Weight Loss and Body Image

Am I this size?Although I often discuss body image and my eating habits with you, I’ve been reluctant to share my actual weight, not because I’ve ever been ashamed of it, but because I know that it is easy to be discouraged by comparison.

Listening to someone talk about needing to lose 10 pounds is annoying when you are trying to lose 40.  Listening to someone talk about being 40 pounds overweight can be disheartening to someone trying to lose 100.

I don’t want to be a source of discouragement.

I want all of you to recognize the beauty in who you are, and to know that your appearance is merely a reflection of that beauty.

Happiness, confidence, kindness, love – these are reflected in our faces and in our body language, and these are what make a person beautiful.  Beauty and self worth cannot be measured in pounds and ounces.

Having said that, I know that most women have an idealized vision of beauty for themselves.  A body type, a weight, a form to which they aspire.  I also know that many of us do not have an accurate body image.

I know I don’t.  My perception changes with my moods and hormones.  Some days, I’d describe myself as heavier than I am; other days, I think I am considerably thinner.  My husband pointed this out to me earlier this year, when he saw this post.Some days I feel bigger than I am.

That day, I had trouble believing him, but when I’m shopping it is noticeable even to me.  Depending on the day, I’ll grab clothes that are sizes too big or too small.  I don’t recognize my own size when I see it.

My self perception has never been accurate or stable, unless you count it as stable because it does not matter what size or age I am, my body image remains skewed.

Despite that, I feel content with my appearance.  I was content before I starting losing weight, too.  I did not enjoy the feeling of being overweight, but I did not feel ugly because of it.

I began tracking calories in order to assess the healthiness of my diet.  My perception of that was delusional, too.  It turned out I grossly underestimated my sugar intake and overestimated the rest of my calorie consumption.  Healthier eating was my goal.  Weight loss was incidental.

Incidental, but significant.  I’ve now lost over twenty five pounds.  I’m within ten pounds of “ideal weight” for my height.

So has anything changed?

I am a size smaller, but I don’t feel more attractive, prettier, sexier, or any of that.  My proportions haven’t really changed, just their dimensions.  There are parts of me that look better now, and others that looked better then.

My legs are trimmSome days I feel thin.er.  They’re still dimply with cellulite, but I think they look great below the knee and fine above it.  Lumpy, but fine.

More importantly, no more chub rub.  My thighs are not sticking together with sweat this summer.  Since I wear skirts almost daily, this is significant.

On the top side, I miss my chubby girl breasts.  I knew I’d lose a cup size or two when I lost weight, but I was hoping the skin would firm up so they wouldn’t look empty.  No such luck.  My breasts now look way too National Geographic, and I have not yet found bras that fit exactly right.

My neck is still waddlesome and crepe papery, a genetic gift from which there is no escape.  The former double chin is, while not quite a single, perhaps more like a chin and a half.  My face is more slender, and I think that is what people have noticed when they say, “Have you lost weight?  You look great!”

Since dissatisfaction with my body was not the reason I began calorie tracking, I find it disconcerting when people compliment me on losing weight.  I know they mean well, but I dislike the notion that thinner is always better, always prettier, always healthier, always happier.

Model Me in purpleLast summer, I was more physically fit, riding my bike several miles daily.  This summer, I’ve been a slug and have barely taken my bicycle out of the garage.  I usually take a stroll in the evening with my husband, but I don’t sweat or raise my heart rate.  I just walk and talk.  Sometimes I don’t even talk.

I’m also not happier, which is another thing people say.  “You must be so happy with…”  No, losing weight hasn’t impacted my happiness.  In fact, I don’t think I would have lost weight if I’d started out unhappy.

I think it is hard to lose weight when you’re unhappy with your appearance.  It’s a lot easier to lose weight when there is no emotional baggage to lose along with it.  When calories are just calories, and eating is just eating, not an indication of your value as a person or an indicator of your character, it’s easier to make healthy choices and not be bothered by the occasions when you don’t.

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Do your clothes truly fit?

