Sunday, November 13, 2016

Safety and Love

I was 14 years old walking to meet my ride to school.   A sunny spring day and I was wearing a sweet baby blue dress with puffy short sleeves that my grandmother had designed and made for me. And on my feet, white Dr. Scholl Sandals, the wood bottomed slip on shoes that clacked when I walked.  I weighed all of 95 pounds and didn't even wear makeup.  It was 1971 and I cannot get the clarity of that day out of my head even now.  

Because there was no bus service to my parents home 3 miles from school, I walked a mile and a half to my friend's home to catch a ride, her brothers and sisters had a car to drive them all to school and there was a spot for me if I made it to their house by the time they left for school.  The first part of my walk was a half mile  that was more like a road through a tunnel of trees than a regular street. Then there were scattered houses and twisty climbing streets until I reached my friend's home. 

On that day as I entered the tunnel of trees part of the walk, there was a pale blue VW bug parked on the side of the road. I walked about 200 yards into the tunnel clacking my new  white Dr. Scholls on the road.  Then there were footsteps behind me, that was unusual I remember thinking. But being a shy small 14 year old, I kept walking.  Until the footsteps caught up to me and I heard a man's voice say "Do you have a match?"  I turned around to answer...the man had his pants down and was exposing himself to me. I turned to run and just like in every bad dream, it felt like my feet were in cement. I must have somehow managed to take some running steps because I can still feel how hard it was to run in those pretty white wood bottom sandals of mine.  I heard him start to run after me, and I ran as fast as I could manage although it felt like I wasn't moving fast at all.   Then his footsteps sounded farther away as for some reason he stopped chasing me and  ran the other way. 

I burst through the darkness of the tunnel of trees to where the scattered houses were.  He was gone.   I now know I was falling into some kind of shock mode and I stood by the driveway of a house shaking for what felt like hours.  And then because I didn't know what else to do. I finished my walk to my friend's home.  I got in the car like always and rode to school feeling like I was going to throw up.  I didn't say anything, I didn't know what to say and I hadn't fully processed it all.

When I got to school, I went to a couple of classes and then the tears began. I found my way to a pay phone and called my mom. Who called the police. And they came to school.  The police called me out of my class and walked me to the office in front of everyone.  Then they interviewed me. It was awkward and horribly embarrassing.  And not once did anyone offer any degree of comfort or anything I could grab onto as concern.  The police left me at school still reeling and on the verge of falling apart. I believe I confided in a couple of close friends but the rumors had already started swirling as the entire school saw two officers walk me through the campus.  I may have shared the details with people who weren't close friends but I was being asked over and over why the police had been with me.   And then older boys started looking at me in the hallway and I was asked over and over again "Do you have a match?" I suppose they thought it was funny. I supposed the Juniors and Seniors who asked me out on dates thought I was the kind of girl who had asked for this to happen.  I don't know. I had never even been kissed. I was beyond naïve and they wanted to take me out.....

I got a ride from my parents the next day to school, but the day after that I walked the tunnel of trees and every other day until my friend told her mom what had happened and that mom had her kids drive towards my house and they picked me up at the entrance to the tunnel of trees road.  Nobody really spoke of it afterward. Nobody including me. It wasn't how it was done back then. I felt unsafe and afraid every single day.  Nobody asked if I was okay, nobody told me I was safe or that it wasn't my fault.  I never wore that baby blue dress again and I certainly didn't wear  Dr. Scholls sandals.  Because you can't run in them.

I was terrorized and  afraid for my life because a man thought a 14 year old was someone to assault and  victimize on a dark deserted road when she walked to school.  I had pushed this memory down where it was hidden in the deepness and although it surfaced once in a while, I worked hard  to leave it hidden. I hadn't thought much about it lately until I started to run into words being thrown around lately about men who can take what they want from women.  My memory and how it felt to be at the mercy of a stranger who inflicted so much damage with his actions came shooting to the top of my consciousness. The minimizing of this kind of thinking and talking and behavior has shaken my sense of safety and calm.  Men joking about locker room talk or people saying that those who speak this way are just joking. It doesn't feel like joking, it feels like some people's true thoughts showing up.  It doesn't feel okay. It makes my stomach hurt to be honest.  

