27 September 2014

Thinking Ahead to Fall

Fall is one of my very favorite times of year.  The weather cools (well not here today, but ...) and the air feels crisp, the leaves change, and there is a sense of anticipation.  Even as a kid, when I wouldn't necessarily look forward to going back to school, I still enjoyed it when fall actually announced itself.

For me, and maybe also for you, it means switching out most of what is in my closet and dresser drawers.  The shorts, sleeveless tops, and sandals get put away to make room for heavier clothes, shoes, and boots.  I like to change purses as well, and update my makeup.  Granted, this doesn't all take me that long, since it's not like I have so much stuff to work with, but I am still determined this year to do it more thoughtfully.  Too often I keep things because of "maybe" - as in, maybe it's better than not having a blue shirt, etc. at all, maybe it will fit again/fit better next year - you get the drift.  Then when I pull it out the next year, I feel obliged to keep it.

Not this time.  I am prepared to be serious about what I actually keep and donate what I can.  Other stuff will either be repurposed, or thrown away.  And I'm going to apply this rule of mine to everything I put away.  Another bonus is that it will mean taking up less storage space, and in our house that's always a good thing.

Will it actually happen?  Can I do it?  Well, I'll keep you posted, wish me luck!

17 September 2014

Thoughts on Body Image

I have been thinking a lot lately about the topic of body image.  Probably  because lately I have also been thinking a lot about my body.  Some thoughts that are mine are below, and I am not claiming to have the answer, or be perfect.  But I just felt like telling you - of course, that does not mean you even have to read any more of this, but if you do, please know that I do not mean to sound superior, OK?

For as long as I can remember, I have been out of the loop, so to speak, on this topic.  I was fortunate as a kid and then again as a teenager to never, ever have my mother say anything about whether I was fat, skinny, tall, short, whatever.  I also am not aware of her ever saying anything like that about my sisters either.  Don't get me wrong, it's not like she was above saying, "Wow, So-and-So looks like she gained weight," or similar, but it was not something she was always talking about.

Now of course, I was surrounded by other people and their parents who seemed obsessed with weight, appearance, boyfriends, etc.  And who longed to look like certain movie stars or models.  Mostly I thought they were kind of stupid.

It really and truly never, ever, occurred to me that I was *supposed* to look anything like women in fashion magazines.  Oh, I would wish I had some of the clothes or shoes, and often I wished I had the hair/hairstyle, but I can truly say that I never saw those women as having anything directly to do with me or how I looked.  And it's not like I was super well-adjusted - trust me, I had (and still have) PLENTY of my own issues!

As an adult, it's definitely been a good thing that I have never been obsessed with body image.  I've certainly been on the cusp of overweight on more than one occasion, and I've also wished plenty of times that I could fit into last year's slacks or jeans.  I've been dismayed when I couldn't, and had to buy new ones in a larger size.  However, I've lived through this without a feeling of shame or devastation.

This has served me well, after several major surgeries.  My body is now a series of scars that look like a road map for medical students who have wanted to practice doing surgery!  Things are messy, misshapen, not the same size, and even puffy.  I always tell The Tim that I have no plans to donate my body to science, since at this point, science already has most of it!

Though I'm not in any way sure that it was a conscious action on the part of my parents, I am grateful that my growing up focused on things other than appearance.  I've never thought I am ravishingly beautiful, but then again, I've never been convinced that I am ugly.  Likewise, I've never worried about being "fat" or what size my clothes happened to be - particularly in relationship to anyone else.

I wish more people could feel this way.  I am not convinced that it's fashion magazines and advertising that are completely to blame for our society's obsession with looks, weight, etc.  I think it was a problem long before Vogue put super-thin supermodels on the cover, or before Kate Moss and/or others were forced on us as the epitome of beautiful women.  For anyone feeling self-conscious about themselves already, or who thinks that what others say about them is the most important thing, I think life must be a series of miserable days, and I wish that they were able to move beyond it.  I'm sure that the barrage of images and messages about body image needing to be a certain way doesn't help.
I don't know that there is an easy answer.  I think that the fault lies within ourselves, and until *we* let it all go, we're gonna keep passing it on to the next generation.  That is what bothers me.  When I think of the mothers of my friends who would tell them not to eat dessert so they wouldn't get fat, or the girls at school who would call others fat, or ugly, or whatever, I am amazed that so many years later, it still happens.  All the time.

