I Feel Pretty – Why Not?

Lately I’ve been enjoying photos of some friends who are my age. For example, Kathy, who I know from high school, has been sharing a sweater she knitted every day this month, and it’s been so fun to see what she’s made, and I’ve envied that she lives in Colorado now and actually gets to wear them.

Also, though, I’ve been enjoying how she looks in each photo. She just glows with happiness, her eyes shine, and her smile is bright. So what if she just had another birthday? This is my idea of beauty, because her beauty as a human being shines through.

Yes, she made that herself. Check out mountainpurl on Ravelry for more!

In my family, we sometimes talk about how the pandemic hasn’t been kind to our figures or that all the stress is showing in how we look and feel. I know I sometimes look in a mirror and wonder who the heck that is looking back.

Unretouched photo of me, today, with hair no longer blue.

It’s really tempting to focus on the obvious signs that I’m not a kid anymore. Those lip wrinkles make me look like a long-time smoker (I never smoked!), the jowls make me wonder if I’ll look like Droopy Dog eventually (my great aunt did). And the neck. Eww. That’s enough, though I could go on.

Other parts of me are fascinating, too. I have interesting new moles and marks (yes I get them looked at), my stomach is at its poochiest (and it’s pooched since birth), and while my breasts finally got larger than an A cup, they have been defeated by gravity.

So What?

Yeah! I’m mentioning all this stuff, because when I looked in the mirror this morning, I saw this new me and I was fine with her. I don’t exactly recognize her sometimes, but I like her. When she’s happy, she really looks pleased. When she’s down (or thinking, in a Zoom meeting), she looks like my dad or my brother, so at least I’m still a member of my family.

This is nowhere near as awful as I look in some meetings. But, it’s me.

And I feel so free to dress and act however is comfortable to me. That was a long time coming. I used to try to dress to portray membership in my group (hippies, corporate employees, cowboys). Now it’s more like, what looks fun today?

Cowgirl time (2014).

I wish I could find the article I recently read about people who identify as women and their relationship with makeup. It talked about the conflict between so many young women claiming makeup gives them freedom with the thoughts of many of us older feminists who feel that requiring makeup of women, but not men, is another sexist vestige.

I think back to what I’ve spent on makeup, hair stuff, nail stuff, etc., and know I have gotten some company executives richer. It’s a conflict for me, for sure. I don’t think I NEED makeup, nail polish, or blue hair to be attractive. I don’t NEED overly coordinated clothing, either. I could wear jeans and a t-shirt every day the rest of my life and be fine. But, dressing up is fun. I guess it’s a part of my cultural identity as a Western woman that I can’t get rid of completely.

That’s right. The outfit even has a coordinating mask.

At least I acknowledge it! And that’s the thing. I want to encourage all my friends to love who they are at the age they are and feel pretty, all over. We’re here, we’re alive, and we’re creative. Let’s not hide who we are, but shine like Kathy in all her sweaters! It’s all GREAT.

Can We Counteract the Negativity?

While I do spend a lot of time on Facebook and Instagram, they aren’t my only source of information. I see so much negativity everywhere these days that it gets exhausting. And I get it: there’s a lot to be negative about, and lots of it’s legit! But, I’m wondering if maybe, just maybe, we could conspire together to cut our fellow humans some slack, not just the faceless “they” we’re all upset with, but also the people in our extended social circle – friends, family, acquaintances.

This is about as perfect as folks I know get!

I shared my passive-aggressive Facebook memes post again on Facebook yesterday, when I realized I was getting overwhelmed with people saying how others should defriend them if they don’t agree with their politics or religious beliefs, if they make certain kinds of mistakes, etc. And some of the things are just so judgmental of others. It hurts me, even if I don’t think the judgment is about me (I guess I figure there but for the grace of God…).

I know most of my circle of friends and acquaintances are messed up people. I’m absolutely sure of it. I know they have done things they regret. I know they’ve treated others unkindly. I know they’ve been snippy or rude. I know they fail to meet the expectations of others. How do I know that? Because they’re all fallible human beings, just like me, and it’s just human to screw up or disappoint others.

My plan is what I said earlier today on Facebook.

I can do it, yes I can. Maybe. I’ll try.

There is just SO MUCH going on right now. No one is at their best. We are all short-tempered, anxious, confused, fearful, angry, exhausted, or some combination of those. We are going to say and do things that don’t reflect our highest selves sometimes. I know I have, and I hope I’ve apologized to all the right people!

Life is hard, and it’s gonna stay that way for a while. Actually, life is rarely easy for most of us. That’s how it goes!

