Monthly Archives: April 2010

Forgiveness is a Bitch in Character Shoes

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back when we were innocent...and didn't have character shoes...

I was in a show once and there was a young girl who stood next to me. So far so good right? We were in a big line across the stage and then we would all turn to face right which meant that she was then in front of me. Ok, still with me? Every single rehearsal and every single performance this young girl screwed up. All 23 of us would be kicking forward and she would inevitably would kick backward. And that means she was kicking me right in my shin. Every. Single. Time.

But, I couldn’t let it show on my face that my shin was swelling and I wanted to scream. I had to look like I enjoyed being kicked in the same spot really hard by a tall chick in character shoes. Some people may enjoy that, I am sure there are videos out there for those who do, I don’t. And every night we would come off stage and she would turn to me with a worried look on her face and say in her most sincere voice ” I am SO sorry!!” and I would reply in my most sincere voice “It’s ok.” and I would limp off to get changed for the next number. Every. Single. Time.

Now, I was getting less tolerant and more angry as the weeks went by. I was very resentful that this chick couldn’t get this right. It wasn’t that hard. I mean, 23 other people did it right every night. I tried not to take the kick to the shin personally. This chick was far too young and far too scared to actually be kicking me on purpose. The bitch who was old enough and brave enough to outright kick me was at the other end of the line. But she’s another story. The last weekend of the show I couldn’t take it anymore. Before we even went out for the number I turned to the chick and said “Please, please do not kick me tonight.” and she said “Ok, I won’t I promise I will get it right!” and out we went.

Every. Single. Time. Like clock work I felt the now familiar flare of pain radiate up my leg. As soon as we got off stage she turned to me with tears in her eyes and said ‘I am SO sorry!” Too little too late. I said “I never want to hear you say I’m Sorry again. Just STOP KICKING ME!!!!” And I turned and stormed off to our dressing room. The poor girl cried at that one. She had to redo all of her makeup. How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? One, two-o-o three-e-e CrUnCh. How many kicks does it take to piss me off royally? One, two-o-o, three-e-e, twenty-five and ENOUGH!!!

This was the best lesson I ever had about the power of forgiveness. She kept telling me she was sorry but she continued to kick me. So, how sorry was she really? I guess “sorry” didn’t mean much to her. Or maybe it was me saying “it’s ok” that gave her the idea that she didn’t really have to change. I find it wonderous that I put up with it as long as I did. I have a high tolerance for asshole-ish-ness behavior and a higher tolerance for pain. The first 15 kicks to the shin I truly believed she was just young and new. I was young and new once. I had made mistakes. The next 10  kicks, I started to understand that she was just ignorant. Ok, what was I going to do about it? Kick her back? Move my spot? Loosen the heels of her shoes so that on her nightly kick to my shin she would topple over like a rag doll?

I told her exactly what I needed to hear. Don’t apologize anymore, just change your behavior. Because if you’re truly sorry, you will change so that you never do that again. Making amends. I wonder how many shins I kicked? But in making amends, I will never kick another shin. And if I do, I will apologize and not do it again. Actions speak louder than words. Bruises fade, but actual change can last a lifetime. Today, in addition to an apology, I change the offensive behavior whether that means no beans before bedtime or using a napkin rather than the couch, I do it.

The young chick did go on to join The Rockettes. She was subsequently fired for breaking the leg of the girl behind her with an exceptionally hard kick to the shin. She was last seen kicking clients in a fetish club downtown and she never has to say she’s sorry. It’s all for the best.

(c)sparklingbytheway

Lucy and Ethel Got Nuthin On Us

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Thank God this was before the Spray Tan Fiasco...

A few years ago, spray tans were the new “in” thing. So, being all sorts of hip and cool that my best friend and I are known to be (she even has a pair of Crocks) we drive our white asses straight to the spray tan salon. And we are a couple of White Chicks with a capital W. Although, my best friend does have some italian blood in her, it doesn’t really show. Maybe in her freckles. And me, I am translucent. You can practically see my organs I am so white. Perfect candidates for spray tans.

