No Frowning in the Mirror

We were driving up the main road to campus to see our college girl when I saw a sign in front of a restaurant that had me doing a double take just to confirm that my eyes did not deceive me.

I was driving so I wasn’t able to take a picture.  But trust me on this, you can’t make this stuff up.  The sign said,

“Our Salads Will Make You Skinny”

 

Are you kidding me?

This makes me angry on so many levels.

First, is this what our society is coming to?

Never mind, don’t answer that.  I know that it is.  The skinnier the better, right?  Frankly, that really ticks me off.

Second, what about “our salads will make you healthy”?  Wouldn’t that be a better selling point?  A better thing to focus on?  Health?

Right, I know.  Skinny is equated with healthy.  But that’s not always the case.

Skinny does NOT equal healthy.

Third, this sign is less than a mile from the all women’s college campus where my daughter lives and is attending school.

Yeah, this restaurant knows exactly what it’s doing and who its market is.

Wrong.  On.  So. Many. Levels.

Maybe I’ve been watching too many law shows, but as my blood started boiling, I thought about what lawsuits I could throw at them and what I’d say to them in court.  False advertising, emotional distress, child endangerment (some of those young women aren’t quite 18), and just plain out indecency.

Signs like this, businesses like this, and the people who run them and choose to advertise this way are playing on our insecurities. In that one moment that business owner is saying, “Hey, you, the one driving over there…..yeah, you.  You are not perfect or beautiful or well-proportioned.  Your body is not all that it can be.  But hey, if you eat our salads, you will become skinny, and since this is something everyone wants to be, you should come here and eat our salads.  And then the world will be yours.”

I’m calling them out on this.  This is nothing but blowing hot air.  No, it’s worse than that.  It’s made up of the stuff I used to walk around and avoid stepping in when I was following my Daddy through the cow pasture.

And I say No More.

It is time that we all stand up and say that there is no perfect body shape or size and turn away from those who would have us believe otherwise.  My friend Lisa who writes over at My So Called Glamorous Life asked a great question: “How many people make money off of our insecurities?”

Exactly.

So to my daughter and her friends:  You are beautiful.  You are young and you are learning, and there is so much to life that is hard.  Don’t make looking in the mirror a part of the hard stuff.  Love who is there.  If you feel healthy, that is wonderful.  Keep on keeping on.  But if you don’t feel healthy, do something about that.  Find a friend to join you and make wise choices–in all areas of your life, including eating and moving your body and keeping good company.  If you feel like eating a salad, go for it.  But please don’t do it because of a promise to “make you skinny.”  Just.  No.  Salads can’t do that.  At least not alone.  And sometimes not at all.  Look in your mirror.  Smile.  That woman in front of you is beautiful and deserves to be smiled at and loved.  So love her, and go do you.  As a friend once told me, ‘You are the best you there is.’  A salad’s not going to make you more awesome.  Loving yourself and then those around you–now that can fine tune and amplify all that is wonderful about you.  

Ain’t nobody got time for false advertising and empty promises.  Or frowning in the mirror.  Life’s too short for all of that.

Love to all.

 

Vertigo

Vertigo.

Vertigo is not fun.

If you’ve never had it, here’s how my bouts with it usually start.

I wake up and turn my head and suddenly my bed, my whole room is spinning.  Even closing my eyes doesn’t stop the sensation.

Fortunately, it’s usually manageable.  I just take extra care not to turn my head suddenly or bend at the waist.

Like I forgot and did a few minutes ago.

Not.  Good.

When it hits me like that, I just sit down. Stop.

I am still.

And eventually the world rights itself again.

And I am thankful.

As I was sitting there, on the floor, next to the thing I bent over to pick up, waiting for the spinning to stop, it occurred to me that life is very much like that.

Something shifts and our world goes topsy-turvy.  Unfortunately, in the midst of that, it is rare that I find myself able to let things go, sit, and be still, but until I do, chaos ensues.  I only contribute to the spinning madness.

Once I can sit, listen to the quiet, and still my spirit, I usually find that things get set to right again.  Oh, I’m not saying it’s easy or that I don’t have to do something to right my world at some point.  What I have come to realize is that if I still my soul before taking action, things seem to go so much better.

And the vertigo doesn’t last nearly as long.

Tonight I’m thankful for the stillness.  And the quiet.  And the peace in my soul that comes from simply sitting.  And not trying to fight all that is out of order all at once.  And I am thankful for the grace that allows me to get back up and try again, once the spell is over.

Wishing you all a moment to sit and be and still your soul.  Love to all.

