invisible in a bikini


Summer is most definitely here and the time is right to bare a little skin at the beach, at the pool, at the water park, at the lake and even on the Dirty Delta because it’s hot, we want to get wet and because it’s fun.

It is fun.

Well, for the body confident, the tan, the fit, the young.

If you listen to women’s and girls’ conversations about swimsuits it would seem that it isn’t fun at all. At one point in all of our lives we have had that moment of anxiety and self-loathing as we regarded ourselves in a harshly lit dressing room dressed in the bikini that looked perfect on the rack. “What happened?“, we wonder, as we regard every real and imagined imperfection, dimple, roll, sag, stretch mark perfectly highlighted in the most non-flattering light possible as we stand before the most unforgiving (and likely angled) mirror.

And while most of us fretted, stressed, starved, covered up and berated ourselves for not having the confidence to rock that perfect two piece swimsuit there are women all over the interwebs and in the news right now who are wearing that bikini and writing about it or posting pictures of it: a fat woman, another plus sized woman, an insulin pump dependent diabetic beauty queen, a woman living with Crohn’s Disease and a colostomy.

Oh, and a 52 year old woman wore a bikini poolside every day last week while staying in Las Vegas with two of her daughters and her grand daughters.

No one noticed. No one cared. No, not because I am over 50 and everyone knows that women of a certain age are indeed invisible once they are women of a certain age. No one noticed because everyone was too busy having fun enjoying that perfect pool, with their perfect, over-priced, poolside refreshments on a perfect sunshine-y day. I doubt anyone could see my birth date stamped on my ass indicating that I should not be wearing that bikini…including some of the men I caught briefly glancing at my ass as I walked by. Even if they could, I doubt anyone really cared. Nor did they care that my exposed, rounded belly once carried four of my five babies…at least no one asked. And although they might have noticed the blinding paleness of my SPF 50 coated body, no one stopped me demanding that I cover up right now. No one really cared and neither did I.

I wore a bikini every day while in Vegas last week because I wanted to…because I can…because I have limited time on this Earth to feel the sun on my skin (protected by sunscreen of course)…because the weather and that gorgeous pool pretty much said so.

I’ve got 99 problems


…but the drive home ain’t one of them!

We are home, after an 11 hour drive, home from Vegas. According to navigation, it should have been an 8+ hour drive…you know, without traffic, road work, potty training 2 year olds and distractions like that.

We made a few stops.

Stopping in Jean, Nevada, we discovered where old slot machines go to die. They comp gas but they don’t sell Dramamine…for your information. Goldfish crackers, plenty of water, perhaps a little bit of antihistamines and frequent stops along the way helped deal with that motion sickness problem. Frequent stops including a stop at the Phillip S. Raines Rest Stop near Tulare. When I learned last year that my photograph was part of the display at this rest stop, I knew that I had to stop there and see it for myself in all of it’s glory.

There it is!

Courtesy of me!

Yeah, I’m kind of nerdy in my excitement over seeing my work on display at a rest stop on CA99 just south of Tulare, California.

So glad we stopped.

 

 

this time on my own terms


I have to confess that as much as I LOVE holidays, I kind of hate them too. They almost never fail to disappoint. Such is the life of a survivor I guess. No matter how scary, no matter how toxic, I have always held out hope that Christmas, birthdays, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Independence Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Arbor Day, ‘Any” Day would be warm and love-filled and absolutely, most definitely toxic drama free. That hope beat with my heart through my childhood and went on limping into my adult life. Yeah, but “hope in reality is the worst of evils because it prolongs the torments of man”. Thank you Nietzsche! You so totally rock…and suck just a little bit.

Still I remained ever the optimist with hope in my stomped upon heart because I am what I am and I continue to be so in spite every single drama-trauma that is often holidays in my life.

You gotta have hope, right?

