The Road from My Shoulder

John Milton: “A woman’s shoulders are the front lines of her mystique, and her neck, if she’s alive, has all the mystery of a border town. A no-man’s land in that battle between the mind and the body.” – The Devil’s Advocate

I have fallen in love with the curve of my shoulder. The gentle slope that my fingers travel from just behind my jaw down the side of my neck. They settle into the valley where it and my shoulder meet and join together, ball in joint, hand in hand. Beneath it, the terrace of my collarbone beckons, but only for a moment! There are other places to explore. The round of my shoulder pulls my fingers in a circle, tracing its sphere as if it were a small planet unto itself. I can feel the strength in it as the muscle presses back against my prodding fingertips, proving the work is worth it. There is also some tension there that bespeaks of some needed TLC, my body reminding me that care goes hand-in-hand with work.

I walk my fingers along the flat of my shoulder blade, up the back of my neck, feeling my spine press upward as my head curls forward. That beautiful sweet spot at the bottom of my skull calls, but that is not my focus for the moment. Forgive me, I get distracted sometimes.

I am slowly learning to love my body. To walk my fingers over its inches, feel my own skin, find my own strength, revel in my own softness and curves. There are days (and nights) that I just sit or lie in bed and run my fingers over my hips to feel the barely-there scars that tell tales of growth and blossoming. I knead them over my feet to relieve the weariness of a day’s coming and going. I brush them over my calves, pressing them under that muscle and deciding to work for more of a defined niche to hook them. I am finding what is beautiful in this body of mine. Or, rather, finding this body of mine and learning to call it beautiful. This is the only body that I will ever have, and I am rather liking that I am learning to love it.


BloPoMo Day 3, Part 2: Décolletagic Tales

Author’s Note: Yes, I absolutely made up an adjective for my title. I found the first portion of this story set in a post that I made a year ago today and was delighted by it all over again. So, today, I decided to write the story that goes with it. And what do you know? I ended up with a story format that I had never planned on or even thought of since I was in grade school. Here you go! Choose you own décolletagic adventure. And there shall surely be more.

= = = =

“You ready to do this?”

“You mean, are me and my boobs ready to do this?”

“You know, I had never thought of your décolletage as having an individualism of its own but, in that outfit, I think you just might be battling them for attention.”

Me being five-foot-something and a D-cup, my bust line could indeed be an entity unto itself since I refused to swath myself in turtlenecks year round. And her wit was as dry at the autumn leaves outside.

“Eh, I’m used to playing second fiddle to my breasts; they are the lead singer in this one-woman band.” So was mine.

Ending 1:

Just then, the doctor entered the room, a genial smile on her face. “Okay, we are ready for you,” she said to me.

“Really? You’re sure you’re ready? Many a man had those exact last words,” I quipped.

The doctor looked a little surprised but then chuckled and didn’t stop chuckling all the way down to the mammogram room.

Ending 2:

“Just…don’t steal the bride’s spotlight,” she reminded me with playfully-narrowed eyes as I settled her veil like gossamer wings down her back.

“Don’t worry. I will hide behind my bouquet,” I assured her, “Or under your train. No one will even notice.”

She laughed outright at that and I felt her butterflies dissipate. Achievement unlocked! Maid of Honor skills for the win!

Ending 3:

“If it bothers you, you could always take a header off the stage.”

“I could,” I agreed, “But then you’d have to transport my broken ass back home in a wheelchair through several international airports. Want to do that across a few continents?”

She eyed me for a moment before smirking. “You’ll do great,” she said, “Go get your damn Nobel.”

Wonderfully Made

She wears her body like she is proud of it.

Like it is something fearfully and wonderfully made, and it is.

She holds her chest high, unembarrassed by its perkiness.

She lets her hips sway, honoring their curves.

She works to bless and please the body she has been gifted with.

She eats sumptuous foods and waters her body liberally.

She stretches and challenges her body to make it stronger.

She pampers her body and rests it.

Rather than denying her body’s beauty, she allows the compliments in with gracious acknowledgement.

She wears her body like she is proud of it.

Like she is fearfully and wonderfully made.

