Ugly Feet and All

lily padsI still walk with a limp. I had my knee surgery over a year ago and most of the time it doesn’t hurt me. There’s really no physical reason for it, but I still walk with a limp.

I think we all have limps.  Some are more pronounced and affect our lives in crazier ways. Others are little things…

Like my feet (which aren’t little things at all…hell, they’re BIG things…size 10 or 10 1/2 things). Someone told me repeatedly when I was young that my feet were ugly and freakish things.  And for almost 50 years I’ve been ashamed to wear sandals.

I told a friend about my “foot fetish” and she replied, “Think of the places those feet have carried you.” My feet have been good to me…they ran two full marathons, carried mail, marched in formation, danced in some wild nightclubs.  My feet yearn to hang out of the end of my sheets, even on the coldest days.  Cupcake likes to lick my feet.  I have a reflexologist friend who can change my mood and open my sinuses, just by rubbing my feet.  These feet are remarkable!

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So recently I’ve decided to quit giving any more damns.  I bought a pair of open toed sandals.  I will allow my feet to frolic freely without inhibitions.

It’s amazing how a few thoughtless words from somebody 40-50 years ago can leave us with a limp. These old injuries keep us from singing aloud, wearing sandals, painting, dancing, loving and just plain old living!  But it’s not too late to realize you really don’t HAVE to limp …it’s never too late to buy sandals and set your tootsies free!

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Moses is 17 years old. He has chunks missing from his ears. His fur is less than luxurious. But he doesn’t let it stop him from believing he is King of the World!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ugly Truth

 

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Warning – I’m going to share about rape, and fear, and being a woman in 2017.

 

My fear of vulnerability and fear of tears have made me hesitant to write the following. Honestly, I have rarely ever even discussed it.  But now is the time for these stories to emerge. Sadly, if you’re a woman, the odds are very high that you have experienced some form of sexual assault.*

Once upon a time, my friend (we’ll call him Chucky) had a party at his apartment. Chucky and I were buddies. He was one of those guys you thought you could trust. You probably had a male friend like that in school.  He never came onto me – never touched me inappropriately or even made “those” kind of jokes.  I trusted him.  So as Van Halen blared on the stereo,  I felt perfectly safe slamming golden shots of tequila at his kitchen table.

As the music grew louder and the night grew later, we decided a game of quarters was a good idea. I vaguely remember the room swimming as I aimed my body for the door, trying to go home.  I fell down the first flight of stairs, staggered across the landing and rolled the rest of the way into the shrubs.  I also remember friends laughing, dragging me back up the stairs.

“Chucky, can’t she just sleep it off here?” My friends all trusted him as well. He’d never been anything but a perfect gentleman. And Chucky agreed, “Just put her on my bed. She’s close to the bathroom that way. I’ll sleep on the couch.”

Darkness…

When I woke up, it was still dark but he was on top of me, grunting, wiggling…raping me.  I was so dizzy…I couldn’t even fight. I couldn’t even roll away or push him off…I was trapped under his animal musk and groans. I couldn’t even cry.

then more darkness…

Later I woke again…silently… I didn’t make any accusations. I felt so ashamed, so sick. I pulled my pants on and left.

I tried to tell someone. This woman I loved and trusted told me it was my own fault…that I was a drunken slut.  I tried to tell someone else, but she warned me that it would be a waste of time to go to the police. I wasn’t really raped if I was in his bed drunk.

I dropped it. I even continued my friendship with Chucky on a superficial level. I never mentioned it to him.  I did stupid little childish things to get even – ping pong balls in his gas tank, threatening notes on his door…but I couldn’t go on…so I left school, left town, left the state, joined the Army.

I was never the same …never ever the same…

you know all those situations that frighten you as a woman…the drunk in the parking lot of the local bar demanding sex because he bought you a drink, men brushing up against you too closely, breathing into your neck, strangers staring at your ass…being grabbed, being fondled…

these things terrified me. So I just acted tougher…

Once you’ve been assaulted, you never feel safe again.  I still find myself holding my breath in certain situations…unable to find my voice…

I’m 50 years old – not a hot, young, sexy babe – still I can’t even run down the side of the highway without mace or a dog or both…because I’ve been followed and stalked. Because for some reason, my sweaty body conveys I want to get laid. “Hey baby”, cat calls, honking…just a few weeks ago, one man in a white van actually did three u-turns to follow me. It was obvious enough a neighbor driving by noticed and stopped to check on me.

I recently read one of the most moving essays I’d ever read “Becoming Ugly.”  I do not try to be beautiful. I do not fix my hair, color my cheeks and nails, because I do not want to be beautiful. I want to be strong…because so often I’m afraid.

AND there is more…

Our bodies and souls are breached…

Our strength is ripped from us as girls when we are told we are not smart enough….as women when we are paid less…when we are told our blood is dirty and our bodies are weak…we are told that we are original sin…

and when we speak…when we finally clear our throats, take that breath, and speak out, we are again slapped down…and this time not just by the men who would harm us, but by our own sisters.