I am sharing my story now because I am compelled to speak out for anyone who feels minimized and afraid.  Silence isn't how we heal, silence isn't how we stand for what is good.  Pushing down a memory of assault and fear isn't how we go forward for it will always come back to be talked about and dealt with.  I believe it's time for us to stand for what we believe in, that we should gather strength to stand for what matters. Hold ourselves and others to a higher standard.  Find a way to connect so that we see the humanity in everyone. I'm just a girl writing a small blog, I don't have answers to what is waging right now. I know it feels unsafe and everyone seems to be on high alert.  For me, I'm going to do for others what my 14 year old self needed in 1971. I'm going to check in on people, I'm going to make sure we are okay and I'm going to make sure I'm okay. I'm going to protect those who need it, stand up for what needs to be stood up for and love the fear right out of the space I am in.  If you need someone to check in on you, ask for it. Don't stay silent, reach out.  Take care of yourself, take care of the people around you.  Give and receive compassion, listen more, rant less. Let your light shine bright so that it is a beacon of goodness.    Love deeper. LOVE more. LOVE ON.

With Love and Hope

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

What it looks like from here

My birthday is next week.  It's the last one that starts with a  5.....I didn't know what 59 would be all about, but I'm pretty sure I didn't think it was like this... I sort of thought I'd have IT ALL FIGURED OUT...I don't.  At all.  But honestly what would be the fun in all that?

I've made no secret of my personal struggles with life circumstances and where I am with that. I went through a very difficult few years that felt like I was laying on the damp floor of a dark hole and I could not see the way out. I could surface for moments, to be there for my kids and to do my work but truly, I was faking it.  I'm a sensitive girl in a world that I don't understand and I processed my truth as being broken....And broken became where I lived for what felt like too long.  I don't know what I was waiting for, probably some kind of answer, truth, pain relieving change...I didn't know at all. I had some friends who saw the truth of my despair and simply stayed with me. They didn't try to fix or push me, they just stayed, sitting there with me on the ground until I was ready to sit up and there we stayed for a while longer, just sitting in the dark.  And I am grateful for their love, even when I couldn't say so.  I sort of intuitively knew this darkness , the brokenness and the despair, it had an important purpose but goodness I wanted to rush on through and be done with it.  Because pain sucks and pain for along time starts to feel normal. and I didn't want that to be my life. I didn't know how I was going to do it but, I decided to unbreak myself....I decided to invite the pain to sit down and have some real conversations with me.  And it did...So I sat at the table with my pain and what I thought were my shattered pieces because I thought it would be good to put them back together not realizing they didn't fit anymore...I spent a whole lot of time with the pain, trying to learn everything I could in the dark and figure out how to stand up and leave the table.  But not before pain and I had to hash out a whole lot of messy stuff.

Then two things happened..

.1 Pain was there to say to me in no uncertain term, that until I loved me enough to trust myself, listen to myself and BE MYSELF fully and completely, I would allow myself to put my own best interests last and take care of the rest of the world.  It isn't the job of the rest of the world to look out for me.  That was my job. To love and honor order to love and honor what mattered to me.  Pain told me that my sensitive, intuitive self was just the way I am wired, not wrong, not broken not in need of fixing. That was my greatest gift even though it had never felt that way.  My knowing and feeling and truth didn't need to be hidden and for sure shouldn't ever be given away.  This world that is hard for me, needs what I bring because I am loved...I am love. I listened to pain and it gave me the greatest bit of knowledge I've ever gotten...Pain did not lie, pain was a teacher. Pain stayed until I got it right....

