Reflections on Thirty-Three


Author’s Note: Today, I turn 33 years old. It has definitely been an interesting three and a half years since my daughter was born and life changed in a big way. I think that I have learned more about myself in these few short years than in many others combined throughout my lifetime. I see myself differently, am taking better care of myself, am learning to love others better, and live my faith and purpose more honestly and, I hope, effectively. I do more than like myself at 33. I truly believe that I have finally learned to love myself.

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My form is a thing of beauty.

Take all your definitions of allure

And weigh them in your hands,

As I make mine my own.

Breasts, waist, hips, legs,

Arms, stomach, shoulders, back.

All I work to make strong.

This I do for myself,

For the good of my body as well as my soul.

To be strong enough in body to hold the skies on my shoulders

But soft enough in soul to hold joy in the sway of my hips

And grace in the reach of my hands.

My mind is a work of art.

Growing and challenged still,

Deeply considering and intense.

My intelligence has not been silenced by time,

But continues to grow and refine with new challenges.

My art is a meeting of thought and feeling,

Pulled together, chiseled, and shaped.

I share my art with a desire for hope,

Encouragement, uplifting, and joy.

I write to challenge to love, to kindness, to compassion.

I write to create refuge, worlds in which to escape,

To send out words that my own voice might find difficult to speak.

I sing to birth joy. I dance to proclaim free. I dress to cry beauty.

I write and post and mail to connect and pull threads together.

In life. In community. In love. In friendship. In chosen family.

I am a being made unqiue and becoming uniquer still.

The older I get, the finer I am becoming.

You should rejoice. I’d love for you to rejoice.

If you don’t, though, that’s your choice.

But, most of all, I just want you to smile with me.

Sinking into Me


Fierce, fearless, confident.

Come and get me if you dare.

It’s sinking into myself

And being happy with what I find there.

Happy enough not be afraid,

To be boldly

And unabashedly

Me.

I will look at myself in the best possible light,

Just be me,

And be happy with me.

It is my constant goal,

A light I grab at on the path I walk,

And it is wonderful.

Life's enjoyment

Life’s enjoyment

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.

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I Don’t Exercise to be Healthy…


Author’s Note: This is a post about my weight, self-esteem, etc. This is entirely personal and more than a little of what people would call vain. Just be warned, in case you aren’t interested in reading about it.

A few nights ago, a dear friend posted a version of that picture (*points off to the side*) on her Facebook page and I had to be brutally honest with myself and admit, “Yep. That’s right.” It may be totally vain or selfish or whatnot but it’s the total truth. I eat as well as I can to be healthy, but I can do better. Always. I exercise, I bellydance, walk, etc., however, to look good, to feel beautiful and proud about how my body looks. Yes, only one person is going to see me naked but I want to look good nevertheless.

I have fallen away from my normal habits of exercise of late, with the change in the weather and the holidays and all that. But I cannot only blame those circumstances as that would be unfair and lazy on my part. I haven’t been as disciplined as I should be and that is on me. I have gained enough weight since the summer to now rate as overweight on the BMI scale. I don’t like that. I don’t like feeling like I don’t look well in my clothes. I miss the curve in my waist that I envied in my mother as a teenager and worked hard to get. I miss the tone that bellydance and daily walks pushing Elizabeth’s stroller uphill gave me. I miss the feeling of being beautiful as I danced, with pride in my technique and stage performance. I want that all back.

So call me vain if you so wish. It’s your opinion and that’s fine. It’s also fine that I want to look the way I want to look and feel the way I want to feel. That is my goal for this new year and I am looking forward to it. I know it will be hard, I know I will have to give up some of the things I really like. I will have to make time to get to Planet Fitness and bellydance class, even if it is inconvenient or I am tired after a day with Elizabeth. It will be worth it. I will be able to fit comfortably into the dresses and skirts that I love, and, hopefully, I will come to enjoy the exercise again, find a new happy spot in my soul, and give my daughter a run for her money in the energy department. Maybe I will even start performing again. And, just maybe, my heart – with all its little vanities – will once again smile to hear shouted across a room “I hate you, Ben!”

The Moment My Glorious Faded


Yesterday, I went shopping with my mother. We ducked into Victoria’s Secret to see if they were offering a special that she had heard advertised (she wanted the tote bag that came with the purchase special). I started looking around the underwear, as it was 50% off, and found a few cute pairs. But, then, as I rounded the display, two men walked up and one started looking through the underwear. His friend commented on the prices and the man looking said, “Well, then, she can get two.” So I can only assume that he was buying Christmas gifts for his significant other.

I, of course, went about my business silently (they could spot the 5 for $27 deal for themselves), as I dislike inhabiting close quarters with strangers, much less talking to them. Then, the man’s friend suddenly burst out with, “If I see another girl in tights with a washboard butt, I swear I’m going to throw my phone at her ass. Tell her to stop ruining the tights, man.”

It was that comment, as if that woman’s – or indeed any woman’s – body was his to comment on, that suddenly made me not feel so much like buying cute underwear. I didn’t feel cute and far from glorious. So I put the pairs down, walked away to my mom, and contented myself with nose-nuzzles from my daughter. It is a bit difficult to explain exactly how I felt in response to the comment but it felt as if I were the one being judged, as I had indeed been judging my own self all day (there are extenuating circumstances that I acknowledge but they are neither here nor there). I have fitness, nutrition, and weight goals to work on, yes, and I will get there, I know. But, in that moment, I found myself feeling objectified in place of the girls to whom he was referring and my spirit felt low under the added burden. It didn’t last for long but it was poignant enough that here I am writing about it a day later. If something is still on my mind after a night’s sleep, then it is something worth discussing. And body image and acceptance, by ourselves and others, always is.

Striking to Think


I caught sight of myself in the mirror as I finished my shower last night and was rather struck by my reflection. My cheeks were rosy, lips pink, eyes dark and long-lashed, and my ponytail in a curling coil over my shoulder. It was one of those moments that it felt like seeing myself for the first time and not recognizing who was looking back at me. Even odder and more striking to me was to catch myself thinking, “Beautiful!”  Let me say that for you again. In that moment, I thought myself to be beautiful. Part of me sorely wished to take a picture but I realized that no camera was ever going to catch the way I saw myself in that moment. Yesterday, I spent most of the day catching up on “The Borgias” so I was looking at Holliday Granger all day, undoubtedly one of the most beautiful young women I have ever seen. So, to consider myself as beautiful and graceful as “Lucrezia Borgia” herself for a moment was a pretty big deal to me. When I finished and came out into the living room, I gave my husband quite a kiss, one that made him asked, “Are you…trying to tell me something?”

I smiled and replied, “Just that…I feel beautiful right now.”