And each time, it takes longer for our voices to regain volume..and each time it becomes that much harder to rise again..

But we WILL rise again. TOGETHER we will find our voices, and TOGETHER we will run down the highway fearlessly someday.

 

*Nearly one in five women surveyed said they had been raped or had experienced an attempted rape at some point, and one in four reported having been beaten by an intimate partner.  www.nytimes.com/2011/…/nearly-1-in-5-women-in-us-survey-report-sexualassault.htm.

 

 

 

A new way

The November sky was a winter sky – painted every shade of gray with the wind’s brushstrokes leaving interesting patterns. The huge white stones in the pasture looked like sheep resting in field,  a scene from Ballykissangel. Three dogs pulled at their leashes, happily bouncing along the pasture trail.  But I was missing so much of it because I kept glancing at my Garmin.  My pace was too slow. I was frustrated as the dogs kept stopping  to sniff…or to pee…or listen for rabbits…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe struggle to control the run was overwhelming…and was just a reflection of how I try to control every aspect of my life.  This is what drowning might feel like. Fighting the current never helps. You have to let go and just float. I’ve never been a fan of floating – always afraid of that loss of control.  But the old ways aren’t working any longer so I need to find a new way.  I’m going float more and race less.

My knee is giving me problems again so my running is suffering. Instead of getting angry with my body, I’m allowing myself to run slowly or not run at all.  I’m allowing myself to walk when I need to.  And I’m leaving my Garmin watch at home. I’m not tracking pace or mileage. I’m just moving.  I’m not posting miles on MapMyRun and I don’t know if I’ll ever enter another race.

Shifting away from all these measures, scales, watches and clocks, I have to a chance to float freely…no guides, no maps, no public input. Just me.  I eat when I’m hungry. I run when I want to run.  I smile when I feel like smiling…and cry when I feel like crying. Floating along in my simple river…

This is my river…my beautiful, mossy, messy river.

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And I still don’t get it . . .

DYING

Five miles in 102 degrees

Yep, I still haven’t learned. Remember all those blogs about learning to relax and not obsessing on goals. Remember how I was going to learn to love my own imperfection. Well, we’re still working on all that stuff.

I think I’m going to hold off on the whole 50K adventure this year. The training schedule has taken all the joy out of running.

This spring I ran a 10K trail run with a couple of friends. We just ran for the fun of it. We played in the water, stopped for snacks at the aid station and laughed so hard people thought we were delirious.  We were in no particular hurry and yet all three of us medaled in our age groups. Crazy, huh?

But goes to show that mellow is the way to flow.UPANDAWAY

I forget that…the part about flowing gently. I push myself too hard. I expect too much out of myself. And I end up exhausted and pissed off.

BUT I’m learning something…well, I’m learning a bunch of somethings…but primarily: life is already enough of a challenge without adding more obstacles.

As a matter of fact, there’s not a damn thing wrong with having no goals…and just FLOWING.

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Virtual 5K with Cupcake…that’s the way to run. No RACE.

I like trotting along the trails, preferably with a dog. That’s what makes me happy and makes me feel complete. So no races for a while.   As a matter of fact, this week I’ve only logged 14 miles. But they were fun, easy miles. And I feel renewed and relaxed.

AND I feel optimistic. There’s something really good not just right around the corner but in this moment.  But that’s another blog.

In other news, since my last blog I was asked to be a foster mommy for a puppy on death row. I learned the hard way that I’m a horrible foster. After two days I put in for adoption. So meet the latest family member: Winnie.

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I just wanna sit on the porch!

I’ve shared so much supposed “wisdom” on this blog.   I claimed to follow the Universe’s lead and listen to my Soul.  But here I am again: Overwhelmed and overwrought without enough time to make a phone call or post a blog.  How does this keep happening?

Today as I write this, I feel so out of balance. Sadness seems to have consumed me and I’m fighting it. Two years ago yesterday my nephew died. And next week it will be two years since my brother died. I’m thinking about death a lot. I’m afraid of losing  people I really love. I believe there is more after this life but I don’t “KNOW.”  I want to KNOW for SURE without any doubts. But I guess none of us have that.  Some folks claim to believe/know but that’s generally BS. Most of us (ALL?) faced with death will still be afraid.

Life is short. Too damn short. I want to squeeze so much into it…and squeeze so much out of it. I’m wringing the hell out life!  But it’s too much. . . . I’m trying too hard. Days are cluttered and I can’t really focus on the things that matter.

What really matters?   What are those shiny moments? What makes me happy?

