Salix's Shiny Things

A magpie blog.

Joy in my skin. October 28, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — LP @ 3:29 pm
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So I did something that is totally kind of weird and crystal-new-agey-hippy-drippy for me, and I loved it.

Yep, I achieved approximately this level of hippy today.

Yep, I achieved approximately this level of hippy today.

pic credit: http://nemharapa.blogspot.hu/2013_05_01_archive.html

It was totally and completely unplanned, which may be what made it work for me.

What did I do?

I meditated for 15 minutes, buck nekkid in the sun.

Why did I do it?

Well, for a few days I’ve been going braless at home.  As I have a large bust, this wasn’t all that comfortable at first, but I had to because I was having some awful allergic reaction to deoderant and laundry detergent (thank you, delicate Northern European skin!) that was making me miserable, and having as much airflow as possible is the best cure for me.

And as I’ve written about in previous posts, I have a love/hate relationship with my breasts, which is usually more on the hate side.

But today they felt nice.  And as I leaned over to pick something off the floor, they felt lovely, and they looked adorable to me.  +100 for self acceptance and love!

So I was getting ready to meditate, and I started sitting in the sun inside the back patio, and I thought – gosh, what would it feel like if I sat here naked, in all this warm sunlight?  Pretty great, I’m thinking…

(Yep, I am super lucky to work from home, folks!)

So I did.  I checked to make sure I couldn’t be seen by neighbors, got comfy, and sat there in delightful nudity while my guided meditation app talked about joy and compassion and white light.

And I didn’t try to ignore or transcend my body.  I tried feeling every piece of it.  I took enormous joy in feeling the heat of the sun and the breezes playing across my skin.

I felt amazing, and it still feels amazing to just simply delight in the presence of my full, shiny body.

Today was a good day.

 

Running, in this body.

Filed under: Uncategorized — LP @ 11:59 am
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I had never thought of myself as a “runner”, really.  In college, as a fencer, we jogged and did suicide sprints and other cardio training things, and while I was decent at sprinting (thanks to Ballet-level calf muscle strength), I sucked at long distance running.  A mile?  Oh god, a whole freaking mile?  run, run, *puff, puff*, walk, walk, jog-run-get out of breath again, repeat ad nauseum.

But over the summer, I got a smartphone.  And the thing with smartphones is that you can get all kinds of apps for them.  And some of those apps are The Best Thing Ever.  So I downloaded Zombies, Run for a fun change of pace for my walks.  And then I found that I didn’t just want to walk anymore, I wanted to run.  So I did.  And then, I had the best luck ever:  I looked for exercise wear at goodwill, and they happened to have a bra that was my exact size, which is pretty much a huge miracle, because my size is a large size but not a common large size.  So I saw it as a sign:  go run, woman!  You were meant to run!

And I did.  And it was hard at first, but also good.  I eventually got to the point where a mile was no big deal.  And then 2 miles, not a big deal.

And so I went for it, signed up for a 5K, and finished in fairly decent time.

My guy has been encouraging me all the way.  He used to run cross country in high school and college, and continued throughout his adulthood, joining 10K’s and various races like Bay to Breakers in San Fransisco, but in the last 5-10 years, he’s phased out most of his running in favor of other athletic pursuits, like tennis.  But inspired by me, he started running again.  He goes on runs with me about twice a week or so.

And sometimes, it’s difficult for me to run with him.

The problem is, I am a very slow runner.  I’m big, and I have large breasts which are all fibrocystic and sensitive.  I flop, I jiggle, and none of it is comfortable.  I haven’t done anything more athletic than walking for over a decade, so I haven’t got much in the way of muscle mass, and so I’ve have to build it up, and it hurts a good deal because I am not young anymore.  For all these reasons, I prioritize endurance over speed.  I’m happy slugging along at 13 minutes/mile on the grass, enjoying the stars and moon in the evening sky, or the jackrabbits and turkeys and occasional hawk in the park behind the cemetery, for 2-4 miles.