 

The Empty Shelves

The little concrete building

with bars over the only windows,

the ones at the front

looking out over the busy road

at all the customers they had hoped to draw in.

There are signs in the windows,

advertising the cigarettes that they planned to have on the shelves.

 

The neon light hangs slightly off-center,

never having been plugged in at all.

It is for some drink or another

that never graced the shelves,

only that unlit sign stands testament to what

was supposed to have been.

 

Everything was ready and appearances were good,

on the outside.

Only the inside of this little store

was never stocked.

No one ever entered its doors, seeking

spirits or sustenance.

Or conversation.

 

No one stood behind the counter,

doing the job she was hired for.

No one pulled his truck up to the front door

and unloaded cases of Coca-Cola

or Ritz Crackers.

Or Moon Pies.

 

Empty.

 

No substance there at all.

Sometimes we are like that little cement brick building.

The structure is there, everything’s ready,

as far as the outward appearances go.

 

But–

we forget to get our insides ready.

Our soul is empty and not at all prepared for what we want to appear

ready for.

What we’ve said we can do,

we haven’t always prepared our hearts

or souls

or minds for.

 

I drive by the little store and think

about what a shame it is that they didn’t stock the shelves

first

and then put up the signs inviting people inside.

Because I Kept Breathing

Today the writing prompt for our Rising Bloggers group was “Something your body has taught you.”  You can find other posts on this topic here

The night that the Fella came and got me on my evening walk in August of 2009, my whole world changed in that instant.  I went from being a wife, Mama, new homeschool teacher, and mildly concerned daughter of a Daddy who had been having a few problems to a terrified little girl who could not imagine life without her Daddy.

When my husband told me that Mama did not want me to come to the hospital that night, he said instead she wanted me to call my siblings.

I called each one, and tears and plans and hopes and fears were floating in the air above us like particles of dust do in the afternoon sunlight that pours in through the living room windows.

When I called my Brother, he was quiet for a moment on the other end.  He lives several states away and coming home in a hurry was not an option for him.  “Oh Bubba,” I said through my tears.  “If something happens to Daddy, I don’t think I will be able to breathe. I just can’t.”

But there’s this.

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In the weeks before my Daddy died, I stayed up late stripping pork roasts and putting them in the freezer, baking cakes to put back as well, and simply thinking and planning and trying to stay one step ahead of What Might Could Happen.  My body was exhausted but my spirit, my mind, and my heart said it must be done.  And they were right.

And my body is, at times, stronger than my spirit. Stronger than I ever knew.  When my heart broke completely at 4:30 p.m. on 17 November 2011, my body pushed through and did the impossible.  It kept on breathing, sleeping, doing what needed to be done.  Even when all I wanted to do was give up and crawl under a blanket and find myself waking up from a bad, bad dream.  And yet I kept breathing.

It’s amazing to me the balance between body and spirit.  When one is broken or lost, it seems that the other is there to pick up the load.  During Mama’s HospitalStay we all kept so many balls in the air, I know it was nothing but sheer willpower of spirit that kept us going.  Our spirits seemed to cheer our bodies on–“You can get up early in the morning to finish that laundry, to pay those bills, to make that phone call, to read to that child, to put supper in the crockpot…..”  It was three weeks later when Mama’s fight for comfort and healing ended that the roles reversed.  When she took her last breath and the nurse we grew up knowing nodded his head from her doorway, in that instant, my body nudged my spirit and said, “You take a rest. I’ll take it from here for a while.”

And so it was my body that took over as I washed her face one more time.  It had brought her such comfort in life, and now it brought me comfort.  As if by rote, my body got me through the whirlwind of the next few days–planning and running errands and welcoming and greeting and thanking folks and saying goodbye.

20131024-215518.jpgIf one believes that, as the Good Book says, we are created in the Image of the Creator, who is three in one, isn’t it fascinating to see how these two sides of our selves work together?  We are not all body or all spirit, but both as one.  Both need food to survive and time to rejuvenate and heal.  It takes both to live this life that is so full of laughter and joy and tears and sadness.  It takes both to love with our hearts and our hands.  It takes both to defend what we believe in with our minds and our bodies.  And it takes both to say goodbye.  To touch a hand and kiss a forehead one last time, and to let them go with our hearts where they need to go.

When I asked my body what it felt like was the greatest thing it could share with me and the world, it was this:

“I don’t work alone.”

And though I can’t run a marathon or even jog around the neighborhood, I am strong, stronger than I ever knew.  I know.  Because I kept breathing.