This Moment

Sometimes on my drive into work, I take the route past my old high school.  No particular reason, I just get bored with the same drive everyday so I shake it up occasionally.  Today was one of those mornings.    There is a lot of activity in this area, since there is an elementary school on the block as well. As I was stopped at a light, I noticed kids being dropped off by parents, running to meet their group of friends outside the school doors.  Other students were fumbling with their orange safety belts, trying to untangle them as they put them on, preparing to guard their corners.   One girl had her arms extended in the “don’t cross the street” position, her face lifted up, eyes closed with a huge smile on her face.  She did not care in the least if people were watching her.  She was just enjoying the sunshine, the moment.  Most of these kids were smiling.  As I sat there, I could just sense their joy.    The joy of being 14, the joy of being pretty much carefree, even if they don’t consciously realize it yet.  The joy of hanging out with their friends, even if that means attending 7 hours of school.  The joy of counting down the days until summer vacation.  (Is there any better feeling in the world than when that final bell rings on the last day of school?  I wish we could bottle that.)  The fear of being arrested stopped me but I wanted to jump out of my car and yell “Enjoy this time of your life.  Savor it.  Don’t wish it away! Hold tight to it for as long as you can. You will miss it.”  The light finally turned green and I drove away.

I understand that many did not have an ideal childhood.  Trust me when I say I am one of those.  But even through that pain and hurt, I can still look back at some of those days with sweetness and a longing to be truly carefree again.  Free from the worry of mortgage payments, free from the 9 to 5 grind, from the ever constant fretting over my children, even if they are grown adults.  (Maybe even more so now that they are!)  Free from always thinking ahead to the next commitment, the next appointment on my calendar, the next deadline for work.  The next “thing” I have to do.

I truly am thankful for my life.  I don’t want to appear ungrateful.  I guess I just want to re-learn how to exist more in the moment.   How to genuinely appreciate what is happening at this exact minute in my life.  To spread out my arms, lift my face to the sky and just be.

arms wide

Beauty

I need a new bathing suit.  Fun times, right?  Does any woman truly enjoy shopping for a swimsuit? My money would be on the “no” answer.   Even when I was 16 and a size 9, in what would sadly be the best shape of my life, I hated my body.  I was too tall, too fat, etc.   Fast forward a few years, post-babies, I didn’t worry much about swimsuit shopping since there was no way I would be caught dead in one.    When my daughter hit her teen years, I had finally dropped most of my “baby weight”. (Better late than never.) But no amount of cocoa butter made those pesky stretch marks disappear which just added to the whole swimsuit anxiety.

Now just north of 50, with a metabolism that decided to retire and an appetite that didn’t, I’m on the verge of hyper-ventilating just thinking about searching for the right suit.   So before I venture into the swimsuit shops this weekend I’ll Google “which bathing suits are most flattering for your problem areas” and try to find the best recommendations.  Because those are always spot on, aren’t they?

But in all seriousness, as I think about this, I start to get indignant.  Why do we always let culture determine what is beautiful and what isn’t?   This is nothing new, it has been happening since the beginning, but with our current screen generation and selfie-centered world, it has now become a never ending bombardment of images of “perfection” that most of us just can’t attain.  Who decided that a size 2 is the ultimate actualization of worth and beauty? Or that once you hit 40 your value diminishes. (We have such a fear of aging in our country.  But that’s a blog for another day.)  I’m just weary of all of it.

How do we push-back against this? I’m not exactly sure of the answer.  There is just so much being thrown at us. One thing I do know is I’ll continue to speak life into my daughter and granddaughters, to remind them that their value and worth has zero to do with the outside, and much to do with the inside, the heart.  That compassion is beautiful.   Kindness matters.  And that a wonderful place to begin is with yourself.

kindness

Wishes

I had my first child when I was just 18.  A baby having a baby. I loved that little girl instantly and tried to be as good a mom as an 18-year-old could be.  But it was tough.  Add 2 more children into the mix and it became even more difficult.  I don’t ever remember not having children.   As diapers changed to potty training, preschool changed to elementary school and scraped knees turned to broken hearts, I remember thinking how exhausted I was.  How I could not wait for a living room without toys scattered everywhere, or not having to deal with homework each night, or not having to struggle to afford school clothes.  I wished for more hours in the day.  I wished for more money.  I wished for more “me” time.  I wished. I wished. I wished.  Now as my last child prepares to move out, I have different wishes.  I wish I would have taken the time to snuggle more before bedtimes, I wish I would have not chosen a clean floor over playdough, I wish I would have spent more time being silly in the puddles instead of worrying about tracking up my kitchen floor.  I wish I hadn’t been so easily irritated when they asked me to read yet ANOTHER book.  I wish I had savored more of the tiny moments that make up life. I wish I could turn back the clock.  I wish my heart wasn’t breaking into a zillion little pieces because my youngest is leaving.  I wish.

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Roll Me Away

For a variety of reasons, the past few weeks of my life have been tough ones.  Some big changes have taken place and I’m suddenly in a spot that has kind of taken me by surprise.  One I knew was coming eventually but happened quite unexpectedly.  It’s caused me to be a bit more reflective on where I’m at in this stage of my life.   When you look at your age and realize that when you double it, you’re probably not going to be walking this planet, you start to see things a little differently.  I’ve heard all the comments “A person could get hit by a truck tomorrow”, “you never know how long you have”, blah blah blah.   But lets’ be honest.  25 sure sounds a lot more appealing than 55.

This season of my life can be summed up as restless.  I’m restless for more purpose.  I’m restless for what I’ve wasted.  I’m restless for what could have been, what can be.  There is a stirring in me, a voice that’s whispering, you’re running out of time.  It’s now or never.  There aren’t many productive years left.  Now, before my husband thinks I’m going to run off to Hawaii with the milkman (for those of you who have never heard of a milkman – I hate you) I am fully aware that this whispering is just my own insecurities.  But boy oh boy, it can sure be loud some times.

A song came on the radio recently that reminded me of my teen years – Beautiful Loser by Bob Seger.  I used to love Bob Seger.  The Night Moves album was the soundtrack of my high school years.  (and for those of you reading this that don’t know what an album is, I hate you, too.)  I have so many great memories attached to these songs.  Growing up in Michigan, who didn’t think it was super cool that “Mainstreet” was written about Ann Arbor?

seger

 Sadly, I knew none of my high school albums survived.  Although I might have been able to find an 8 Track.  (I’m kidding, maybe.) So I jumped on iTunes and quickly downloaded Bob Seger’s greatest hits, popped in my earbuds and was soon getting lost in Hollywood Nights, We’ve Got Tonight and the classic, Turn the Page.  As I soaked in the nostalgia, that tiny, insistent voice telling me I’m getting old and irrelevant began to quiet.  As I made my way through Travelin’ Man and Beautiful Loser, that voice grew still.  In its place were memories of conversations I had with friends about our futures, careers, boyfriends, where we would live.  California, of course!  When the last song played, I removed my earbuds and grinned.   Although I wasn’t any younger, I felt a sense of peace I had not felt in a while.  The power of music is a beautiful thing.

Roll, roll me away,
I’m gonna roll me away tonight
Gotta keep rollin, gotta keep ridin’,
keep searchin’ till I find what’s right
And as the sunset faded
I spoke to the faintest first starlight
And I said next time
Next time
We’ll get it right