Thoughts on body image and anchors

A comment from my last post got me thinking and I wanted to respond to her with this, but it was much too long to leave in the comments section. So, this post is for her.

My husband is half Polish and half Serbian. The matriarch of the Serbian half of his family was Grandma Mary. She was the epitome of every stereotype one has of what grandmas should be. She was sweet and kind, always filling you to overflowing with food and never ran short on love. I was fortunate enough to have a few short years with her before she passed away in 1998.

She was a member of St. George’s Serbian Orthodox Church in Lorain. At her funeral, her priest, a young, handsome man from the former Yugoslavia, gave a eulogy that has stuck with me. In my sadness over her passing, his words had a profound effect on me and they apply to so much, in so many instances.youaremore

He was talking about how we shouldn’t be sad that she died. She had gone on to do the thing God created her, created all of us, to do. He placed his hand on the highly polished casket and said, “Do not mourn this body. This is vanity.” He went on to explain that our bodies are only anchors to this earth and aren’t meant to last.

Anchors.

Think about anchors for a minute. What are they? They are nothing more than huge hunks of heavy metal that keep boats and ships from sailing off into the horizon. No one pays much attention to them or what they look like. Some anchors keep fishing boats in place so fishermen can catch dinner for their families, or trawlers can catch seafood for many families. Some anchors hold luxurious yachts in place, vessels so beautiful it staggers the imagination. Still others hold humble boats where they need to be so someone can travel from one place to the next. Regardless, anchors have one simple job and that’s all they’re good for, right?

Maybe.

Or they could be more.

The way I see it, they ARE more. Anchors, and the job they do, can be an allegory for ourselves and the lives we lead. Our bodies are like anchors, very much like what Grandma Mary’s priest said. They keep us here, focused in our lives, on what we are supposed to do. They are attached to the bigger picture of what our lives were meant to be. Some of us were meant to be here to tend to our families the best way we can. Some of us were meant to take care of others. Some people are here to lead beautiful lives, while still others are here to spread humility. None of those are possible without their heavy anchor.

If we can look at those yachts, trawlers and boats and see the goodness and beauty there without a second thought to what their anchors look like, why do we spend so much time on the vanity that surrounds what our bodies look like? The real beauty of what we are, what makes us the beautiful creatures God intended, is within us. It’s what we take with us when we’re called home. We leave our anchors behind and sail off into the horizon.

Remember that the next time you look in the mirror and criticize yourself.

You are more than your anchor.

You are more than your body.

Your body is linked to the very best you have to offer, and that is so much more than the outside.

Plus Size Mama is now available for pre-order here! Publication is May 10th!

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Just over a month away…

I’ve been crazy-busy. Getting a book out is no easy task. I find myself wishing that book publishing was more like the fantasy that existed in my head long before I wound up knee-deep in the quagmire that is writing. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? I had these dreams of working in my jammies (which I do, most days), typing away on my computer with a nice cup of tea and a snack (again, most days), and mailing off my manuscript to some wonderful group of elves who do all the other stuff for me.

My fantasy gets derailed somewhere past the snack.

There are no elves, folks. Just little, old me–emphasis on the old part lately.

Once the book is written there’s the dreaded waiting for edits. Then there’s the even more dreaded waiting for the second round of edits. This is WEEKS long. WEEKS. This workaholic, type A is not accustomed to this waiting. I want things done NOW NOW NOW. I’m worse than a three-year-old on Christmas Eve. The waiting is more than I can stand.

The next step isn’t terrible, but tedious. I have to go through the edits and actually correct all my boo-boos. If only things sprang from my head fully formed and perfect….

The next step is waiting–oh the waiting–for the proof copies to arrive so I can see if there are any mistakes made via the printing. There almost always are. So the book goes back to be corrected and more proof copies are sent to be checked. Hopefully, my anal retentive tendencies haven’t left any stones unturned and I can now sit back and….WAIT…for publishing day.

During these dreaded spans of waiting, I get to do all the marketing tasks like finding places for author events and creating flyers and business cards and memes and a million other things to try to get eyeballs on my work. Without eyeballs on my work I am doing nothing more than screaming into a room full of screaming people. Who is hearing me? Anyone? Bueller?

Sigh.

I spend countless hours trying to teach my brain that went to school in the Before Computers Age of Education how to use complicated programs that make beautiful flyers and such. I know just enough about computing devices to get myself into trouble. And by trouble I mean download a nasty virus that causes my husband to swear up a storm and wonder why he ever lets me near things that require fancy, newfangled technology like electricity. (Laugh, but while I spent all day today making a flyer…and I do mean ALL DAY…he spent the better part of the afternoon unclogging the kitchen drain. Dingbat Miranda managed to pack it full to the gills with a million pounds of spaghetti noodles that burned my hand yesterday.  They flopped down the drain quicker than I could save them, and our precious ears, from the swear words that greased the pasta’s way down the tubes.)

