Pleased to Meet You

I was given an assignment today, but before I can even address it (3 goals for my blog) I am to frame them around, ” Why do I write this blog?” Just over a year ago, I was feeling pretty low self esteem. Approaching 50 ( shy over a year away now) I’d go shopping for a size 14 or 16 depending on Women or Miss size. I got frustrated that I was being directed to a whole different section in a department store, or not even find a size in boutique like stores. Then in day 4 of my writing, a young man offered to bring his model girlfriend to do a commercial take on the business I run with my husband, starring my husband AND his model girlfriend.  Then I realized this was the year the last of our kids graduate high school and are leaving the nest.  I’d spent years on the role of mother and wife, and left the workforce for 7 years now. In each case tears flowed and self talk ensued.  So I decided to create this blog to find purpose with what I want to view myself like for the rest of my coming years, and to help other women who may be going through similar turning points in their lives. The title  Shift in Beauty hints that we need to change what our idea of beauty is. I write mostly on the daily word prompt  once or twice a week and connect it to whatever might be going on at the moment.  So what are my goals?

Well clearly this is not a blog that is meant to generate money, or I would be homeless. What I would like is to make connections with the great women out there, that may find themselves in the same place. I’ve written about my one year journey of eating healthier and making exercise a part of my life.  I’ve written about aging and redefining myself.  I’ve written about  experiences from the death of my sister, to my groovy time machine.  I’d like more views and comments on my writing, along with learning about guest bloggers. As of now if I get 10 views on a writing piece, I’m thrilled.  I’ve muddled through a year now and managed to get 41 followers.  Imagine if I knew what I was doing! Finally, I’d like to get more comfortable with social media and learn to use it to my benefit. I don’t even own a face book page.  Is it possible to gain an audience without one?

So if you stopped by, I am pleased to meet you.

I Should Be Committed!

About a year ago I made a commitment to write as a way to let a small voice inside of me echo out. One that says, I matter and I’m relevant even though the traditions I grew up with are fading. I’d like to think I can be of comfort to women out there going through the same kind of thoughts.

Perhaps someone out there is going through a divorce. I often think it’s so easy to get married and join everything together, but to divorce is like trying to rip a piece of thick paper up neatly in the absence of scissors. When a marriage fails there’s a great deal of pain involved and self evaluation. Your sanity definitely gets questioned, such as my play on words in the title:) Though I divorced over a decade ago, I can still feel the hurt and empathize with anyone going through it. The good news is, once you finally get it all settled, there will be better days ahead. Your vision will focus from a very blurry state to a very clear state.

The title of my blog is “Shift in Beauty” for a reason.  I believe for women, the events that present themselves in our lives such as aging or divorce can cause us to question our beauty.  My Day 4 Post  gives good insight to what really started this blog. Today all that seems to matter is how you look and how well your selfie comes out. And as we age we are to look inside for our beauty. That’s a very difficult concept for me to adjust to, and I have actually had to work very hard to embrace it. I spent a year on a weight loss and strengthening  journey, and though I have succeeded at weight loss, the strengthening is still in process. But in that process is self discovery and re-evaluation.

What I am finding out is that I keep surprising myself, pleasantly.  And now that I am an empty nester, I find myself setting new goals and actually moving in  the right direction to attain them. That is a great, great feeling. Can I look in the mirror and tell myself that I’m beautiful?  Truthfully I have never been able to, and continue to heal wounds from my first marriage, but  I should have never have relied on anyone telling me I am. It should come from me. And it may. I might have to redefine what beautiful means to me, because what I am learning is that beauty is fluid.  It changes as we change. We just have to be willing to look beyond the exterior. We need to be committed to go deeper.

Post note: Still maintaining weight loss. Getting active definitely lets me eat a little more freely.

me at yosemite

 

 

 

 

What Love Leaves Behind

Image result for pictures of love

Everyone goes through the temporary moment of grieving a loss. It’s incredibly painful, trying to fall asleep as tears stream down the sides of your face. It’s dark and solemn and yet, strangely beautiful. Love is something that cannot be proven by science, but it’s there.  It’s proven by what it leaves behind.

