Not bad for a fat girl


Mirror, Mirror, Go Away

My new home has a rather large master bathroom complete with a walk-in closet. It’s quite posh, really. It also features many mirrors. At least it seems that way. And these mirrors are hung at all sorts of angles from one another, creating something of a fun house effect. Or maybe house is horrors is closer to the truth. At least for me.

As I walk through the bathroom, I can’t help but view my entire body from angles that were previously unknown to me.

Picasso's Girl Before a Mirror

Picasso’s Girl Before a Mirror

Last night I caught sight of my full profile, and I stopped. I looked. I saw what everyone else sees all the time. You see, my body doesn’t carry weight the way most bodies do. I carry the majority of my extra weight in my belly, and it sticks way out. I am bigger front to back than side to side. When I look in the mirror I think I know what I look like, but I rarely catch a side view. Now I have one available all the time. Oh goody.

I stood there and gathered up as much of the belly fat as I could and took stock. There’s a lot. Then I let go and looked back in the mirror. I imagined what my body would look like if much of that belly were gone. Yes, there would still be plenty of jiggle to the thighs, and the back fat would still be in place. Yes, the beefy arms would still exist along with the double chin, but I would look pretty darn good. Not photoshop good, mind you, but fit and trim. That body could shop in a department that doesn’t have any sizes with the letter X in them. It would be nice, but it won’t happen by itself.

Those mirrors aren’t going away. They will remain in place to either encourage me or taunt me, as I see fit. It’s up to me to approach them with self love, not loathing. Too many of us hate our bodies, but our bodies deserve our care and tenderness, not our hateful thoughts. Regardless of the body I’m in, I will care for it and thank it for all the wonderful things it can do. And when I’m feeling really motivated, I’ll take it out for a spin, just to make sure all the parts are still working.





My Week At A Glance

we-have-movedIt has been quite a week.

On Monday we returned from vacation. We also signed a bunch of paper work.

On Tuesday I ran a million errands and got keys to our new house.

On Wednesday the movers brought in all of our furniture.

On Thursday I took the boy to the orthodontist and unpacked.

On Friday I unpacked some more.

Today is Saturday. This morning we rented a van and moved many more boxes into the house. It’s lunchtime, and I’m beat.

I’m being paged to go do more stuff. I’m drowning in boxes and feeling every one of the 112 or so degrees the sun is sending my way. I’m pooped. But I can do it! I will do it! IKEA, here I come.


Curse This Blessing

slider_image_5Tomorrow my niece will have her Bat Mitzvah. She will get up in front of the congregation and friends and family from near and far and she will read from the Torah. It is a Jewish rite of passage and she is well prepared for it. She will do great.

I, on the other hand, will bomb.

I never had a Bat Mitzvah. I was raised in the same synagogue where she will have her ceremony, and while it is a beautiful house of worship, it’s also quite large. As a kid her age I was quite shy. I begged my parents not to make me do it, and they agreed. I still don’t entirely understand that decision, but I’m happy with it. As a result, I never had to go up there and recite Hebrew in front of all those people. I dodged a bullet. Or so I thought.

A few nights ago my brother mentioned that he would like me and my mother to recite two prayers during the service. One is recited before reading the Torah, and the other is recited after. I’ve heard both of these prayers many many times during my life, but could I tell you the exact words? Did I mention that they’re in Hebrew? Gulp.

My brother told me not to worry, they have a laminated card right up there on the pulpit so you can’t mess up. The words are written in english syllables. Sort of. And the tune… well, let’s just say it’s a kind of sing-song chant thing. I should know it. But I don’t.

My internet access has been somewhat limited, so it wasn’t until tonight that I was able to hunt around on youtube to find these prayers. Finally, a Jan Lieberman, a cantor from Florida, had what I needed. I know most of it, but there’s still one line that’s tricky. The sounds she makes and the english letters on the laminated card don’t seem to match up in my brain, so I’m still a little stuck on that part. Add to that the fact that my mother is completely tone deaf, and I don’t have a great voice to begin with, and I think we’re in trouble.

The good news is that I’ve got the first prayer down. The further good news is that the second prayer is only about 15 seconds long on the youtube video. It will be fine, I have all night to listen to it. Besides, nobody will be paying attention to me anyway, it’s my niece’s day, and she will be perfect.



Suburban Invasion

lawn-hostasThey descended like a military unit, all shock and awe. My shattered dream was a casualty of the buzz and drone and whine of their battalion of equipment as it overtook the property outside my open window. They shouted orders to each other and went about their business with an impressive focus. The noise assaulted my fragile hold on the new day, and the overpowering scent of freshly cut grass attacked my delicate sinuses. Must they work at this early hour? This invasion occurs several times a week in this neighborhood. The calm is exploded and the air is seeded with allergens. The yards, however, are pristine. I’m glad I’m just visiting.


