Who Cares If The Bed Isn’t Made. I Wish It Wasn’t Me

hospital cornersOld habits die hard for sure. It took me until my third son was 16 years old – which just happened a month ago – to stop making his bed. I know, I know. But there’s something about having all the beds made in the morning that I find appealing, even soothing.  Maybe it’s because when I grew up the beds were always made, and I had to make my own. My mother taught me early, and taught me well. I had hospital corners down like an army sergeant.

But that’s not necessarily a good thing. Because in addition to growing up learning how to make my bed without wrinkles, empty the trash every day, clean the house to pass a white glove test, do the laundry being sure whites were separate, and whatever other chores I was enlisted to do – I also became fairly OCD. To the point that my house until recently was ridiculously neat – everything has its place.

unmade bedThat’s why I’m a little proud of myself for looking at my son’s bed and not making it. I’m not going to lie, it hasn’t been easy. I get that pull to pull it together in no time flat, ensuring it’s fluffed and neat. I ask him to do it and he knows how, he just doesn’t do it like me, if he does it at all.

It’s ironic, all three of my boys are not neatniks, in fact much to my dismay, they’re sort of all big slobs. I guess I get that – they swung the other way after watching their mother toil daily over her version of house-perfection. Which in the great scheme of things is stupid, but it’s engrained all the way to my bones.

OCD

So I’m trying to change that, I just don’t know to what degree. I can’t go cold turkey and be a slob, and that’s not even necessary. I just want to ease up on a few things, so I’m starting with my son’s room.

Most people know OCD is a control issue – when we feel out of control we have these rigid ideas about how things need to be, so our actions, reactions and thoughts all steer us toward that sensation that everything is ok. It’s a relief to me when I look around my house and things are in their place. The beds are made, the laundry is done, there aren’t any hairs in the sink. But I really don’t like that about myself, I’m tired of being uptight.

I told Sir Husband I was going to try to lighten up on my incessant need for neatness as I ponder getting a job that wouldn’t be working from home, where I can work and still clean up.

He said to me, “Yes, things would definitely change and you’d have to let a lot go, but truthfully I like your neatness and how organized the house is, it’s nice to come home to the clean.”

Say no more. He doesn’t know this, but he sort of let me off the hook from breaking my habits too fast. Not sure I can go from hospital corners to leaving dishes in the sink, although I guess anything is possible. But for now, baby steps are okay.

small steps

 

 

 

Securing A Job Is Actually An Inside Job

I realized I have a little problem with confidence. On the outside I present as a strong, confident, accomplished person, but inside…totally different story.

burr poolWe were invited to a poolside gathering at our new condo complex last weekend, complete with cocktails, a beautiful spread of food and the perfect background jazz. It’s not a complex actually, it’s an old estate home that was renovated into about 20 two-story condo units. It sits on 23 acres of pristine land behind an old stone wall, so it’s quite intimate and equally elegant.

I didn’t really know anyone, except for burr backmy immediate neighbors, although we have seen others in passing, each of us waving hello. Last week when I had the great lost cat fiasco, I emailed the manager of the estate who emailed all of the residents to watch for our cat. Within minutes I not only had people outside looking for her, but I had several emails of support. I knew then that I was living with compatible people.

So when I met one of my email neighbors face-to-face, also a cat-lover, I thanked her profusely for her kindness, and we got to chatting. “What do you do?” she asked me. That’s a loaded question given my history.

I certainly couldn’t answer, “Well I am an abuse survivor who lives to tell about it…mother of a grown child formerly on the autism spectrum [what do you say when they grow up?]…and an independently employed lost professional soul when it comes to an official job title.”

writerSo instead, I told her I’m a writer – which I am – that is my cosmic gift or special purpose from which I’m trying desperately to make a living. “Oh how interesting and ironic,” she said. “I need to hire a writer!”

Turns out she works at one of the premiere medical facilities in our city, in fact, it’s known world-wide, and she works in Communications – my original degree and first job out of college. When I heard where she worked and that she was hiring a writer I proceeded to tell her the highlights of my resume as if I was amazing. I would like to think that on some level I was amazing, I used to work for the Kennedy family among other things, but I lost that loving feeling about myself quite some time ago when my life took a drastic turn of catastrophic proportion.