We have both tried to tan over the years. She freckles and I turn pink, like a medium, shiny pink. Like salmon. It’s not pretty. We both have red hair and although we look nothing alike, we are mistaken for sisters all the time. Pale skin, red hair…we must be related. Anyway, we get to the spray tan salon and all of the tan people inside have to shield their eyes from the white glow emanating from us. We are fake tan virgins. The likes of us are rarely seen.

After the tan people get over the shock, we tell them we are there for spray tan. The friendly counter girl shows us to the basement and sits us in front of a small tv. She pops in a dvd and tells us it will explain the entire process. Being the more studious between us, my best friend listens and pays attention to all the directions the girl on the dvd is giving us. Me? I sit there and think all sorts of silly thoughts like “really? how hard can this be…we need directions? I don’t need directions, I wonder if her boobs are real. I wonder how much she got paid to do this dvd. I wonder if this is her day job and at night she is a host on QVC….oh look, my best friend is paying attention very intently, maybe I should listen too…naw, I’ll just ask her what to do…”

And so when the dvd ends, my best friend gets up, confident that she knows the steps to take to ensure an even, realistic looking fake tan. Me? I get up and ask her “So, what are we supposed to do” at which point she gets exasperated with me. I mean, it has been since 7th grade that I have been asking her the very same question before every test. She rolls her eyes and does what she has always done and explains to me what I need to do. Thank God for my best friend. I’m never sure how exactly I enhance her life, but without her, well, I would still be failing 9th grade math.

So, we go into our separate rooms with the booth inside that looks like the teleportation machine from Star Trek. I vaguely remember hearing my best friend say something about lotioning up the dry areas like knees and elbows…ok….check. I see a shower cap, so I put that on….ok…check. Really how hard can this be? I say “beam me up Scotty” and giggle. I hear my best friend yell “Push the button!!” Oh yeah!!! It wasn’t a voice activated fake tan machine. I wasn’t going to disintegrate into a thousand million particles then reassemble magically with a fake tan….although that would be so cool….

And my best friend yells again “PUSH THE BUTTON!!” Ok…button pushed!! And I am blasted from every angle with brown mist. It was awful. And it went on forever! Like a whole 20 seconds!! I remember the girl on the dvd doing some really awkward chicken dance type movement. So, I do that. Then, I hop out of the futuristic teleportation fake tan machine and stand there and wait for this brown dye to dry. I guess I missed the part about rub the brown dye in vigorously or you will be very sorry.

A few minutes later, I am dry. I pull on my clothes and stick my head out the door. My best friend goes hustling by and says “Hurry up! You have to wash your hands or you palms will stain….you seriously didn’t listen to anything the girl on the dvd said did you?” Big sigh…eye roll. As we are washing our hands, she looks at me and say ” OH MY GAWD!!! You didn’t rub it IN???!!!” I say “No. No one told me to rub it in!! The girl on the dvd said to NOT touch myself!!” Yup, smug as Dr. Spock. “Oh MY GAWD!!! She said make sure you rub it in!! Otherwise you will spot and streak!!!” At which point we both look into the mirror and with utter horror realize that I am already starting to spot. All over my face.

Now, this wasn’t just a spur of the moment “let’s get fake tans” type of thing. She had a wedding to go to the next day and I had our annual spring performance. We did this fake tan with our very important events in mind. And now here I was with dark brown streaks and spots all over my very, very white body. The dye had pooled up at my feet, which are ofcourse the dryest part of my body so they were black. Literally black. I wish I had pictures of how I looked. Like I had some sort of horribly disfiguring skin affliction. It was bad. My best friend, on the other hand, looked like perfection. Just like the girl on the dvd. Bitch.