"A dress should be tight enough to show you're a woman, and loose enough to prove you're a lady."  Edith HeadI’ve now lost twenty pounds, and have begun to notice that some of my clothes are rather too loose.

I’ve always had a generous definition of fit.  If a skirt is not too tight to get over my hips, nor too loose to stay up, I consider that good enough.

(I do insist on bras that properly fit.  Well-made, supportive brassieres are not a splurge.  They’re called foundation garments for a reason:  if they don’t fit right, nothing you put on over them will look its best.  Neither will you.  I could write a whole post on bras.  I think they are that important.)

Skirts do need to stay up high enough so to overlap with the bottom of the t-shirt.  I’ve had to remove a bunch of skirts from my closet that were slipping too low or hanging too crookedly to be reliable.

So I’ve increased my visits to the thrift stores to once a week.  They’re my best source of summer skirts, and I have almost replaced about as many as I’ve had to retire.

I find skirts more comfortable and appealing than shorts or trousers, and I wear them year round, with tights in colder weather.  I’d rather wear dresses – I love dresses – but they rarely fit all of me at once.

Dresses that fit on top float away from the rest of my body, or they’ll fit my hips and be huge at the bust.  Empire waists don’t usually help, because the high waist line often cuts across my bust instead of underneath it.  I believe this is because I’m tall, not because my breasts have fallen.

Sometimes, I look at women wearing dresses, and wonder if they hired a seamstress to do alterations, or do they just naturally fit into dresses?

More often, I wonder if the popularity of yoga pants is due to the fact that there are millions of women out there who cannot find clothes that truly fit.  Adding lycra is so much easier than tailoring clothes to fit the nuances of the female form.

This is how shirts are supposed to fit?   On whom?It’s not only dresses.  Many of my shirts look baggy now, too.  Losing weight hasn’t affected my shoulder breadth, so the next smaller size is still too small.

My shirts weren’t much more flattering before I lost weight.  It’s not that I buy boxy t-shirts.  They all have a bit of shape to them, at least they look that way when laid flat for folding.  On me, though, they look shapeless.  If they fit at the shoulders, they’re big at the waist.  Or if they skim the waist in a pleasing way, they’re tight across the bust.

Woven fabrics are just as bad, sometimes worse, even the ones with darts to shape them.  They don’t hang right on me.  There’s too much stiff fabric around my middle.  Bust darts aren’t located at my bust.  Princess seams rarely curve along my curves.

That all sounds rather whiny, but I don’t really think about it unless I’m shopping, which is how I spent the morning.

I understand why some women give up on trying to dress nicely.  It can be disheartening to try on item after item and not have them fit properly.  It might be tempting to think that the problem is our bodies, but it is not.  Ready to wear is based on averages, and most women are not average.

As I told my daughter when she hit puberty, “All women are wearing jeans that don’t quite fit.  It’s not just you.  Jeans fit men and children, people without hips; women just wear them anyway.”

Tell me, truly, do your clothes fit straight off the rack?

P.S. – Have any of you tried custom made dresses from eShakti?  I’d like to try them when my weight stabilizes.

Does society want us healthy or just beautiful?

Is obesity a disease, or can big be beautiful and healthy?

photo credit: Dilona via photopin cc

In case you hadn’t heard, the American Medical Association classified obesity as a disease last week.

As CBS reported, “Medical therapies and procedures like the lap-band or gastric bypass surgeries are courses of treatment that may now be included in insurance coverage, based on the AMA’s decision.”

Does that sound like good news for the obese?  Maybe.  It sounds like even better news for the pharmaceutical companies who market weight loss drugs and the doctors who perform weight loss surgeries.

Will losing weight actually make people healthier, though?

