As Americans, we have become "boxy" people. We tick off little boxes that define us by gender, race, income, education and political affiliation.
Marketers, politicians and media types have boxed us so well that their perfectly targeted ads pop up on our computer screens and telephones like customized phantoms. We often live in communities where everyone looks just like us and expectations are fixed. We know what to say and how to behave. Most of the time, most of us live in our own comfortable box.
Then, like mango ice on a hot day, someone comes along who is refreshingly outside of that box—someone who nudges us to look at something in a whole new way.
Take business owner and fitness instructor Nancy Griffin. She hates working out and defies standard concepts of exercise. She and her clients concentrate on fun, using hula hoops or swinging golf clubs to get fit as she entertains with story-telling, crazy get-ups and unicycle routines. (Read the full story here.)
Likewise, Nancy Rex, also of Peters, has stepped out of the typical grocery box. She cans and grows much of her own food; she and her egg-laying chickens are delightfully not what you expect in the middle of suburbia. (Read her story here.)
Sometimes circumstances beyond our control force us to rework our boxes or at least reframe our outlook. When Upper St. Clair resident and writer Kathy Gillen had a daughter born with a degenerative disease, she was forced to reframe her view on size. Small can be powerful depending how you look at it—read her essay.
Always a free-spirited person at heart, Gwyneth Welling, of Bethel Park, felt locked in a box except when she was hiking in the mountains. Redefining how she accepted herself brought her back to a fulfilling life after a difficult divorce. (Read the story here.)
Then, there are times boxes get destroyed all together. Upper St. Clair High School senior Marissa Bowman shattered her jaw and her neatly-packaged life plans when her face met the pavement in a serious rollerblade accident. Out of the pieces, came a reconstructed plan—including a $100,000 scholarship to The University of Notre Dame and a repaired face that looks pretty darn good. She shares her story in her own words.
Boxes are useful. We can carry items and store things in them. Being in a box means you don’t have to reinvent yourself every moment of the day or figure out your boundaries for everyday situations. However, sometimes leaving that box, even for a little while—or in just one area of our lives—can open up whole new worlds.
Obvious, I know. But, take a moment to imagine where getting out of your box could lead.
Wise Women is an e-journal for and about dynamic women of the South Hills. You can join us (it's free!) by clicking here.