I had a loved one die while holding my hand. That’s my memory anyway. It was probably the hardest day in my life. She was very sick and was in the hospital yet again.  I was with her just getting through another day. Oddly enough, each evening as we tried to fall asleep, we’d recall times of long ago, and laugh a little. One night I recalled how my parents would give us an elixir for stomach aches from a local Cuban pharmacy.  Amazing how it really stopped the aching right away.  Maybe it’s because it had a slight bit of opioids? My parents started going to commercial pharmacies after that. But it’s laughable now, or it was on one of those nights we were talking before falling asleep. But one night, she had trouble breathing.  I’d call the nurses, and one propped pillows on her lap for her to lean forward on. Suddenly the machines started beeping and she was rushed down the corridor to a better equipped room.  I looked into her eyes, she was scared, I was terrified.  Her last words to me were to call her husband. I did and came right back to her.  I held her hand, I was told I could stay then it all happened so quickly…she was intubated.  I heard her gasp, her eyes wide and full of fear. I held her hand as long as I could. That was the last interaction I had with my sister.

“Time heals all wounds,” but leaves scars behind. Thankfully the pain is temporary. Under the scars there are warm memories of summers with our kids growing up before our eyes and home based happy hours. My adult kids and my adult nephews now, look back and I see the warmth generated when we revisit those days.

Before starting treatment, she spent quite a bit of time putting photo albums together for her kids. Today, I have hundreds of photos in my phone, as we all do.  But to me there’s nothing like a hard copy photo to frame, display and remind us of a loved one and a memorable day. They are also a trace of legacy and background…roots.  I have a small collection of family black and white photos. I just love these because they spark wonder. Each frame is an invitation to meet family members I never met, if only through stories.

I am a person that loves to create. Believe it or not, I am already planning what it is that I am creating as gifts for Christmas this year.  I’m not sure what I will be creating just yet, but I do know it’s going to involve photos.  After a loss, after time passes, photos are all that we are left with. They serve as reminders. I will admit as I have in past writings, that nostalgia can hurt. But they only hurt me.  My kids love seeing photos of themselves when they were children. When people come over, they wander through the photos, smile and find interest in them. They ask questions and lead to some great conversation. They honor the people not with us anymore. They end up being what love leaves behind.

Behind every beautiful thing, there’s some kind of pain.” ― Bob Dylan

Hey mom. I remember sometime in high school or early college, I told you that I thought depression was just people being whiny, even though I knew you were dealing with some.  I’d just like to apologize for that.  Someone that I spent a lot of time with in the theatre department took his own life last night and no one saw it coming.  Just wanted to take a moment to tell you that I love you.

My daughter sent me that text just a few days ago.  This is not the first time in my children’s young years that this kind of tragedy has brushed into their lives. When my son was in 8th grade, a classmate had also taken his own life.  You wonder what can be so bad, that that’s the only solution you can come up with. I remember being at  Christmas Eve mass and I was handed a free book. So as I read through it, I remember reading that Bob Dylan’s grandmother used to tell him to be kind to everyone because you don’t know what they are going through. I thought about that.

How very true that is.  We just seem to bump around day to day, lives softly brushing by one another as we make quick judgements on the mother with an unruly child, or the disheveled person at the grocery store, or the aged person driving way too slowly on the road. There is a show out there on Netflix that has just surfaced and it’s all about suicide.  The creators say it’s not supposed to be easy to watch and that we should watch it with our kids. Well I think they are wrong.  Why would I want to coddle and encourage that topic with my kids? I realize that it needs to be addressed, but weekly?

There is something seriously wrong with our society. Just look at the selection of reality shows out there.  Look at what’s happening on social media, where murders are being recorded and people are actually laughing in the background.  It reminds me of the Roman times where people would flock to an arena to cheer on as someone was killed.  Sometimes I just sit and try to think of how we can fix this.  Mark Zuckerberg is hiring thousands more employees to sift through social media to pull inappropriate postings, but honestly, I don’t think there’s anything you can do when there’s a live feed filtering through.  My 18 year old jokes to me that his children will have flip phones.  I think it’s a good idea. Hind sight is 20/20.  When phones came out with cameras, they should have had regulations in place where kids in elementary and middle school could only have a flip phones at school to call in case of emergencies and after school communications with parents. And if there parents wanted to spend yet another 200 on a camera phone, fine, but not in  school.  With these devices at a very young age, we have promoted addiction, and desensitized our youth. Movies have ratings ( and don’t get me started) alcohol has an age restriction, why not these devices? I’d also love to see packages bundled where you don’t have to accept the channels that conflict with your values.