So, yeah, busy is my middle name these days. Raising two teenage boys and writing books. I love writing, don’t get me wrong. I’d sooner hack my arm off than quit. However, I need to somehow get better at this voodoo that I do. Better enough to afford elves. I definitely need elves, because this Plus Size Mama is ready for a vacation and publication day is just over a month away!

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Plus Size Mama: A writing life in 3 months

It took 3 months, but I did it. The rough draft of Plus Size Mama is finally finished. It goes off to the editor on Tuesday and, I must admit, I’m more than a little scared.

Writing a book is something I obviously love to do. As writers the world over will tell you, we want people to read our words. We want to put our word babies out there to touch lives. However, that means they are OUT THERE. People are SEEING them. It’s like taking your precious child and leaving it in the woods unattended for hours. Who, in their right mind, could do that and live with themselves???

Writers.

The vulnerability we open ourselves up to is crazy, but it’s part of the beast, right? What’s the point in putting words on paper and then hiding them from the world? There isn’t one. Especially when it comes to this book. I’m really proud of it.

It is very positive and up-lifting, which, those who know me personally, will be shocked to find. I am forever the pessimist, more inclined to operate on the worst case scenario than the best. However, when it comes to the weight loss journey I’ve been on for the better part of two decades, finding success only in the last five months, I’ve found I need to stay positive to succeed. I’ve been doing my best to look on the brighter side and focus on the positive. I truly believe we find in life that which we focus on. Focus on the bad, and that is what will rise to the top. Focus on the good, and, well, your cup runneth over.

And, oddly enough, this little book helped me through a dark period of my life that had nothing to do with weight loss and more to do with growing as a parent. While I can’t share those details here, suffice it to say, I’ve grown. My family has grown. The dark clouds are finally beginning to fade and the sun is shining through. My little corner of the world is looking up, friends. Thankful doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings.

These past three months have been the busiest, most emotional, most challenging I’ve had in decades. Hands down. But here, on the other side, I want to scoop up my kids, my hubby and my book and drag the whole mess down this path and scream to the winds, “WE DID IT, GUYS!!!!”

We wrote a book.

We survived a crisis.

We are stronger.

We love more.

We look up more.

We hug more.

We “all good things” more.

Who couldn’t use more of that?

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Alan Rickman had me at one word: Always

I’ve written before about the phenomenon that baffled me when people cry over celebrities dying. I thought they were off their rockers, until it happened to me in August 2013 with the death of Robin Williams. Well, 2016 proved that it isn’t just the funny guy that owned my ice-cold heart. Today Alan Rickman passed away at 69 years old. And I wept like a baby.

I remember him from movies when I was younger like Die Hard and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and several others. He was an actor who was chameleon-like in his roles, changing his appearance and accent to the point of almost being unrecognizable. I remember being in awe of that sort of talent and bravery. In a business where your face and voice are your product, obscuring those in any way could be dangerous to your career, but Rickman proved otherwise.

I’ve got to be honest here, though. As much as I enjoyed his roles and admired his craft, he was never an actor whose work I sought out. It wasn’t like I ever said, “Ooooh, Alan Rickman has a new movie out that I simply MUST see.” That is, of course, until a little wizard grabbed hold of my soul in 1999. I gobbled up the books as quickly as I possibly could, and, right along with most others, hated the character of Snape for being so mean to our heroes. That is until the end. When I realized that Snape was my favorite character of all.

And then the movies came out and Rickman was cast.

My love for that boy wizard grew with each movie, something foreign to this bookworm who usually hates Hollywood’s adaptations of my beloved books. Rickman did such a wonderful job of portraying the Snape that lived in my head that I can’t read those books without envisioning him. No other character from the movies has replaced the others in my mind. Just him. In fact, I don’t recall any actor, EVER, replacing the character that lived in my head. That is saying something, friends.

I watch the Harry Potter movies once a year in a movie marathon with my kids. I sob every time at the end. I cry when Snape begs Harry to take his tears so he can finally tell his side of the story. This scene tugs at my heart:

It’s that last line coupled with the image of Lily Potter in Snape’s arms that sealed Alan Rickman’s place in my heart forever.

Rickman’s end is bittersweet, but he leaves behind a legacy, an immense amount of art that speaks volumes for his talent and craft. But, no matter what role he played, he will remain in my heart, the unsung hero of a tale about a boy wizard. He will be the unlikely, however faithful, friend who kept a promise to his one true love until his dying breath. Always.

Celebrate the small victories

Raising teenagers is tough work. Every parent knows this. Much of our time is spent in constant battle about homework, attitude, fashion, showering and a million other endless and mind-numbing topics. Most days I consider it a victory if I make it through the evening with only one of my two teenagers not speaking to me.