2.  I started moving my body.  That simple. I started the day after Christmas, thinking it was going to be a simple bit of walking the treadmill a few times a week and my excess pounds would fall off, I would be cuter and thinner and everything would just happen like that. It didn't The first night I fell off the treadmill in an amazing and frightening display of no body awareness at all.   I still have the scar where I deeply skinned my knee.  My sons picked me up and took me  under their very strong arms and told me that they would work with me.  And I started lifting weights.  They went with me to the gym, we are doing this together. They gently guided me   out of my comfort zone so far, I couldn't even see where my comfort zone was. they taught me and let me take on the gaining of strength. My older children became sounding boards for fitness and cheered every single thing I gained rather than asked how much I was losing. I stopped weighing myself and trusted the life long process that is taking care of me, this impatient girl has discovered  patience and how good the hard work feels without expecting anything else. Trusting good changes would come but first I had to surrender to the process and have come to love it..   I cannot say this enough. If you want to change your life, move your body.  This is what I know for certain about that...Mind, Body and Spirit are connected and you CANNOT fix one with out the rest coming along for the ride. . 

The other day a friend said I looked like I was in the middle of becoming who I was meant to be. Maybe because I pierced my nose or maybe because I  committed to doing a hard physical event or maybe because I am excited about  recommitting to the success of my little company. Maybe these are outer signs of what's been inside all along. Maybe it just feels good to to take off the fear of what anyone else will think or say.   I told her that I was just uncovering who I always was. Revealing and becoming.  Because I get a voice in all this, how my story goes and how it all feels to be me.  Because I have sat at the table with pain and lay on the damp ground with despair, I know what they offer.  A chance to be unbroken.  To decide that I am more than what hurts, so much more and the hurt has no power when I love and honor myself so hard that the rest just fades out of focus.  Love is the thing. it's everything.   LOVE changed me, it saved me and gave me myself in a way I have never had.  I am unbroken, I am strong. . I can love what is real and good more than ever and I can walk away without anger from what doesn't serve that love.  This is my story. And that is where fearlessness, strength and peace live....where pain used to hang out. At my table of love...about damned time.......

"Well I have no fear
I have only love"
~Stevie Nicks, Gypsy

BRING IT ON 59.....We are going to be just fine....

<3 Barbara

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Speak Now

I've been tormented this down to the knot in my stomach and the tears I'm barely keeping at bay.   This is possibly the hardest  truthiesst truth I have ever spoken and this is is about being human.  And started as a text I sent to some people close to me who I trust...It is with their urging and love that I write this post. I'm terrified, my quivering hands are not easy on the keyboard as I type. I know that I may be opening a can of worms I am neither qualified to open or equipped to deal with. I'm a girl with a story and some truths and I have to speak now.

I don't know how to delicately step into this....The lastest bit of Donald Trump has hit me hard in the gut...And I'll tell you why.   Unless you have experienced the full truth of the thoughts and actions of a misogynistic, true narcissist who objectifies, defiles and disrespects women and in the process destroys everything that resembles love and respect, you cannot know the stomach turning, gut wrench reaction that the Trump recording brings to a girl like me. I have had a physical deeply emotional reaction that I cannot ignore.

I know this kind of man.  Who says it's funny, calls it locker room talk or thinks it is  something all men do....The kind of man who truly believes every woman's purpose is to be there for his own needs and wishes.  Who doesn't provide a safe place, protection or consideration to the people he claims to love.  Who truly thinks that it's okay to force kisses or grab a woman in the most personal of places.  Who thinks that it's all another joke and that we should all lighten up. Who apologizes by saying it was years ago (get over it ...)  and justifies their heinous words by saying that someone else has said and done worse.  Who doesn't really feel badly about it but is trying to get us to move on and once again accept the horrific and despicable nature of his true self without questioning his character.  I know this kind of man and once their true self is seen and heard.. that.cannot be unseen or unheard. We cannot unknow. It is despicable and horrifying. 

