Thursday, March 28, 2013

Weekly Photo Challenge: Future Tense

On a trip to New York City in August 2010, I stopped in the Times Square Visitor Center. Each visitor was allowed to choose from the colorful squares of tissue paper provided and on each one, write a wish for the coming year. These wishes were placed in the box and saved for New Year's Eve. When the ball dropped to ring in 2011, the tissue paper confetti was released over Time's Square. I placed two wishes in the box. When I watched the ball drop on TV that year I felt connected to the celebration there, knowing that my wishes were floating around with so many others. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

My Body

            Last week, I faced the unpleasant task of shopping for a new bathing suit. It’s been a couple years since I bought a new one and my body has changed quite a bit since then. I didn’t expect it to be a fun shopping trip, but I knew I wanted a simple tankini and thought it would be fairly easy to find. Boy, was I wrong. The first afternoon, I went to JC Penny’s, Macy’s and Kohls with no luck. The second day, I hit TJ Maxx, Target and Ross with no success and some serious frustration. Sure, I was finding suits and trying them on but everything was either too small or too big. It felt like a suit was created for either a skinny teenager or a woman trying to hide her body. A size 8 in one brand was definitely not a size 8 in a different brand. Like most women I know, I’m a different size on top than bottom, so all of the suits sold as a pair were a no go. By the third day, I had given up but figured I’d make one more stop on my way home from work. I hit the jackpot at REI and found what I was looking for. I even had multiple choices! Granted, I paid almost three times what I thought I would, but I didn’t even hesitate. I wore the suit a few days later on my anniversary trip to a hot spring and was very pleased with it.
            After that second disappointing shopping trip, I voiced my frustration on FaceBook with a funny status update. My incredible women friends responded with gusto. Many of them related to my experience, and they made me laugh but also reminded me that I’m my harshest critic and that instead of being so hard on how my body looks, I should instead be reminding myself of how many amazing things it allows me to do.
            Before observing it in terrible mirrors under harsh department store lighting, I had in fact been appreciating my body lately. Just a few years ago, I was dealing with symptoms and diagnoses that led me to believe my body was quitting on me. After years of bouncing from one specialist to another, and receiving a series of incorrect diagnoses, each of which came with ineffective medications and a bunch of unpleasant side effects, I had in fact given up on ever feeling “normal” again and had resigned myself to a life of chronic discomfort and physical limitations.
            It was about a year ago that a wise woman who provides me with guidance suggested I start looking for ways to enrich my life, to focus on making myself happy. “What’s on your bucket list?” she asked. “Give some of those things a try”. And that’s how, a few months later, I found myself joining a roller derby team. I figured that if my body was going to be sore for no reason, I might as well give it a reason.
            It’s been a long haul but joining derby is one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. There are often times when I’m in the middle of a drill, skating as hard as I can and in my head I’m screaming “I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M DOING THIS!”. And oddly enough, the more active I am the less my body hurts from my health issues. I’m doing things in practice every week that I literally thought I would never be able to do physically. I constantly amaze myself. I wonder why it’s so easy to forget all that when I’m closed in a tiny fitting room struggling into a polka dot bikini in the middle of winter.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

You Know What They Say...

      Over the past few days, one of my childhood friends passed away and another one gave birth to a baby girl. I've found myself thinking in cliches, inserting "life is short" into conversations. I've had that Byrd's song stuck in my head "To everything (Turn! Turn! Turn!), There is a season (Turn! Turn! Turn!)".  I've been pondering my existence, asking myself what have I done with my life? Or not done? Or have to show for my 34 years on this planet? It's left me exhausted and grasping to right my world again.
       One thing that has been undeniably clear to me these days is how thankful I am for FaceBook. That's probably not what one would expect to hear as a response to my contemplation of The Universe. Both of the amazing women I mentioned were classmates of mine from elementary through high school. I'd lost touch with them both but about five years ago, we found each other through FaceBook and I consider them "real" friends. They both have been loving and supportive as I've faced challenges and successes in recent years. For the past week, I'd been checking FaceBook non-stop, waiting for news of the baby's birth and instead, first received the news of a different nature. I'll admit it's a strange beast, FaceBook, but I don't think people give it enough credit. I know my life is different and fuller thanks to all the people I've reconnected with that never would have crossed my path again.
         As I pounded through my run today, I looked around and thought,I have it pretty darn good. The things that were a big deal on Saturday suddenly weren't a big deal anymore compared with the sad news I received on Sunday. I don't know the answers to the great questions of life. I do know most of the cliches are true. Life is what you make it. What have I done with my life? I don't really know how to answer that, but I've been reminded that every day truly is a gift.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

An Update

I haven't posted many blog entries this year, which is ironic since one of my New Year's Resolutions was to write every day. The funny thing is I have been writing every day, which I hadn't done in a long time.  At the beginning of this year, I bought a book for writers that includes a daily prompt. It gives me  a different topic to write about each day, for example "You're in a tent" or "Write about saying goodbye". The idea is to go with the first thought that pops into your head and continue writing for as long as you can. I usually set my kitchen timer for 30 minutes and don't put my pencil down til it dings. When I first got the book, I did a couple writing sessions and thought "This is awesome! I'm going to get so many blog posts out of this!" and I think I will... eventually. The process has turned out to be a bit different than I expected. With my daily writing exercises, I'm doing some really good work, but also some bad work and most of it falls somewhere in between. Because my writing style is pretty consistently first person non-fiction essay, much of what I write is fairly personal and a lot of that is not quite ready for public viewing yet. The cool thing is that these exercises are reminding me of some awesome experiences I've had and stories that I'd like to share. That's part of the reason I like participating in the photo challenges as well. It allows me to pull a single moment of time, one special memory, and tell its story. It's only been two months, but already I like to flip through my spiral notebook of daily writing and see where my thoughts go. I can't wait to see what I have at the end of the year. Hopefully the fruits of my labor will be showing up on this site soon!