Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Shape of Me

November 19, 2019

I was reminded the other day--not for the first time--that I don't look like I did 15 years ago, as if this were an indictment, something about which to be embarrassed.  Trust me, I know I don't look the same.  I own a mirror, and I can see that I'm 52, and not 37.  Now, 52 looks different on a lot of people, but like many of us, my body shape has changed over the years.  My weight has changed too.  It's not easy for someone who has always struggled with body image (like 98% of the women I know) to maintain a healthy relationship with myself.  Having someone remind me that it's a pretty good reason to negate the other fabulous things I bring to the table can sometimes put me right back into the tailspin of teen angst and insecurity.  Not everyone deals with weight gain as we age, but a great many of us do, and it's just not easy.

Now I certainly don't mean that I have let myself go; I still love to get up and make myself feel presentable for myself every single day.  I like to wear clothes that are flattering, buy cute and charming booties and heels in every imaginable style, and I like to wear a little make-up to bring out the sparkle in my eye and a touch of color in my lips.  I try to work out and watch what I eat.  But yes, as I was reminded, I do not look like I did 15 years ago.  Few do.  So I started thinking about the ways I look different today--a little personal assessment, if you will.

With the passing of the last 15 years, here are just a few of the ways I look different:

--I look like a woman who beams with pride at having raised three pretty incredible humans into adulthood.
--I look like a woman whose world view has expanded through travel to other countries and interactions with other cultures.
--I look like a woman who carries herself with the professional confidence borne of experience and longevity in a work environment in which she thrives.
--I look like a woman who bears worry lines on her forehead and in her heart for all the young lives she cares about in her classroom each year.
--I look like a woman who fought to keep her family afloat during times of financial difficulty when resources were scarce.
--I look like a woman who has smile lines on her face, marking the laughter she has shared with loved ones--friends, students, and family--both the natural-born family and the ones she's chosen as family.
--I look like a woman who has a twinkle in her eye--sometimes mischievous and playful and some times plain joyful--as she looks with love at those who have joined her on her journey of life.
--I look like a woman whose scars tell the story of her triumph over breast cancer.
--I look like a woman who stands tall, having achieved her goal of attaining her Master's degree later in life.
--I look like a woman whose plumper body is evidence of lots of shared meals with loved ones, talking and laughing and dancing together well into late night hours.
--I look like a woman whose heart has grown far more in size than her body ever could by living in love and optimism.

 Yes, I have changed in the past 15 years.  But if you choose to see me through the lens of one who can see only the outline of my shape and determine that's the most important definition of who I am and how I've changed, then my goodness, perhaps it's your lenses that need a little cleaning.  Have I changed? I have.  In ways both grand and microscopic.  My heart, however, and my spirit--those remain the same.  That includes the ability and desire to see the good in others, and the optimism that the best is always around the corner.  I'd rather be loved and supported by those who are able to see through lenses that illuminate that shape ahead of any other.  That is the true shape of me, and I'm damn proud of it.

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