I know this kind of man and I promise you, under the thin façade that he still has, there is worse lurking...And for's not okay. It's not okay to force anything on anyone that doesn't want that thing. It's not okay to make jokes or belittle anyone for on the basis of sex, race, age, looks, religion or anything else. It's not okay, none of this is okay and as horrified as I am by the words coming from a candidate for the Presidency, I'm terrified by the silence or saying the other is worse for other reasons. Maybe we speak for humanity when we don't allow a victimizer to think we are afraid.  Maybe just maybe we speak now and love each other harder. Maybe just maybe we fix all this with asking for more of ourselves and each other but especially from the people who we trust to lead. Maybe we don't allow it to continue, don't justify or defend. Maybe we demand better....  Monstrous behavior speaks it's own unacceptable truth.

My loved ones have been terrified and worried about me for  years because of such thinking and actions...... and I love them for their fear even when I was hiding in denial....It is hard to understand why anyone would allow such despicable behavior and words into their lives.   It's hard to tell you why and how paralyzing this all can be. I have that same fear and worry about our country.    From my place of experience it's imperative that we don't explain it away, blame the other party, other people or politics. It's not about politics, it's about being a decent person.... it's about doing what is right, and demanding that our leaders ACT RIGHT and that we act right.  It's about expecting more and holding people to a standard of behavior and thought that at the very base doesn't allow for the victimizing or objectifying of anyone. Period.   It's about speaking up and letting our humanity be louder than our anger and frustration.   It's about showing our daughters and sons that this is not okay....It's just not.

I cannot and will not judge anyone for their politics and don't even ask my friends or loved ones who they plan to vote for.  This post is not about that....I hope you understand that. I hope that you do not rain down on me with hard words, I don't think that you will...    I've never been so afraid to hit the post button in my life but I am even more afraid to not hit the button.... I'm shaking but feel strongly that this is worth taking the chance that comes with speaking out....

Love More

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Love Letter to Summer Girls

My Dearest Summer Girls.

    I called you together, I spoke your name and dreamed for and  about you. I wrote of all the things we would do together, I imagined the sharing and exchanging of gifts, good books and summer wishes. I thought I was going to be present and summer the summer away with all of you.  I gathered supplies, and Pinned a bunch of good things to share. I borrowed a couple of books and made some big plans for beach time, good stories, blog posts and everything I was craving and wanted to give to you.  And I meant it when I said it.  But then.....something happened.   I have to back track a teeny bit to explain and please stay with me for a bit.

   I've spent a few years being broken.  Because truth could not hide anymore. I had to face a whole lot of hard stuff and it's been good work, good hard work, good hard painful work.  Walking on shards of glass in a hailstorm and earthquake kind of work.  Truth and learning what it means. Shame and guilt inventories were taken and I wore all of that like an itchy sweater for a long time.... In December I realized that the breaking was over and it was time for the unbreaking..I'll write about that stuff later....  So when summer was approaching and I felt the call of  the memories of the easy way summer has  of laying on my heart, I let myself fall into it just a bit.  Summer Girl was created from that place...and you all jumped in and responded and I knew I wasn't the only one needing some respite and peace...

   I created a soft place for myself, I read books, I spent time with my sons, invested in my own health and took a few short trips to be with family and long time friends. I went to a baseball game, a party with friends of 40 plus years, a birthday for my  youngest grandchild which meant that all my children, their loved ones and babies and I were in one place for even a few hours.  I watched my oldest son get his masters   .  I watched movies, I knitted, I embroidered and I was still. I went to the gym and started eating better. .....all of that and more.  It wasn't loud or news worthy, my summer was sweet and soft and perfect.  The gathering of my broken pieces and gentle putting back what matters and finding I was not the same but better. Truer and just better...That is what I did this summer.  That is what you did for me. By enthusiastically embracing the notion of bringing back what we all are deep inside and letting summer be important and nurturing.   I summered myself all summer and in doing so, I got quiet everywhere else. And I left you alone.