So what is the fix? I don’t know. What I do know is we need to slow down and challenge ourselves to put down our devices a little longer each day and take an interest in our neighbors. Friendships and relationships need to be nurtured, but it requires paying attention. And a lost art needs to make it’s way back. The art of listening and taking in another person’s opinion without knocking them to the ground figuratively.  They seem like small steps to take.  I think it’s worth a shot. And who knows, someone that may be considering doing the unthinkable, may change their mind, and figure out they do matter, and they in turn may be able to help others.

” Be kind to everyone because you don’t know what they may be going through.”

 

 

 

You Can’t Regret Regrets!

Special milestones often invite reflection and with reflection comes regret.  My two children are about to graduate and though this should be a very happy time for me, there is a sad echo inside saying I wish I would have been more, or done this. The truth is parenting is the hardest job in the world. And when people are touting about their adult children’s accomplishments the response that often follows is, ” Do you know what that means? You did a great job as a parent!” But what if that person grows up to mark society in a negative way or doesn’t measure up to what your idea of success is? Does that mean you were an awful parent?

I recently read of an interesting experiment that started off with a simple observation of rats and pups.  Scientists were pulling the pups out to observe their physical condition, then putting them back in the tank.  Randomly, they noticed sometimes an adult rat would rush to the pup and nurture it by preening and licking it. The pup would calm down. So the scientists decided to separate the pups they knew to have been nurtured verses the ones that did not.  The ones not nurtured would stick to the outside rim of the tank while the ones that had been nurtured would venture to the center. Then the scientists would put food in the tank. The ones not nurtured took longer to trust and eat. The nurtured ones were bold and just went to the food.  So they went on to study a group of kids that grew up below the poverty line through out their lives and concluded the ones that grew up in a nurturing environment were successful. This included studying the ones that were held more as babies.  They addressed how there was a period where babies were viewed as mechanical and parents were encouraged to leave them to cry, and they would eventually fall asleep. According to their study, this was not the best thing to do.

So I reflect and I have regrets of my parenting performance, like most people do. But then I quiet that echo by telling myself, “You can’t regret regrets.” No one has a baby and knows what the heck they are doing.  When the second baby comes along, you might have learned something, which is why the first one is often called the guinea pig. But if I never had that first one or any at all, I would have never have known the joy that comes with holding a pure innocent life in those aqua pink and blue blankets, and feeling that you are needed and loved by that soul. ( And I know friends that have adopted and get it because as children grow with you, the love does too.)

I am blessed because my two kids grew up to be pretty great people to get to know.  One is a college graduate, an English major.  The other is going off to college.  Can I take credit for it? I don’t know. What I do know was that their younger years were a tumultuous course because there was divorce and separation. Do I regret having them? Never! What I regret was that chaotic transition they witnessed as I settled into my new life. But if I wouldn’t have met the man I divorced, then I never would have met them. And that would indeed be the biggest regret of all.  “You can’t regret regrets!”

Finding Beauty in the Oddest of Places

Waiting room

Have you ever been in a waiting room where someone with a physical impairment may be grunting and making sounds? I realized the other day I have become numb to others around me and I was awakened to it by two beautiful beings. I was in a waiting  in physical therapy and it was just me and a young fellow in his late 20’s I would say. He had a walker. I hid behind my cell phone playing games to avoid interaction. I thought about it but did not know how. It seemed difficult and it made me uncomfortable. Then a woman ( in her 60’s) came in and sat next to him and said, “Hello,” he slurred back, “Hello.” She said, “I like your shirt.” He slurred back with a stutter this time, “I like y y your necklace.” Then she said thank you and extended her hand, “My name is Nancy.” My name is Gregory. They made small conversation back and forth and then her elderly mother came out with a smile pushing her walker, she said goodbye and left.  I smiled at Gregory and thought to told myself “I am an awful person.”

Then another beautiful being came in and sat next to Gregory. This time a man in his late sixties I would guess.  ” Hey man, what are you in for?” ” I I I have traumatic brain injury, I have a plate inside my head th th th that broke.” The man continued to talk with Gregory and share what his injury was. It went back and forth, so I finally jumped into the conversation. ” Gregory, you need to talk to my mom.  She’s in there right now, and she’s complaining about it.” He said, when I got here, I was in a scooter.  I I I could not walk. And now I can.” My mom is 81, she came out sat down next to me and said, ” I don’t want to come back here.” She was like a little girl throwing a tantrum.  I said, ” Mom, meet Gregory. You need to be more like him.”