I go home and I showered 5 times. Then I sat with my feet in a bucket for the rest of the evening. Nothing worked. It just got darker. Which I would have known would happen if I had just payed attention to the damn dvd. Or better yet my best friend’s instructions. I was miserable. The one event that I look forward to all year and I look like I have leperacy. And I’m not talking about just some cocktail party where it is my choice of who I get to mingle with. I had to be up on stage in front of hundreds of people,in a skin flaunting costume, proving that I am a great dancer worthy of teaching their kids. With my skin falling off. After hours of scrubbing in the shower, all my white spots had turned pink. So, now I was a lovely combination of pink with brown spots. Nice for a bathroom wall paper pattern, but really stupid looking on my entire body.

In the morning, my best friend called. I was a little pissy to say the least. She tells me that she has a rash from head to toe. Red bumps everywhere. And I do mean everywhere. She is miserable with itching. She is having a total allergic reaction!! I swear, despite my disfigurement and her skin reaction we never laughed so hard! We deserve our own show. Cause this isn’t the only really stupid thing we have done together…who else besides your best friend will go fake tanning with you and have a full body allergic reaction just so you don’t feel so bad about being to stupid to follow the fake tan directions. I love you best friend!!!! Cause it’s friendship…friendship…just the perfect blendship…when all the others have been forgot….our will still be HOT…A-lottle-dottle-dottle-dig-dig-dig….

(c)sparklingbytheway

I’m a Star

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dreaming.....

I have always been pretty quiet. I was never noticed in classes in school. My freshman english teacher actually said to the kid ahead of me “Wake up the red head behind you and ask her for a pencil”. That was in June after I had been in her class all year. I had this really savvy therapist once who told me that I dye my hair red so that I can be noticed without saying anything. And here I thought it was because I liked red hair. I stayed under the radar, never causing trouble. Except in dance class. Then I stood out. But if I had to speak or sing, forget it.

I was doing a show, Sugar, a musical based on Some Like It Hot. I was a dancer, duh. But I also had to “sing” which for me means “lip synch with style”. There was one scene where we had duets. I was paired up with a singer. We had to stick our head through a curtain and sing real loud “Chicago’s 11 below…and the forecast is snow…in chi  ca  go…” That’s all fine and good because like I said I was paired with a singer who sang. So, I just stuck my head out and mouthed the words. Works for me. I have one of those voices that no one needs to hear singing alone. I can carry a tune, I do ok in choral parts, but a solo? Not a chance.

This is a fact I was well aware of because my best friends were singers and they sang all the time. One of my best friends was the lead in this particular show. So, if I ever had any doubts as to the adequacy of my voice, she put it to rest. I’m a realistic person so I was ok with the idea that I should never, ever, under any circumstances sing out loud alone except in my shower and even then, only if no one else was in the house. We all have our strengths and singing was not mine.

One night, I crawl up into the berth (because we were in a train, headed for Chicago, in the show, not in real life) and I wait for my partner, the singer, to get up there to. It was dress rehearsal so we had half a house (audience) of parents and friends. It was almost time for our duet and my partner wasn’t there. I started to sweat. And there’s the music que, our line was the first line in the song. And there goes the music cue. The director yells “What happened?” I stick my head out of the curtain and say “My partner’s not here” and he looks at me like I’m seriously mentally impaired and says “And…?” I say “And I don’t sing?” Impossible. “Sing the line.” “But I….” “SING THE LINE!!!”

In the smallest, quietest voice I have I sing “chicagos11belowandtheforecastissnowinchicago” Sweat is dripping, my heart is pounding, I duck back behind the curtain and try to get my hyperventilating under control. “DO IT AGAIN!!!” the director yells. WHAT???!!! He’s kidding right? I look across to the other girls and say “He doesn’t mean me does he?” They just shake their heads yes and point to stick my head thru the curtain. “AGAIN!!!!”