I threw a party and I didn't come....And for that I apologize.  I am hoping you all used the energy we threw out and used it for your own type of summer. I hope that for moments you felt the peace, stillness and love that summer holds.  I hope you walked barefoot and let your hair dry in the sun. I hope you spent moments with yourself and people you love, not on social media or checking your phones. I hope you ate great food and didn't judge yourself for doing so. I hope you let the sun shine on your skin and found that less is so much more.  I hope you took pictures so that you can look back and remember how it felt to be a little bit more free and unbound. I hope you had a summer of good vibes that filled your heart. 

So here we are in September.  It is cooling down where I live just a teeny teeny bit.  School is back in session and my youngest son is in the middle of his first Varsity football season.  I have good things on the horizon that were cooked up during the days of Summer. I gained so much by not doing much and doing it with people I love. I am ready for Fall which for me is my magic time, I am ready for cool mornings, rain, leaves falling and yes....even a pumpkin spice latte once in a while.  I am still putting pieces back in place and ready for some truth telling and writing of stories about all of that.  But summer has left her gifts scattered  all over my world and has lifted my spirit. I wish the very same for you all....

  There it is....I thank you for jumping in with me. I thank you for your embracing of Summer Girl mindset and I thank you for your enthusiastic love for the idea of all things real and good. I thank you for opening up your thoughts and sharing  your words with us.  And I thank you for just believing that this idea had something worth grabbing onto.   We are now the Girls of Fall carrying a bit of summer with us where we go.   Stay in your magic and I love you all.


Monday, May 30, 2016

Summer Girl-what is this all about??

Something amazing has been happening.  And I need to step back a few weeks to explain how this amazing thing got a seed of a start in my whirling drunken squirrel party of a brain.

I am a very lucky girl in that I had magical summers up until the time I went to college and got real summer jobs,  I spent my summers in a funky and perfect little house in very small town on a peninsula of land between a bay full of soft sand beaches with water perfect for swimming, sailing and water skiing and the ocean on the west side, a short drive away. Our house was about a 5 minute walk to the edge of Tomales Bay.  We spent every single summer moved into a 2 bedroom house with a porch on the back for sunning, eating and friend gathering.... and a front porch with a couple of sleeping spots and stairs made  for perching when I wanted to read or embroider.  We had no tv, dishwasher or inside washer and dryer.  We spent sunny days at the beach and foggy days hanging with other summer families who became our family.  During the week it was mostly the moms and kids, dads came up on the weekends and so did "company".  Dinner during the week was often platters of cheese, salami and crackers while the moms played dominoes, had cocktails and laughed until it was time to go home. Weekends were large groups on our special beach with boats, sand and water everywhere.  The kids were allowed to roam the streets between everyone's home even in the dark. It was carefree and magical and I know as an adult what a very very fortunate girl I was.  At the time however.....I was surrounded mostly by boys.  My 2 brothers and a collection of the most annoying boys in the world.  So I found ways to entertain myself as a summer girl must do.  I turned to reading, painting rocks, embroidering on shirts and jeans and playing the guitar.  When the other two girls in the group were around, we did those things together but often it was me on the porch with my skinny legs tucked under me, using what we had around to make things or get lost in a book.  I learned to summer this way from my mom and the other moms because they summered like it was their job. I was left to be me, hair unruly, freckles encouraged to catch fire from  days on the beach.  I was barefoot except when I was forced to slip into my flip flops for safety.  My mom made the best apple and blackberry pie and if we picked enough of either, she would whip out a couple of pies before the beach. Pie for dessert and pie for breakfast on the porch in the sun.  Bathing suits and sandy towels were perpetually drying on the porch railing. It was simply the best way to grow up and to spend summer days.  Allowed to be my own tangled teenage self, I was probably the most at home and the most me I can remember.