Because she is.

I am.

You are.


Inventorying Your Beauties

  1. What color makes you feel beautiful when you wear it?
    1. A color that makes me feel beautiful is yellow. I feel sunshiny yet poised, and it feels like my own personal light is shining through the cracks. One of my favorite dresses is a lovely, 60s-esque yellow, white, and grey striped pencil dress with a belted empire waist. Love the way it makes me look and feel!
    2. I also love basic black and grey. They are understated and elegant and they give me the chance to be creative with my hair, shoes, and accessories. A little pop of the right color can do wonders for a look and for this woman’s head-holding and hip-swaying.
  2. What is one of your physical features that you think is the most beautiful?
    1. My hands. They are small and petite and delicate. I love it when they are held, caressed, and kissed. A friend in high school used to exclaim over how small they are and say how a man was going to fall in love with me for my hands alone.
  3. What is it about your heart that is beautiful?
    1. I have a deep-seated desire to help the hearts of others. I want them to know that they are thought of and cared for even when all they feel points to otherwise. I want to be able to give someone’s horrible day some life, light, and a silver lining.
  4. What is your definition of true beauty?
    1. I will be the first to admit when someone is physically beautiful and to call them so. But, for me, what makes someone truly beautiful in the deeper sense of the word is how they treat others. I am not saying that a beautiful person is calm and graceful all the time and lets everything just roll off. No, we are all human. A person of true beauty is one who lovingly holds space for the hearts of others, speaks truth and life, and does their best to treat each other as well as they can in every situation, even if it means stepping away from said situation. I cannot tell you just how much people like this have done for me in my lifetime, how they have saved and buoyed up my heart and spirit. I am truly thankful for the space they have held and the beautiful souls they have shared with me.

One of my favorite Scripture verses

Why I Walk Around Naked

11150479_630544590414714_184724744336153178_nI frequently walk around the house naked. I know. Big deal, right? Well, for me, it has become quite a big deal. First things first, though: cards on the table. I am 32 years old, a wife of almost a decade, and the mother of a rambunctious two-year-old girl (remember her, she’s the lynchpin here). I am 5’1 and my weight is currently hovering at 135 lbs. Is my body perfect? No. It’s why I work out at home just about every day, try to eat better than I have in the past, and hit Planet Fitness with a friend a few times a week to run and strength train on the weight machines. No, my body isn’t perfect, but it’s healthy and getting stronger as I continue to work. More importantly than even that, I have a daughter to whom I want to teach a positive body image and comfort, as well as healthy habits. I want my girl to grow up at ease with herself, to find her body strong and capable, to find herself beautiful. Who will she learn that from but me? Whose voice will battle all the others that will bombard her from society, television, movies, toys, etc.? Mine. Mine is the voice she hears all day. Mine is the body she sees working, playing, exercising. Mine are the reactions and self-talk she will learn from. Therefore, accepting, working on, and speaking kindly to myself are not only for me for but for my Elizabeth as well.

Not too long ago, I watched a video from my belly dance class that my teacher had posted in the class’s Facebook group. We were drilling portions of choreography and my posture was wrong, terrible even. And I told my husband:

“I hate the way I look in this video! I look like I’m still pregnant!”

I immediately regretted and kicked myself for the unkind statement, as Elizabeth was sitting nearby playing with her toys. I maintain that, though she’s only two, she understands everything that is said to and around her. So I have to check the negative self-talk, both inner and outer. If I want my daughter to learn to accept herself, love herself, and see the beauty in every curve, line, and angle of her unique body, I have to do the same. She won’t learn or develop a sense of body comfort if she hears me constantly bad-mouthing my own body. My unique, maddening, triumphant body.

So I walk around the house naked, and I let Elizabeth run around in her diaper, especially now that the weather is warm again. Together, we work on her learning that everyone has a body beneath their clothes and that it is nothing to be feared but everything to be respected and appreciated. At the same time, I am working on my own comfort level with being naked around her and explaining the differences between my body and hers, even at her young age.

“Yes, those are Mommy’s breasts; some mommies feed their babies that way. Yes, you have nipples, too.”