Yes, there are certain health risks associated with having an elevated BMI, such as Type II diabetes and heart disease. More broadly, a higher BMI is associated with a greater risk of cardiometabolic abnormalities, as measured by blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol, glucose, insulin resistance and inflammation. Nonetheless, almost one quarter of “normal weight” people also have metabolic abnormalities, and more than half of “overweight” and almost one third of “obese” people have normal profiles, according to a 2008 study. That’s 16 million normal weight Americans who have metabolic abnormalities and 20 million obese (or 56 million overweight and obese) Americans who have no such abnormalities. (Abigail C. Saguy, read full article here)

I think medical procedures should be available to those who need them, but this decision from the AMA troubles me.  It seems like one more way that our society promotes appearance over substance.

We want people to be beautiful more than we want them to be healthy, and we equate thin with health.

Why can’t insurance companies cover treatments based on metabolic abnormalities, instead of BMI?  If the doctors believe gastric bypass would be an effective way to treat heart disease, cover it.  However, if it isn’t making one sick, why is obesity a disease?

Weight Loss is a $6.1 billion industry.Am I jaded that I think this decision was based on money?  There is so much money to be made in the weight loss industry.  $61.6 billion in 2012.  Most of that money is not spent in doctor’s offices or on pharmaceuticals.  Even less of it is spent on surgical solutions.  According to Marketdata Enterprises,

The number of bariatric surgeries is significantly less than reported by the ASMBS (bariatric surgeon’s national society). Surgeries peaked at 135,000 in 2008, according to government healthcare agency data (not 209,000 reported by the ASMBS). However, since then, insurers have gotten tougher on coverage and the number has fallen 15% to an estimated 114,000 last year. This reduced the size of the total weight loss market by $2.6 billion and translated into less business for bariatricians and VLCD programs.

Now that obesity is a disease, perhaps those numbers will change.

Does society want us healthy or just beautiful?It seems like we are still moving one step forward two steps back when it comes to body image.  We have campaigns to promote the idea that healthy beauty comes in all sizes.  Then we declare fat a disease.

Sorry, you’re not beautiful; you’re sick.  Poor pitiful you.  It’s not your fault; you have a disease.  Let me cure you, then you’ll be happy, healthy, and – most of all – thin.

In Defense of Size Zero

Among the backlash to the pointed remarks on size bias from the Abercrombie & Fitch CEO, was this contribution, from Ellen DeGeneres.


It’s cute.

Except, there is nothing wrong with being a size zero.

That is my daughter’s size.  She’s a petite, curvy, muscular, perfectly proportioned healthy girl.

She’s neither skinny nor fat.  Any “ideal weight” formula you use, she’s close to ideal.

As much fat-bashing as I read and see online, there are equal numbers of people who openly disparage those who are naturally small.  It’s just as wrong.

Ideal Beauty, 1920's:  When will we leave the "ideal" behind and embrace beauty in all sizes?My daughter, and girls like her, don’t need to hear people talking about Size Zero as if it indicates an eating disorder or an un-feminine body type.

Or, worse, be told they are “not a real woman,” as if real woman all share the same body type.  Real women are big and small, petite and tall, bigger on the bottom and bigger on top, curvy and straight.  You don’t have to be under a certain weight or over it to be real.

My girl’s not invisible or trying to be.  She has a normal, healthy appetite and a good metabolism.

The truth is, size Zero does not exist because girls are getting skinnier.  There is a size Zero because as a society, we are getting heavier.

What size would Marilyn Monroe be today?  Why does it matter?Vanity Sizing, as it is often called, means that the size 14 of today is not the size 14 Marilyn Monroe reportedly wore.

I like to look at vintage dresses online.  Because the sizes are so different, sellers list the actual garment measurements.  Waists are typically 24-28 inches, with bustlines of 32-36.

Granted, many women wore waist nippers, but today we have spanx to reform our midriffs.  People were, on average, thinner then.  Not better, not prettier, just thinner.

You don’t have to go back to the 1950’s to notice the change.  Looking at today’s Levi’s measurements chart, I would have worn a size 4 before my sons were born, and a size 6 afterward.  In the early 90’s, I wore a size 8 before and a 10/12 after.