But as Mother’s Day approached bitterness seeped in. Why hope for all the things everyone brags about every holiday on Facebook: being surrounded by the kids and their spouses and all the grand babies, showered with gifts galore which must all be shared on Instagram, the blowing of the bubbles, the kite flyings, the brunches on the beach, the surprise parties, the barbecues and on and on and on. Why wish for these things? Why hope that you would be invited and included when you know it won’t happen?

Fucking Nietzsche!

Reading Annie Lamott’s essay again certainly helped to add to the bitterness.

Dang!

Right?!

I can see some of the points Lamott makes. I mean, for me at least, it seems that holidays that are important to me have become a chore for others; as in oh geez, we better do something for mom or the wife here or she’ll be mad and when mom ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy…The last couple important holidays to me have felt exactly like that. Maybe that’s how they really were or maybe they were but a part of my own imagination. Still the last thing I wanted was a forced celebration because we have to kind of thing.

Then Bill’s grandmother passed away. And Mother’s Day was but two days away. And all I could think about was Bill’s mom, Hazel’s daughter, without her mother for the first time. And Mother’s Day was coming. And I was soured by the whole idea of this is my day. And…and… Saturday night I insisted Bill go be with his mother.

Sunday morning there were roses, waffles and mimosas and bacon…yes, bacon…a lovely hand-made card from my beautiful son, small gifts that are so me from some of my girls, bear hugs and sloppy kisses from my grandbabies, FaceTime from my daughter living in LA followed by an afternoon of mimosas and chick flicks while my darling husband was in Santa Cruz with his mother. There was even a text from my brother, yes, that brother, with Mother’s Day wishes and gratitude for me taking care of him when we were little. Dinner came later than usual after Bill came home with a delicious salad, roasted rosemary potatoes and a dirty martini prepared by me and a perfect medium-rare steak grilled to perfection by my darling husband.

Mother’s Day celebrated, celebrated mostly on my terms. No tears. No pain. No suffering. No drama. No trauma.

Mother’s Day on my terms.

 

using the semicolon


When one becomes a person of a certain age, one sees their doctor more regularly…unless one is my darling husband who would rather hide from what the good doctor is recommending for him these days. He’ll wait until he’s bothered by his daily hacking-up-a-lung cough that becomes even worse than it already is or until his wife’s nagging becomes unbearable. Me, on the other hand, I do try to see my doctor annually and not just when I am sick. Just trying to walk the nurse talk of the importance of maintaining one’s good health, building trust with a good doctor-patient relationship and stuff like that there. So today was the day. The good doctor sits down with me going over the results of the physical exam and ordered tests. The physical exam…perfect. Cardiac function…perfect. Lab work…in his words his 30-something patients should have labs like these.

“You’re a perfect patient!”, he concludes.

“Yes, except for the depression, anxiety and panic attacks.”, I answer back.

“Yes, there’s that.”

And that is why I use a semicolon all the time.

A semicolon represents a sentence the author could have ended, but chose not to. Every single day of my life I choose to use a semicolon.

No, not usually with my writing. I know my use of punctuation could easily be criticized…and sometimes is. Have you seen how often I over-use an ellipsis?

No, the semicolon here represents the fact that my story isn’t over yet. Far from it. I am my author and the sentence is my life and as long as I choose to live this life I will choose to use the semicolon…every day.

Every.

Single.

Day.

Some days it is a struggle. Some days it can be almost a knock down, drag out fight. The fight to choose the semicolon, to keep myself grounded in the love others have for me instead of the hate I feel for myself, remains a struggle…and one I don’t always share for so many reasons. I hate being viewed as weak or less than or even just as someone who struggles. I hate being compared to the parent who far too many times in my lifetime tried to put a period at the end of her sentence. I can imagine her pain and her struggle. I lived survived a lot of it with her. It was so hard for her. So very hard. Still, no child should ever be the one to call for help because mommy won’t wake up…again. No child should ever have to try and get her younger siblings out of the house before the ambulance comes to protect them from seeing mommy this way. No child should have to run down the hill that was Davis Lane to flag down the ambulance because you can’t see that gravel road very well in the dark of night. Add that to the many reasons why I, every day, consciously choose to use a semicolon.

