CHRISTIANBOOK.com: What is an “unfinished woman” and what motivated you to write a book on the topic?
An unfinished woman is every single of us; we are all a work in progress. I love how that feels so hopeful, with plenty of room to grow.
CHRISTIANBOOK.com: What are the traits that characterize a “woman of grace?”
Beauty, Confidence, Softness, Trust, Truth, Generosity, Forgiveness, Courage, Diligence, Wisdom, Authenticity, Freedom
CHRISTIANBOOK.com: What are some of the cultural lies about women that you want to challenge?
I challenge lots of things, about beauty, about being “pleasing,” about softness, about courage (it isn’t just for special people), about true confidence, about what forgiveness is really about.
CHRISTIANBOOK.com: You write that beauty is a reflection of who we are, not something to be obtained. Can you elaborate?
There is so much striving going on with women. We chase beauty down like an elusive lover and wonder why we can never attain it. We have to unveil it, because it’s already there. So much about beauty and confidence has to do with knowing and being comfortable with who we are.
CHRISTIANBOOK.com: In today’s society submissiveness and softness are usually considered sexist characteristics. Why do you think these are important traits of femininity?
So much of our power as women is generated from our softness. When we try to forge ahead using brash tactics, we come across as harsh and controlling and usually don’t even achieve the end result we desired. When we approach relationships or situations using our softness (important to note that this does not mean wimpiness), we can achieve far more and be graceful, elegant and powerful at the same time. I provide examples in my chapter on softness, some of them are quite amusing.
CHRISTIANBOOK.com: Why are women’s friendships so important?
Unfortunately we have put female friendships on the backburner for quite some time now. We mistakenly think we are “too busy” with work and family to cultivate these important and sustaining relationships. Unfortunately what happens as a result is that our other relationships (with spouses, children, family, co-workers) are at risk, being forced to carry burdens that were never intended for them. When we spend time with good girlfriends (the kind who elevate and challenge us), we always return as better women.
CHRISTIANBOOK.com: Why are so many women “people pleasers”?
We are taught from the time we are little girls that we are supposed to be pleasing…be attractive, be quiet, don’t make waves. In fact, much of our definition and self-concept of our beauty is based on how pleasing we perceive we are to others – because we have been reinforced this way. “Be a good girl.”
CHRISTIANBOOK.com: How can one learn to say “No,” and why is it important to establish clear boundaries?
Without a clear and concise “no” we aren’t able to cultivate a meaningful “yes.” Boundaries are essential in terms of clarifying for ourselves and others what is our responsibility and our desire, and what is not. We tend to think we owe a lot of explanations, but a simple “No thank you” is often sufficient. Good boundaries help us define who we are, and what kind of treatment we will accept from others.
CHRISTIANBOOK.com: Spiritual impasses can occur when there is unforgiveness in our lives. Do you have any suggestions on how to let go of it?
When we realize that forgiveness is a spiritual transaction between us and God, not necessarily between us and the person who hurt us, we are liberated to move through forgiveness into freedom. When we choose not to forgive, the person who hurt us continues to hurt us over and over again until we decide to take our power back by absolving them and moving on. It is an extremely powerful act, and is essential to being a woman of grace.
CHRISTIANBOOK.com: Why is diligence important, even in the smallest and most mundane choices?
Because small choices are like vectors, even a few degrees off can lead us way off track in our final destination. The formation of character is about being diligent in the tiny, daily decisions that comprise a life – no matter who is watching.
CHRISTIANBOOK.com: Where has your own “pilgrimage for authenticity” led you?
Off road! (ha) Trails, switch backs, dead ends and detours. Authenticity is one subject that emboldens me to shake off my ‘shy’ and get up and speak my heart to anyone who needs to listen. It is such a challenge for women to balance the needs of marriage, motherhood and work – and still hold fast to the core of who we are and what we love. Everyone suffers when we play small.
CHRISTIANBOOK.com: I understand that you’ve run six marathons. As a kid who was picked last for sports, how did that happen?
As I was going through my divorce in 2003, I wasn’t eating or sleeping well, and my friends noticed I was looking skinny and haggard. Being athletes themselves, they decided I needed to train for a marathon. Every weekend we went on a long run, and each time it was the longest run of my life. I never asked questions, about distance or time, nothing at all – I just ran. I started to get tired and hungry, so I slept and I ate. My confidence began to grow. I ran my first marathon with those friends four days before my divorce was final. It was an exquisite experience – painful, humbling, invigorating, empowering – all of it. I have run five more marathons since then and one ultra distance (50K) trail marathon. I have learned that ordinary people can do extraordinary things, and this is a message I share with my readers at Runner’s World magazine and whenever I speak to groups of women.
CHRISTIANBOOK.com: Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
My next book is coming out just before Mother’s Day – it’s a devotional book for mothers called Heart of my Heart: Reflections on the Meaning and Magnitude of Motherhood.