When I think of HAPPY…

I think of my dogs… and cats…family…friends…running…laughing…food…

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Life is too short to be anything but happy. Love deeply, forgive quickly, take chances, give everything with no regrets and forget the past with exception of what you have learned and remember everything happens for a reason. (anonymous)

 

And do what YOU want to do…not what you think you SHOULD do or what you think others expect you to do. Say NO to those things that steal your energy. Say YES to the things that make your heart happy.

For now, I just want to sit on my porch and watch hummingbirds.anotherone

 

 

Green Eyed Monster versus Beauty Queen (winner takes Tokyo)

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAIt is in the character of very few men to honor without envy a friend who has prospered. ~Aeschylus

Forty-eight years and I’m finally getting over it…the green eyed monster that has kept from appreciating so many wonderful people.

I’ve always had amazing friends – talented, intelligent, kind, beautiful friends. But while I love them, sometimes I would feel such ugliness. I have been such a jealous, envious person. Here’s a confession: I even screwed two friends over because of my nasty feelings. That’s hard to admit but it’s true.

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My jealousy is part of my brokeness.

In high school I used to call the popular girls “plastic people.”  I made fun of the whole concept of cheerleading and beauty contests.  I knew I could never be one of them.  As a matter of fact, someone told me back in those days that it was a good thing I was smart because I’d never get anywhere on my looks. So I tried to be as anti-pretty as possible, attempting to convince myself I was morally superior rejecting superficiality. Deep inside I still felt so inferior.

But things are changing in my life . . . things are changing in my soul.

The other day in yoga we were asked to sit and stare into the eyes of our yoga partner. I was sooo uncomfortable. My hands were sweating and I had the constant urge to laugh and say something funny. Proving the universe has a point to make, my partner was a beauty queen and former cheerleader.  But as I looked into her eyes, I saw that deep inside she wasn’t that much different from me…I knew she felt uncomfortable too. She laughs and cries and worries about being laughed at…and all those feelings I have.

She looked into me and saw my pain – the scary stuff I try hard to hide.  I was living my nightmare…being vulnerable and transparent in front of one of those people who always intimidated me. Why does that frighten me so much? Am I so afraid of my reflection? Has this always been about my own insecurity? In a word “YES!” But during the yoga exercise, I was insecure but not envious or jealous. I felt only warmth toward my partner.

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Reflections can be scary

 Embrace the glorious mess that you are! – Elizabeth Gilbert

Now I could write more about the solution, but I think it’s so very evident.  I won’t go through a lot of narration because there are so many layers. To the point:

I’m learning to be accepting of and compassionate toward others because

FINALLY I’m starting to accept and love myself.

“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete” ~ Buddha

As with all my life lessons….to be continued…

Wabi-Sabi

Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.    ~Marilyn  Monroe

Last week in yoga, preparing for the one pose I can do perfectly, Savasana (Corpse Pose), I leaned back on my mat and looked up.  I was intrigued. The ceiling in the old building is beautiful – antique tin tiles, paint peeling – imperfectly beautiful.  It reminded me of a phrase I’d heard a few times:  Wabi-Sabi (not wasabi which is also something I do well…or at least eat well). I realize I could get into the entire concept a lot more deeply but I’m just going to dance on the surface of Wabi-Sabi in this blog.

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       Wabi-sabi

 Wabi-sabi represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”. It is a concept derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence, specifically impermanence, the other two being suffering and emptiness or absence of self-nature. Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity, simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes. (FROM FREEBASE.COM)

A smile is ALWAYS beautiful.

A smile is ALWAYS beautiful.

I love getting out with my fancy camera and taking photos of critters and nature. People often ask me to take their photo but I nearly always decline. Most folks, me included,  will inevitably be unhappy with photos of themselves. We pick out each flaw and focus on it. Animals don’t care.

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OH NO! You can see my pores.

Is it my vanity that has convinced me I look like a super-model but the camera can’t quite pick it up?  Why can’t I love my deep smile lines and uneven eyes? Asymmetry is one of the characteristics listed in the Wabi-Sabi definition.  Looking around in nature, there is nothing but “imperfection.” Flowers missing petals, trees with broken limbs, irregular shaped clouds…but it’s all still perfect. We are so captivated by the beauty of a sunrise that we don’t notice the landscape isn’t following the 3/4 rule.

One of the things I love about our yoga class is that it’s ok to need  a block or a strap and bend my knees during forward bends.  Oddly enough, being unable to do things “textbook” perfectly  isn’t even deemed as imperfection or as a weakness. We’re told to honor ourselves – accept ourselves and our own limitations. According to our teacher, nearly all yoga teachers have poses that are difficult for them.

And with this new appreciation of Wabi-Sabi comes forgiveness.  When I accept my own “imperfection”, I’m more likely to accept the imperfection of others. My screw-ups are beautiful because they are a part of my charm. And maybe your screw-ups are part of yours.

But this morning on Facebook a friend posted something that really struck me….and I’ll end with this thought:  Maybe everything IS perfect.