Girl Talk: Finding and Filling Our Empty Places

The Greatest Love of All
Image via Wikipedia

Whitney Houston has been dead a week, and I find myself wondering, still, if she was not like so many of us women: empty of the kind of love we crave.

Why is it that so many of us end up with people who are not good for us or to us? We are not with these people under duress: we choose and stay with people who do us emotional harm, who damage our already frail inner selves, and for what?

I guess men do it, too, but it seems like we women do it more. It seems that the worse we are treated, the harder we hold onto the person who is treating us so badly. We internalize blame for the reason we are being treated badly, and we decide that “if we can just” improve ourselves, do something better, that person whom we love so much will see the light …and there will be a “happily ever after” for us.

I am not saying that was the case with Whitney and Bobby Brown, but it just feels like, from the outside, that Whitney, for all her talent and beauty, had an emptiness inside of her that she was counting on Bobby Brown to fill.

Nobody can fill our empty spaces but ourselves.

It is ironic that Whitney sang the absolute notes off the pages when she performed “The Greatest Love of All,” but in the end, resorted to drugs to self medicate the inner pain she felt from that emptiness that too many people in general, but surely too many women feel.

Years ago, a woman came to my door in the middle of the night. She was bloodied all over her head; she was crying and shaking and said she needed help. I didn’t have to ask; I knew she had been beaten. I didn’t really know this woman, so I was afraid to let her in, but I finally offered to take her to the hospital. She didn’t want to go. She only wanted to talk. She wanted some water, and she wanted to talk, and talk she did, about this man of hers who “really was a nice guy.” As she talked, I couldn’t help but shudder at the sight of her injuries. I finally offered to call the police, but she said, “no. It’ll be OK. He just gets mad sometimes. I’m trying to be a better person…”

Though I had never been physically beaten, I had had my share of experiences with guys who were “really nice guys” but who were oppressive in their treatment of me. They didn’t have the problem; I did, because I took it. I was so interested in having a relationship that I accepted treatment that damaged my spirit. I, too, had been trying to be a “better” person.

I have to believe that we women will find ways to identify our empty places, and stare them down instead of running to or staying with people who will only exploit them. It baffles me that so many of us women are so love-starved that we latch onto people who mean us no good. I find myself wondering what it is we are being taught, even subliminally, as we are being raised. What is it that makes us doubt ourselves and be willing to compromise our very spirits for the sake of being in a relationship?

Certainly nobody wants to be lonely, but we should want to have quality lives while we are yet alive, and there is no quality of life when we are in relationships with people who exploit our personalities. We are looking for something and we are finding it, too often, in the wrong places and in the wrong people.

Kevin Costner said, in his remarks at Whitney Houston’s funeral, that she wondered if she was “good enough” as she auditioned for her part in “The Bodyguard.” She was “the voice,” for goodness’ sake! She was amazingly beautiful. She was smart…and still, she doubted if she was good enough. The “empty place” syndrome that plagues so many of us women plagued even her.

Kevin Costner said to Whitney, post-mortem, “Yes, Whitney, you were good enough.” Maybe that’s something we should say, as women, to ourselves, every day, no matter what we look like: no matter the color or length of our hair, the size of our hips, the number of mistakes we have made in our lives. Maybe we should say that we are “good enough” to ourselves, and in so doing, begin filling up our empty places so that we don’t depend on a human being to do what only we and God can do.

Just a painful…and candid…observation.

Girl Talk: Less is More

Just Whitney
Image via Wikipedia

By now, most of us have gotten over our shock and dismay over the sudden death of Whitney Houston. An amazing and rare talent – a voice like no other – will never again make new music. That Houston’s later years of life were full of strife and addiction to drugs and alcohol, compromising her ability to share her amazing voice, will forever be a painful memory to many.

But in looking at countless images of Ms. Houston singing, I have noticed something: on stage, performing, she showed a consistent vulnerability to share herself, and she showed females, performers and otherwise, what class really is.

First, the vulnerability. I had no idea that one of Whitney Houston’s signature stage movements was “arms wide open.” Over and over, she can be seen standing at her microphone, moving her feet, tapping her microphone with her fingers …but at some point in her performance,opening her arms wide open…as if to say, “here I am! Receive me!”