But that was then. And now, I suppose I could appear amazing on the outside, but feeling it on the inside? Not so much. After I had proclaimed my substantial credentials (which may very well be in the eyes of the externally confident beholder,) she asked for my resume. “I will send it tomorrow!” I proclaimed. Again – pretending to be awesome.

resumeInside I was a wreck. It was fairly intimidating that in her pile of perfectly-premiere applications that mine would be amongst them – the underdog who bases her credentials on life experience instead of work history. Oh sure, it’s listed, but almost as a sidebar. I have adopted my own resume format which talks about who I am and what I know, not necessarily what I have “done” in the working world.

So be it. After I hesitantly sent her my resume – she is my neighbor after all and I will have to see her possibly for years to come – I owned my individuality. Never mind I’m terrified about being able to sustain any job, let alone a full-time one, the stamina it takes of a day-in and day-out career, and living a “normal” life after years of trauma and drama with a body that feels chronic pain. But those are technicalities. Ones that I hope, will sort themselves out day-by-day.

In the meantime, maybe confidence is overrated. Maybe, being who we are – even as an underdog – has its benefits. Underdogs are flexible, able to be more innovative, aren’t tied by reputations and the pressure of being the best kid in the class. There’s a freedom to express ourselves without intense risk, and an opportunity to be more creative in how we showcase who we are. We can be our authentic selves, and that’s the gold-standard of existence. We just have to come to believe it.

confidence

This Middle-Age Girl Can Still Fit In Her Wedding Dress

At what age do we stop worrying about our body image? Is it a universal socio-cultural issue, or is it strictly personal? Body image to me feels stressful, most days I feel fat. Ok ok. I’m not fat, I know that intellectually, and well, I guess physically. But I grew up chubby, with a Weight Watchers group leader mother and a stick-thin father and to this day have a skewed image of myself.

Poor Sir Husband is always trying to convince me that I’m thin and beautiful. I don’t believe him, he’s said that since we were teens. So when he asked me to try on my old wedding dress that we uncovered as we were sorting through boxes to move, I thought he was out of his mind. There’s no way that would fit me now. IMG_2792

I wore it a zillion years ago when I married Mr. Ex, had three babies who grew up since then, and I now have a bit of a midlife spread. Not sure why my hips are widening but apparently that’s normal, except for movie stars who age without any change to their girlish figures.

Sir Husband and I had spent the day finding a new setting for my engagement ring that for no reason fell apart, so we were in the marital mood when he asked me to try on the dress. I needed to do something with it anyway, I figured I’d donate it to a women’s shelter since we don’t have any girls in the family who would likely want to wear it. What the heck, I’ll humor him and put it on, or at least half-on because I’m sure it won’t fit. What have I got to lose (besides a few pounds of course.)

FullSizeRenderI stood in the middle of the living room and took off my skirt and top and stepped into the form-fitted cumbersome gown. I didn’t recall it feeling that itchy when I wore it the first time around. As I pulled it up I got more and more surprised. It was on, but there’s no way it will zip. Surprise, the thing zipped up although my curves were showing through.

This was totally a milestone moment. I think women secretly hope their wedding dress will fit years later, after babies and the wear and tear of life. I know I did. But I sure as heck couldn’t believe it. It must have been too big back then.

I immediately sent a text photo of me to Mr. Ex’s Mrs., who simply replied with “I hate you.” It was funny, I knew what she meant. But I sort of did feel proud.

FullSizeRender-2I am not shallow, but my whole life I never felt thin, my tummy’s little pooch was my nemesis – I could never wear a two-piece. This is all an internal issue, I know that now. But forever it caused me problems, in fact I was bulimic through my college years.

Eventually I recovered from that, and taking care of my body became a way of life. Apparently enough that my wedding dress still fit. Lately however the midlife spread is messing with my mind.