“chicagos11belowandtheforecastissnowinchicago”  “AGAIN LOUDER!!!”  “chicagos11belowandtheforecastissnowinchicago”  “LOUDER!!!”  “chicagos11belowandtheforecastissnowinchicago”  AGAIN LOUDER…DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT LOUDER MEANS??????”  eh hem…”Chicago’s 11 Below andtheforecastissnowinchicago”  “AGAIN!!”  This went on for 8 hours….ok more like 5 minutes. The entire audience was enthralled….like they were watching a slow motion car accident. They couldn’t look away. The louder I sang the worse I got. The more off key, the more red in the face, the sweat was making a pool on the floor in front of me. I finally sang it loud enough or the director’s hemorrhoids stopped flaring because he said “Let’s go on”. 

I put it behind me and got through the rest of the show. The cast went out after rehearsal and we all rehashed my spectacular solo performance, again and again and again. By the end of the evening everyone was singing, off key, in their loudest voices “chicagos11belowandtheforecastissnowinchicago” Ha ha ha ha ha. But I could dance rings around them all and my costume fit the best and my wig was the cutest, like I said, we all have our strengths. Honestly, it didn’t bother me too much. It was confirmation of what I already knew. I was not a singer. And it was funny.

I went to the show the next night and reamed out my partner for not being there the night before. She had already heard the story and was apologizing while wiping the tears of laughter from her eyes. We were getting ready and one of the moms who was in the audience the night before knocks on the dressing room door. We let her in and she has the biggest bouquet of flowers I had ever seen. She walked right over  and handed them to me, with a hug and said “This is for what you went through yesterday. You were very….um…..brave” She chucked me under the chin and left at which point everyone else in the dressing room fell to the floor laughing.

I never forgot that kindness, or the line “chicagos11belowandtheforecastissnowinchiacgo”. I never forgot that I can’t sing. I still have one of the flowers from the bouquet pressed into my theater days scrap book. We all have our strengths but our weakness do not have to make us weak. How’s that for deep? Now where’s my bouquet?

(c) sparklingbytheway

Don’t Believe Everything You Hear

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Glowing, wasn't I?

I was about 7 months pregnant with my second child. And I wasn’t one of those cute pregnant ladies. I was swollen and fat and miserable and I threw up from conception. I was sweaty and mean and I probably smelled bad but I didn’t care much for the comfort of others at that point. I heard on TV that Sears was the owner of the new store Home Goods that had opened at the mall. I was very excited because that meant that I could use my Sears card at Home Goods!!! So, I went shopping!!

Cause shopping made me feel better. I pulled on my elastic waist pants with my potato sack shirt and slipped on my loafers, cause I could no longer reach my feet to put on regular shoes. I stuffed myself behind the wheel of my Subaru 5 speed and drove myself to the mall. I shopped at Home Goods until my kankles were about to explode and then I pushed my cart up to the front to check out.

The nice, young girl rung me up to the tune of 175 dollars. But what did I care? Cause it was going on the Sears credit card which was like free, magic money. And I handed her my Sears credit card. She looked at me kind of funny and said “Um, this is a Sears card” I said “Yes, it is.” and she said “This is Home Goods.” I said “Yes, it is” Jeeze, this chick was really new….didn’t she know that Home Goods accepted Sears cards? She said “This is the Home Goods store, not Sears.” the whole time trying to give me back my card, which I would not take back. You see where this is going don’t you?

So, there I am, pregnant, sweating, sick, swollen and bitchy as all get out, and this little wisp of a thing is trying to tell ME that they don’t accept the Sears card because they are not Sears. HA! Now, a normal person would have probably just accepted that they were not IN Sears and therefore the Sears card would not be accepted. Not me, I was not normal on a good day, and on a pregnant day… I accept nothing!!! I told her that they accepted the Sears card. She told me that they didn’t. I told her that she was mistaken, they did. She replied that they didn’t. She asked the cashier next to her. That cashier said “This isn’t Sears, why would we accept the Sears card as payment?” To which I smugly replied that Sears owned Home Goods and therefore, the Sears card was obviously accepted. The two cashiers exchanged looks.

