shows the same love and consideration for both equally. She has a great sense of humor.” – Vontell

“She is kind loving and caring…Nikki has this inner core of strength – when something bad happens, she is there standing strong, and when it all calms down, she still is the last to sit down. Strong; hits the ground running. Kind and giving – would give you her last dime. Compassionate – when someone she cares about is about to break, she offers the first hand up. She shows that in this great big world and the grand scheme of things, there are still pure loving hearts…Her laughter makes my heart swing…triumphant and loves to share it with everybody around her. Her heart is open and she is the first one to say, “just tell me what to do” and she is out the door. When it comes to her babies, and other’s babies, she is pure love and joy…She’s my kiddo and I adore her.” – Sissy

connieins Connie ~
“I guess my biggest insecurity is a few bunched into one big one. I always feel like I’m the outcast, like no one really likes me – they just act like they do just because they feel bad. I feel like that awkward sympathy friend; like I drive everyone up the wall because I’m annoying and have mass anxiety problems so everyone hates to be around me. It’s like “Oh well I don’t want to make her feel bad so we’ll hang out even though she is so annoying and her anxiety problems are ridiculous, like seriously, who is afraid of food.”

Connie’s friends and family:

“Connie is an amazing mother, whether she sees it or not; she is an amazing fiancé, putting up with all the crazy me and my family can muster. She is beautiful both outside and in. She’s a little stubborn, but it’s cute; she is creative and fun and always tries to tackle everything at once. She is patient. And, most of all, she is forgiving. She cares so much for her friends and tries to always understand what they are going through before she makes a decision.
Idk if that is how this is supposed to be set up but it’s from the heart.” – Jace

“Connie is a free-spirit, she always has been. She is an artist in every form, from her clothing to her photographs to her drawings. She is fun to be with. Connie loves Anime and making her own and Teagan’s costumes for the Sakura Con convention. She has a great laugh and a beautiful smile. She loves the outdoors and being in nature. She’s a great, caring, and loving Mom. She’s stronger and more courageous than she thinks.” – Deneall

“There’s a lot that I can say about Connie but to make it simple I’ll stick to a few things that best describe her personality.
Strong: Connie is strong, far stronger than I think she even realizes sometimes. She has been through a lot emotionally and still has everyday challenges to face and has handled it better than anyone I’ve ever seen. She’s not afraid to speak her mind and is an awesome mom and person.
Genuinely good person: Connie is that person that you wish nothing bad ever happened to because she just has a good soul. Whenever I’ve needed her she’s been there for me regardless of how I’ve been as a friend. She even allowed me to stay with her for several months when I needed it. At one point she even provided more than half my son’s wardrobe! She’s full of compassion, sweet, feisty, and full of energy!
Fun: Connie is the one person who I call when I want to go on an adventure which in our case means driving to the bookstore, sitting in the car and talking for hours, going on a walk, or even the occasional grocery shopping. Just sometimes we even include clothes or shoe shopping. She’s a functional good kind of crazy and that makes for some pretty fun conversations.” – Lisa

Thank you for your time. Please leave a comment if you are so inclined.

and here are links to past groups:

Group 1, Part 1
Group 1, Part 2
Group 2, TEENS!
Group 3, 55+
Group 4
Group 5
Group 6
Group 7, MEN!!

2 thoughts on “group 8! women: raw. honest. loved.

  1. These are so awesome Alana! I know these women are baring their souls but some make me laugh with delightful resonance. I can totally relate to so many of these feelings, especially Connie’s!

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