I do not blame designers and brands for adjusting the sizing scale.  They are in business to sell clothes, and if they sell more things labeled 10 than 16, why wouldn’t they change the numbers?  If that means that those on the small side now wear a size double zero, so be it.  The point is to sell dresses and jeans.

Personally, I wish designers would do away with the arbitrary numbers and put actual measurements on their garments as they do with menswear.  I wish women could accept those numbers and not be lured into spending money with the flattery of smaller sizes.  I’m not holding my breath for that to happen.

I won’t even hold my breath waiting for women to stop bashing each other.  To stop comparing and disparaging.  To accept that real women come in a variety of sizes, and none of us are lifted up by putting others down.

Whether we are a size 00 or 22, we are real women, with feelings, and we are more than the number in our waistband.

Are we too self-deprecating?

To someone like me, who does not like meanness, self deprecating humor is the best sort.  Mocking one’s own foibles can be hysterical in a way that pointing out the faults of another never can be.

On the other hand, there is nothing amusing about walking into someone’s immaculate home and having them apologize for the mess as they straighten the one pillow that was not perfectly plumped.  Instantly, I am made aware of potential messes I might make – where should I put my purse, how much hair am I shedding right this very minute, and am I really allowed to sit on this furniture?  It doesn’t make me anxious to visit again.

If your house is a mess, apologizing for it only draws more attention to it.  Chances are, nobody would mind the dust-doggies trailing across the floor if you didn’t point them out.  (Let’s be honest.  They might notice, but noticing and minding are two different things.)

Body Image:  what do we say?Yesterday, I read that the same holds true for the things we say about ourselves.  Self disparaging comments about our bodies do not make us more likable, whether the remarks are true or not.

For some reason, I find this harder to believe.  Am I just kidding myself?  This research was done among college students.  Would the results be the same for women in different stages of life?

I also wonder if this is true only of strangers, or if it affects those with whom we are already friends?  It seems that most of the women I know speak more of discontent than delight with their appearance.

It’s not a constant topic of conversation; that would be tiresome.  It is, however, a frustration shared aloud – the difficulty of losing the post-baby weight or the mid-life bulge.

Obviously, I share those thoughts myself.  Does this make me a less likable blogger?

I don’t think ill of my friends who share that they’d like to lose a few pounds.  If I know a friend is trying to change her eating habits, I won’t serve cake or sweets when she visits, but, other than that, it doesn’t affect my behavior or opinion of her.

Honestly, sometimes it would be weird to express a positive body image.

Body Image:  Banning Fat-Talk?If I were to greet a friend with, “Anything new?” and she responded, “I joined a gym, trying to keep from outgrowing my jeans,” I’d ask if she liked it or if it was working.  If she responded, “I joined a gym.  I’m already the ideal weight, but I want to get stronger,” I’d wonder why she mentioned her weight if it wasn’t an issue and hope the topic soon changed.

How often can you work it into casual conversation that you like your looks before you sound like a boor or a braggart?  I’m thinking it is slightly less than the number of times you can mention that you are still have ten pounds to lose.  Not a whole lot less, but, really, one announcement that you’ve lost all the baby weight is sufficient.

Still, I get the point of the article.  Negativity is not appealing.  Whether we are talking about our homes, our bodies, our jobs, or our families, complaining is not the way to win friends or influence people.

Unless you are a comedian.

If this is what it takes to look professional, I’ll remain an amateur.

If this is what it takes to look professional, I'll remain an amateur.Every once in a while, I succumb to the influence of my peers.

Lately, I’ve been hearing middle aged women rave about B&B cream.  Lightweight, skin tone evening, dark circle hiding, not foundation-looking.

I’ve never worn foundation.  A redhead, my complexion is not easily matched to ready mixed foundations, and I don’t like the feel of it.

I don’t like the feel of sunblock on my face, either.  It migrates into my eyes, causing burning and tears.  (The only brand I use on my face is Neutrogena.)

B&B cream, though, was described to me as being more like lotion.  I do like lotion.  My favorite is Aveeno; I slather it on with gusto.  If B&B felt like lotion, but lotion that improves my complexion, what would there be not to love about that?

The other thing I’ve been hearing about lately is G+ video meetings and vlogging.  Ignoring the fact that I do not even know how to turn on my computer’s camera, I’ve been wondering if I should give this a try.  Is this the new, big thing?  Would it be fun?

The connection here is that everyone advises looking professional on camera, and that requires make-up.  Everyone agrees on this.  Bare faces are only professional if you are a man.  Women need to use cosmetics to be taken seriously.

So I bought B&B cream at Target and tried it out.

First, I did half my face to see if there was a difference.  I carried a mirror around the house to look at myself in different lighting.  I could not see a big difference, but the darkness under my eye might have been slightly diminished.  I went ahead and applied it to the other half of my face.

I was planning to see if anyone in my family noticed a difference in my appearance when they came home.

When I sat down with my book, I realized that I felt exactly like I was wearing thick sunblock.  The brand I bought was not labeled as containing sunblock so I toughed it out for five whole minutes, then washed my face.

It still felt like it had a coating of SPF 1000, so I washed again, and applied more of my beloved Aveeno.

My face still felt oddly chalky, but I didn’t want to wash more than three times in one hour, so I decided to live with it.  Within a half hour my right eye started watering profusely as if I’d applied sunblock.

By that point, I was berating myself for being drawn in by promises of beauty in a drugstore tube, and googling for homemade make-up removal solutions.  Too impatient to read with only one eye, I decided to wash my face with olive oil.

That seemed to dissolve most of what was on my face, but I couldn’t put my glasses back on my oil slicked face, so I had to wash it off.  It took two washings, so I ended up washing my face five times yesterday morning.

I put the Aveeno on extra thick to compensate for all that soap.

I am now going to return to not worrying about my unprofessional, natural appearance.  The world will have to deal with seeing my imperfect complexion.  Or avert its eyes.  Or roll them.

Knowing full well that this sounds like, and might be, sour grapes speaking, why does looking professional for a woman require make-up and heels?  What is professional about discomfort and disguise?

Nobody suggests that men camouflage their figure flaws or highlight their eyes for job interviews.  Or do they?

What’s that word for big and beautiful?

One day my baby stood in front of a mirror, frowned, and said, “I am a fat little boy.”

“You’re not fat!  You’re chubby!”  I responded, instantly projecting my own body image issues on my adorable three year old.

Through narrowed eyes, he looked at me, daring me to disagree, “That just means I’m the cute kind of fat.”

I scooped him up, gave him a dozen kisses on that sweet spot of his neck that always made him laugh and said, “Emphasis on the cute.”

I told him that he was the perfect size, exactly the size God made him to be, and he was healthy and handsome and, most important, loved.  He outgrew the chubbiness, but not the cuteness.

Nearly twenty years later, chubby is still our family word for “the cute kind of fat.”

I wish society had a word for that concept, too, the idea that a person, or a feature, could be larger than average and attractive at the same time.  Neither skinny nor its opposite fat convey beauty, but thin does.  We have no companion for thin, no word that denotes a larger vision of health and beauty.

Over the past couple days, I’ve seen this Dove campaign about beauty posted dozens of times.  If you haven’t seen it, take a look.

The emphasis here isn’t on weight, but listen to the words the women use to describe themselves.  “My mom told me I had a big jaw.”  “A fat, rounder face.”  “A pretty big forehead.”

Unless we’re talking about breasts, big is always a negative.  We don’t want big chins, noses, foreheads, arms, or feet.  Okay, big eyes – we want big eyes, like a Disney princess.  Big eyes, big breasts, everything else small, that’s our ideal.  That sounds like pornographic anime doesn’t it?

Ew.  I wish I hadn’t thought of that.

Anyway.

Words matter.  Casual remarks can sting for years, and they don’t have to be directed at us.  A childhood spent hearing negative remarks about fat people doesn’t generally result in someone who feels beautiful if she puts on a few extra pounds.

The words used to describe us become the way we define ourselves.

I didn’t grow up with words like chubby, or assurances that I was the perfect size.  I was called sturdy.  Amazonian.  Big.

Big.  Mostly, I was big.  Was I?

I was tall.  Very tall compared to my mother’s family, men and boys included.  I was also taller than my older brother for most of our childhood, which delighted neither of us.

I wanted to be small.  Petite girls were cute in a way I knew I never could be.  I was big; big and cute don’t go together.

Big is the ugly stepsister cutting off her own toes to cram her foot into a tiny glass slipper.  Petite dances all night with the prince and lives happily ever after.

I’m an adult now.  I want to think I’m past all that.  I carefully choose words for my daughter, knowing they’ll replay in her head for years to come.

When she tells me she hates being short, I point out how much easier it is for her to find clothes and shoes that fit, how much closer she is to the average woman’s height, how perfectly proportioned, how beautiful and healthy she is, exactly the size God created her to be.

I tell her that every woman I know wishes she were different in some way, even the most beautiful women in the world.  I tell her I always wished I wasn’t so tall (I’m careful to say tall, not big).

My husband walks by and grins, “But then I wouldn’t have noticed you.”

My prince.

Words.  They matter.  Choose them wisely.

Thinking Thin: Sweets as Treats

God works overtime to prevent me from becoming vain.

I have lost ten pounds in the past four weeks.  The only garments which are noticeably roomier are my bras.

I have to remind myself that:

  1. I knew this would happen.
  2. Weight will eventually come off my belly, hips, and thighs.
  3. There are other benefits to the changes I’ve made.

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I’ve been eating more protein and less sugar.  Now that I’ve been tracking my eating habits for a month, it’s not as much work to get the protein.

The sugar still requires considerable restraint, but I think this is where I feel the biggest difference.

I used to think I was developing arthritis, because I often woke with the sensation of swelling in my elbows and hands.  They never looked swollen, but they felt it, and they ached.

Since scaling back the added sugars, the soreness and inflammation has stopped.  I remind myself of this when I want to eat a peanut butter cup or special dark nugget with almonds.

I have not completely eliminated sugar from my diet, nor will I.

Sweets as Treats:  Adopting a health mindset about foodI still eat at least two servings of fruit daily, and when my mother in law baked pineapple upside down cake, I happily ate one piece.  Only one.  Yesterday, I went all out and ate, according to My Fitness Pal, an estimated 600 calories of baklava for Easter.

The cake was worth every calorie, but, in all honesty, I should have cut the baklava in half.  I enjoyed the first few bites more than the last few, but I finished it anyway.

This is where I need to adjust my thinking.  I need to return to the mindset of sugar laden desserts as special occasion treats, not every evening indulgences.  I should stop eating if/when the taste isn’t as fabulous as I’d anticipated.  Those are the thoughts and habits I had years ago – when I was thin.

I plan to continue to eat home baked goodies when offered, to make them occasionally, to savor one piece or two bites, and to remember my old policy on sweets and treats:

If it’s not fantastic, don’t waste the calories.

No grocery store apple pie tastes like one made from scratch.  I’m almost always disappointed in cake.  Cool Whip is gross.  Cookies really do taste better fresh from the oven.  The first bites always taste the best.

Now I just need to convince myself that Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey is not delicious.

Aging with Grace

I want to age gracefully.  It’s right there on the top of this page.  So you’d think when I was asked to explain what that means to me, I would have an answer ready.

Wrong.  So, I turned to the word experts at Merriam-Webster‘s for help.  What is grace?

3.  a charming or attractive trait or characteristic

  • a pleasing appearance or effect : charm
  • ease and suppleness of movement or bearing

Audrey Hepburn in Love in the AfternoonToday, in our culture, I think this is how most people define grace.  Who doesn’t wish to be beautiful, to move with ease and suppleness?  Who wouldn’t choose to have charm?

Not me.  I would love to be those things.  When I wrote my tagline above, this is why I said odds are against me.  I’ve always been a klutz.  I’ve always been more socially awkward than charming.  I don’t expect that to change as I age.