My cashier then ran the card through the machine and it came up card unverified. Again, a normal person might then admit defeat and pay with another card….like a J.C.Penny or a Chappel’s card….Not me!! I say “I would like to speak to your manager please.” The poor girl was dumbfounded and didn’t know what to say to me. So, she called her manager. The manager came over and I calmly explained that my Sears card should work because Sears actually owns the place. The manager knew she was dealing with a pregnant woman about to pop so she very slowly, explained to me that they do not accept credit cards from other stores as payment. Only universal credit cards or checks or cash. I stared at her as if she had lost her mind and she stared back with the exact same look on her face.

I finally said “Fine. Then I will take my business elsewhere.” and I made my dramatic exit, which immediately  became less dramatic as I walked to the front of the store. It was past closing time and I had to wait at the front for the girl to come and raise the gate as I could not bend over enough to get underneath it. I got home and told my family about my horrible treatment at Home Goods and made them all promise to boycott the store (and possibly even picket in front of it).

It was probably six months later when I realized what a nut job I was. I don’t know if I truly heard that Sears owned Home Goods or if I dreamt it in my pregnant brain. Either way, I was so sure of myself and so very, very wrong. I can still see the look on the manager’s face. How many times have I decided to get behind a really bad idea? Countless. I pick the wrong lines at the grocery store consistently, I hear something (or overhear something) and take it in as fact and spit it out as fact and I pay the consequences when I am proven wrong. Good thing I am used to being wrong.

Whatever, looking back, it was funny. And eventually the Home Good store closed at the mall. Karma? Maybe. Or if they had accepted my Sears card they just may have survived on my  200 dollar limit alone….but now they will never know….(insert google eyed crazy face here).

Sunshine and Lollypops

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in the land before I was jaded and bitter....

Many years ago I heard the phrase “detachment with love”. Sounded like a good idea to me. The people using this phrase had lives that were all hearts and flowers, I wanted what they had. So, I asked for the combination to get this “detachment with love” thing. I asked and asked, waiting for someone to tell me that all I had to do was click my heels twice, spin around and say the magic words and then I would be detached….with love. See, I didn’t really hear the “with love” part.

All I wanted was to be detached. I wanted some peace. I wanted to NOT be consistently in pain because of another’s actions. And I was prepared to do anything to get there. Detach. No one would give me the magic pill, or the correct combination. So, I just kept doing what I was doing, which was learning a new way to live. And lo and behold, one day I found I was detached!! With a tremendous amount of hate. I was done, but I took all that pain with me. Hhmmm, not so very different from being enmeshed with someone else. When I was enmeshed, I was constantly angry. I used that anger to detach myself. Problem solved. Or so I thought.

I finally heard the “with love” part and to be honest, it pissed me off. Why the hell did I have to do anything with love when it came to people who had hurt me? Isn’t that a stupid thing? I didn’t get it. I was still busy congratulating myself on being detached. Yea ME!! But, my life still wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies. Maybe I was missing something. Detaching with love. Alright, what the hell are they talking about with this? I went back to the people who hurt me. I tried again. After all, isn’t that what love’s all about? Second chances (or third or fourth or fifth). Within seconds, I was enmeshed again only worse than before. But I knew people who could do the detaching with love and still be around people who had hurt them. They were like acrobats!! I had so much to learn.

I finally got it!! I stayed detached, I stayed loving, there were pink clouds and little kittens with wings hovering around me all the time!! It worked. Until it didn’t anymore. Damn it. It doesn’t sound that hard. I went back and asked about detachment with love. I heard many stories of how other people had done it, how it had worked for them, how their lives had changed for the better. This time I really listened, I didn’t just wait to speak. And I tried again. Only this time, I detached with the motive to take care of myself, rather than to hurt someone else.

