Unedited

Just be. Be present in the moment. Enjoy your joy without reservations.

Smile for the camera. Display your unedited self. Love it.

Your wild hair is gorgeous. Your freckles are galaxies on your body. Your crooked smile is adorable. Everyone has rolls at one point. Cellulite is normal. Stretch marks are badges. Your curves are appreciated by someone. Bad hair days are common. You are not measured by the size of your waist.

Post that no makeup, unfiltered, untouched, unedited selfie. Rock it. Own it. Love it. Who cares what anyone else says?

I’ll go first.

Wandering eye. Crooked smile. Breakout. Bad hair day. Imperfect skin. In need of new glasses. Unusual nose. Eyebrows not plucked or waxed.

Also.

Big toothy smile. Happy face. Moisturized. Natural. Feeling loved. Bright crescent moon eyes. Good mood. Feeling good in my skin. Real.

Not everyone will appreciate it. That’s ok. I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, but my husband says I’m his Tennessee whiskey. Not everyone will appreciate my looks, my body, or my personality. That’s fine.

This is me. Unedited.

I spent too many years of my life trying to please people. So have you. Let it go. Shine without reservations. Your own mind can be a toxic place where self love doesn’t grow.

Don’t over think it. Do what makes you happy. Take care of yourself. Enjoy your life. Live that moment. Be gloriously and riotously you. Be happy. Unedited.

Of Love and Loss

Since Tony and I have been together, we’ve lost a lot of people. Family, friends, and people we care about lost to accident, disease, mental health, and even violence.

It’s hard to comprehend the void left behind. One day they’re within talking or touching distance, and then, they’re no longer there. Just a barren space where they used to be. It’s like your brain struggles to come to terms with the fact all of their things are here, but they’re not.

“Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night. I miss you like hell.”

— Edna St. Vincent Millay

The loss of a child is even harder to bear. It’s hard not to question God when one so innocent is stripped away.

“It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.”

–John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent

Loss is also more than losing a person. Loss can be the vanishing of a dream. It can be the loss of an ability. We mourn it just the same. I’ve watched people in my infertility groups go through it. When a doctor gives hope, but insurance denies coverage and the funds are just not there, the loss can be devastating.

“Grief is the price we pay for love.”

–Queen Elizabeth II

And then, there’s love. Healing, wonderful love. If not for love after loss, my feet may never have made another mile. I would have withered. Tony and I are especially good about leaning on each other when needed. With every loss I’ve suffered, he’s been there with an “I’ve got you.” That one phrase has so many meanings. It means that he’s my shoulder to lean on, my feet when I can’t move, and my voice when I have none.

When we lost the twins, I thought the world would actually come to an end. I felt that the sun was going to fall out of the sky. I couldn’t see around my own grief to realize that the sun was still there shining as it always did, water still flowed, the world still moved. I suffered both types of loss: the loss of my beloveds and the loss of my dream of having children. I bitterly grieved both.

Love is essential to dealing with loss. Love is essential to thrive. I’ve fought, screamed, cursed the world, and thought for sure that I’d die from heartbreak. Then comes love. Even through his own grief, his own pain, his own loss, Tony reached for me, drew me in, loved me with a patience I can only aspire to.

I pulled myself away from friends, family, and people who have known me all my life. My husband fought to keep me. He’s loved me and kept me stable when I craved the opposite.

I hope I was able to love him through his losses as he did me.

Being well loved brought me back to life, allowed me to live again in the sun, and coaxed me back to everything I’d loved before. Things that helped me heal.

Books, plants, nature, the night sky, my beloved alone time, and the love of my husband keep me from the vacuum of my losses.

Love never fails. Even in the face of loss.

I’m Sorry, Writing

I’m sorry I’ve been neglecting you. I’m sorry I’ve pushed my notebooks into the corner. I’m sorry I’ve let my laptop sit unused. I’m sorry I’ve been away for so long. I’m sorry I left the words swirling around in my head until my emotions get the best of me.

I’m sorry I’ve kept all my words to myself. I’m sorry I’ve let shame, pain, anger, and confusion keep me prisoner. I’m sorry I’ve been letting myself get overwhelmed without coming to you and using you to cope. I always have and haven’t been lately. The last few months of my life have been proof.