That is a move as vulnerable as are arms folded across one’s chest a sign of being protective of one’s self. There is an openness in being vulnerable that, to me, invites love and power and passion and love into one’s soul. I had never noticed how often Houston did that “arms wide open” move, and it makes me wonder if her vulnerability was both one of her greatest blessings, and one of her greatest curses as well. People latch onto celebrities, but people really latch onto those who make themselves vulnerable.

Then, I noticed that Houston showed so much class in the way she dressed on stage. In an age where female performers show as much skin as possible, and work on perfecting the most sexy moves possible, Houston very often is seen in classy, beautiful elegant attire. She looks beautiful and sexy within that beauty. I hadn’t noticed it before. My mother, a wise soul though she died young, would always say that a woman ought to make people (especially men) wonder a little. I thought of that as I looked at her, looking demure yet fashionable, pretty and beautiful yet sexy, all at one time. It was like her statement was, “All I am here to do is sing.” And sing she did. To be fair, she acknowledged she was not a good dancer; perhaps if she had been she would have dressed differently; she would have had to.  But as she was, she was a class act.  An “arms wide open” class act.

Even when she sang The Star Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl in 2001, she was …classic Whitney. A white athletic-looking warm up suit with a white head band …that was all…and there she was again,singing her heart out, eyes bright and sparkling, smiling and sharing, it seemed, her soul, with literally the whole world.

I am not a prude, but I do sometimes find myself wishing that young female performers showed a little less of themselves. It’s easy to get distracted if too much is showing, if there is too much “bumping and grinding” going on. The whole world doesn’t have to see everything, or nearly everything, God blessed one with.

Ironically, as I am writing this, I’m thinking that I don’t notice, or haven’t noticed, male performers going to the lengths that women do to “be” sexy. They just “are” sexy. They come out on stage and, like Whitney …just sing. They dance, some of them, but they are still far more suggestive (to me) than are the girls who come out almost flashing their God-given gifts.

Sigh. I’ll bet it’s just me. I’m just thinking, though, that I would rather see a talent come out on stage, “arms wide open,” dressed in a way that supports the talent being shared, not that detracts from it.

Chalk these old fogey thoughts up to a mother who always said, “less is more.”

I think she was right.

A candid observation …



Girl Talk: Older Women Aging Nicely

English: Madonna at the premiere of I Am Becau...
Image via Wikipedia

I am not a fan of Madonna, nor have the half-time shows at Super Bowls interested me in quite some time.

But I found it quite interesting on Sunday when Madonna, sporting 5-inch heels and before a live audience, stumbled slightly. While there were a number of reasons to comment on Madonna’s performance, the comments surrounding her stumble, with an air of incredulity that this “older” woman would wear 5 inch heels, kind of grated me.

What’s the big deal? If she’s able, at age 53, to wear 5-inch heels, and hold her own, what’s the big deal if she stumbles some?

She’s obviously in good shape and she has some talent. I found myself wondering if Paul McCartney or Lionel Ritchie had been performing and had stumbled if the newscasters would have commented on their age as the obvious reason.

When a man gets older, and has gray or silver gray hair, he is regarded as distinguished and handsome, but when a woman gets older, she’ll do well, most of the time, to cover that gray and do something to get rid of her wrinkles as quickly as possible. I saw a woman just this past weekend whose face looked frozen; it looked as though she’d had more cosmetic procedures than any person ought to, and it just made me sad.

What’s most interesting to me is that no matter how many cosmetic procedures women do, the label “older woman” is still with her, and for some, that reality is depressing and troubling. Instead of being able to celebrate having come through the storms of life in one piece, too many of us grow frantic at the signs of age, and we miss out on the grace and blessing of being older.

I am proud of Madonna for putting on her 5-inch heels and doing …Madonna. I used to love watching Tina Turner for the same reason. Age ought not make us want to hide; it ought to make us strut. There is nothing quite so beautiful as an older woman aging nicely…

A candid observation…


Girl Talk – The Hot Flash

There is nothing quite so comical…and annoying …as “the hot flash.”

When I was a child, I would laugh at my older women friends who would be fine one moment and ready to strip the next.

More than once I was warned, “You just wait,” but being young and all, I couldn’t relate.

That has all changed now.

What in the world was God thinking? How can it be possible to be comfortable one second and ready to strip the next, no matter where you are?

What logic is there to having your window open when it’s 5 degrees outside, because even as you need the heat on in the house, the heat loses to “the hot flash” every time?

A hot flash has power. Were we to capture the hot flashes of, say, two or three women at one time, and bottle it, I wonder how much energy from that heat we would be able to measure?