And the love part happened. When I would think about those people no longer in my life, I would think about them with love rather than with resentment or anger. I couldn’t be around them, but I let go of the anger. Because it is true what they say that resentment is like taking poison and hoping the other person dies. It was killing me and the people who hurt me were out there walking around, having a grand old-time, without a thought about me. It was time for me to start living my life. I became detached with love. I thought that was the goal and now I would have some great, enlightened life. Where was my damn rainbow?

Oh, my life got better. But it was still life. It didn’t turn into some Disney movie. And then some wise ass person said to me “You should try loving with detachment”. You’re kidding, right? Nope. Apparently, people do it all the time. Children do it the best. This wise person said to me “Remember how you loved the people in your life when you were a child? Without judgement? Without thought as to if they loved you? You loved without condition, but you loved yourself first and best. That was before you knew that you were flawed. Imagine loving others like you used to.” Crap. So, I begin again. Because I have not been loving. Not purely, not wholly, not unconditionally. I have judged and been mean and spiteful and ugly. Great, now I have another goal to achieve. Something to work on. Loving with detachment. Sounds like a good idea. And THEN I will get my unicorn and gallop off into the sunset…

Speaking of broken toes

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The Toe

When I was 17, I was living with my best friend in Houston, Texas. That sentence is all sorts of a bad idea. Who’s parent lets their 17-year-old daughter move half way across the country with her best friend? Mine. Because when they realized they were only having one child, they read Dr. Spock’s chapter in his famous book and it said the most important thing to know about raising an only child is to NOT over protect them. My parents took that to heart. There was no over protection happening in my house!!

Anyway, I decided to audition for a few local dance companies. I was pretty homesick and I knew that I would find home once I was back in a studio. I jumped into the South By South West Jazz Ballet Company (The Unofficial U.S.O.). Fun little company. And it was like being home. Any dancer will tell you that they can walk into any dance class in the world and be home. Not that they make you cookies or wipe your nose or hold you when you cry. But the feelings of inadequacy, frustration, and despair feel like home….I’m kidding!!! It’s something about the structure, or the movements, or knowing what’s expected of you that can give  a sense of peace.

The Gulf War had just broken out, and being this company was the Unofficial U.S.O. we immediately started working on some patriotic pieces to tour with. We had a trip planed to Saudi Arabia (which was cancelled because of the escalating violence and the speed in which the war was taking off). In rehearsal for these pieces, I injured my toe. I was doing this great grande jete, and I landed on the middle toe of my right foot. It was swollen immediately and one of the boys had to drive me home. We were laughing and crying all the way home cause it really was funny, but it really did hurt.

I got home and iced it and kept it elevated. But by about midnight it was still throbbing, so I talked my roommate into driving me to the ER. Now, here we are a couple of young girls, in Houston, at midnight, looking for a hospital. We had a general idea of where the hospital was. There was a whole section of the city that was just hospitals. We find one and go on in. There was no one around. Strange. So, we hop on the elevator. Now I am still limping and we are kind of laughing at me limping. A doctor gets on the elevator with us and we ask her which way the emergency room is. She kind of paused, looked us over, smiled in a “poor stupid kids” kind of way and then explained to us that we were in a psychiatric hospital and they didn’t have an ER and unless the voices in my head told me my toe was broken in which case they could admit me.

That sent us into buckets of giggles. She eventually pointed us in the right direction for the hospital that could help me and my toe. We arrived and sat in the ER for about 5 hours amongst gun shot victims, old men having heart attacks, little kids puking and one lady giving birth. It was way better than tv!! I was finally put into a curtained cubicle to wait another 2 hours. Lucky for me my friend was resigned at this point to making the best out of our little excursion and we had all sorts of fun. Stealing gigantic Q-tips and tounge depressors and blowing up rubber gloves. Yeah, stick a couple of teenagers in a ER for 7 hours and watch the fun!!

