Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Little Lady

I was watching the mothers walk their daughters into school this morning, noticing their similarities in style and demeanor.  My daughter has long gotten over me walking her to the gate and onto campus.  Drop off is fine, thank you.

It popped into my head that those little girls are just like their moms - pretty, confident moms = pretty, confident girls.  But then why, I wondered, didn't that work for me?  My mom was, and is, beautiful.  Imagine, slim, blonde hair, blue eyes and a beautiful smile - none of which I inherited.  Nor did my mother walk me into school and, in fact, she was a working mom, so my sister and I, we walked ourselves to school.  Unthinkable now.  But even then when there would be some family activity at the school where the parents came, you could always tell which were the moms of the pretty girls. 

I just remember growing up that I was not pretty, or cute... I was the fat one.  It started funny, of course, little jabs about my protruded belly (why that was considered funny I'm not sure, but then again consider sitcom humor), then it became 'fat tummy', then just 'fat', then chunky all around.  So this is the identity I grew up with.  I wasn't allowed to be like my mom, my mom was pretty and everyone knows that fat girls can't be pretty.  I couldn't be smart because my sister was smart.  And they always said 'smart one', not two.  So I was... creative.  That was acceptable.  I landed on acting because that of all the other creative things I tried, acting I had the most aptitude for, and it made me happy.  But then when you get to be a slightly older child you realize that fat, not pretty, not particularly smart girls can't be actresses.  But then everyone tells you to follow your dream, all the while worrying that it'll never come to pass for your because you are afterall, fat.

These are the things that go through an adolescent mind, the things that went through MY adolescent mind.  And it is no use protesting the verity of any of these particular assumptions.  They were my assumptions, and perception equals your reality.  And like the tiny rock thrown into the still water, the ripples of those beliefs still reverberate in my life, in my choices, in how I do and do not allow myself to be treated.

And it got me to wondering, what is going through my daughter's mind about herself?  What perceptions is she picking up on that I am not aware of?  That I am not aware I am contributing to and will someday limit her life?

If it is not impossible to undo the perceptions of our childhood it certainly is a colossal feat, a battle I have spent decades waging with... inches of success.  Intellectually, I can look back on those beliefs and balk and call them ridiculous.  But in some ways I still feel like that little fat girl with the impossible dream.  What is my daughter up against that I can not see?  How I wish I could peer into her mind and place in there the belief that while maybe not ALL things are possible (the little lies we tell our children!) but a lot is possible for her, certainly many, many things she wants in life. 

But since we lead by example, I wish I could put aside the little fat girl inside of me when I am with my daughter.  But she's always there - worried, knowing she isn't enough to be what she really wants to be - I want to shut her up, push her aside, deny her.  But that won't work, then she's just the unspoken truth hovering that everyone refuses to see.  I try to bolster my confidence and be assured with my daughter.  But that is its own lie in a way.  The truth is, I am not that little girl anymore, but she still needs to be seen, to be reassured.  I am, in many ways, now a confident woman but sometimes even she needs to crawl under a rock and hide.  And sometimes there is even a woman in between.  The only solution I think is to coexist - and to approve wholeheartedly of them all, equally.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Slug(ish) Fest

I thought I would get involved with the PTO of my son’s new middle school.  I’m not a particularly ‘gala’ gal and selling stuff I’ve never been good at.  But organizing, sorting, writing, that kind of stuff is right up my alley… so I agreed to be the “P” part Chair of the school’s 5K.  A decision whose ramifications did not illuminate themselves immediately.

The first clue was when my daughter asked me if I went to the gym anymore.  “No, honey. Our gym closed down.”  Says she, “There’re other gyms, mama.”  Yikes!  It was not the first time she had remarked on my weight. 

I chose the 5K for a number of reasons.  First, I’ve done them… In a time BC (before children) though, but nonetheless I am familiar with the whole deal.  Second, it was the latest event in the school year that didn’t have a chair yet.  Lame, yes, but I figured it’d give me time to get my sea-legs at the school.

Then my son mentioned my actual legs.  I don’t recall what he said exactly or the context but the gist was I needed to be able to actually run a 5K if I was going to organize one…  Ummm….  He is right of course.  And time is not slowing down waiting for me to get motivated.

So I started with a cleanse.  I tried to do 28 days, made it three weeks.  I wasn’t perfect but I was already starting to feel lighter.  The problem of course is my (*gulp* 50lbs? overweight) body is out of shape and sluggish.  For a number of reasons.  I broke my arm in January 2012, pretty badly, and then rebroke it in May of that year.  Gravity was not my friend for many months but painkillers were (I don’t mean it like that! Seriously…), and I ended up taking prescribed and then over the counter ones for about 5 months, which it turns out, is a very long time and a very lot of pain killers for a poor little body to process.  Then physical therapy, focused on my arm and so the legs were a little neglected…. Flash forward to 18+ months later and the arm is fine, almost like it never happened apart from a barely noticeable bump, and a little pain when it’s overworked.