A couple of weeks ago I was in a cabin in the mountains with some lovely women.   We were there to indulge in our projects, sewing machines, cutting tables and fabric were everywhere.  I happened to grab an embroidery project along the way and pulled that out on the first day.  As I sank into the stitches, I was taken back.  Back to what it felt like to just fall back into myself.  Stitching while we chatted or while we got quiet, I thought a great deal about the gift those summers had given me. I wanted to feel the way it felt when the world fell away a bit and summer was magical.  The more I embroidered, the more I traveled to that place and the more I wanted to recreate what that was like. That summer girl place, where the young carefree teenage girl lived for a few months each year.  Barefoot, unruly hair and sun on my face.  And Grow Wild Summer Girl was born.  First a hashtag on an Instagram post, the idea nagged at me. I shared my thoughts with a friend who jumped at the notion of being a summer girl and she encouraged me to write about it. And then I wrote the first Blog Post (one post back from this one)  Shared it on social media and something insane and beautiful happened.   A whole lot of you responded. And when I say a whole lot, more than any other blog post I have written..  And I knew that I wasn't the only one......

I wanted to share embroidery, reading ideas, summer thoughts, friendship bracelets and mostly friendships. I wanted to create summer for myself and see who else wanted to summer with me.  Connecting in a place that feels like home to our weary grown up girl selves....We carry the world and lots of worry about life and the people we are raising or love.  We carry so much more than we need to and adult life sometimes sucks the girl right out of us.  I say we take it back.  We can't all quit our jobs and summer like we did at 17 but we surely can give ourselves that place in bits and pieces.   So that is what this Summer Girl thing is all about.  connecting.  Connecting to other summer girls who need to laugh and let go a bit and connecting to ourselves.   Create a tribe of summer girls, exchange gifts, exchange pie recipes, exchange thoughts, exchange pieces of your heart. Whisper to each other and to yourself the things you don't let out in the other seasons , trust yourself to let your truths out and set down your burdens for just a while. Let go and be yourself...Just be a Summer Girl even for an hour at a time.

I've created a place for you to come gather with us..A Facebook page just for all of this wonder and magic..

I've also just started on Pinterest a Summer Girl Board and will be adding in some Summer Girl activities and reading list boards, all will start with Summer Girl...(I already started an Embroidery board).

So join us, become your Summer Girl, grow wild a bit.   There is no age that defines a summer girl, we are all the same in summer.  The Facebook page is filling up with lots of other Summer Girls from everywhere! Bring your friends, create a tribe, start summering and please please please share your stories and projects.  That is what we do as Summer Girls, we connect and we remember what that girl we sometimes leave behind.  Laugh hard, get sunshine on your face , play dominos and have cheese and crackers for dinner once in a while. Put down your phone, pick up something that feels like a deep sigh to your soul.   The world will look much brighter when you tuck your legs under you and settle in just a bit.   Welcome home Summer Girl. I'm so happy you are here.
<3 Barbara

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Grow Wild Summer Girl

I remember her well.  My teenage summer girl.  I was fortunate enough to spend my summers a house built by my great great greats in a small village near the beach.  We had a group of other families that spent summers with us in their houses built by their great great greats and we spent our days together at the beach, picking blackberries, making jam, playing dominos and guitars late into the summer nights and just doing what comes next in summer.   There was lots of time to entertain ourselves so I spent hours embroidering chambray shirts, painting rocks, making things like friendship bracelets and reading on my bed on the porch.  My sheets were delightfully mismatched, laundry was hung on the line and sandy towels hung over the balcony every day after the beach.  No TV...lots of quiet time for a girl to spend just being who she was.  The way she came to this world with her true wild guiding her.  I yearn for that feeling, of just being absorbed in the business of summer.  Barefoot with messy hair, my freckles glowing from days in the sun.  My mom's blackberry pie for breakfast, reading late at night out on the porch in my bed with a flashlight.  The time when I was just me, before life got a hold of me and shook me all around.  I miss my summer girl.....

