Tag Archives: new year

My figure, female

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My figure, female

Getting out of the shower today, I caught a glimpse of myself in the medicine cabinet mirror. That same bathroom medicine cabinet that is filled entirely with products meant to highlight this and hide that, smooth this and lift that. Every product’s purpose is to address the imperfections which are just a tiny part of the imperfect whole. So it’s no wonder that I am dismayed by what I see projected onto the bathroom mirror. The swell of age and babies, the wrinkles, the scars, the bulges. The aged skin stretched awkwardly over underworked muscles, looks tired. Tired as the face that stares back and sighs. I wish I was younger, forgetting I will get older. And I wish I was bigger here and smaller there, smoother here and also there. Every part of me seems to hold some opportunity for criticism, an opening for attack. Smallish toes, inappropriate scalp, improper arm pits, inadequate knee surface area, unseemly nails, unsightly calves…pieces and parts of a Dali painting, putrid crayons melting on asphalt.
Recently I have had particular distaste for my stomach. It’s bigger now than it was a decade, or perhaps two, ago. It reminds me of leftover biscuit dough. I love biscuits, but this doughy mess makes me sigh. Maybe I could use my belly button to store flour, or acorns. I open the medicine cabinet door, so the mirror faces away.
Just this morning, my daughter said, without provocation, “You look good, for someone who’s had three kids. ” and I’d possibly agree….but there’s that modifier. And others. “For my age”, is another one. These are good and real compliments, that feel rather like getting a free sample of uncooked chicken skin.
It’s not as though I am simply a decoration that has seen better days, a balloon animal that has come untwisted. I am certainly more than the sum of my thighs, my weight, my age. On good days, I don’t need to be reminded of that. But I am often caught off guard by what I see in the mirror, in the curve of a spoon, in photographs and then I’m brought back to the universe where my body is the sun and all of, what might be remembered as amazing parts, are just distant planets orbiting around.
My womanly frame, of wrinkles, and unwanted bulges and sags and curves and joy and creation, needs a break. It is not as though having better thighs would make my life easier anyway. If my hair was thick and curly (which I wish for almost exclusively because it is flat and frizzy) I wouldn’t accomplish anything more. Larger boobs wouldn’t make me smarter, or more compassionate. Having toned triceps won’t get me any closer to finishing my prize winning novel. And anyway, these wobbling bat wings embrace my lover beautifully. These over-sized thighs lift me with ease upstairs and downstairs and all around. Belly laughs and gestures and hand puppets and scowls of disapproval are all possible because of the wonders of facial muscles and skin stretched over bones and cartilage. I can still do magnificent things with this flesh suitcase of mine. It is the case that this amazing human machine has created the three people I love most in the world. How much more impressive can a bag of skin and bones get than that? It makes people! I’ve got a blender than can make kale smoothies that I give more respect and adoration than my whole body.
But I’m not writing an essay about learning to love the sags and bags and wrinkles and fat. I’m not headed out to have midlife nude pictures made, I’m not going to hang inspirational quotes on my bathroom mirror reminding me that I am a beautiful flesh portmanteau capable of amazing things. Twenty year-old feminist Ami, I’ve got disappointing news–you are never going to learn to love your body. I appreciate women who do, and women who are trying. Bless each and every one of you. It’s hostile territory to even consider self-love, for many people. I can admit that there are several parts of my physical appearance that I tolerate. I attempted to love my body, mostly by trying to change the shape of my body, but it seems that loving my body is just another unattainable goal. So, I think we are going to try to just be friends. And as friends we are going to agree that there are many, many more important areas of the universe that we should be putting our energy into. Fighting Sexism, for example.

The simple act of learning to love your body is a radical act in a society that makes a living off of telling you that there is always something wrong with you. But I have begun finding the task of learning to love my body as exhausting as hating it. So instead of putting up inspirational quotes about loving myself, I am going to tack up a photo of a penguin. Penguins could give two fu$ks about the size of their beaks, the amount of black spots verses white spots, or that they make a weird noise when frightened (it’s true, look that up). This is the year that I turn my attention to something other than embracing my wrinkly elbows and I stop trying to love my laugh lines. These are, after all, just things. And if, periodically, I am startled by the unwelcome sight of my monstrous thighs, my bellowing belly, my pizza dough triceps, I will offer a figurative tip of the old fedora and go along my way.  As long as the sun shines, perhaps the most radical act of all will be saying, “what body? I have a body? Huh, I hadn’t really noticed, but now that you mention it I was wondering how I was able to dance to that funky James Brown song, make this delicious Quinoa and resist this crazy patriarchy.” So lets get our thighs out there, whale-sized or bird legs, and raise our pendulous arms to those things that are greater than our flesh duffle bags. Do something really radical today.  Don’t think about your body at all.

 

