If you watch Grey’s Anatomy or you have read Shonda Rhymes Year of Yes, you know of the superhero pose:
“Standing around like Wonder Woman in the morning can make people think you are more amazing at lunchtime.” Stand up like a badass, legs in a wide stance, chin up, hands on your hips. Like you own the place. Like you have on a magical silver bracelets and know how to use them. Like your superhero cape is flapping behind you!
-Shonda Rymes, Year of Yes
First, Year of Yes is an awesome book. Second, buy the book. Everyone should read the book!
I never realized I had an inner superhero until long after I’d lost her.
I grew up in a small town. From as far back as I can remember, I felt like a fish out of water. I mean no disrespect to anyone in my family or the town I grew up in. I simply always longed to see and experience what the world had to offer, and I never felt like I belonged, even in my own family. I often felt like an outsider looking in, wondering what was wrong with me.
I always had a lot of fear in me, deep down, paralyzing fear. Fear that held me back, fear that left me on the sidelines. There was always a voice in my head saying “you don’t need that” “stop over-reaching” “why can’t you appreciate what you have” “it’s good enough for us” – years later I would learn that the voice in my head was the mother.
At the age of 12, I began planning my escape. Things happened that year, things that scarred my soul. 12-13 were hard years for me. Being the good girl I was, I never said a word about my struggles. Never once, to anyone. But, I knew I wouldn’t stay. I just had to get to high school graduation. 12 year olds should never think like that.
At age 14 I read the book Scruples, or as I like to say, sex education in paperback! It was a great book full of adventure, strong women…and sex! I hid that book for a long time because, well, the mother did not need to know I had read all THAT! (When she read the book, I got yelled at.) But the sex part didn’t make an impact near as much as Paris did. It was then that I fell in love with the idea of seeing Paris. Paris was Utopia, my ultimate goal. I had to get to Paris. When I would mention that? I was told I didn’t need to go to Paris. There was nothing in Paris for me. “It’s just a book. Stop trying to be someone you’re not.” “Everything there is old, there’s nothing to see.” “Parisians are rude.” “Be realistic. People like us don’t go to Paris.”
Throughout high school, I began to come into my own. I credit a few amazing teachers who saw potential in me, encouraged and mentored me. They truly changed the path of my life and made me believe I DID deserve all the world had to offer. I could BE more, DO more, WANT more.
I took part in Future Homemakers of America and was able to travel to regional and state meetings, participate in competitions, and meet new people who were not from our small community. Me? Homemaker? It wasn’t just about that so much as giving young women the skills to be amazing.
By Senior year, things were clicking for me. I was evolving into a confident person whose fear of everything was slowly being replaced with anticipation for the future. The beginnings of my superhero cape were forming.
I became a regional officer for FHA. The leadership training and time spent with my advisor was a true, life-changing gift. The mother did not approve. She didn’t understand why I never wanted to be home. That was her stance. Me, looking for excuses to be gone, wanting more than I really needed…
My music teacher encouraged me to sing the National Anthem at our first or second home football game. A Capella. I don’t remember that very well. I recall walking out onto the field, taking a few breath, and for the first time, unconsciously assuming the super-hero stance. I remember it ending and people being amazingly kind and complimentary. I thought, if I could do that, I could do anything!
There was a flurry of music training, music and FHA camps, drama, and other FHA related activities in high school. It all prepared me for life on the outside (although I did not realize that at the time.) Gifts I never took for granted.
Those experiences taught me to perform.
If nothing else, I could push the fear down and PRETEND I was brave. I could put on my game face, assume the superhero pose, step “on stage” and be amazing.
I desperately wanted to go to college. That was not encouraged at home. Waste of time. Waste of money. We didn’t go to college, we are doing fine. “What have we ever done to make you want to leave? “You’ll get no help from us!”
She kept that vicious promise, and I was determined to NEVER move back home and let her win. I won a few scholarships, but in the end, the choice was college or rent. I ended up ending my brief college career and losing those precious scholarships. “You just have to work hard, you don’t need more than that.” “Come home and I will take care of you. Just come back home.”