Communication is so difficult at this age that I find myself yearning for their younger selves. Who would have thought I’d miss the days where Elmo and Max and Ruby were topics I’d want to talk about? I remember thinking that my brain was going to turn to liquid and pour out of my ears if I had to watch those two rabbits one. More. Time. Now, I’d give my left arm to have anything to talk to them about that made them WANT to converse with me.

I got my wish today with some of the saddest news the music industry had to suffer. My oldest son and I share a love of music, much of the same music, an eclectic taste that my husband does not understand. Jimmy called me.

“Mom, did you hear that David Bowie died?”

“Yeah, I did. It’s sad. He was only 69.”

We talked for a good fifteen minutes about him, about his music and his influence on culture. We talked about his songwriting and his collaborations with other musicians and the career that spanned decades.

He ended the conversation with, “I just wanted to talk to you about this. I know we aren’t huge fans, but I thought we’d need to talk about this. To process it.”

My 15 year-old son brought me to tears with one word. We.

It occurred to me that this was one of those moments parents need to cling to, one of the small victories. My mind hung on those two letters like a drowning man to a life raft. In this sea of teenage angst, wandering in a forest of parental confusion, we became a sliver of light at the end of a pitch-black tunnel. My heart soared.

Find your moment, parents. Find your “we.” And cling to it with all you have.

 

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7 Reasons It’s Great Being the Only Girl in a House Full of Boys

There are so many reasons that females find it difficult to live with males. However, everyone overlooks the plus side to being with them. I am drowning in boys at my house. I’ve learned to love being the only woman. Here are my top seven reasons it’s great being the only girl in a house full of boys.

1. I am the only one in the house who has a period. This means there is no sync up with cycles, no dually bitchy days. It’s just me and Aunt Flo facing off. The other upside to being the only one with a period is that boys are afraid of that monthly occurrence. One raised hand and an “I’m on my period. Do you want to re-think that eyeroll?” is all it takes to stop the shenanigans. Whether it’s the fear of my hormonal wrath or simply the gross factor, I don’t know and I don’t care. All eyerolls cease to exist for 5 to 7 days.

2. Humongous savings in toilet paper. Think about it. Boys only need paper to wipe once, maybe twice a day. Us girls can tear through some shit paper. So all those families piled high with girls are sending off their hard earned cents to the cheap toilet paper, because splurging is a cost they can ill afford. I’m over here with the happiest asses in town because the expensive butt paper is what I buy. I get the final say in that because I use it more. Bonus!

3. I get to avoid watching how my kids sit when they are really small. Every mother has to worry about table manners and teaching their kids to be polite, but women with girls have extra worries. They have to constantly monitor whether their legs are closed and they aren’t lifting their dresses to display their underpants for the world to see. I don’t have that worry, thank God. Boys are so wiggly and loud that just getting them to sit still is enough. As long as their butts are touching the seat, we are good to go.

4. My clothes are all mine. Relatives with teenage girls are constantly complaining that their daughters are stealing their clothes. I don’t have that worry. That peach colored scarf with the sparkles and fringe is mine, all mine, baby.

5. I get a free pass to enjoy guy movies. When my girlfriends ask me what I’m going to see and I tell them, I get the sad look. “Poor thing. All those boys. It must be tough not having a girl around.” Yeah, sure. Have you SEEN Thor? Iron Man? An entire two hours with Robert Downey, Jr. and Chris Hemsworth is just breaking my damn heart. Now pass that rag so I can mop up all this drool.

6. I own the only Get Out of Uncomfortable Conversations Free card in the house. Basically, this boils down to my not having a penis of my own. When topics related to penises pop up, excuse the pun, I have my Get Out of Uncomfortable Conversations Free card. It comes in the form of “Go ask your father.” Seriously, I have no answers when my kid comes to me and asks why his penis is hurting or how one should place one’s penis when trying on tight jeans. And, while I have the answer to one of the most embarrassing questions I’ve been asked (“Why does my pee pee keep standing up when I play with Amy?”), I still pass that shit on to Dad. I was never intended to answer these hard questions. All my goodies are on the inside, decidedly unsquished by the seams of my jeans.

7. When the kids are teens, school mornings are so much faster. I don’t have to waste time checking for modesty. There are no long conversations about hooker makeup and socially acceptable amounts of cleavage. I just give the boys a good, healthy sniff as they walk out the door. As long as no one smells like a goat, all is well.

So, now you know why, when approached by other women who ask me, “Oh, don’t you want to try for a girl?” that I shiver with disdain. No, I don’t want to try for a girl. I’m absolutely happy over here with my perfectly pampered butt, drooling over the latest big screen superhero.


 

 

(Video posted by heat on Wednesday, November 18, 2015 and shared here.)