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Naked new year

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Naked new year

That’s right readers…I’m getting naked for the new year. Now, before you get too excited ( or horrified for that matter) I’m talking about emotionally. It’s time to strip off the barricades, let the boundaries drop to the floor, shimmy out of the cloak. I’ve always been one to speak my mind, I feel it’s important. But I speak my mind about social issues, about struggling politicians, about wayward football players, about single parenting. I’m just scratching the surface. This is my year to get real.
To be clear I’m not talking about walking around shouting about my feelings about everyone else, “you let me down, you wear weird shoes”, I’m talking about my feelings and feeling them. I’m talking about crying when I miss Chris, I don’t have to know why, I just have to feel. I think we all spend a lot of time figuring out why we feel how we do and not time feeling. The feeling part is the healing part, not the other way around. And let’s face it, feelings don’t always make sense. I’ve cried about my hair not looking right, about how my pants fit, I’ve yelled at someone (in my head) to get the f out of the way because they are blocking the cheese at the grocery store.
Having said that, I don’t intend to embrace my road rage or ball up in a quivering mass every time I have to struggle to zip my jeans, that WOULD be exhausting. I think all those things are symptoms of not feeling my feelings when I have them.
Part two of getting naked is listening, REALLY listening to others. I’ve been in therapy enough to know there is an awkward space in talking about something where you want to stop talking. It’s the time in a therapy session when a therapist just looks at you, it feels weird, like time stopped. If you were at a cocktail party it’s the time you’d walk away to get another cocktail weenie. It’s the time I make a joke, or offer advice. Maybe it’s the space before you get naked though. Maybe it’s your turn to drop the cloak, I want to be there. See, what I’ve said there is I want to watch you get naked and sit awkwardly silent as you do so. I may not be invited over for tea much this year.
Part three is taking personal responsibility. It’s still a learning process, I’m gonna mess up. Failure is an amazing teacher, if you allow it to be. My current thinking goes something like this. I messed up. I hate messing up, it makes me feel inadequate. Feeling Inadequate makes me feel wholly inadequate, a person who is wholly inadequate is a complete failure. There’s nothing more to do, I should give up… Frankly, that’s not helpful, but I do want to say I messed up, and sometimes I don’t know what to do, but I want to do better. I’m responsible for messing up and I’m responsible to learn from it. Agreeing to being a complete failure avoids responsibility, because if I am indeed a complete failure then there’s nothing I could ever do, so I get an out.
I could have done more for Chris, I don’t know how it would have changed things. I did the best I could and I wish my best had been more. I am profoundly sad that Chris is gone. I miss my friend, my partner and my husband, every single day. I hate that my kids are growing up without a dad, I hate that there is some part of them that thinks they could have done something different. I hate the approach of holidays because I know he’s not going to be there. I hate getting into his car and smelling the faintest smell of him and being overcome with sadness that it is only a smell and soon, even that will be gone. I hate waking up from dreams about him and feeling the hope drifting away like smoke, I am angry when the girls are struggling with math or friends and I can’t do it alone, and I resent doing it alone. We had an agreement dammit, and you broke it. And I am alternately sad and angry and resentful and self loathing about all of those things and watch out, cause I’m gonna be feeling those things. Because feeling those things is healing.

Get off my lawn, aka: new year, same you

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I awoke this morning at 830 with a smug grin upon my face happy to see the warm beam of sunlight stretched across my bedroom. It’s New Year’s Day and I feel great. But I realize it’s happened.
I’m old.
I’ve gotten pretty good at ignoring the scraggly, grey hair peeking out along my root line or pretending everyone makes noises when they stand up out of a chair or even believing the dryer is shortening all my pants. But I could not deny that last night when we briefly tuned in on the NYE celebration and some odd looking kid was singing something with the word “nasty” in it while contorted scantily clad women hung precariously over a crowd of bouncing drunken people that it had to go away. I’d rather sleep than try to make sense of that; on New Year’s Eve or any other random Tuesday.
I imagine I noticed it first with my shoes. I favor comfort over all other choices for shoes. I once wore the most ridiculous and uncomfortable shoes, high heels, blister rubbing straps, pointy toes. Not so much anymore. I like to look nice, but it’s not a prerequisite for leaving the house. I went for a walk today with my jeans rolled up past my ankles, wearing argyle socks and running shoes. I cared enough to notice it, but not enough to take the time to change. Anne Lamont once said (and this is not meant as an exact quote) it’s not that I think less of myself, it’s just that I think of myself less.
It’s nice, to give up on the facade a little bit. Relax. Embrace the wrinkles, well perhaps not embrace just yet. But at least I’m comfortable, happier even staying home on New Year’s Eve.
I probably mentioned I’m not a fan of NYE parties (and don’t even get me started on valentines day). Way too many NYEs ended in disappointment. That day holds way too much weight for just one day. It’s like blaming the kicker for losing the state championship in the last seconds of the football game. We forget there’s a whole game leading up to that point, a whole season. It seems like there’s one last chance to pull out a win, but there were hundreds of other opportunities buried in the middle of all those other minutes.
It’s really not my intention to sound pessimistic, in fact just the opposite. Every moment is an opportunity to start over, to try again, to let go something that’s bad for you,to hold something that’s good for you closer. Eat better today, next week and all through the year and if you find yourself in February with an empty box of chocolate covered cherries and a belly ache-start over the next day.
As for me…I shall spend the morning smugly enjoying my coffee and planning to find time to dye my roots.

New year blah blah blah

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New year blah blah blah

Ok. So I took a break. A long break. funny thing about digging at the truth at some point it feels better to bury a little truth. Make fun of the pain, go back to pretending, heal quietly, run away.  Well I’ve checked that all off the good old to do list and now I feel like I want to get back down to work. Although I hesitate to start again on New Year’s Eve because that is simply asking for failure. New Years resolutions don’t usually work. It like valentines day for people who want to quit smoking or lose 20 pounds. It’s contrived and we are not really fooling anyone, mostly our hearts are not in it, but it feels like the right thing to do. Start new on New Years give flowers on valentines. I’ve never really liked either one.

However it seems like a time that is as good as any to refocus. And honestly, this is the hardest part of the year for me, always has been. I don’t like transitions, I don’t like beginnings and I certainly don’t like endings. So post Christmas let down coupled with year end hatred coupled with facing the second anniversary of Chris’ death means I gotta be proactive. Get ahead of the ghosts. And this is a healthy and productive way to do that. Write. Right.

Also I planned a trip to disney next week. The girls and I are going away. It’s good for all of us to have something to look forward to. The winter can loom long ahead of us.

So happy new year to all of you. Do yourself a favor and don’t make any resolutions, but if you just happen to decide to start something new now or quit something tomorrow or refocus your life…you have my support.