But when my guy is with me, he needs to run at his own pace, which is significantly faster than mine.  Even though he has almost 2 decades on me in age, he can pretty much lap me easily.  What he lacks these days is the endurance to keep that pace for a mile or 2 or 3.  So he’ll run up ahead, then walk, letting me catch up, then take off again, and so forth.

Which is nice for him, but for me, mentally?  Kind of sucks.  I feel slow and fat and gross, and my self-talk tends to become very negative.  For example, I tend to compare myself to his ex-wife, who was and is an amazing athlete.  Who was and is way more conventionally beautiful than I ever was or ever could be.  Who is thin and lithe and extremely well proportioned, in the conventional aesthetic sense of hip-to-waist ratios.  And I think that that’s what my guy is thinking about.  How much he loved her, loved sharing runs with her, how well they could run together.  And how I just can’t because I am so fat and lazy and ugly and generally unworthy.

Yeah, negative self talk is nasty stuff, and I’d become an expert at it, given my depression and history of emotional abuse.

But fortunately, the “high” of running can often push the negative self talk into the background, and I can distract myself with the music and storyline of Zombies, Run, as well as the obstacle course that off-path grass running tends to provide.

But it gets really bad when we’ve gone running at the track.  Not enough distraction, and running on a flat surface in a circle that’s only 1/4 mile around is boring.  So boring.  So the negative self-talk doesn’t get pushed down as easily, and the jarring of each footfall only makes every jiggle of my body that much more obvious and painful.

I tried to explain this the other night to him, as he was saying that track running can be just fine because what’s important is that you get into that zen running state, and you learn to push yourself with little mental games, varying your speed, etc.

I tried to explain how I need the distraction, but I don’t think I was able to.  He’s never had to live in a fat body like mine, he doesn’t know how painful it can be, especially when you have large breasts.

But.

He ran with me in the 5K.  He did the thing he always does, running ahead, then taking a walking break, but we finished together, and I ran my guts out at the end.  And I really enjoyed finishing with him, and I really enjoyed all the camaraderie of the other runners and the cheers from the support crew and random race watchers in the neighborhood.

At the heart of this experience, I have discovered some important things about myself:

-I do enjoy running.  I plan to continue to do it and train for races for a long, long time, because they are fun!

-I love my guy, and he loves me, in the best way: we can help each other become better people.  I love that I inspire him, and I love that he tells me about it in plain, simple language.

-I’ve got some ugly body issues that I will probably always grapple with, but at least I am aware enough now of some of the patterns which allow my jerk brain to take over.  I need to run in nature (grass, parks, trails) to distract me from myself.  Tracks suck.  Maybe they won’t always, but for the foreseeable future, I should avoid them to protect my brain from itself.

-It’s ok to get frustrated with my guy for being unaware of my lived experience.  He’ll learn.  It’s ok to kind of not like him very much, sometimes.  It’s ok because that’s just how people are, they’re going to annoy you and get on your last nerve and do stuff that you interpret as unkind, not because they’re bad people, but because they’re people, and they can’t know everything that’s in your brain or heart.  What marks this pattern as different from previous relationships is the sense of respect that I feel from him.  I feel appreciated.  He uses his words and gestures to communicate how much he appreciates me.  So the frustration and annoyance I feel from time to time just doesn’t have a chance to linger.  And he doesn’t approach every problem or disagreement between us as a sign of doom for our relationship.  And I am learning not to do that as well.

-It’s important to seek out inspiration from friends and family and the internet, too.  Like Fat Girl Running.  She is made of pure-grade awesomesauce and one day I’d love to meet her.  Also my friend H who trail runs and bikes like a badass, because she so totally is.

 

Little victories – coping with social anxiety July 2, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — LP @ 11:06 am
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Pic Credit

One issue that I’ve always had, to a greater or lesser extent, is phone fear.