Can You Go Back?

I attended my high school reunion over the weekend. We do this ritual every ten years or so, and I haven’t missed one yet. I was sorry that some of my classmates couldn’t attend due to distance and schedules and the general nuts and bolts of life, but that’s to be expected. It doesn’t diminish the event for me if every friend I’ve ever had can’t be there. In fact, there were more than enough people there for me to try to figure out who’s who.hs1

I have to tell you, overall my classmates look pretty darn good to me. As a group they have aged well. Sure, there are a few exceptions but overall they don’t look a whole lot different than they did way back when, except that now they look like adults. Well, most of them. I swear there are two or three who got stuck in some soft of funky time warp thing.

I’ve been thinking about the weekend and all the people I saw, and what struck me was how much positive energy I felt with that group. It makes sense, doesn’t it? The people who are feeling pretty good about life, and don’t mind spending the time and energy it takes to get to the reunion (even if they live around the corner) are the ones who show up. The ones who are struggling stay at home. Those who hated high school or who hate people in general can’t be bothered to come to this event. That’s okay. I’m not saying high school is the be all, end all. Quite the opposite. In fact, I was struck by how little of the conversation had anything to do with high school at all. Time and again I caught up with people and learned what their lives are like now. There have been triumphs and tragedies, but nobody seemed to dwell in the past.

I was glad to see that. I think of the old Bruce Springsteen song, “Glory Days” and feel relieved that I’m part of a group that isn’t living that depressing reality. Our best days are not behind us. Our best days are everyday. Can you go back? Certainly, as long as you continue to simultaneously go forward.


Daily Prompt: Can’t Stand Me, or There’s More Than Meets the Eye

What do you find more unbearable: watching a video of yourself, or listening to a recording of your voice? Why?

When I was a young student teacher part of my training required me to videotape and critique one of my lessons. Apart from the complex logistics of borrowing the appropriate equipment (no cell phones in those days), I regard this exercise as one of the most irritating, yet ultimately helpful experiences in my training. Still, I hated it.

You see, I was fat. I’ve been fat to greater or lesser degrees since roughly puberty. In seventh grade home economics class the teacher measured each of us so that we would use the correct size pattern for garment construction. tape_measure_-_85592920__medium_4x3It was all very sensible, and not done to make anyone feel embarrassed or awkward, but c’mon, we were in seventh grade!

My waist measurement was a full three inches greater than most of the other girls. Well, two and a half, but it felt like three. It was, gasp, twenty-nine and a half inches. Most of the girls were in the twenty-five to twenty-seven inch range. In retrospect most of them hadn’t hit puberty yet, either, but my twelve-year-old brain didn’t take that into consideration. It also didn’t take the fact that I was taller than most of them into account either. I just felt big and fat. I wish the me today could have talked to the twelve-year-old me.

The me now might not have as many weight issues if that were the case. I could comfort that little girl and explain to her that everyone develops at their own pace, and try to convince her that she was just fine. Maybe I could ease her worries just a bit. Then I would encourage her to keep riding her bike and swimming and playing basketball and volleyball and soccer, even if she wasn’t the best. Maybe she would have developed the confidence to stay active instead of shrinking toward the sidelines.

Unfortunately, my mother was of no help at all. I’m adopted and by the time I was twelve I was way bigger than my mom ever would be. I towered over her, and outweighed her by a considerable margin. She’s barely over 5 feet tall and was under 100 pounds when she married. She didn’t have a clue what it was like to feel big and awkward. In fact she didn’t have much of a clue about puberty at all. I had to ask for a training bra at age 10. Talk about humiliating. I tried hinting, but it didn’t work. Unlike other little girls of 10, I really needed one.

Going through junior high and high school I was always on the bigger side, but not so big that I couldn’t shop in the regular stores. That would come later. I always loved to eat, and as I got older much of my social life involved going out for food. I grew up in the cold Northeast, and that’s what people do for 9 months of the year or so. Then the weather gets better and we have picnics and barbeques all summer. Oh, and we drink. Hey, it’s cold outside!

Sure enough the freshman 15 found me, along with a little extra. Then I graduated, got a job, moved in with my boyfriend, and really got comfortable. Stretchy pants became my friends, and the extra pounds didn’t seem to matter so much. Big sweaters were in style and life was good.

Then came graduate school and student teaching. I needed clothes. Real clothes. Suits. Nothing fit. I had to move up to the plus size department. It was humiliating, especially since my tiny mother was the one taking me shopping for my professional wardrobe. She’s never been easy to shop with. It was awful, but I did come away with some really lovely pieces. Thank you Liz Claiborne and Jones of New York for making beautiful clothing for plus size women, even way back then when everyone else was putting all the fat women in pastel polyester.