The experience was an eye opener for me.  I’m not new to the discomfort people feel when others around them don’t look or act a certain way. My father was a double amputee and my childhood memories hold how people used to first react to him as he came into a restaurant or special event. To this day when I see someone missing a limb, I give direct eye contact and a smile and a few words. But that’s because I have experience with it. But when people have a different disadvantage, such as the one in the waiting room, I hide, look the other way, go into denial. What an ugly thing to do.  If I just think  to myself, that could be my father, mother, etc, I would not want people to ignore, turn away. I’d want them to be treated humanely and be given a chance, like these two individuals did with Gregory.

When I started this blog I thought how much I want to change the way I see beauty, and it all started because I can feel myself getting to 50 and heading to a whole new phase. Up to now, I was confusing Beauty- (something deep, rich, like an intricate painting with all kinds of stokes provoking thought and emotion) with pretty ( shallow, predictable, unilateral). I used to think Beauty was something that fades with time. It does not! Beauty is something you find with time.  Those two individuals were to examples of what Beauty looks like.  They could have easily hid in a magazine or phone. They did not. Instead they took the time to share and show compassion.

 

Post Note: Day 306 Honestly have not been to gym in 2 weeks but holding to 146.8. I think Gregory would kick my butt at the gym. I can be motivated by someone like him! Another Beautiful Being!

Humaneness

I read an awesome essay the other day called Fat in Every Language by Jonatha Kottler. In it she shared her experience of having lost a whole lot of weight and working for a company for weight loss, being praised for it all the time, etc.  She struggles with her self image even though she has a husband that thinks she is sexy as she put it. She gave some examples of things that hurt her, like making an effort to bring back a toy from the US for her neighbor’s child.  The child asked, ” Mom why she was so fat?” She said ” She is a fat lady but don’t say so.”She was also asked by a complete stranger at a movie theatre if she was really going to eat all that popcorn. She listed all the beings she has in her life that love her but concluded, what has to change is how many f***s I give about all this.

And that’s my question.  How can I stop caring so much about what  I look like. Is it the aging, or all the expectations society burdens women with? I think I need to be brave and just kick up some attitude.  I went to a family event, it was a high school fashion show and one girl, who I say is brave and beautiful, truly, had some rolls show through the gown she had designed and sewn herself.  But she strutted confidently and I thought, “Man, I don’t think I could ever do that!” But wouldn’t you know it.  I had two women, clearly in their 40’s sitting in the row in front of me snickering and laughing.  I was infuriated, but did not want to make a scene.  It was and is upsetting. Looking back, I wish I had just leaned forward and said, “You are being rude, knock it off.”

The second entry of my writings shares an incident in which I worked with a consultant for our business. We sell cars if you are wondering.  The young man said, you should do a video.  My girlfriend is a model, so she can come in and do the video. This was, as in, she would do the video with my husband, when he and I are the owners.  It crushed me. All the negative thoughts flooded my head, like a loud radio of annoying rock music. Am I too old  (then 47), too fat, too unattractive?  So much noise went off. That’s when I decided to take a good look at myself from the outside and dive inside. Am I overly sensitive?, I don’t think so. The irony is that in a society where we find ourselves being sensitive to not offending this person or that group, we have lost our ability to empathize with others. Just like the two women mentioned earlier, just because they did not have rolls down their backs, could they ever imagine walking down a runway, knowing that there are people out there snickering and mocking? Do they have anyone in their life that may be overweight, and know the obstacles they face, simply based on looks?

Like Jonatha, I too have a loving husband, kids and friends that love me, and 2 really great dogs that really, really love me! Seriously- they get me! (If we could be more like dogs, who love us without judgement, it would be simple and lovely AND LOVING.)  And yet, either because I’m aging, or because while I wait in the grocery store line, society dictates what women should look like, I  do care about “looking good for my age.” But it doesn’t stop there. I care about how out of rhythm society is about our humaneness, and what really matters. How about a person’s positive contributions? Productiveness? Talent? Compassion? These attributes come INSIDE all kinds of body types. But it seems like society has stopped right at the line of , “what do you look like?” to measure people. I can see how easy it is to get self absorbed ( not to be confused with self care) when you are trying to attain a physical goal. What’s important is that you don’t let that physical goal , which is such a tiny representative of who you are, consume you. Be an example, give off positive energy, confidence and even some attitude when the moment strikes. Train your eye to look beyond the LOOKS and focus what really is important when you look in that mirror.

Day 264- Eating much better and feeling much better. Love my Family AND my dogs! Thank you for stopping by my blog today.  I hope something in it made you reflect on something positive.