Tag Archives: life

Wearing White Jeans Again Part III

Just catching up? Here are Part I and Part II

I remember the moment so vividly. It was just a fleeting glance, but it captured my manic body image frenzy as a new mom as perfectly as a photograph in my mind. There I was, a brand new mom of a beautiful baby girl, walking up the block of a café-and-office lined street towards the park on a sunny weekday.

I was with a group of other new moms with whom I’d started to form friendships, and we were taking our babies to the park because it seemed like a normal ‘mom thing’ to do. Forget that we were exhausted from lack of sleep. Forget that none of us had probably showered that day (okay week), and had telltale mom buns, no makeup, and nursing tops with milk stains all over them. None of that mattered to us. How could it, when we could barely form sentences at that point? We were all basically winging it, as all new moms do.

Anyway, I remember that as I was walking up the street in the middle of my mom-pack, I happened to glance over at my reflection in the glass of a dimly lit store, and saw myself staring back…only it didn’t seem like me at all. I didn’t even recognize the person in the glass. That person looked tired, worn down, disheveled, bewildered, and paunchy. I looked down at my belly in disgust, and tried to suck it in, like I had learned to do in dance classes. I looked in the glass again and saw that what had once worked to give me a slender profile through the stomach region, now offered very little change in bulk.

And I remember looking up at the new moms in front of me, wondering why and how in the heck their bellies appeared to be flatter than mine. Or were they? I didn’t really know for sure, but they were at the very least recognizable as the same people I had seen before and after giving birth. It didn’t seem fair to me.

Even more confusingly, I couldn’t really grasp why I was feeling that way. I knew as well as anyone that it takes awhile for your belly to go down postpartum. Never mind that I was at my pre-pregnancy weight less than a week postpartum. I was proud of that fact, don’t get me wrong, but it was my overall shape that took me by surprise. I looked…well…different. I didn’t feel normal.  And I didn’t feel like I fit in with my peers.

It harkened back to the feelings I had the fateful Day of the White Jeans. I wasn’t good enough the way I was. I should have been able to pull it together the way all the other new moms seemed to do. I should have been exercising more, and taking showers, and putting on some makeup at least. I should have at least done that much if I was going to have a belly like that, resting atop hips that had also seemed to have gathered some excess baggage along the way.

I remember longing in that moment for the days before my baby’s birth, when I could sleep when I wanted, exercise when I wanted, and shower when I wanted. I felt a fleeting sense of resentment, followed by guilt for having those feelings, because I loved my baby girl so much! I vowed that I would at least try to exercise more, if only for my baby to have a healthy mama.

And I would also take a shower, for goodness sake.

Stay tuned for Part IV!

Is It A Pink Panther?

“Is it a pink panther?”

“Nope.”

“A cat?”

“No. Think less obvious.”

Pauses. “How about a pink dog?”

“No, it’s a pig.”

“Really? A pig?”

“Yup. A really skinny one, I guess…”

“Oh! Um, okay then.”

And that’s pretty much how the conversation goes with anyone who asks about the watercolor portrait of the unfortunate looking pink creature displayed proudly against a background of grass-covered hills and a speckling of random flowers. It is currently sitting up in my bedroom. I am trying to convince my Honay it belongs on the wall in there, proudly displayed, despite how spectacular a failure it is.

The truth is, it used to bother me how awful it was. I have grandparents on BOTH sides of the family that either were or are great artists, actually. So art ability should be running in my blood. In me, however, the artistry gene came out of more of a musical medium in general, (dance, singing) rather than a paintbrush and blank canvas.

The infamous ‘Skinny Pig’, watercolor on paper portrait was created at the end of the day at an art class my mom brought me to when I was about 7 years old. I recall the teacher told us to find a quiet spot on our own, imagine something in our heads, and then express it in watercolor form. I remember crawling under a desk in the corner of the room, shutting my eyes tight. I was taking the whole thing very seriously. I didn’t want to just draw the cartoon-looking concentric circle version of a pig my mom drew. I was trying to be a very serious “Arteest.” What resulted for me was an epic failure to depict a real-life pig from memory. My poor 7-year-old brain just couldn’t grasp the proper imagery necessary to create such a masterpiece.

For years, the unfortunate pig was taped to the wall behind my dad’s desk. I really don’t know why or how it survived. I think my mom thought it was cute how I’d tried. It also made for a great conversation starter. In the years that followed, I was able to hone my art skills enough to win ribbons for my art at the local County Fair, yet none of those items made it to the wall. The pig stood alone, mocking me with its beady little black eyes, reminding me of my artistic shortcomings.

When my parents moved to Japan, the ‘Skinny Pig’ moved to my Grandma’s house. There is stayed until she passed away last year. I found it in her bedroom closet, taped to a silver frame with white matting. I took it home with me, even though I didn’t really know why I was saving something so silly.

Yesterday, my Honay and I decided it was finally time to hang up the artwork in our townhouse. I took on the task of separating the artwork into different collections by room. I pulled out a beautiful scattering of oil and mixed media paintings my grandfather had done over the years, as well as the ones my grandmother had done. Beautiful examples of artwork that were well deserving of a place on our walls.

Then I came across a familiar silver frame with white matting and grimaced a little as the unfortunate pink pig came into my view. It was so pathetic looking with its long tail and nonexistent nose. My Honay teased me about how awful it was. My daughter joined the ranks of those who had come before her, trying to figure out what the heck it was. (She guessed a lion.)

But then I thought back to how many other artistic things I had accomplished over the years after the ‘Skinny Pig.’ I was able t boast countless other drawings, dance recitals, ballets, hip-hop shows, and choir and band performances. I had successes and failures, but I kept on trying regardless. I have a beautiful collection of memories of all the hard work and performance opportunities I have pursued so far.