The doctor finally comes in and looks at my foot. He was from another country so I had a hard time understanding him over all the wailing and screaming coming from the waiting room area. Anyway, he starts examining my big toe. Big toe, the first toe on my right foot. NOT the toe I injured. I injured my middle toe. But hey, what do I know. He’s the Doc. He finally bends it and asks if it hurts. I said “no, but that’s not the one I injured”. He looks at me like I was nuts as he had just spent minutes examining a perfectly fine toe. I point to the middle toe and explain that is the one I injured. He checks it out, determines that it is most likely broken and tapes it to my other toes. He re-examines my big toe again and then looks at me with total seriousness and says “This one isn’t broken?” I said no. “He said “was it ever broken?” I said no. He said “it’s the biggest big toe I have ever seen….” and with that he left. My friend and I lost it!! We had been up all night, getting chased out of mental hospitals and watching people die and give birth and this doctor has the nerve to insult my big toe!! It was just too much!! And to this day I have a complex about the size of my big toe.

I was back to dancing (in pain) within the week. My middle toe healed but my big toe never quite got over the slight from the doctor. I can’t complain because it has served me well over these 37 years. I have grown fond of it. I think it looks like a short, fat bald guy. Both of my big toes look like short, fat, bald guys. Maybe I should have stayed at the psych hospital….

Extraordinary Machine

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beautiful

I love my body. How unpopular a statement is that? I am lumpy and stretched and jiggly and slightly overweight. I know that is a bummer to the boys I used to know when I wasn’t all those things who friend me on Facebook and their first question is “do you still have that ass?” That makes me laugh.Of course I still have my ass. It’s not like I lost my ass somewhere over the last 15 years since I saw you!! . And when I get around my girlfriends I can bitch along with the best of them. But in my heart of hearts, I love my body. There is no logical reason for me to feel this way. I was a dancer and dancers have a notoriously mean attitude towards their bodies. I guess I am lucky that I was coming of age as the world of dance was changing. The idea of the skinny, anorexic dancer was outdated. Dancers were beginning to be received in all shapes and sizes. Dancers were being critiqued for their heart, their technique and their style rather than the narrowness of their hips or the non-existence of their breasts.

Again, this is not to say that I wasn’t touched by the Be Skinny bandwagon. I was.I tried really hard to have an eating disorder, but I really liked eating and really hated throwing up (see previous blogs). I was hard on my body for a few years. I drank diet soda and smoked cigarettes in an effort to not gain any weight.I danced every single day, most nights till 11 or 12 at night and then I would hit the clubs and keep going till 2 or 3 am. I was thin and in shape. Ask those boys who knew me when…apparently I had a killer pair of legs. I had no idea at the time…I was just having fun!

 Getting pregnant was an incredible experience. It was scary because I lost total control of my body shape and size, yet incredible because I didn’t have to be in control. And I was one of those pregnant ladies who got HUGE! I was pregnant all over my body. I was pregnant coming and going. And with my first it was really extreme. I was 106 pounds of muscle just getting out of college, dancing 12 hours a day and within 3 months I had gained 20 pounds and had Dolly Parton’s boobs. It was like puberty had finally arrived!!!

How cool is the female body? We grow people inside of us. Our bodies can go from 0-60 in just a few months and then back again. And while our bodies undergo these changes, and while we advance the society, we also hold down jobs and take care of the people in our lives. Our minds, housed within our bodies, are also incredible. Because when it comes time to give birth to the next generation, it is our minds that keep us grounded and able to get the job done. If not for will power and strength of mind, our bodies would just give up. Because not one of us wants to be born, or if we did we sure didn’t take the easy way out.