I should be stronger than this.

I should be braver than this.

I will always have anxiety. I will struggle from time to time with debilitating depression. I will sometimes become frozen in panic for no rational reason whatsoever. I will, at times, choose poor coping mechanisms. But I will always choose the semicolon.

My story isn’t over yet.

The Semicolon Project 416

selfie love


As if this blog wasn’t self-indulgent enough, I have been participating in a 365 day photo project: the #365feministselfie project.

The what?

Why?

Go ahead and roll your eyes. I know you want to.

You feel better now?

Good.

Talking about one’s sense of self love and self worth, Tamryn Hall recently shared, “It was not a magazine that formed my opinion of myself, it was what my mother told me…“. Ms Hall’s statement struck a very loud chord with me. How true this is. Children learn what they live. She went on recalling all the positive words her mother, her father, her extended family have always said to her about her and how that has always been with her with every success and setback in her life.

When I started writing in this blog, I began because I needed a safe place to put my thoughts, my fears and frustration. My plate was overloaded raising my five children including a very angry teen pushing hard and breaking through as many boundaries as possible and a medically fragile toddler whose weekdays were busy with appointments with specialists, physical therapy, occupational therapy, feeding therapy. My brother had recently died and honestly, it seemed like I was the only member of my family who was mourning him. So much was rattling around in my head that I had to have a place to put it and here is where most of it went. Through the years this has been a place where I could write about what ever I wanted to write about…my thoughts, my fears, my tears, my joys, my opinions…and they all mattered here.

Pretty much my entire life, even now, I have been told what is wrong with me…how I talk, how I walk, the colors in my wardrobe, I’m too skinny, I’m getting fat, my career choice, my parenting choices, my opinions, my beliefs, what I read, what I watch, what I listen to, my thoughts…and on and on and on and on….and it STILL goes on because as I approach my 52nd birthday I still need the correction criticism like I am still a child. It’s hard, very hard to recall ever hearing “I’m proud of you for being you”.

Children learn what they live.

But as this blog grew through the years into more than 3,500 entries, I have evolved and have grown to like me a lot. I like the parent that I am. I like the NICU RN that I am and I wouldn’t settle for anything less. My thoughts, my beliefs and my opinions are indeed my own and they are most definitely just as important as anyone’s…maybe more so to me because they are mine. Ten years of navel-gazing writing has exorcised a lot of demons and damage. Of course, it is a work in progress.

Which brings me to my own #365feministselfie. Pretty indulgent and narcissistic of me, isn’t it? Oh, and definitely attention seeking too.

Enough!

Attention is power.

Of course, the self-portrait is an easy target for charges of self-involvement, but, in a visual culture, the selfie quickly and easily shows, not tells, how you’re feeling, where you are, what you’re doing.

In our age of social networking, the selfie is the new way to look someone right in the eye and say, “Hello, this is me.”

Hello, this is me.

I’m discovering that in this exercise.

I’ve never liked nor respected too much the image that reflected back in the mirror at me. I’ve never really seen what my darling husband has seen and still sees…I recently overheard him say that he has a hot wife. I don’t know if I will ever see what he sees or what my kids see; but I am starting to see things in these selfies that I do like…my curves, my edges and my perfect imperfections.

Self-indulgent.

Of course.

Still it is a very important part of my exercise in self-love.

Self-love is about taking care of yourself inside and out. It’s about reminding yourself that even on your worst hair day with a red zit glowing at  the top of your nose, your heart deserves to smile. A smiling heart and a passionate life will create a beauty within that transcends the standards of most. Only the weak and superficial among us will be unable to see the smile that shines from within because they haven’t earned the privilege to see into our souls.

Added bonus is the kids will have a few pictures of me for my memorial someday.

And if the daily blog ruminations and selfies aren’t enough to cluck one’s tongue over…

It’s my birthday month!