I haven't had all that much to say (although my very patient girlfriends would disagree I'm sure). Correction: I haven't had all that much that's positive to say lately. Don't worry! I have no plan to blog all of my complaints and woes! Actually, that is why I'm blogging. I met someone today and as I listened to what she was sharing with me, I had an epiphany! And that's what blogs are for, right? To share epiphanies?
So, in keeping with the theme of my epiphany-esque blog, I have a new job/goal: I think I'm supposed to quit obsessing about my lost beauty. Yes, family and those who have known me for a while know what I mean. After my cancer treatment was done, it was all I could do to manage the new lymphedema fashion-statement, never mind the closet full of clothes that no longer fit. I figured it would get easier to navigate "the sleeve" (it hasn't.) One year later, I thought, "hmmmm, this fitness-thing isn't going so well, but I'll get my bone pain and hip joint issue addressed. THEN I'll get fit again!" That's been a long, slow, less-than-successful process so I finally joined Weight Watchers to get some accountability. I got down 10 pounds, then proceeded to jump off that wagon with both feet. Don't ask me why, I can't explain it. I've been trying so hard, for so long, and the painful (literally) transition through menopause has been a bitch y'all! The antiestrogen I take to keep cancer at bay has doubled the trouble, and the ugliness of my lymphedema is the icing on the cake. I've been mad, sad, and apathetic about it, all at the same time. Lately, instead of the hope I've hung on to that, one day, I'll feel beautiful again, I've been giving Weight Watchers the proverbial finger. I'm working on my second Master's degree for crying out loud. And "watching what I eat" isn't working anyway. I'm so tired of this monkey on my back.
Don't give me the "every woman goes through this" thing either. Menopause is different for all of us and it doesn't mean "bye bye beauty!" for every woman. I've got friends who are even MORE beautiful in their 50's than they were in their 20's! Okay, okay, so back to the epiphany. Turns out this woman I just met today is one of those people that you keep meaning to end a conversation with but you can't because you keep finding these connections and commonalities that surprise you both so you keep talking. Breast cancer came up (my lymphedema sleeve is usually the culprit but today it was about a friend she lost to the disease.) As we spoke about it, we discussed the mystery of God's providence and how cancer can be such a strange "gift." Her words reminded me that I had that frame of mind when I was bald, and feeling gross, and not sure how much time I did or didn't have left. Those were the days when I knew that TODAY was really all I could count on. THAT was freedom. THAT was living. I sort of miss those days. Weird, I know.
So in the space of that 15 minutes, that sense came flooding back. And all my body-hate seemed so narrow-minded. I was able, for a moment, to imagine being free...just like I am, overweight and all, to just focus on the joy of living under the same roof as my prince/husband, and to witness the purest joy that is my daughter! NO, I'm not being sappy! This is the stuff that's so hard to articulate. (I could try harder to impress you but I'm tired.) I imagined, for a moment, how it would be to not compare myself to my beautiful sisters (both older and younger) later this month when we're all at the beach together and, instead, just relish every moment with them, be an awesome aunt, radiate true peace, show hope, and give love! To laugh and laugh, and make a fool of myself to make them laugh! Maybe, just maybe, if all of that happens, maybe I'll be more beautiful than I ever thought I could be.
I'll definitely have to wait for the new Heaven & Earth to get there. But damn if it isn't a lovely aspiration. I'm not saying I won't try to remember and live out this new goal. I'm just such a realist - I know I'll fail more than I succeed. But as a very wise counselor (Gordon!) once told me, "Progress comes slowly. Celebrate it whenever you can!" That, I can do. I look forward to it! In between, I'll continue seeking answers to these always-annoying, ever-present beauty dilemmas (The South is the Bible Belt but can be very unChristian if you're a woman who isn't at least _trying_ to look good): just-enough, not-too-much makeup? uncomfortably-tight favorite jeans or just buy the next size up already? To tan or not to tan? Shave my legs or get away with one more day? Pretty shoes or arch-supporting, back-relieving slip-ons? And finally, how will I conceal/deal with my left arm today?
"God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference"