You Look Marvelous!

The fresh, young millennial in last week’s yoga class had beautiful legs – with a light brown downy pelt of hair; soft and silky smooth.  It was dazzling, amazing – lovely.  She probably never put a razor to her legs once.  Trying to remember why I spend any time at all on that activity.  As a kid, I WANTED to shave my legs; made me feel all grown up – glamorous.  Decades later that upkeep is frankly a pain in the ass.

The reasons behind shaving, plucking and adorning women’s bodies has changed and morphed throughout history.  Why do women keep on shaving today?  Why do I?  It can’t simply be aesthetics when natural can be so pretty.  Is it because I was brought up to think I must?  To believe in this activity as a condition for beauty?

Going natural – in bits and pieces is my new experiment.  Fingernails, toenails – makeup . . . the non-permanent stuff . . . whose scale of difficulty to go au naturale varies.  That one really ugly toe (ugh) . . . slides the scale toward uncomfortable – but bearable.

Of course there’s THE BIG ONE . . . Hair!  When I left the corporate world I gave myself permission to quit the tedious and expensive ritual of dying my hair.  Chasing the auburn was wearing my ass out – and I suspected I’d be 100% white/gray. Boy-oh-boy was I scared!  What would people think?  Would I look old? – Ugly?  What would they say at Hip-Hop class?  I was extremely nervous, but determined.  Luckily I found a private support group on Facebook that helped me re-frame the questions.  Instead of wondering what other’s thought – I was encouraged to ask “What do I think?”  Instead of worrying about looking old – they wanted to know “How did I like my new look?”

Of course when the movie ticket guy asked my husband “is that one adult and one senior?” – Me being “THE SENIOR” – I was just a tiny bit thrown.  Then I laughed – have to wait a bit longer for that discount.

Society has very clear standards for female appearance – and behavior.  We’re expected to look a certain way, with the right make-up, hair, nails – and yes silky naked legs.  Too often we’re supposed to be quiet, calm and lady-like – all “sugar and spice and everything nice.”

Just not buying that right now.  We – men and women – are messy, complicated and peculiar.  When I’m authentic, I contribute something unique to the world.  It’s easier for me to make physical changes than behavioral adjustments.  This experiment is moving my comfort zone . . . providing the impetus to brave the source of my beliefs behind appearances.

Will there be a silky pelt on my lower appendages in the future?  – Hmmm, jury still out on that one.

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

“You look marvelous!” – catchphrase of Fernando Lamas. That is who Billy Crystal modeled his character “Fernando” after.

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Accept . . . Then Act

Meditation & Yoga practice started today with our teacher sharing her lessons on “having to be right” that sometimes shows up as the “need to be understood.”  Both can interfere with the acceptance of what is.  This set the stage for our intention to live in the moment – breathing and doing yoga.

Letting go . . . accepting what is; not my strong suit.

Thirty years ago I started applying techniques not exactly consistent with acceptance.  The philosophies behind these techniques, they’re everywhere.

  • If you want to accomplish something – write it down. Yes; put those goals on paper.  Being a Psych and Self Help aficionado – this advice is ubiquitous.
  • Visualize the result – it will materialize.  Every New Age enthusiast and reader of The Secret knows this!
  • The power of positive thinking – thank you Norman Vincent Peale.
  • Think it – say it – do it . . .  or as my bestie says:  thought – word – deed

The power of these concepts rests in the strength of our belief.  Some of it is just how our brain works.  Negative people see crappy shit.  Positive people see the good around them.  Our brains focus on what we look for, filtering out everything else.  Takes a nice knock on the head to thump us out of our rut.

After thirty years of writing down my “wants” – creating vision boards, scrap books, life goal lists – how do I turn that off?  Should I?  What is real and when do I follow my bliss?  Can I know when I’ve crossed the line to “magical thinking?”

I’m not opposed to holding contradictory beliefs – we all do to some extent.  A juicy paradox can be so appealing.  It can also make me crazy.

Letting go . . . of things, people and situations.  Not easy, but possibly a key to happiness.  Marie Kondo, in her “Tidying Up” book says I should release anything that doesn’t bring me joy.  Let me live without a bunch of “stuff” that I don’t even use; let toxic people exit my universe; leave a bad … whatever; could mean peace – and yes, joy!