Off I went to my student teaching gig, doing quite a good job of it, thank you very much. Then came the videotape assignment. Ugh. I did NOT want to do it. Of course I had seen myself in the mirror, millions of times. But pictures somehow were different, they made me look bigger than I thought I was. They still do. On_WHITE_vidCameraAnd video? Well that’s a hundred times worse. Now not only will I see all sides of me, but I’ll have to listen to the silly things I say, and watch the awkward way I move. No thanks. I wasn’t looking at it from the standpoint of how it could help me assess my teaching practice at all. I was too wrapped up in my own self concept of my physical attributes to move into the realm of what the assignment could do for me. I was fixated on what it would do TO me. Stupid girl.

Still, it was required, so I sucked it up and did it. I soon forgot the camera and just taught the lesson. Afterwards I avoided watching the video for a couple of days, but I had to watch it to critique it, and the assignment was coming due. I couldn’t put it off forever. I put the tape in, prepared for the worst. The first minute I spent cringing as I went through a mental checklist. Hair? Not bad. I like those earrings. My voice is loud enough, but not too loud. That jacket really does look nice with that skirt, but ugh, I walk like a linebacker.

Soon I ran out of things to fixate on, so I began to actually pay attention to the teaching. Hey, that was a good point I made. Uh oh, I rushed through that part of the directions, no wonder the students got confused when they got to that part of the assignment. Oh no, I never saw her raised hand as I was teaching. Hey, those two have been passing notes! I didn’t see that during the lesson. Great job having all the materials in place before hand, distributing everything went very quickly and smoothly. And so on. Once I stopped worrying about the silly stuff like my hair and my weight, I could focus on the important stuff, like how to best reach my students and where to hone my skills. It was an eye opening experience, one that my professor included for a very good reason.

I still don’t love seeing myself on video, but I no longer cringe at the thought. I am valuable. I have a place in this world. Ok, maybe I take up a little more space than most people, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be in the picture. I contribute to my family, to my workplace, and to my students lives. I have a voice and I use it. If it occasionally ends up in video, so be it. Maybe I will reach someone who needs to hear my message, or even just see me being happy with who I am. After all, isn’t that our ultimate goal? To live in a way that makes us happy and satisfied with who we are and what we have to offer the world? I think it is.





The house is quiet except for the sound of rain against the windows and roof, and the soft snoring coming from both the couch and the love seat. I couldn’t be happier.

We’re in transition, this little family of mine. There are four of us, three humans and a dog. My sixteen-year-old son stretches his lanky body across the long couch, breathing in and out rhythmically to the sound of the rain. My fiancé is on the love seat, one leg bent across the arm, the other on the floor, occasionally letting out a noise to let me know he’s still alive and asleep. They have both fallen asleep without meaning to, victims of their own exhaustion.

a_sleeping_dad_on_the_couch_0515-1005-1302-0329_SMUThey are missing the summer storm, with its steady rain and gently rumbling thunder. The dog has settled at my feet, more out of comfort than any sort of alarm. We are all at peace tonight.

I was a little worried. We are in the midst of a move, and we’re in temporary quarters. We had a 1,765 square foot, four-bedroom house that we sold. We’re moving into a 2,200 square foot, four-bedroom house, but it’s not ready yet. Right now we’re in a space that is about 750 square feet and has two bedrooms. Oh, and it was completely full when we got here.

There is not a single empty drawer or even two inches of closet space available in this house. There is no room in the medicine cabinet, the kitchen cupboards, or even on the counters. We have items in suitcases on the floor, items stashed under the one bed, and items under the kitchen table. We have a laundry hamper in the living room, next to a filing cabinet, behind the couch. You might say it’s a little cramped. Still, it’s a roof over our heads, and it’s rent-free at that. I can’t complain. I won’t complain. The air-conditioning works, there is a fridge and two functioning bathrooms, there’s a washer and dryer, and there’s a lovely swimming pool a short walk away. We’re set. Crowded, but set.

Tonight I’m feeling gratitude, not just that we have this place to stay, but that we are together. My son and my fiancé are the two most important people in my life, and the fact that they’re both snoring away on the couches just a few feet from where I’m writing makes me incredibly happy. They could have each retreated to their separate corners, but they didn’t. They could have been self-conscious about letting their guard down, but that wasn’t the case. They are both totally at home here, even amongst all the stuff that I feel is choking us. They aren’t craving solitude, they are embracing togetherness.

I was worried about the lack of space. I was worried that we would begin to get on each other’s nerves and argue, but that hasn’t happened. We’ve adjusted. They’ve adjusted, and they’ve taught me that I can adjust too.


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