There’s nothing about our bodies that ever stays the same – the point that pop-culture never makes. It’s learning to be ok with ourselves every, single day, or at any milestone. If we love who we are no matter what, that is what shines through – our size has nothing to do with it. I know that for everyone else, but for me?

Maybe I’ll go have some cake.

IMG_2794

Middle Age Musing ~ Is it how you look? Nope, It’s How You Feel

 

I’m just going to blurt this out.  Goddesses do age.

IMG_1214I know women’s role model and pseudo-mentor Dr. Christiane Northrup says they don’t, she prides herself on her ability to grow older without subscribing to the status-quo negative thinking about the golden years of life. And that’s awesome.

But I’m walking the fine line between beliefs and reality. Although I’m all for a Goddess-mentality, some days working the program feels tricky.

I never really thought about aging, until I was pushing 45, it didn’t pertain to me. A concept verses a reality, getting old was for other people. Then I noticed little things about my body that were clearly different approaching midlife. Can’t eat the same things with digestive ease. Perimenopause hormones wreak havoc at a whim. Need reading glasses. Ready for bed before midnight. Sagging. Wrinkles. Flumpiness (my made-up midlife word.) GRAY HAIR. That one really gets me.

You try to keep up with the changes – heading them off at the pass, switching up exercise routines, make-up regimes, new clothes one size bigger – but it gets harder and harder to keep up. Eventually you have to accept that aging is for real.

IMG_1217Some aging people honestly don’t care. I like to pretend I don’t, and I’m getting better at that – not just because practice makes perfect. The truth is, we don’t have a choice. The only choice we have is how we choose to accept it and work with it. Goddess mentality says we embrace it. Ok, that takes a little work, but I’m working on it.

Two of my three birds recently flew out of the nest. I thought that meant a new invigoration would ignite and I would be ready again to fly, like I did back in my 20s. So far it’s more like a limp. But the opportunity is there to expend more mental energy on me.

When we’re raising kids our lives are full of whatever it is about them. We go on the back burner, occasionally bringing ourselves to the front, but more often than not, we’re plowing through day-by-day and year-by-year for them, until one day we notice that things are different. And that doesn’t mean different-bad. It’s just different. Bodies. Capabilities. Priorities. Focus.

While having coffee with a woman I recently met who opted for the career-no kids path, now approaching the end of her childbearing years, it all became quite clear. We had completely different lives – our choices landing us in totally different realms. She soared her way to the top of her field, while I fought my way through my first toilsome marriage. She combatted woman-in-the-workplace tough roadblocks, while I tried to save my son’s life as he battled on the autism spectrum. While we sat at the table together discussing our polar vantage points, one commonality remained. We are both aging. Two humans, two women, different lives, same trajectory.

I have a mother who loves to point out that the golden years aren’t really golden. But I think it’s how we think about it that dictates our golden years. Yep, Goddesses age, but age is irrelevant. As our bodies change, we have to change our minds. There’s truth to having a youthful mentality and that’s where I prefer to commit.

It always goes back to one of my favorite quotes by the late Wayne Dyer.

Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.

IMG_1215

 

 

 

So What My Thighs Touch! What’s The Big Deal?

Breaking social media news: women don’t want their inner thighs to touch. This was not news to me, I have wanted that since I knew I had thighs. I spent a good portion of my life hoping that I could get that coveted gap and keep my legs from kissing.

It actually happened once a long time ago, never mind I had been in the hospital for weeks trying to recover from a horrible virus and physical collapse that not only nearly killed me, it made me half my size. I got really thin – way below a healthy weight, but let me tell you I ate it up. My thighs didn’t touch, and for a few weeks it was a miracle, that and still being alive.

Then as I recuperated, every week I watched my body go back toward its baseline weight – thighs included. Sure it bummed me out. I have a background with bulimia and a whole lifetime battling the bulge. I finally got healthy and fit in my 20s and other than three pregnancies stayed svelte. But I’m not built like a beanpole, regardless of what I wish. Do any of us really like our bodies? Do we always want what we don’t have, more importantly why do we care?