We teach our children to name the parts of their faces, their arms, legs, fingers, toes, and tummy as a necessary benchmark of their development, but I think that it is also important for children to see, from their parents, what those bodies will look like as they grow. I want to be comfortable enough with my daughter and her with me that she can ask me questions about my body and her own as she grows older. I want her to see her body as beautiful, no matter what the voices around her might say. She is strong and brilliant, energetic and curious. I want her mind and body to exist and work together, not against each other.

When I was a girl, I marveled at my mother’s waist. She had a stunning curve to her waist that her A-line dresses gorgeously accentuated. I would trace my hands over her silhouette and hope to be as lovely as her when I grew. When she’d let her hair down, I would hold its weight in my hands and stand in awe. I saw my mother’s beauty, even when she couldn’t, but I struggled for a long time to find my own. I would dearly love to protect my daughter from that uncertainty and for her to always be assured of her unique loveliness and brilliance. Even better if she will then, in turn, remind others of their own.

So I stand naked before the mirror, deny the negative self-talk, and call myself beautiful. My little girl comes to stand beside me, as tall as my thigh, and leans smiling against my leg. I hug her close and call her beautiful, and, somewhere in that little child brain full of all things new and amazing, I think that she thinks so, too.


Morning Body – July 22, 2010

Some people talk of morning breath, bed head, morning hair, even…yeah, that. I like to think of myself having “morning body”. I think my body looks its best in the morning, right after I wake up, before the day and its cares have had a chance to stress and ravage it. My eyes don’t look tired or my mouth pinched in thought, the curve in my waist is gentle, feeding into the slope of my back, the “S” of my form from shoulder to thigh. I spent a good ten minutes this morning just looking at myself in the mirror, wondering over my lifetime and the changes my body has gone through.

When I was a child, I was a little stick, skin-and-bones. People used to comment and, yes, tease me about how skinny and small I was. When I grew into a teenager and my body began filling out, I remember not a great deal aside from that it was rather painful. I had a horrible time with my skin as well, though I got over it, even though it continued for a long while.

When I entered college at 17, I still felt very much like a child. I had not dated, the only “date” I had been on was a Valentine’s Day banquet with someone I had known since kindergarten and did not think of any deeper than a friend. No one had ever told me, outside of my family and perhaps a girlfriend or two, that I was lovely. I felt little, young.  Of course, I gained weight my freshman year, which my mother failed to inform me of, since it is sometimes hard to judge for one’s self. It wasn’t until I saw the pictures of my summer that I realized, which, honestly, made me feel badly. Over the years, my weight fluctuated, not hugely but a bit.

In 2004-2005, during my first year of graduate school, the stress of the move and my new course of study stressed me to the point that I lost weight down to 97 lbs. I hadn’t been that skinny since….I don’t know when. But I wasn’t happy with it because I knew that something must be wrong. I started gaining weight again after I saw my doctor and got things figured out.

In 2007, I began belly dancing in order to get myself in shape and be active in some way that didn’t involve conventional exercise. Today, I have no idea how much I weigh and that is fine with me. I’ve worked hard on my conditioning and dance drills, yoga, and exercise this year (though I can always do more). As a result, I quite like the way my body looks. I like it! 🙂

I remember admiring my mother in her A-line dresses and running my little hands over the graceful curve of her waist from her ribcage down to her hips. Such a gorgeous hourglass figure. I remember saying to her, “I want to look like this.” And now I do. Perhaps that is part of why I like the way I look now. It reminds me of my mother at the height of her beauty. I still very much find my mother beautiful with her quirky smile and close-lipped laugh, her abundant dark hair, some of it a beautiful silvery grey now. I remember when she used to let it down and let me play with it; I’d hold its weight in my hands and marvel at it. I love my mother and always wanted to look like her.

I like my body the most in the morning, I like to be able to look at myself and admit that I do in fact like the way I look. It has been a long, long time in coming for me to say that, as most of you know. It’s a nice feeling, though.

Now that I’ve indulged in a little vanity, I shall go and kiss my husband happy anniversary and thank him for the lovely flowers.