Yesterday I had to make a business call.  I wimped out the day before and tried to email the customer service agent, but I never received a reply.  So I had to call.

And wouldn’t you know it, it was fine.  The agent was very nice and very helpful, and had an amazing low voice like Octavia Butler, which endeared her to me.

And I’ve also been answering my phone more consistently, even when it’s a number I don’t recognize.  I’m so used to screening phone calls, or answering necessary ones with huge feelings of fear or shame.  But now – I just answered an 800 number call, and it was for the person who owned the phone number before I got it.  I answered with confidence and strength in my voice.  It felt really good.  It was just a tiny exercise of my agency, but it was good to have that positive reinforcement.  I can use my agency, and it will be ok, and I won’t be yelled at or shamed or ridiculed, and if I am, Fuck Them.  I’ve got other places to be, and people that love me.

My sweet man has been incredibly helpful in my journey towards coping successfully with my social anxiety.  Most of the help, though, has been unintentional on his part.  Yes, the intentional support he gives me is critical – the kind words, the positive affirmations, the hugs and gratitude he expresses when I get out past my comfort zone and achieve something – all of those things are absolutely crucial, and I am very grateful for his work in supporting me in those ways.

But what’s even more important is just being able to hang out with him and observe him interacting with others.  Making mistakes, being too excited, making an off-color joke.  But also seeing him getting  it right – being kind, respectful, funny, smart, knowledgeable.  Realizing that a momentary conversational mistake/miscalculation/weirdness doesn’t have to derail the whole interaction.  Realizing that communicating sincerely and graciously is possible even when you do or say awkward things.  I’m learning so much from his model.  I’m becoming more and more comfortable in this world of other people as I realize that almost everyone I’m likely to interact with out there is like me in some critical ways:  they just want to get through the day with as little stress as possible, and want smooth, warm, and kind interactions as much as I do.

This is a seemingly little victory, this being able to talk on the phone without experiencing crippling fear,  but it’s an important one: a good, healthy step in the right direction.

 

My lovely… June 25, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — LP @ 11:13 am
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Today, I’m very ok with my body.  I even, dare I say it, enjoy looking at it.

This is a very, very rare thing.   I’m one of those people who has enormous resistance towards positive body feelings.  Yeah, loving my body?  ummm, no.  Not so much.  Most days, I try to aim for peaceful coexistence of my brain and my body.  A nice grey neutral non-feeling.  It’s just there.

I’m much more ok with feeling good about what my body can do.  Dancing, walking, kicking, stretching, typing, drawing, hiking, and these days, even having sexy times.

Last summer, I found happiness through connecting my thoughts about my body to my body’s abilities.  I dreamt that I had woken up in Jackie Chan’s body, and it was strong and beautiful.

And I started really exercising.  And I noticed how strong my arms were getting, and how the muscles were becoming more defined under my skin.  And how strong my legs and back were getting, and how flexible, as I worked on stretching out so I could kick higher and stronger.

But I didn’t entirely like the body I was in.

And the main reason:  my breasts.

I’ve mostly hated them since they grew on me as a young teenager.  They were just so… much.  Too much.  Fleshy, floppy, in the way, hard to cover so they didn’t show.

I really, really wanted a nice, neutral, fairly androgynous body.  I didn’t really want to be seen as a “girl”, most of the time.  Because I wanted to do things, adventurous things, involving traveling to far flung places, where my gender could well get me into serious trouble.  Like rape.

I didn’t really want to be a boy, because I was mostly ok with being female.  I liked my uterus and its ability to grow a new life, for example.  I liked my graceful smallness, my compact strength.  Being male seemed to me to be messy and crude.  And who on earth would really want their genitals flapping around on the outside of their bodies where they could be so easily wounded anyway?

I just mainly wanted to go unnoticed.  Boyishly invisible.

But my breasts, they did not cooperate with that vision.

I’ve been dreaming of having them surgically reduced since I grew them.