Nor do I expect my appearance to become more pleasing with age.

Aging brings change that is difficult to love.  We sag.  We bulge.  We wrinkle.  In our youth-worshiping culture, there is always the temptation to fight these changes.

We diet and exercise to maintain both our health and a youthful appearance.  We squeeze into spanx; push our breasts up with wire and foam, lots of foam; and hide our wrinkles with increasing numbers of cosmetics.

Some of us decide to inject, to tuck, to lift, to implant.  All sorts of cosmetic surgeries are available to help us fight aging.  I’d be lying if I said I never thought about it.

For me, at least right now, fighting my body’s natural aging isn’t my idea of graceful.  I am happy at the age I am.  I don’t mind looking it.  Accepting the changes life brings with good grace, and a sense of humor, will, I think, make me happier in the long run than obsessing over looking younger than I am.

If I want to fight anything, it is these two ideas:  that only youth is beautiful and that a woman’s value lies in her appearance and ability to attract.  These are lies.

2.  approval, favor

  • archaic : mercy, pardon
  • a special favor : privilege
  • disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency
  • a temporary exemption : reprieve

That disposition of kindness and courtesy has always been important to me.  There is no beauty apart from it.   It is the difference between a pretty face and a beautiful person.

This grace is not a privilege of the young.

Random acts of kindness make us feel good, but it’s easier to be kind to an anonymous stranger than it is to be kind to the family and coworkers who drive us mad.  Or the driver in the next lane, the waitress who messed up our order, the clerk who cannot count change.

Grace exudes a sense of caring for everyone she meets.  She sees the value in others, and treats them respectfully.  She doesn’t air every grievance and inconvenience.  She is compassionate, patient, and forgiving.  She doesn’t do kind things; she is kind.  Simply put, she loves.

Audrey Hepburn at her most beautiful.

Audrey Hepburn in Ethiopia with UNICEF, 1988, photo by John Isaac

I want to age gracefully; to become kinder and more loving; to care less about how I look and more about how I see others; to care less about how I am treated and more about how I treat others.

1. Grace:  unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification

  • a virtue coming from God
  • a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace

This one I’ve got covered, by no merit of my own.

I may not mention it frequently, but my faith underlies everything I am, and, hopefully, influences everything I do.  If I have grace in no other form, this one is enough.  Unlike youth or beauty, this grace is mine forever.

What does aging gracefully mean to you?

Generation FabulousThis post is part of the Generation Fabulous bloghop on Aging Gracefully.

Reading makes me look bad.

You probably recognize this Nat King Cole classic.  Did you know that John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons wrote the lyrics, in 1954, to go with an instrumental piece written by Charlie Chaplin for his 1936 movie Modern Times?
Failure is unimportant.  It takes courage to make a fool of yourself.Chaplin really was a genius, wasn’t he?  I’m a fan.  Have you seen any of his movies?

I’m not actually a believer in hiding every sadness.  Sad things are sad, I say, so let yourself be sad over them.

However, I also believe in choosing happiness whenever and where ever we can.  And I believe that when we fall down, the only thing worth doing is standing back up, laughing at ourselves, learning from our mistakes, and moving on.

I am an essentially happy person, yet, I have to admit, I’m not a smiley person.  My “normal” expression is more dour than I feel.  I never knew this until I had a daughter.

What does this have to do with reading?

Thank goodness she’s outgrown this stage, but we spent a year at the beginning of adolescence where this conversation took place regularly, when my girl entered the room while I was reading:

“Nevermind, you’re angry.”
“I’m not angry.”
“You’re frowning at me.”
“I’m not frowning.”
“You look angry.”
“I’m not angry.”
“You have lines on your head like you’re angry, and your mouth…”
“I’m not angry.  I’m old.  When you get old, you get wrinkles and your mouth droops.’

Apparently, I knit my brow when I read, so I do have prominent vertical lines between my brows, making me look cross.

I don’t know what to blame for the droopy mouth.  I probably need to laugh at myself more often.