Case in point: I was at an event, dressed quite nicely, thank you, getting ready to make a presentation, when, BOOM! All of a sudden, out of nowhere, came “the hot flash.” I felt my face grow warm and beads of sweat break out on my forehead. I did the proverbial “look around:” Was this just me or had the heat suddenly gone up in the room? But no, nobody else looked the slightest bit bothered. It was me.

I wanted to fan, not just my face, but under my arms, between my legs …and I wanted to fan with much energy! But because I was in public, I had to do the dainty fan thing.


Menopause is quite hilarious, actually. It is amazing, what hormones changing around in us women do to us. It messes with our bones, it makes mood swings really interesting…but the funniest part (although not funny when you’re having one) is…the hot flash.

Mine aren’t really bad, and not all that frequent, thank goodness. I try to watch what I eat and exercise; I have heard that doing that sort of thing is helpful. I do not take hormone therapy; I’d rather let nature take its course…but these hot flashes are rude! They intrude in places and at times when they are not appreciated and where I cannot strip in order to cool down!

Sometimes, when I am getting my hair dried at the beauty shop, “hot flash” comes and sits with me, so even as my beautician dries my hair, it is getting damp again because “the hot flash” is making its way from my feet to my head!


I always say that when I die, I hope I have an opportunity to have a conversation with God. One of the questions I’ll ask is why we women had to have the menstrual period experience. Why don’t men have a lovely, monthly visitor with whom to deal? It doesn’t seem quite fair…

But clearly, one other question I would like to ask God was why He/She felt it necessary to make us women go through menopause and experience “the hot flash?”  Surely this isn’t all because Eve tempted Adam to eat the apple in the Garden of Eden, is it? If it is related to that, shouldn’t Adam have to bear some of this…experience, seeing as he had the power to say “no” to her but didn’t?

Something is wrong with this picture, I write, even as I need to stop to fan. Yep, you guessed it…I am having…a hot flash.

A candid (and hot) observation…

Girl Talk: “Being” vs.”Doing”

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Image via Wikipedia

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said something to the effect that everybody wants to “be” somebody instead of wanting to “do” something that will change the world.

I would probably edit her observation to say that we want to “be” somebody who is physically beautiful, rather than be like an unattractive woman who actually changed the world.

I didn’t like Margaret Thatcher’s politics, but she was a woman who knew herself and who walked in her strengths. It seemed that she was not at all consumed with looking a certain way so that she could be labeled as an attractive woman. In spite of her skill as a leader of a major world power, one almost never hears little girls saying they would like to be like her, or like Hillary Clinton, or like Mary McLeod Bethune.

No, young girls, egged on by their mothers, would rather “be” the next Paris Hilton (for whatever reason, I do not understand), or like Marilyn Monroe or Beyonce Knowles. The desire to “be”  is based much on how these women looked, not what they have done in or for the world.

If we complain that we considered to be sex objects rather than human beings, then we have ourselves to blame as much as the men about whom we complain. I have watched snippets of parents putting their very young daughters in beauty pageants, teaching them to capitalize on their looks, rather than learning their gifts and talents and building upon those things.

The tendency of white parents to push their daughters forward as sex objects is no less regrettable than black parents pushing their sons to aspire to be professional athletes.  In both cases, the little girls and boys become objects that will be used to make someone else big bucks, even after their beauty or athletic ability has long gone.

The hardest part about watching us women trying to “be” somebody else rather than to “do” something of significance in and for the world is that it is always futile to try to be somebody else. No matter how hard one tries, all one can be is oneself. Yes, we can get tummy tucks and dye our hair and get breast implants and any number of other things to enhance or change what people see, but in the end, I find myself wondering if we do that at the expense of taking care of how we feel.

It is good that beauties are all around us. Halle Berry, Jennifer Hudson, Natalie Morales – there are so many beautiful women who are also doing things.

It would be a good thing if we began to teach our daughters that it is OK to look at someone and admire how they look, and even take tips on how we might fix our hair or makeup…but that it is never OK to lose ourselves in trying to be someone else.

At the end of the day, the beauty and sexiness for which we crave are so fleeting. Long after beauty fades and being “sexy” doesn’t work anymore, the world would be better if it had more women who decided that, just as they were, they were better than just “OK,” and who forged ahead to help pave the way for real change in a very troubled and complex world.

A candid observation …