That’s the fun and good parts of what our bodies do for us as women. Our bodies curve in all the right places. Our body curve so that we can bend to tie a shoe or lift a child or fill in the space where a man doesn’t curve. Arms jiggly still have strength to hold the ones we love and sometimes ourselves when we can’t get what we need from someone else. Our thighs that rub together as we walk give us a sway. Womens bodies are beautiful as they are. Mine, yours, your mothers, your next door neighbor. Their bodies are fine art in motion.

And when our bodies fail us, really fail us, after so much time and admiration spent on dressing our bodies and undressing them and using them to reproduce and to give pleasure, when they fail us with a disease, it’s like we immediately hate our body for the betrayal. We get angry at our body. And we work hard at getting rid of the disease. I think my body isn’t against me when I am sick. I think my body is just as bummed as I am. My body longs to walk and run and dance. My body wants to move. My body is my companion on this journey.

When I was in hard labor with baby #2 I  had a chat with my baby and my body. I explained the easier we made this the faster it would happen. And then I went and pushed out a huge baby. I knew my body was incredible before this…now other people knew too. I know a woman who has been fighting a debilitating disease for years now. She had to fight with doctors and nurses and insurance companies and well meaning friends and family.Her body is incredible. It is no longer strong or perfect, but it is regaining it’s health and progressing. I know another woman who is battling breast cancer. I imagine how it would be to lose a breast to cancer. Or worse to have the cancer come back. Our bodies fight, our minds fight. It is instinctual. Because there is no way to take flight from our bodies.

Our bodies betray us when we don’t listen to them. There’s the fart let slide in yoga class, there’s the trickle of pee when you jump, there’s the smelly sweat that happens under stress. Part of being a human in a human body. We are organic, we are carbon, we are real. What’s not to love? Who’s to say that cellulite is the marker for being a bad person? Who’s to say that a flabby belly means we are not as special as the woman with the flat belly? We say. We judge and we are negative. We are the ones who hate our bodies. It’s so silly. I accept my body exactly the way it is. But I feel pressured when I am around other women to say things like “Oh God if I could just lose the last 30 pounds….” or “I HATE my arms and my fat thighs!!” and when I realize my daughters have heard these things come out of my mouth I am ashamed. Ashamed as I was when my mother or grandmother heard me say those things. Mainly because it’s mostly a lie.

I don’t want to be a skinny bitch. I am content with my body today. I would like to be healthier. I would like to be able to move again like I used to a few years ago. But I can’t today. And I don’t know if I ever will be able to. For me, there is so much more to life than pretty faces or flat bellies or toned arms. I’m not saying that I won’t try to accentuate the positives I have and downplay the negatives. I learned a few years ago that I have curves and they are beautiful and I can dress up my curves and feel great. I’m not less than just because I’m jiggly. I’ve got more depth in one of my jiggles than one would ever imagine.

  I look at my daughters and I love them, in all their stages of growth. Their sway backed, little girl bellies, their big feet, their knobby knees, their Beyoncé butt, I love all of them. I think their bodies are incredible. I hope they understand how incredible their bodies are. I have heard them complain with their girlfriends about their butt being too big, or their fat or they have really long arms….and any of that may be true. Their bodies are growing and changing. They will find out that their bodies are the coolest thing on earth no matter what anyone else says about them.

So when you look in the mirror and you just want to cry because your body doesn’t look like you think it should, remember not to should on yourself. Remember all of the incredible things your body has done just today, without you asking it to. When you look in the mirror, love your body for what it is and for what it does for you daily. It carries you, it allows you to work, to sleep, to show love to your friends and family. And it is beautiful especially because of all its curves, and rolls and lumps and bumps. It is magnificent because it is yours. And we, your friends, love your body because you live in it. Enjoy the changes…if you haven’t noticed, your body has been changing since birth and it’s going to keep right on changing. A woman’s body is the most incredible machine ever made. Every single woman, in every stage of life, fake or real, stretched or smooth, scarred or not has an incredible body. Love it. It’s ok, we won’t tell…..

(c) sparklingbytheway