But I can’t blame it entirely on the broken arm.  I’d been living in the lap of relative sedentary living since I had children.  Ironically, when they were smaller and needed more care it was easier to get to the gym more regularly.  It’s nice when the gym is entertaining for the kids to go to so you can avoid the fuss and subsequent guilt.  Then our gym closed down, then we went to another and that one closed down!  But honestly, even with a place to work out running hadn’t been on my menu for a while.  I just have felt heavy and sluggish for years (thus the cleanse) and running has never been easy for me or readily enjoyable no matter what the long term benefits.  That said, before my son was born I actually was just starting to get into triathlon and thought I’d continue it on a few months after the kids were born… well…  Turns out what was on my menu was kid food.  It is that anxiety that is born of a sense of lack, that preternatural inability to waste food.  So what hopped on to my menu were things kids didn’t finish, the three goldfish left in the cup, the other 10 cookies the kids and I baked and ate exactly one each and refused any more, the leftovers everyone else in the household declined to eat, the grapes that were about ready to become raisins that then went into my already full lunch.  It was a problem, one I have been addressing.  But still, I feel sluggish.

And yet, here it is almost October.  I know me and how long it took me to get ready to run my first 5K and I am seriously pushing it.  So, today, with afternoon temperatures finally in the heavenly 90s (I know that sounds weird but I live in the Coachella Valley where for almost 5 months it doesn’t dip into the 90s till midnight) and a cool breeze, I thought I’d get me and the dog off our fat asses and run around the soccer park.  OK, yes, I hear ya, that’s funny… hahaha, run!  OK, let’s call it a fast schooch – with pain.  Buttercup did not understand why she didn’t get her nice leisurely sniffy-fantastic tool around, and I most certainly looked silly.  But I got it done.  The start.  Phew.  Many more portions of miles to go!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Bl-itter-ing idiot

noun, bl-itter-ing, bl-itter-verse,
1. Not quite as tedious as a whole blog post, not quite as cryptic and requiring of a click here escapade as a tweet.

An employer of mine died recently.   More than an employer, a friend.  Well, like a wonderful aunt you get to visit once a week and you really don’t mind.  I wasn’t related to her and I’d worked for her once a week, half a day, for six years.  We knew she was going to die.  But even when it is expected it is unexpected.

She died over a week ago but today really sucked.  When you aren’t related or terribly close to, but just terribly fond of, someone you don’t get all the stages of grief.  You get just a couple.  You have to pass over anger because afterall what is it to you.  You can’t in all seriousness do denial because no one would believe you.  And bargaining is out because you have no leverage with the universe.  So what you are left with is depression and acceptance…and who is really going to believe you are really depressed?

And yet there it is.  It is depressing because it means the order of the universe has changed in a favor of which you are not quite sure of yet.  You have to accept way before everyone else so you can steady on.  And that is all OK, but it still sucks.  Because you end up in a place that is not really fair to be in, you don’t get to ride on the boat with all the other passengers.  You have to wade in depression till everyone else catches up and meets you at the docks of acceptance.  And I think this is what happens when we learn of someone dying that we don’t know well, or hear of someone passing before their time, or when someone you know’s father dies, which also happened last week.  You have to bypass stages 1 through 3 and hang in the edge of 4, in this mild to icky funk knowing the only thing to do shortly is to accept something you are really not happy about but there is no other choice.

But as I like to say, white wine fixes everything… or at least is a moderately good way to pass the time till you get to stage 5.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Weather Telling Bunion

Anyone remember the cartoon Bullwinkle?  Who was it that had a weather telling bunion?

Today is January 15th.  Exactly one year since, in a freak kitchen accident, I broke my arm at the shoulder.  I got several fractures, which gave the lie to my thinking I was indestructible - me big strong gal!  I had a horizontal fracture just under the shoulder joint and several pieces of the greater tuberocity (that sounds so technical! - actually it is the ball of the joint) popped off with the tendons when my shoulder dislocated, and a crack in the greater tuberocity as well.  One of my favorite moments of the experience is when I asked my orthopedist if I needed to have surgery.  He responded by saying "No! Oh no. No. Nobody would want to get in there and muck around. That's a mess."

Confidence inspiring.

But turns out he did just the right thing, which was to just make me hold still for many months.  Easier than I thought it would be.  Apart from a few squirrely moments on a couple nights where I felt like a caged animal, like I was going to chew through my sling if I wasn't allowed to move my arm!, it was not so hard and not very painful.  Pain killers work well if you have the right one for the job.  I was lucky in that the ones that were too powerful for the pain I was experiencing, i.e. the addictive ones, made me feel kinda sick so I had no incentive to misuse them.  And as soon as it was bearable I stopped taking them altogether.  

And then physical therapy, and oopsy where I reinjured the arm, popped off one of those pieces again in a fall (I have never fallen so much as when I had a reason NOT to!), minor setback, a plateau where for many weeks I was worried I'd never be able to hook a bra by myself again. Then viola! I can do nearly anything I want again... except for a few yoga poses with hands praying behind back et al which will take maybe a longer while of working on.

So, there you have it. Injured and recovered, just like that!  Except now I have that annoying weather telling pain in my shoulder.   Just like Bullwinkle.  I am told it will probably never go away... but then I was told I'd never be able to lift my children again or strap my bra so...