If you think of it, and ever find yourself doing it, please stop.  None of us need that kind of criticism and pressure.  We all need a break.

08 September 2014

Makeup Uniform?

As you know, I love clothes, shoes, makeup, jewelry - well, all that kind of stuff.  However, I do not have the time or the money or even the desire to spend my life in search of something new, better, or prettier all of the time.  Granted, I do buy things, but like most people, my job and our bills get in the way of leading a glamorous, all-leisure life!

In addition, since my surgery, I am still at the point where most things take me a long time to do.  Certainly I am improving in small ways each day, but a week from today, I have to return to work.  I'm not thrilled about it, because my job has become pretty unpleasant ever since our museum affiliated with another local institution.  But it *is* a job, and it will be nice to start getting a paycheck again, since I have been unpaid while on medical leave.

I'd been thinking about all of this, and how my morning routine might need some adjustments, at least for the near future.  Granted, putting on my makeup is not something that takes a long time for me, at least not for every day (I will take my time and make an effort for special occasions), but if other things take longer, I'll need to take that into consideration.  Last week, while reading blogs that I follow on various topics, I came across this post, and decided that having a makeup "uniform" would not be a bad thing.  I spent most of my life wearing uniforms to school, and it was nice to not have to spend time every single morning thinking about/deciding what to wear.  (Though it was daunting to then get to college and suddenly have to think of such things!)

So whereas Tamira was writing her post talking about how she often ends up using the very same things every day, even though she has never consciously decided on a makeup uniform, I have decided this is just the kind of thing I need for my return to work.

I don't wear a *whole* lot of makeup to start with, but I have been known to take way too much time to decide whether or not to wear eyeshadow/eyeliner, and then take even longer to decide which one out of the few choices I have.  My new plan is to have a "uniform" for the week, that does not vary for the most part; I can take the time for choices for special occasions or on days when I am feeling particularly inspired.

I really think - and sincerely hope - this will allow me to go back to work feeling a little bit more polished and confident, without worrying about how long I am taking, and possibly getting to work late as a result.

Because let's face it, "my dog ate my homework" is one type of excuse, but "I had a hard time deciding on eye makeup" is a whole 'nother issue ...


05 September 2014

Walking the Walk

I have always enjoyed walking.  And I am fortunate enough to live close enough to where I work to walk back and forth, thus being the only one responsible for how long my commute takes.

Since my surgery, the only physical exercise that is allowed to me is walking - at least until the end of October.  The first week or so, making it around the block was exhausting.  Since then, I've been making reasonable progress, and increasing the distance little by little.  I try to take a walk twice a day, which has not been a problem until this past week, when it has been ridiculously hot and humid here.  But I've still managed to get two walks in - though usually the one in the morning is longer, since it's more bearable, temperature-wise.

The thing that I have noticed though, is that most of the other people I see who are out walking don't look like they are walking for pleasure or exercise.  Rather, they are clearly on their way to something/someplace else, with a specific destination or purpose in mind.  I'll easily admit that a lot of the time, I'm in that situation as well.

But I am now reminded of how wonderful it is to walk just to go out and walk.  You know, because it's a nice day, and being outside is pleasant.  Or even not, but you want to get out of the house even though you have no particular reason to do so.

I would encourage you to take a walk.  Even if it is only for ten minutes a day.  First of all, that little bit of  movement is better than none at all.  But more importantly, taking a walk can do so much.  You notice things, because you are taking your time, and not thinking of the next thing (at least in theory).  You can take the time to think about things, and sometimes clear your head of lots of worries and cobwebs.  It's alone time if you want it to be, or the perfect time to catch up with a friend without a thousand interruptions.  For the most part, you don't need to buy any special equipment or clothes to do it - you can just get dressed and go.

This time around with my surgery and my walking, I've had so much time to think, to enjoy the world around me, and to decide that I am going to try more than ever to live in the present, and take my time with my life.  I think I'm around so many people who are always in a hurry, or bragging about how well they multitask, that I get caught up in it without even realizing that it is happening.  I feel stressed so much of the time, and it's as much because of everyone and everything around me as it is things that I personally have going on in my life.

I am lucky.  I have a nice life.  And I want to start to appreciate and enjoy it more.  Because I am here now, and I can.

And I'm going to be sure to keep walking.