My superhero cape had a tear in it. I’d failed. I couldn’t figure out how to make college happen on my own. I was all of 19, how could I let that happen? I later learnedthatnlack of parental support was punishment #1 for having the audacity to move out of the house after graduation. That tear in my cape was the first of many.
I was 23, I think, when I decided to go to a trade school and get my accounting certificate. I needed more skills to get a better job. That opened the door for my 17 year career at a company that changed my life. I learned amazing skills in the accounting and IT departments, and they didn’t care that I didn’t have a degree (that wasn’t as big a deal in the 80’s and 90’s as it is now.)
While I excelled at work, I did not excel at a personal life. I fell into a rut, believing, finally, that if I just worked hard I didn’t need anything else. I had drank the Koolaid. My cape was slowly shredding. She had won. A business trip to Florida woke me up and changed the course of everything.
A co-worker invited me to spend the weekend with her. We went to the beach. I experienced downtown. This was a place I could see myself living in. It wasn’t Paris, but there was 28 miles of white sandy beaches. It was kind of like the Santa Cruz I remembered when I was really little, without the boardwalk. The place my Nana taught me to love the ocean. The mother hated that my Nana had such influence in me.
St Petersburg Florida is an amazing city with a small town feel. The vibe, the pace, it all just clicked for me at that time. It was exactly the change I needed to make, and I hadn’t been looking for a change!
I took a deep breath and made a superhero decision to move. That was twenty years ago. My cape was slowly mending itself.
That decison began a 19 year battle with the mother, full of anger, hostility, lies, manipulations and verbal abuse. I was over-reaching again. She must have failed if I needed to live so far from her. Yada. Yada. Yada. As hard as I tried to fight it, she continued to influence me. My poor cape.
I blossomed. I took up volunteering and focused on fundraising. I was a member of the Junior League (which made the mother crazy, me being one of those “stuck up, elitists”. “You’re not one of them. You never will be. Stop over-reaching.”) I worked with Race for the Cure. I loved volunteering, giving back, being a part of something bigger. It was satisfying.
It took superhero powers to approach businesses for funding. Hell, I solicited $500 from my gynecologist while my feet were in the sturrups! I was terrified, but I was DOING. Living. Being.
I finally went back to school. Twenty-odd years after failing, I was back. I loved it. I did amazingly well. I got a bachelors in three years, while working full time. I worked, I studied, I went to class, I did homework. That was my life. The response from home? “That’s a waste of money. Why do you continue to want more than you are meant to have?” “You are wasting your time, you need to come home.”
I graduated, exhausted, run down, and numb. As much as I loved school, keeping up with everything took a toll on me. A few months later my 17 year career came to an end. Changes were in the air and I did not want to be a part of them. While I don’t regret leaving when I did, doing so broke my spirit. That was my home, the place I had grown into an adult, it was in my blood. My boss and I didn’t part on the best of terms and that ate me up as well. Part of me has never fully recovered from the loss. My cape had a new, huge tear and a few shredded areas.
I ventured out on my own and started a business. Timing was bad, economics were not in my favor, and try as I might, I couldn’t make a go of it. When my biz ended, the experience broke me some more. My cape looked like Swiss cheese.
The last ten years have been, well, hell in many ways. The abuse from the mother plus the ups and downs of my finances, health, and overall life…everything I tried to achieve left me scarred and two steps behind where if begun. Soul sucking is the word you’re looking for. The pressure from the mother became unbearable.
That brave little girl retreated and my inner superhero disappeared. The cape fell into ruins, and the remnants blew away in the crazy, wild winds that were ruling my life.
In the last two years I blew out my ankle a a second and third time. The mother died, and I felt guilty for feeling relieved. The father died. I reconnected with family I had been denied a relationship with most of my life. I learned a great deal about the truth of my childhood and the lengths the mother would go for absolute control. I woke up and saw the mother for the insane, sociopath she truly was.
In the end, I was going through the paces. Get up. Go to work. Go home. Sleep sometimes. Get up. Go to work…
This week I realized…I am a shell of my former self.