That social media news story got me wondering – this thigh thing is a big deal. So I clicked on the link and more. Turns out women go to huge extremes to boast thin thighs. There are actually websites dedicated to achieving the gap.

skinny jeansThigh gap hack gives you nine reasons we want it and how to get it. Crazy?!?  Here are the reasons:

  • Skinny jeans
  • Crossing your legs
  • Mini skirts
  • No more chafe
  • Men think it’s hot….and prefer the absence of dimples, cellulite or fat pockets
  • Thigh highs
  • You look taller.
  • Short shorts
  • No shape wear necessary

Is this website for real? Apparently there’s even a book.

The next was a hit called F*ck the Thigh Gap, 11 Reasons Why I want My Thighs Thick. I’ll spare you the google search and share her thoughts right here:

  • wrestlingBig booty movement
  • Strong is the new skinny
  • You last longer dancing at clubs
  • Better sex
  • More warmth…who needs a cold, uncomfortable breeze to blow through your thighs
  • Your phone won’t fall in the toilet
  • You can give WWE moves back to your boyfriend
  • You look more like Jessica Rabbit
  • Thick thighs might be healthier for your heart, according to a Danish study
  • Stressing about an impossible-to-achieve body is not fun
  • You feel better embracing your body type than striving for a new one

Ok viewpoint taken. But yes, it even gets better.

City-Data did a poll, and men prefer thick legs to thin at a whopping 62 to 44.

thigh gap workoutSuper skinny me shares her secrets for thin thighs with diet and exercise tips, reminding us that if we have thick thighs, we need to rethink our training.

Ok that may be the case, but other than surgery I’ve tried it all. Assuming we’ve done what we can to work with diet, exercise and reality, the gap is based on our shape and body type…sorry but that is genetic.

The skinny of the matter is this. Being slaves to culture and mindset only causes pain. We weren’t born for that. We have a different purpose, one that comes from the inside. We’re here to evolve our spirit, enrich and enliven our soul. We’re supposed to live and love life, our physical self included.

Besides, if we haven’t noticed, our body changes every day. It’s not only a work in progress, it’s a living, breathing creation that houses some cool things – like our organs, blood, and a whole bunch of intricate systems. It’s the structure that keeps us alive. That calls for celebration instead of degradation.

Yea ok, humans are a competitive, critical bunch, and not easy to appease. But who needs external approval, we have infinite worth when we really think about it. We can start by not judging ourselves and set a whole new trend. I’m fairly certain that’s what Dr. Seuss meant when he said, Those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.

So close your eyes and take a deep breath and imagine yourself as perfect, nothing to improve, nothing to change. That feels pretty good. beyonce

And if that doesn’t work…don’t forget Beyonce. She’s beautiful. And her thighs say it all.be beautiful

 

 

It’s Apples to Apples Except When You’re A Pear

My mantra for the new year is I’m not comparing. In fact I said it out loud when Sir Husband and I found a beautiful arrangement of several types of perfectly-made homemade cookies wrapped in a big gold bow on our front porch the other day.

It wasn’t that I envied the cookies, I can bake, although not in a magazine-photo-worthy kind-of way. It was that the giver of this bountiful gift works full time and has a full plate in her everyday life, yet still can find the time to bake masterpieces, wrap them in style, and even include handmade labels with the name of her antique farmhouse on the wrapper. She cooks, entertains, and always seems marvelous.

As if that wasn’t enough, I later heard from another friend that she has taken on not one, but two foreign exchange students for three months, on top of already having four busy, young children, a dog, three cats, a dozen chickens, and a part-time job. Seriously?

I’m not comparing. I can’t. Because if I did, I might as well throw in the towel, pull the covers up, and call it a day. I used to cook and bake, entertain on every possible occasion, maintained a meticulous home in a Martha Stewart kind-of style, down to the tiniest detail, all while raising three boys, two cats, and a husband, working for free doing special needs advocacy. That was then. And that life, it eventually wore me down.

So I’m not comparing.