So why do we hold onto every damn thing?  According to Daniel Kahneman in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, we all have a serious aversion to loss.  We “attach values to gains and losses rather than to wealth.”   We’ve grown up with the proverb “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” – so we see the risk as too much.

Well, Thoreau did say that  “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”  Could be they’d rather live with the devil they know.  Ouch.  Let me give risk a try.

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

 

“Accept – then act.  Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it.  Always work with it, not against it.  Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy.  This will miraculously transform your whole life.” ― Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

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Let’s Get Radical

Speaking up, dissenting; taking a stand – not my ambition as a youngster.  My objective then, like many girls of my generation was to be liked, to fit in; be popular.  Regrettably for that youthful goal, my edges were a bit too frayed and my opinions decidedly peculiar – finding me channeling the rebel; mouthy and belligerent.

Still, this eccentric girl learned the fine art of camouflage; it took me far and served me well – until it didn’t.  My edges, they’re still ragged; those opinions – quirkier.  The desire to fit in?  Living (dang it!), but mercifully gasping for air.

The need to placate is fading.  Biting my tongue so I don’t “offend” gets harder every day.  My habits may be entrenched; my brain may fight to keep it that way, but the balance of my dueling needs are shifting.  Gloria Steinem once said “Women may be the one group that grows more radical with age.” I’m banking on it.

My feminist inclinations clashed with the world I was born to.  I chafed at the roles available to me; finding them limited and restricting.  But to fit in – I shoved my square self into those round holes; carving off bits and pieces of myself.  Still, my 24 YO self was compelled to whack a guy over the head with a menu when he challenged my opinion that the Equal Rights Amendment should have passed.  His argument?  I couldn’t quote the damn thing.

Lesson learned.  Now, when professing to believe something, I’m well informed on that professed belief.  And I get it; women are held to different standards.  So …

Equal Rights Amendment:  “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” – Wikipedia

How hard is it to agree with this?  Apparently pretty hard. The ERA died in 1982 – three states short of ratification.

So mouth – get flappin’ … speak up; Resist.  Being liked .. Hmpf; it’s not always what it’s’ cracked up to be.

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

“…her wings are cut and then she is blamed for not knowing how to fly.” ― Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex

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Shoulda Coulda Woulda

It’s curious how often I do what I think I SHOULD do – what I was brought up to do.  I was taught to behave in prescribed ways, believe culturally acceptable ideas and fear the consequences of misbehavior – of being ostracized.   It’s my obligation, my duty; to behave correctly – according to my people, my culture.

Life is better when I’m with my tribe – I am … we are, social animals.

But when can I know that going along to get along is to my detriment?  What if my experience is different?  There are still consequences; denial of self or nonconformity.  What I can live with?

What if I didn’t fear the consequences?  Felt I had nothing to lose?  Would I choose differently?

My husband and I watched the movie “Veronika Decides to Die” based on the book by Paulo Coeloho.  Veronika, beautiful and young – appears to have everything; yet finds life isn’t worth living.  After an unsuccessful suicide attempt she wakes up in a mental hospital.  She learns that her actions ruined her heart and only has days to live.  She also learns that crazy people don’t have to be “normal.”  These lessons liberate her and change her attitude, her way of seeing the world.  She now has reason to live.

As a corporate wonk, I took a psych test to find out what traits might derail my career.  One of my derailers was mischievousness.  HA!  Knowing this delighted me – and strangely enough I exploited it.  Maybe that didn’t do me many favors – but I felt liberated; maybe like Veronika.  Being a nonconformist in a buttoned up world boosted my desire to retire early; loosened those golden handcuffs.

Yes there are consequences for every choice, every decision.  Each choice is personal, unique; a privilege and a responsibility.

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

“I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.” ― Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

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People Get Ready

“People get ready – There’s a train a-coming.” ― Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions

Persistence, tenacity – doggedness.  This is how I got my bachelor degree; 12 years of night school working full time, no debt.  A decade of therapy to overcome denial and shame for things that weren’t my fault.  Twenty-six years as a corporate salmon swimming up the patriarchal stream.

There are more like me.  We know how to persevere.  We know what “to persist” means.

Yes – “people get ready … there’s a train a-coming” and I’m on board.

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

“When I see people stand fully in their truth, or when I see someone fall down, get back up, and say, “Damn. That really hurt, but this is important to me and I’m going in again”—my gut reaction is, “What a badass.” ― Brené Brown, Rising Strong

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