In the shower a couple days ago, I realized I need to get that brave little girl back. I need to make a new cape. I assumed the superhero pose. I stood there, allowing the water to wash off the grime of the previous day and some from the previous years. I realized I will need a lot of showers to wash all that grime away. I began searching for that brave 12 year old who wanted to escape that world and have more. This world, my world, needs her.
I decided to enter performance mode. Put on my game face, every day. Strike the superhero pose, every day. Push the fear back, every day. I expect some days will go better than others. I have to keep moving forward.
I can see that little girl, peaking out from the sideline, tentatively deciding how to proceed. I need to coax her out again.
I need to be brave, get out of my way, and return to me.
PS: I went to Paris in 2004. It was was amazing as I thought it would be. In fact, on that trip I saw Rome, Florence, Vincenza, Venice, Milan, and Paris. I will go back. I will have coffee at a cafe and eat strawberry crepes. I will sit among the artists on the steer and sketch the most beautiful city on earth. A superhero can do that.
Photo from Grey’s Anatomy borrowed from https://goo.gl/images/mVgdaz
A CT scan is $300…or $400, in either case, it’s kind of a lot and I’ve not gotten around to it. Yet. I’m thinking I need to, as good ole Herman continues to raise his head now and then.
Herman doesn’t like extreme heat. When I get overheated, he acts up. It’s summer in Florida. Herman is restless.
He still does not like lifting or any type of exertion. Damn it Herman, I need to be able to DO things! I need to exercise, and I need to lift things at work without you wreaking havoc the rest of the day.
Today was one of those days. I lifted a 35 pound or so item up from the floor and into a wagon. I ended up with a headache. My coworker jumped in my case, worried that I’d hurt my back. I didn’t even tell her that I had woken up Herman. He and I simply spent the rest of the day co-existing.
I think my memory is as improved as it’s going to get. Long term is pretty good. Short term can be spotty. Somethings I remember really well. Some things I don’t. I have noticed that on “Herman Days”, the memory isn’t as good as it should be. I’ve decided I need note cards in my pocket and purse to help me with things I need to know at the drop of a hat. Key points. Elevator speeches.
One really annoying thing with all this is me trying to learn everything I can about Willing Beauty – the company, the product lines, all of it. Some things have stuck well. Some just don’t stick at all. I find that if I read something over and over, and study a lot, it helps. I didn’t have to study this hard in high school or college!
There is a bright spot in the Herman saga! Yes, I said a bright spot! It’s really exciting. Are you ready???
I am able to put more of my head on a pillow. That’s huge. I still sleep at an incline with a pillow under my neck. It’s kinda comfortable, I don’t snore, and I don’t wake up sore. I kind of like it. But I can get more of my head on a pillow for a longer period of time now than I could even six months ago, so that’s good. Plus, it gives the kitties a place to snuggle next to me (they do love a good pillow.)
I’ve begun to wonder, is it all in my head? Maybe I’m all better and my head just THINKS I’m not. Sometimes I think it’s all a dream and I will wake up. Oh how wonderful that would be?!?! I don’t think that is going to happen though, so I need to keep making it work. Herman is, by far, the toughest relationship I’ve ever had!
Wait. What? How can that be? Who doesn’t love fireworks? The anticipation, the whooshing sound as they fly into the air, the surprise when they explode, showering the sky with delightful colors. Everyone loves that, right?
No. Not everyone.
When I was a child, we would go to my grama and grampa’s house on Independence Day to set off fireworks. They had a long sidewalk in the middle of their (always) lush, green lawn and two water sources close by, which made for the perfect fireworks launch site.
Grampa spent a lot of time keeping that lawn lush and green. Mainly because he took great pride in doing so. Also because a green yard surrounding a house in Northern California during fire season is a good thing!
Fire season. Every summer, the state of California catches fire. It always has, it probably always will. The mother would say it was natures way of cleaning house. To me, fire is terrifying.