Only maybe I am –  but not to my friends, to me. I miss that person inside of me, the one who seemed able to strive and achieve, and feel good about it. Shouldn’t I be the new and improved version of myself now, better, stronger, or at least more accomplished? After all I’m older and wiser. But my internal GPS seems a bit lost on productivity, inspiration and energy.

I was relieved when I realized the comparing was not about my friends, and turns out it’s not even about me. Comparing is just a fact of life. We are culturally wired to do it. We learn it early, it defines friendships, shapes alliances, builds self-esteem, even writes the narratives for our beliefs and inner truths. So it makes sense that we may compare.

But the fact is, it’s really in our imagination. Its foundation isn’t even real. What we see in the outside world, or even in our past, is only a snapshot point-of-view. The whole picture isn’t available to us, we only live in our own shoes, in our own lives, in this present moment. We can idealize who someone is, or who we once were, or even who we can be. Comparing is a really just a point of reference, that when used productively, allows us to redirect our thoughts as often as it takes to define ourselves in a way that matters only to us.

It’s not about the cookies or the parties or even who I was. It’s about self-acceptance in the here and now, and a heart that pumps self-love. “Remind yourself that you cannot fail at being yourself,” Wayne Dyer said. Hallelujah. Now I just need to believe it.

be yourself

What Did You Do Today?

One day then another then another goes by, and I’m not any further ahead on my master plan to create a grand and productive life. I don’t know how it happens, but each day runs into the next, tidbits of to-do tasks are only half-scratched off the daily agenda. My life is a mystery to me most days, where does the time go?

Matching our purpose with our desires and our mission seems to be status quo for super accomplishers who share their secrets and how-to’s with the world. Not an hour goes by on any social media outlet that some guru or expert is not sharing a tip, technique, or truthbomb for us to latch onto so our lives will be easier, better, purposeful, successful, abundant, or complete. Yep, I want all of it, who doesn’t, and I wholeheartedly believe that I can.

So each day I get up with my personal itinerary that goes completely AWOL by noon. I look at the clock at 1, start to scramble, and by 4 I’m in a state of relentless panic that I apparently overestimated my capabilities. Then on top of it, I feel kind of alone in this observation. I see or hear about so many people who get so much done in a day. Not to compare, but I don’t compare. And not to compete, but I do, mostly with my talkative inner voice.

No I’m not losing my mind, it just sounds like it. I get sidetracked it seems, day after day after day, with things that feel important in the moment. They say to live in the present, but my present doesn’t feel productive. Am I supposed to look at each moment as an accomplishment, regardless of what I have to show for it? Hang on, I’ll consult an expert. Oops, I found ten things to learn while learning about that one thing. Sorry that took so long, now the day is gone.

If I spend any more time on learning how to be productive, my obit will read, She spent her life learning how to be productive, and that is all she ever got done. Nothing.

That’s really not the case. I’ve had the time to reflect and evaluate and focus on my life as of late, and perhaps that is the downfall. We are supposed to use insight and wisdom and knowledge to achieve and excel and succeed – at everything from daily happiness to prosperity, even to perfect sleep – all while making a positive contribution to humanity in general. Does the time to evaluate that count as productive? What if the answer is no?

I’ve tried to have something to show for my life at this stage of the game. First at the personal level, then at the mother level (three times over,) the wife level (twice in that case,) the employee, the yogi, the entrepreneur, the writer, the list goes on and on. My path is clear, but not smooth, never has been. It’s layered with so many things – from leaves to sticks, sometimes downed trees, to potholes, mud pits, and gravel. Each time I get on it, I can’t seem to stay on it. I keep getting pulled off course.

Sure sometimes it leads to a green grassy pasture, but not long enough to make a difference. I want to make a difference not just in the world, but in my own life’s movie. I want to hit the playback button and feel like I really did something. At the moment I’m just watching as the tape just rolls, helping others capture their own grand, productive lives in some way, and then writing about it. Ok, somebody has to do it.

So at the end of the day when I wonder if my time really made a difference in the grand productivity of life, I’ll say this with a bona fide smile. Helping counts for something, but believing counts for everything. If I believe I made a difference, then I most surely did.