The important thing is that I didn’t let the shame of an anorexic pig stop me from moving forward and pursuing my dreams. I want the picture on my bedroom wall to remind me AND my daughters that in order to accomplish your dreams you’re going to have to move past your failures and learn from them, no matter what the medium. No matter what anyone says about your skills (or perhaps lack thereof). You have to start somewhere and just keep moving forward.

What’s In A Drink?

What’s in a drink. What’s in a drink. What’s in a drink? The thought plays over and over again like an echo in my head. So random. Why drinks?

Hmm. My mind skips all over the place on the metaphors that could correspond, shattering the echo into a thousand pieces. Do I mean an alcoholic beverage, perhaps? Those can be tasty…or toxic…or both. Stories, lots of stories there. Lots of pictures of happiness and destruction to be painted. Sure, that could be it.

Or maybe a health tonic? I’m big on those. I keep up with the latest trends, for sure. Right now it’s matcha instead of coffee. Matcha lattes made with almond milk of course because dairy is bad.  I get them on the daily from the trendy hipster coffee shop near my work. I pair it with a vegan almond chocolate scone. My brain is trained to make the word ‘vegan’ synonymous with healthy. Even though I know it has processed flour and sugar. It must have those things because it just tastes too good.

Coffee is out right now. Unless of course, the coffee is cold-brewed and in a fancy little overpriced bottle. Then you bet I’ll snap it up, dump it in a cup on a Sunday morning and drink it cold in practically one gulp. I keep a bottle of turmeric ginger pressed juice in my desk drawer. It says to consume within 20 days of opening. I haven’t opened it yet. I can’t decide what to put it in…or do I just drink it straight up, like a shot?

Maybe I’m just talking about my kids’ juice boxes, and a picture flashed through your mind of a slightly anxious, tired, blond woman standing in the chaotic center of the local Costco with her agitated young daughters, trying to read the side panel of a small Tetra-Pak box to see how many artificial fillers are contained, and is it worth all the sugar? Is that what you pictured? Nope, that’s just my mind? Okay then.

Maybe it’s not an actual drink at all. Maybe it’s more like, as the saying goes, “drinking the Kool-Aid” of an ill-intentioned idea. Perhaps I am trying to backpedal as I analyze the consequences of a recent decision I made, wondering if I did the right thing. Or did I get sucked in (again) to something I shouldn’t have? Was it a purchase from an ad I saw last week? Did I watch a video about something that upset me, and then lash out at my children? At my husband? At myself? Hmm. So many possibilities.

Let’s go back to the alcoholic beverage though, for a minute. I’ve recently been getting these delicious little peach flavored wine in a can four packs from Trader Joes. I bring them to small group Bible study on occasion and drink one, sharing the rest with the others. Is that wrong? It sounds wrong. Everyone is OK with it, and enjoy it, but…am I making the right choice, or clouding everyone’s judgment?

Speaking of alcohol, my husband came home past midnight with the cripplingly pickled sour smell of drink on his breath. I could smell it from across the room, and it made my stomach turn. I told him to go brush his teeth before he came to bed. This was after I worry-texted and called him after shivering alone in my bed for a couple of hours. He said he was at his friend’s house. Another friend he hadn’t seen in years was over and they were hanging out. He apologized for not calling. For making me worry. But I was already mad, and I couldn’t let it go by the time he walked in the door.

I hadn’t wanted to tell him about his breath. I had wanted to hold him. To tell him about my day. Talk about how fiercely cute our daughters were, and what they had spent their afternoon doing. To marvel with him over how grown up our almost 2-year-old was getting, and what I wanted to do for her upcoming birthday. But I didn’t say any of that. I simply commented on his breath. He said he would brush his teeth and come up to bed in a little while. But I woke up alone in the bed. He had fallen asleep on the couch downstairs, watching TV.

What’s in a drink.

So much is in a drink. More than I can unpack in one sitting. Lives are shaped, bodies filled, emotions muted. One can drown their sorrows, and their dreams right along with them. One can shatter their entire world, glue it, and then fill it up again like a tank, with liquid dribbling out at the seams. I am reminded of the picture of the little Dutch boy with his finger in the crack in the dam. He looks so worried. He is stuck in place. He cannot move or the whole dam might break.

Am I already drowning, or is my finger just stuck in the dam? The thought comes forward and dissipates like a phantom. Out of nowhere. It takes me by surprise because I am generally filled with hope and joy and possibility. I am saved. I have Someone to cling to. But right now I am exhausted. And my head is full. I feel almost drunk, even though it’s 9 o’clock in the morning and I’m sitting at my desk. I drink in the notion that maybe I am stuck. Not because I am without hope, but because I need to make some decisions about how to move forward with my life.

Why am I here, God? What would you have me do? The question pleads as I stare at the metaphorical dam in front of me, the finger of my negative thoughts firmly in place, sealing it all in. “My cup runneth over.” The Psalm repeats in my head from memory as a reply. I look again at what I have. All that I have. A quick inventory is run. As it turns out, I have much to give. My glass is pretty full. I have been given many blessings, haven’t I? So why am I not sharing them? That’s the real problem, isn’t it? It’s not what the drink is made of. It’s that my glass is full to the brim. I have more than I need and I’m stuck in place because I’m not sharing.

Here I am, holding my finger in a dam, worried about removing my finger when the thing I actually need to do is to let it all go. I laugh out loud.

I have much to give. Much to say. Much to do. So here I go. I am starting with you.