I always had anxiety during the summer, worried about the fire hazard (which was always posted in town on the Smokey the Bear Sign by the fire station.) I would see that sign, and my stomach would flip. Every fire that started in our area would send me into a silent anxiety attack. Silent because, I never told a soul about my fear.
I’m rather terrified of fire. Every summer I would make a list of things to take with me in case we had to evacuate (we never did, although the parents were evacuated a few times in my adult years.) I also kept a small suitcase packed under my bed with some of those things. No one knew that I did that, but I was ready…just in case.
Fireworks require fire.
The dad and grampa would lay sheets of plywood over the sidewalk and lawn to create the perfect size fireworks perimeter. A bucket or two of water was strategically placed. Once they were ready, the family would gather (sometimes just us, sometimes the aunt and the cousins, sometimes others.) There was always watermelon. I think melon was a theme. (Hmm. I’m not a big melon fan…interesting.)
Anyhow, I digress. When it got dark, they would begin setting off the fireworks. I would begin the anxiety attack. I was always terrified one would fall on me and I would catch on fire.
Yes. That was my fear. Crazy? Probably a little!
Sparklers? They are the devil. Little balls of fire close to the skin. They can catch your hair on fire! Burn your skin! Poke your eye out! The devil I tell you! THE DEVIL!
The mother would inevitably try to make me hold a sparkler. In fact, she found joy in holding them way too close to me and taunting me because she knew I was afraid. I suppose that was her way of wanting to cure me of my “irrational fear”. Her words. It didn’t work.
I never outgrew that anxiety.
I don’t mind watching fireworks from afar. The cities in my area put on lovely displays. Backyard fireworks? No thank you. I fear one will land on me and I will catch on fire. I fear someone else will catch on fire. I fear someone will have one explode in their hand. I fear a dog will eat one.
I now live in a neighborhood where the neighbor’s all around me enjoy fireworks. They REALLY enjoy them. The weeks of Independence Day and New Years, they set them off for days. They are loud, they sometimes shake the walls, and I fear one will land on my roof and burn my house down. It only takes one.
Just a few more days of fireworks, and I can push that anxiety back down until New Years. Thank goodness fire season is only twice a year!
It’s 4:08am. I’ve been awake for almost two hours. It seems to be my new routine. As I lay here with a million things running through my mind, I suddenly remembered something I’ve been quietly excited about for months:
Yesterday marked one year since my last “monthly visit”, “that time”, or as I came to refer to it as “my monthly hell”.
It was never an easy road. I started when I was 12. I remember waking up one morning, seeing the evidence, and being angry. This was not something I ever wanted to deal with. I certainly had never looked forward to it. I had awful cramps all day, and I had to go to school and suck it up. I remember being so nauseous and in so much pain I could barely concentrate. I was miserable.
When I get home, the mother had called EVERYONE she knew to tell them “the exciting news” – I was woman!
Actually, I was humiliate. She became irate. She told me I was being stupid, that I should be proud of “becoming a woman”.
H U M I L I A T E D.
I told her that it was nobodies business and she had no right to announce it to the world. It was my personal. It was embarrassing and I was miserable. She told me to grow up. She told me I was a child and had no rights. I told her I was supposedly a woman. She told me to shut up before she slapped that look off my face. Oh the warm memories…
The next 39 years were mostly hell where this was concerned. Severe PMS hat dragged on for two weeks. Extreme cramps that often left me sick for two days every month. Heavy flow that left me exhausted and wondering how people ever survive such blood loss.
In high school, the cramps were so bad my doctor prescribed Vicodin. Yes, I said Vicodin! WTH?? Who does that???
I was never allowed to stay home with a migraine or cramps. I was told at an early age that I had to learn how to live in the world with these things, and that I was never to use them as an excuse. I won’t say as an adult that I followed that advise. Rarely did I call in sick, and if the mother got wind of it, she gave me hell.
I had an abnormal pap about 19 years ago. Precancerous cells were caught early and dealt with. I asked for a hysterectomy, and was told no. I was serious, but the doc didn’t take me seriously.