I've decided it's time to bring her back in every way that I can. I've decided to take back my summer and bring back that girl.   While I cannot leave my job or spend hours a day, every day at the beach. I can grab onto moments of summer girl pursuits.  And I have enlisted a few friends to do the same, I've gathered a tribe and it took just a moment of sharing my thoughts with a few friends who shouted "I'M IN" without hesitation because  clearly we all need this.  I'll be sharing ideas and the ways that we join together  from where we are, to live a summer girl life.  It will be different for everyone but I know that there is a way to find that part of you that you've been missing.  We take care of so many other people and things, life gets a little hectic and heavy sometimes.   Put it down just a bit, the should dos and business of being busy. Remember what summer is for. Your kids, they can entertain themselves without you for a bit, or if they can't...train them.  Teach them to be summer kids.  Take off your shoes and walk in the grass, find a book you want to read and curl up in a cozy spot and give yourself an hour.  Float in water, paint rocks and have pie for breakfast.  The world will not come apart if you fall back into yourself. I just won't.  

There's a wild, wild whisper
Blowin' in the wind
Callin' out my name
Like a long lost friend
Oh, I miss those days
As the years go by
Oh, nothin' sweeter than summertime
And American honey
~Lady Antebellum!  

I'll be sharing lots of good summer girl ideas but my first is to gather a reading list and make some  friendship bracelets for my tribe. There are tons of tutorials and YouTube videos out there..I'm starting with this one

Come with me won't you, gather a group of girlfriends who also are feeling a bit like adulting has taken a bite out of them.  Find ways to immerse yourselves even for small pieces of time in what it was like to just be you.  A summer camp for your soul....Can you imagine if all the girls you know decided to do the same.  I think your world and mine would be a better place full of happier women giving themselves over to just being who they are and doing things that make them happy .  Less social media, more reading with flashlights.   I desperately need to let go of all the stuff that has been weighing down my world, not quit it all but put it in it's place.  Get right with myself and embroider my jeans and for goodness sake.... lighten up.  Back to the girl I have missed so much.  Let your hair free, turn your face to the sun and listen to that whisper calling your name. I will be doing a series of blogposts about the Summer Girl Life....I hope you will come along with me and summer the heck out of this Summer.  Welcome home summer girl, grow wild and free.


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Strong is Beautiful

So.... I've been wanting to write this post for a bit but I wasn't quite ready until now.   It's all about love....

My name is Barbara....I am 58 years old and on December 26, 2015 I weighed in at 234.5 pounds.  I could tell you all the reasons why, 5 babies, changing metabolism, menopause, inactivity, indecision, stress, worry, hopelessness and probably a bit of depression, anxiety and inertia thrown in as well.  I've tried many things to change all of these circumstances and feelings...many things.  And never ever quite could get past the things holding me back.... which at the end of the day was fear and the inability to care enough about myself to do better. ...I was my own problem.  I have had bursts of energy for walking, dance cardio in my kitchen, really healthy eating but always always, it trickledl through my hands like water and I gave up.  I've tried over the past 6 years to really do something about it all but I couldn't stick with it.  I allowed cruel words and my own jungle of crippling self doubt and again FEAR put me back into the safe and easy place of wallowing.

Nights for the past 5-7 years have been spent over thinking, entertaining worries that became bigger in the dark and kept me quiet and deeply sad.  Weakness and fear.   LIARS....both of them..... I watched my own children turn themselves into fit and healthy people, I watched friends turn themselves into fit and healthy people, with a glow that I knew might be inside but I honestly had so many excuses rooted in those fear and weakness lies that I just didn't put myself on the list of people I wanted to see healthy.  I didn't put myself on the list of people who I loved enough to believe in.  I'm going to say that again because it's the thing, the only thing..  I DIDN'T PUT MYSELF ON THE LIST OF PEOPLE I LOVED ENOUGH TO BELIEVE IN.... I didn't love me enough to take care of me.  Sadness, excuses and fear....  You can see how I got to that place... I just didn't see beyond the lies that happened in the dark.