I’ve had a very difficult time dealing with them since I had a kid.  You see, when he was born, they went and grew even more, much to my frustration.

But that was ok, because they were finally really useful.  I was breastfeeding, and the damn things were finally being used for their rightful purpose.

So I was ok with them, until he weaned.  When it sank in that my breasts were no longer useful, I broke apart.  I cried.  I was depressed for a long time.  I tried talking about it to my then husband, but he didn’t get it.

So I was left with this much larger, puffier, boobier body than I’d ever had before, and I truly hated it.  It didn’t help that my then husband almost never touched me – in affection, or to rub my horribly aching back, or for any reason, really.  It didn’t help that he never complimented me either.  Never looked me straight in the eye and told me that I was pretty or beautiful and how much he loved me.

And I didn’t really know how much I needed to hear those kinds of words until I met my current guy.

He tells me.  He shows me.  He looks me straight in the eye and tells me how much he loves me, and that I’m beautiful, and how much I mean to him.

And it matters.  It matters a whole heck of a lot.  Knowing that I am loved, I know that I am lovable, and lovely.  And it becomes so much easier to love myself.  Just catching a glimpse of who I am through his eyes helps me know that I am worthy.  And that my body is worthy, too.  All of it.  The whole package that is me is worthy of being loved -not just my brain, not just my lady parts, but the Whole of me is worthy of love, respect and caring.

Even my breasts are worthy of being loved – it is possible for me to love those silly floppy things too, and not just for their bygone ability to feed a tiny human, but I can love them for simply being a wonderful part of a wonderful person.

I looked at them today in the mirror.  Really looked.  Stretched my arms up over my head and looked up and down the length of me.  And I was happy with what I saw.  I looked good to myself.  Good.  What a simple, delightful feeling!  Good is a good thing.

I put on a clingy t-shirt with a low scooped neck.

And I looked down at my cleavage and thought – nice.  Lovely.  Warm and round and heavy with life.  They are good.

Not just sexy, although that’s a part of it that I’m coming to understand more and more, and be ok with more and more.  (I’m still working through what it means to be “sexy”. That’s a whole other can of worms…)

But lovely.  Lovely things, capable of delighting and comforting.

Happy beautiful morning to me!  Happy beautiful morning to all sentient beings!

May we happy and free from suffering.

 

Roses, and other extraordinary ordinary things. April 2, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — LP @ 1:29 pm
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I really like roses.  I even like them for Valentine’s, which, I know, is sooo pedestrian of me.  So… unoriginal.

My boyfriend got me the requisite bunch of roses for Valentine’s day this year.  I think that it’s the first time that I’ve ever actually had roses for Valentine’s day from a significant other, just for me, at 39 years of age.

My last partner hated roses.  Hated them.  Actually, I take that back.  Her word was “loathed”.  And when we’d pass a bunch of roses growing in a garden, she’d take that as an opportunity to tell me exactly how much she absolutely loathed them.

Why?  Because of the mean Rose in The Little Prince.

Fine.  It’s fine to dislike roses.  It’s fine to like other flowers better because they’re less popular on Valentine’s day.

But my enjoyment of roses was not really allowed to coexist next to her loathing of them.

My boyfriend didn’t have time to get me any until the last minute, and then he came up with an elaborate “plan” with my son to sneak out of the house to get me roses and a treat that was not chocolate because I’m allergic to dairy.

He gave me red roses and figs, and my son was delighted to get to be sneaky and go with him to the store to get me those for our first Valentine’s day.

I’m reminded of this because now the roses in our yard are starting to bloom.  I picked a yellow one this morning to put in a vase on the table.

He did the “boring”, “normal”, “pedestrian” thing that guys are supposed to do for Valentine’s day, and I loved it.

And it was beautiful.  The roses were beautiful.  Yes, they’re overplayed, they decorate everything in February, those old red roses.

But they’re still beautiful.  And simple.  And kind.

Simple and kind – that’s the beauty of love, isn’t it?