At this point I will mention that I am the only female on the mother’s side of the family to have a uterus after the age of 30. There was no family history to compare me to. There was a lot of cervical cancer, cysts, hardening of the uterus, and generally not healthy female parts.
In my late 30’s/early 40’s I asked again for a hysterectomy. I was told that would be “elective surgery” and insurance doesn’t cover that. Instead she put me on the Depo Provera shot and for four glorious years I had no “time of the month”.
H E A V E N.
The PMS was gone. The severe nausea and other symptoms that arrived on day one were gone. It was amazing. Then my job situation changed and my insurance changed and they were no longer covered. Heavy sigh.
Then they got sporadic for several years. Every two weeks…every six weeks…every few months…every two weeks…you get the picture.
Finally, I skipped several months. I started keeping count. On month six? Surprise. Mother Nature did that to me three times.
This time, I wrote the start date down and forgot about it. A couple months ago I checked to see what it had been. June 19, 2016. It had been heavy, ugly, made me sick as a dog, and lasted a full seven days. Then nothing.
It is now 4:45am on June 29, 2017. One year has officially gone by. One year, which marks the official start to menopause.
Perimenopause has been here for several years, as have hot flashes, night sweats, and the like. I can live with that.
I will make a doctor appointment to get checked out and make sure all is well. Then I may call my friends and suggest a celebratory drink.
This bears celebrating. The horror that began 39 years ago is no more.
Welcome menopause!! I’ve been anxiously awaiting your arrival!!
I completed 30-days of better for you skin care a few weeks back. I am always a skeptic. I always expect another shoe to drop, and I never let myself believe in the amazing.
I’ve now seen amazing.
What I see now is hydrated, healthy skin. I rarely feel tight or dry anymore (except when I sweat a ridiculous amount, you know, because it’s summer in Florida.) The lines around my eyes and on my forehead have lessened. I don’t know if my skin is simply plumper, or if there is magical healing taking place that turns back the hands of time, but I’m full on IN!
I use the full HY+5 Regimen plus the amazing Born to Glow skin elixer, a delightful oil that doesn’t at all feel like I’m putting oil on my face.
See the results for yourself!
If you would like to know more, I’ll be happy to share more about Willing Beauty!
June. Officially summer. Hot days, warm nights. In Florida, it’s not even the hottest time (we’ll revisit that in August/September!) when we were kids it meant pool time, motor home vacations, reading a LOT of books and vegetating until the school year began.
I woke this morning feeling like time has swept past me and I’ve not moved. Ever feel like that?
I have a problem you see, a very big problem. I live as I was trained to live. I wake up, I go to work, I work hard, I come home, I eat dinner, I go to bed.
Trained since birth!
Now, that’s not to say I don’t socialize. I go out to dinner, meet up with friends, all the fun things. I don’t do that as often as I probably should. You know, the balance thing and all. Balance? Yes, it’s a thing. I’m told it’s an important thing.
I find myself in a rut this first day of June. I just don’t make enough time for me. There, I said it. It’s out in the universe.
I need more me time.
Sounds simple, yes? No. It’s my age old struggle.
What to DO?
I declare today the first day that I purposefully spend a little more time on me. This month I will do more things that benefit me, my life, my future. Wow, that sounds incredibly selfish! How DARE I think such a thing? Another part of the training. Oh, that damn training to be content with nothing, to not over reach, to not dream of a better future, to not be selfish. I may need a detox of some kind…
I want to better serve the people around me. Friends. Strangers. I want to make a difference. I want to be someone who can make someone smile, even if they don’t realize it. I want to bring forth joy.
I don’t need pomp and circumstance. I just want to give back to this world of ours, and be a brighter spot, a positive spot, a good person.
I will work on me, body and soul. A healthier me is better for everyone.
I think it’s doable. I just need to start.
This holiday finds me a bit retrospective. The meaning of the day often gets lost in the picnics, pool-parties, barbecues, boat outings, and family gatherings that go hand-in-hand with a three-day weekend. I always take some time to reflect, remember, and honor those who have made it possible for me to live in this wonderful country with the freedoms that I have.