 I wanted to be happy, free to be my own true self, unafraid and strong.. I wanted my barefoot and messy girl to be free to breathe, laugh, cry  and LIVE TRUE . I didn't want the critical voice of others or myself to count anymore. I wanted to be brave and unafraid. I wanted to be able to bend over and tie my shoes and to slip into clothes that didn't have 2 X's in the size. I wanted to shed the girl that I had become so that the girl I truly am could fly a bit, oh heck, I wanted to fly a whole lot. I wanted the life I WANTED and I wanted it now...Not sure when or how that all happened, I have to say it was a huge light bulb of an AHA moment.  just like that.... But.... I didn't know where to start except with my body. I wanted to glow and feel good about me. I wanted to feel love and give it to myself.  I wanted to put myself on the list of people I love I did...honestly like that I did...And on December 26, 2016 with all 234.5 pounds of me, I joined a gym.

And so it started.  After a couple of treadmill sessions and one amazingly awesome treadmill accident that should have been caught on video, I asked my sons for help.  And they took me to the weights.   The part of the gym that was the most frightening and overwhelming, we went there.  I guess if you are taking on fears, you should take on the biggest ones.  I looked and felt totally out of place but we started. With  gentle but firm guidance I started learning to lift weights, learning what would impact what muscles. Learned how to manage a workout and what I wanted to get out of it.  I learned what was what and how to negotiate the sea of fit bodies and get my own spot on the floor in front of the big scary mirror so I could watch my form and concentrate.  I learned about the sauna after and how amazing it feels to sweat a bit at the end of a good workout and how it keeps soreness somewhat at bay. And I learned that I loved being stronger. Learned to push myself beyond what I think I can do. And I have learned to keep going.....through what is frightening.  Take on new challenges and triumph over things that I don't think I can do.....TRIUMPH...what an amazing word....

A few weeks ago, I experienced, a girlfriend's betrayal in a personal up close kind of way. ...My old self wanted to curl into a ball and cry.  My old self almost went into victim mode, a place that feels safe and justified.   But that isn't who I have worked to become.  I confronted the now former friend, told her that I knew what she had said about me, violating every bit of trust and ending our friendship forever. My old self would have negotiated around the hard stuff and let her remain in my life. My new self took care of me like I would take care of someone I loved. And instead of curling into a ball and crying for days, I headed to the gym. I sweated out a furious amazing workout, I did 2 miles on the treadmill until I could not do more.  And I knew that I was no longer afraid of anything.  Strong felt really good that day....Strong feels really good every day.

So after 4 months of learning to do hard things, lift heavy weights, fast walk for  many miles and feeling at home at the gym I should be able to show you a before and after picture.  I could, but  my "before" may look a bit like my "right now".   I've not lost a pound. I lose a pound here and there and seem to gain it back (SERIOUSLY????).  My clothes still have 2 Xs in the size label.  But I can bend over and tie my shoes, I am starting to get some muscles that show,I can do what I couldn't before and I am unafraid.  Because strong is more than my body, I believe you can't change one thing without changing everything about yourself.  It's a ripple kind of of thing... Strong is Mind Body and Spirit.  I am becoming  the girl I wanted to be. Unapologetically .  I am making some plans and setting some boundaries I didn't have before to have the life I WANT to have. To live free. I now sleep through the night, I eat better because it tastes better, I surround myself with people who are good for my soul, I am not afraid because I am stronger.   I am at the TOP of the list of people I believe in....I am at peace about losing the weight, I know it will shake loose eventually.  What I didn't expect was how much I would love all of this. Every single bit of rising up.  And that is why I had to write this love letter to myself and to you.. Because it's everything.

The title of this post was inspired by this piece.....

I just ordered it from my friend at The Rusted Chain.... Beki has lots of stuff with good words but truly these may be my favorite right now..  ..

Strong comes in many forms, it's different for everyone.  But for me, it had to come from learning that I am indeed capable of doing hard things and learning that fear isn't something to run from. Fear is something to turn around, look in the eye and face down.... Fear will run from strong every single time. Because fear is a liar and only exists when you let it and strong girls are beautiful....  Even with 2 x's on their tee shirt labels.

<3 B