I’m sorry my pens have been sitting in cups without so much as being used for a signature. I’m sorry I’ve let myself get to a sorry state of not being as consistent. I’m sorry I’ve let life dictate what my writing hours are used for and letting it steal them away.

I’m sorry I’ve let unimportant things take your time.

I’m sorry I’ve been unavailable.

I’m sorry, writing.

Healing

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Tony and I have faced a lot lately. Death and illness and life have been kicking us while we’re down. Saying things have been difficult is an understatement.

For the last year, I’ve been going through things with my body. A lot of it good, some of it bad. I’m focused on turning things around. I’ve lost some weight, working on losing more. I’ve derailed and got back on track more times than I care to count. Surely one of these “back on tracks” will stick.

I’ve been eating low carb. It’s been working wonders for me, for my PCOS, for my skin, for my life. I never knew how much sugar and grain were damaging my body until I cut them. I know what I can eat, what triggers my issues, and what to do to fix it. It’s not always easy, it’s not always fun, and people don’t usually understand.

I’m learning more about myself. I’m learning that in order to function, I have to shut the world off sometimes. I have to be alone with my books, my flowers, my music, and my husband to find my peace. I realize that I have to purge or detox myself from the bad, the scary, the pain, and the News. Self care and preservation is sometimes just protecting your heart.

My views on my body are changing. I can touch my soft belly and not be repulsed. I recently heard Megan Crabbe describe her cellulite as being constellations in the sky of her body. I found that to be beautiful. My body is still changing and healing, but I’m getting more and more comfortable with it. The more I care for it, the more I love it.

I’ve been going through some healing with my body, mind, and with my soul. It’s taking time. Body wise, I’ve been feeling much better. I’ve had more energy being on track. I’ve been feeling like the old me, and I’ve missed her. Emotionally, I think Tony and I as a unit are on the downward side of the hill. Hopefully, the worst is behind us and with a little love and care, we can move forward to a better place.

 

 

Embracing My Hazel

Me, left. Aunt Hazel, right.

I was raised by a bunch of strong women, independent women who taught me their ways. Especially my grandmother and her sister, my aunt Hazel.

Anyone in our family can tell you many a funny story about Aunt Hazel. She was independent, sassy, funny, and didn’t have much of a filter. She was eccentric  She was an animal lover. She used to have cows that she cared for. She bottle fed the babies and got attached to them. Everyone said her cows followed her like dogs.  Her dogs were family members. When she lived alone, I would spend nights at her house. In the morning, she got up and made us all breakfast. All of us got eggs, grits, and toast. Including her dogs.

After breakfast, we would go “tend to the flowers.” We dug, watered, planted, trimmed, picked, and admired her many plants and flowers. She had the most beautiful purple heart. She’d chase me with the water hose all over the yard and for a while, you’d think she was my age.

After we’d got in a few hours work, she’d ask me if I was hungry. If I was, we’d got to McDonald’s and get a happy meal.

She loved bright colors, big earrings, anything shiny, and made most of her own clothes. Orange was her favorite color. She used to wear orange lipstick and bright blue eye shadow. My cousin, Jamie, told me that she needs to see me with those particular shades one day. I’m still getting up my nerve. You’d think with her stylish nature, Aunt Hazel would have wanted a flashy car. No. Not Aunt Hazel. She had a 60’s model Ford pickup that was black and gray. I loved that old truck.

Since I was a child, I’ve been told how much I look like my Aunt Hazel. The more time goes by, I find myself acting like her more and more. I can look at her pictures and see my future self. I already have plants and flowers all over my porch. I have dogs that think they are human. I guess I need to invest in a few cows.

She had no children, and the closer I get to 40, it’s becoming more likely that I won’t either. She was everyone’s favorite aunt. That’s how I’d like to be known as well. I’m gearing up to become a sassy senior lady who says unpredictable things and mows her grass while wearing bright lipstick. I’m invested in becoming the lady the neighbors whisper about because she’s talking or singing to her plants. I want to be the favorite aunt who loves other’s children like they’re her own and lives on her own terms. I want to be the one with the kind heart and silly smile that can put everyone at ease. I hope to mellow like she did.

I’m embracing my Hazel with each passing day. Maybe I can pass on to others what she gave to me.