My grandfather on the mother’s side served proudly in the Pacific during World War II. He was a long-time Merchant Marine who found himself in San Francisco the day Pearl Harbor was bombed. Upon hearing the news, he went straight to the Navy recruiting office and signed up. He left his wife and newborn son behind to serve and protect our country and our way of life. I remember him telling me he was angry that we had been attacked, and he felt he needed to do his part.
He was awarded a Purple Heart and bore the scar on his stomach where he was shot. He would show us grandkids his scar now and then. It looked like a second belly button, and we grandkids thought it funny that he had a second belly button. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized the seriousness of his war wound. He also lost a good part of his hearing, the result of being too close to an explosion, and I never knew him without hearing aids. He served his country with pride. When he passed in the mid-80’s, we honored him with an honor guard and a tombstone which reflects his service in the Navy and his rank. He was especially proud that he was not an officer. He always saw himself as an every-man, and he would say that most of the officers we jerks (although he did once confess that he had a few friends who were officers, with a twinkle in his eye.)
My other grandfather was one of four or five boys (my memory is foggy on this one,) who drew straws to see who would go to war. They were afraid that no one would be there to care for their mother or families if they all were to die in the war. He drew the short straw and stayed behind to take care of his mother and his brother’s families. He was proud to serve in that way.
One of my grandfathers had a brother who died in the war. I can’t remember which one, and I don’t really have anyone to ask. I think it was the mother’s father, but I can’t be certain.
Ironically, both of my grandfathers were raised without fathers. They both had a fierce sense of honor and family.
The father who raised me served in the Army during the brief period of “peace” between the end of the Korean War and the beginning of the Vietnam War. He eventually landed on Guam, where if I recall correctly, he was the company clerk. “Kind of like Radar,” I was told when the TV show MASH was popular. We hear they had a really good time on Guam. I never heard him speak much about that time. When his four years were up, he returned to the states, got a job, married, etc.
I learned two years back that my biological father was in the Air Force. He was a medic. I don’t have a lot of details, and I’m not sure if he served during wartime. I think he spent most of his time in Alaska. My aunt his sister, sent me his Air Force photo for Christmas two years ago. It’s a wonderful photo of a young, handsome man who I never knew. The only photo I’ve ever seen of him.
I have friends and acquaintances who have served our country over the years, both in war time and peace. I recall hearing that a number of boys I grew up with served during Desert Storm. Timing is everything, and we were the right age for them to go. I recall at the time the mother telling me, “Every generation has been in a war.”
To all the men and women who have served our country, to all who have given the ultimate sacrifice, a simple thank you does not suffice. I am humbled and forever thankful for your service to ensure our freedom.
Vegan means a lot to me. I had a six year adventure in the world of vegan. My return to non-vegan was more about finding things that worked for my body and less with missing meat. Unable to find the magic formula, I added some meat back into the mix and many issues I was experiencing cleared up. It makes no sense to me, but I’m still playing with the balance.
That said, when I first learned of Willing Beauty, one of my first questions was, “Are the products vegan?” I’m happy to report that most of them are! Three products contain beeswax and are not considered vegan.
Willing Beauty does not participate in animal testing, and the products are cruelty free. At launch, you will see that our products contain the Leaping Bunny™ seal. Leaping Bunny™ is a big deal!
The three products that contain beeswax are Zero Shine Mattifying Moisturizer (from the Willa line,) and Partner in Time Age Defying Night Serum and Sleepover Replenishing Night Cream (from the HY+5 line.) Basically, my night time regimen. I can live with that.
I happen to have friends who have bees. I have seen how the bees are handled, how honey and beeswax is harvested, and the loving kindness involved in maintaining the hives. I’m ok with a bit of beeswax.
Ethical products. That was a HUGE deciding factor for me. It’s a question I ask often, and often am not pleased with the answer.
An added bonus? The packaging is recyclable!
Are all of the products I use vegan? No. Do I try? Yes. Do I have friends who walk the walk and talk the talk? Yes. I will find my balance again. For now I am thrilled to be a part of this company, and to use such wonderful products!