 

More about hatred: Racism and White Privilege edition. (warning: explicit language is used.) November 4, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — LP @ 3:35 pm
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Last night my sweetie told me some disturbing things.  Things that had happened to him, personally.  Hateful acts and words and objects thrown at him because he isn’t white.

And how much he wants to go see his daughter graduate, but how much he can’t tolerate that kind of behavior from anyone anymore, and is worried that such bullshit will happen again if he goes to the southern state where his daughter is graduating.

I’ve been harassed verbally, I’ve had my but pinched and slapped by random guys just walking down the street.  But I’ve never been threatened with death, never had an object aimed at me and thrown from a speeding vehicle at lethal speed.  Been called “Bitch” and worse names for my gender, but never the “N” word.  Because I am white.

I was really upset by what he told me.  Really sickened by the cowardice and hatefulness of those threatened him.  But also I was upset by his trepidation, letting his fear of acts that probably won’t actually occur make him even think about missing one of his daughter’s most important life events.  And I was immediately upset with myself for thinking that.

I felt bright hatred for the fucking assholes who tried to off him from their car.  And all the fucking bastards that ever called him the “N” word.  I wanted to hurt them, make them pay.

But just momentarily.

I want to protect him, but how?  with my as-yet-nonexistent martial arts skills?  with a gun?  with superpowers that take their words, their weapons, transform them into thoughts of understanding and empathy, and bounce them back, right into their brains, transforming them into good, kind, non-racist people?

Then I thought about how he may never be able to come home with me, to my home state.  Which is another Bible-Belt Southern state, 90% white.

And I cried.

I went to the bathroom so he wouldn’t see me crying.  I didn’t want him to see how upset I was, how torn up I was.  I wanted to show him how I’m strong and supportive.  But I also knew that I was crying because I was being selfish.  I have dreamed about him coming home with me, seeing the place where I grew up, exploring its hills, valleys, trees, streams.  The first dream I ever had with him in it involved us driving down a one-lane road, surrounded by huge, shady, lush, green trees.  I cherish that dream.  We were both so happy in it, having the time of our lives.

I needed to sort out my feelings before I talked to him, but I didn’t accomplish that last night, much to my shame.

I just kept feeling selfish, somehow.  And I didn’t want my feelings, my anger, my sadness, to take over his narrative, his experience.  I’m familiar with how the privileged person’s righteous anger can overwhelm and distract from the non-privileged person’s sharing their experiences.  My ex did that quite frequently.  As if her liberal white anger needed the spotlight.

So I kept quiet.  I listened as best as I could, but didn’t press for details, and didn’t tell him what I was feeling.

When he fell asleep, I cried a little more, ashamed that I couldn’t figure out a way to talk to him about it, and angry at the world, angry at the stupidity of humans.

So I write about it here.  Seeking catharsis.  Wanting to understand my white privilege better.  Hoping to be able to be a good partner to him, a good listener, but unsure of how to help.  How do I mitigate the suffering of my beloved?  How can I help transform the world to remove the hate that causes so much suffering?

 

Hating suffering? October 31, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — LP @ 11:48 am
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From my parenting blog… thoughts on love and hate.

Z is for Zener

Hate is an incredibly powerful word.  The feelings encompassed by the word are sharp and full of pain, anger, anguish.  It’s oppositional and defiant.  And it gets thrown at us parents by our children at times when they resent the parenting we have to do, the discipline and the consequences that we mete out when necessary.  It’s a momentary thing, an expression of anger and resentment.  But as adults, with a knowledge of history and the wisdom of experience on our sides, the word “hate” can fill us with fear – hate is, after all, what fuels genocides, wars, riots – painful, awful death and destruction.

It clearly isn’t something anyone with a conscience would want to cultivate.

But what about hating the bad stuff, like suffering?  What about hating that which causes suffering?  Opposing suffering is good, of course it is – who wouldn’t want to end hunger? homelessness?…

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