You take the good, you take the bad,
You take them both and there you have
the facts of life, the facts of life.

Ancient television sitcom theme

And on a less silly note, a Facebook friend reminded me of The Four Agreements, which is worth reading and applying to your life, if you haven’t. I can usually tell when a colleague or friend keeps these principles in mind:

Stuff to think about. And if you realize you aren’t good at some of this stuff, it’s okay, just keep trying. I know I’m working on 2c and 3b – I can really say things in unclear ways, to my own regret!

You can’t change the behavior of others, but you CAN change your own behavior. I’m going to keep trying to assume the people around me are doing the best they can, even if they piss me off, are mean to me (that’s for my sister), or otherwise screw up/disappoint me. How about you? Ready to rise above the negativity?

PS: I know it’s hard. Oh boy, do I know it’s hard!

You Know You’re Feeling Overwhelmed When…

I admit it. I am overwhelmed. I hit my wall and it hurt. Actually, what hurts appears to be a sinus infection on the left side of my head. I hope I can nip it in the bud without antibiotics, since I am not fond of those.

Word of the day.

But yeah, yesterday, as things kept coming in for work, as I kept being confused about the new way to do things and messing it up, as my team asked for support while my management repeated that what they want isn’t important, I also had to run a meeting, prepare the agenda, and be secretary for the monthly Master Naturalist group. And I had to start putting together another newsletter for Friends of La Leche League, even though we are losing members due to our broken e-commerce system. Plus, the deal with my older son decided to poke its head up and cause me to plunge into despair again (son quit talking to me and won’t say why, and even got married without telling me; I usually cope okay, just right now I’m not). And don’t forget I’m trying to help out with the family business when asked.

I am low on batteries, too.

I just took yesterday afternoon off and slept. That enabled me to get my evening stuff done. But that’s not a daily choice! It’s too bad that telling myself to take things one day (or hour) at a time, stop trying to do everything right when I’m confused, remember I’m just fine the way I am just isn’t working at the moment. That calls for me reminding myself that life isn’t an uphill climb; sometimes you fall down into a valley and start again.

I’m good with that.

What doesn’t help is lying in bed trying to figure out how to quit everything and just hang out with the dogs, chickens, and equines at the ranch. That, in itself, is a huge and overwhelming undertaking, as my mind firmly reminded me. I was just wallowing in self pity last night.

Then, when I woke up this morning, I realized I have the major PTSD over the events on this date years ago, when I was lost at O’Hare and trapped in Schaumburg, Illinois without my children (and the totally un-supportive husband who only wanted to get rid of me). Well, no wonder I’m not at the top of my game. I just need to accept this.

Good time to publish a post.

I think I’ll just do what I can at work, and psyche myself up for the one hard meeting, then go home and hug the ranch. This is only temporary, and life will, as always, have its ups and downs. Onward, and I hope, upward!

Acceptance of the New Normal

I’m betting the UU Lent creators didn’t realize the meanings some of their words would take on as the Lenten period went on. Acceptance is probably on everyone’s minds right now. As the Tiny Buddha points out, you really don’t have much of a choice but to accept.

You are so right. Tiny Buddha.

It very well could be that a lot of the anxiety and sleepless nights we’re dealing with today is from wanting to make things different, to go back to our old lives, to not feel trapped. But, that ain’t happening. This is what we have!

Perky little Suna, typing away.

Some days it’s easier than others. I realized with a jolt, just yesterday, that all this isolation, mask wearing, hand washing, and dread of learning the latest news felt totally normal, like it’s always been this way. It’s only been a MONTH!

I get upset with myself for feeling bad, knowing I’m lucky to have jobs that keep me earning money, at least for now, and am “essential,” so I can drive to work and back (for excitement, I take the OTHER route!). I’m not alone, either, which is a blessing, even for a hermit. I should be ashamed of myself?

At least I have a giant monitor. And blog readers, according to my stats.

NO! Every single one of us has had their lives changed really suddenly. Sure, some of us are dealing with different types of challenges than others, some are in more danger than others, and some have lost loved ones. But NO ONE’S grief, anxiety, sadness, or worry is better or worse than anyone else’s. I will do my best not to judge myself or others.

Accepting the new normal. The ranch is always here.

Support and kindness are what we need. If you need to vent, I’ll listen. And if I have to whine about how little I slept last night, my horrible dreams about my lost son, or my worries about others, I appreciate you for listening to me!

Keeping each other healthy means keeping our distance. It’s important. But our mental health still relies on our community. Thank you all.