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A Woman's Greatest Strength

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A blog entry I read this week made me take note about the real strength of women. The author was not cited, however, the research was. I quote:

"A landmark UCLA study suggests friendships between women are special. They shape who we are and who we are yet to be. They soothe our tumultuous inner world, fill the emotional gaps in our marriage, and help us remember who we really are. By the way, they may do even more.. . . scientists generally believed that when people experience stress, they trigger a hormonal cascade that revs the body to either stand and fight or flee as fast as possible, explains Laura Cousin Klein, Ph.D., now an Assistant Professor of Biobehavioral Health at Penn State University and one of the study's authors."

"Now the researchers suspect that women have a larger behavioral repertoire than just fight or flight; In fact, says Dr. Klein, it seems that when the hormone oxytocin is release as part of the stress responses in a woman, it buffers the fight or flight response and encourages her to tend children and gather with other women instead. When she actually engages in this tending or befriending, studies suggest that more oxytocin is released, which further counters stress and produces a calming effect. This calming response does not occur in men, says Dr. Klein, because testosterone---which men produce in high levels when they're under stress---seems to reduce the effects of oxytocin. Estrogen, she adds, seems to enhance it."

As I pondered the significance of this research, I thought of my own feelings and reactions under stress. When my son burst into the house crying that the neighbor boy had been mean to him, my first response was not to go punch his friend. I held him in my arms and comforted him. I was filled with compassion. That is the normal response for a woman. When my sister died, I was comforted by those about me, but the greatest healing came when my best friend from high school came a few months later and invited me to talk and cry with her. I felt her compassion. I love my husband, but he can't do that for me.

Many women live under the false premise that we have to be tough in order to be who we want to be and make the most of our lives. This research may suggest that the opposite is true. There is no need to be weak either. Perhaps a better way of saying it is that we must be compassionate with ourselves and with others. We must accept our tender hearts and our natural desire to tend the children and to gather with other women. That is our strength. It is a tender and gentle strength, however he strands it winds are stronger than steel.

We are women with innate gifts that serve God's purposes for this world in which we live; a world meant for love and peace. The difference we make when we are true to our nature changes the world in ways that nothing else can--not negotiation--not war--not competition--not defense--only compassion, and it's already in us.

Who'd have thought! We don't have to look anywhere else to create the world we want and to love our lives. We only need to nurture who we are inside.

Thank you, God. I am a woman. I am grateful.

Founder of Women Loving Life Worldwide is not just a website; it is a worldwide movement. Have you ever wished you had someone who would listen to you, someone to share your joys and triumphs, someone to hear your sorrows and wipe your tears, someone with whom you can goof off, laugh and play? Do you wish you had someone who really understands you? Women do that for one another. In every country of the world there are women nurturing one another, standing shoulder to shoulder to champion causes and lift burdens, to teach and learn, to laugh and love. That is what Women Loving Life Worldwide is about.

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Renae Pelo
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