Shorty ~ by Sam

Well, today has been a heckuva day.  Very busy, and lots of frustrating things going on ~ like when I opened the fridge, and a glass container full of leftover spaghetti fell out and shattered all over the floor.  I mean ALL.  OVER.  It was int he kitchen, the laundry room, the breezeway, on the step in to the party room…  I swept, I wiped with a wet paper towel, I vacuumed… I am still finding tiny shards of glass.  After I finished cleaning up, I saw that I had a little spaghetti sauce on my foot, which was weird, since the sauce was packaged separately, and I had broken a a container full of plain spaghetti.  Weird, right?  So, I wiped away the spaghetti sauce, and, guess what.  NOT spaghetti sauce.  I was bleeding, because there was a tiny shard of glass in my foot.  So, that was super fun.  Or not.

There was a lot of other stuff, too, but I got vegan ice cream, and I got to spend most of the day with my favourite college sophomore.  Did I mention that my kid is a sophomore?  It’s her first year in college, and she is only 17, but she took a lot of AP courses, so she’s a sophomore.  That’s my money-saving tip of the day: if you can swing it, take the AP classes.  Make sure you take ones that will count at your college of choice (or at least that are in subjects about which you are passionate).  This could save you A LOT of money int he long run, when you don;t have to pay to take those courses when you are in college.

Despite being very busy, we did manage to find me a “Graduation Outfit,” which I bought at her insistence, and will wear after I have successfully completed my shorts experiment here.  I can give you a little preview here:

Photo on 8-28-15 at 2.10 PM

See?  It’s cute.  I promise.  She says it looks great on me.  I am still in denial about spending twenty-eight bucks on it, because you know how I hate spending money; but I guess, if I get through this with my dignity intact, i deserve some kind of reward.

So…I guess you are wondering about today’s shorts.  I did wear shorts today.  In fact, today, I wore a special pair of shorts.  I tie-dyed these, with a cute little halter top to match, some years ago.  I really love the colours, but I don’t wear them often, because they are shorts.

And this is the part where I talk about body image, and how we perceive ourselves.  I am eating disorder survivor. So, what I see when I look in the mirror is not what you see when you look at me.  This experiment I am doing with the shorts might seem insignificant to a lot of people, but it might prove to be life-altering for me.

For the record, I know that most people who see these pictures of me think, “Big deal.  You’re fine.  You look fine in shorts.”  What’s important to understand is that the way you see me is not the way I see myself.  I don’t mean I feel bad about myself.  I mean, I literally see a different image than you see.  When I look in the mirror, I don’t see a small, relatively attractive woman, looking perfectly normal in shorts.  When I look in the mirror, my thighs seem disproportionately large compared to the rest of my body.  Every perceived flaw is magnified tenfold, if not more, but my thighs are a special sticking point.  I have been self-conscious about them since I was a child.  As a result of a scalding incident when I was 11 months old, I have a lot of scarring on my thighs.  The skin looks mottled, and, on one thigh, I have a scar in the shape of my first initial, “K.”  I was teased about this when I was a girl, and I guess that made a big impression on me.  I have always been guarded about revealing my thighs.  Fast forward to the teen and young adult years, when I was battling eating disorders, and grappling with body image and self-esteem issues, and, well…you don’t see me running around in shorts in my adult life.   When I am getting dressed to go out, I’ll ask Shane or the kids, “Does this look okay?”  “Can I pull this off?” and they’ll say, “Yeah. You look great!”  And the thing is, I KNOW they mean it, but, then I look in the mirror, and I think, “What’s wrong with them?  Can’t they see (insert perceived flaw)?”

These past few days have been revolutionary for me.  I don’t know what I expected to get out of this.  Maybe I thought I would feel more comfortable wearing shorts, which would be awesome, since it’s roughly 1,000,002℉ in Sunny SoCal right now.  Maybe I thought I would inspire someone else.  Maybe I hoped my girls would understand that, sometimes, without even realizing it, I say things about my body  that have no basis in fact; and that they should understand that there is nothing wrong with my body, nothing wrong with their bodies, nothing wrong with ANY body.

But I got more than that, I think.

When I look in the mirror, I don’t see what you see.  However, when I look at a photograph, it’s different, somehow.  I can put a photograph of myself next to a photograph of someone else, and see that, really, they’re not so different.  Somehow, by taking a photograph, I can change my perception of myself, even if just slightly, and that tiny shift in the way I perceive myself can make huge difference.  It’s like I can see myself through other people’s eyes. they way they see me.

Well.  Sorta.  Not exactly.

I am still working on it.

But it definitely gives me a different perspective.  It makes it possible for me to look at myself more objectively, and maybe start to see myself the way others do.

Maybe.

So…here goes.  I decided, today, to address some of my toughest issues.

First, there’s the walk away.  This is my bum, in shorts.  It’s not as bad as I thought.  I always worry about that back top part of my thigh, too; but here it is, in pretty short shorts, and it looks…well…okay, I think.  It’s weird for me to say that.  I mean, my knee-jerk reaction is to look for flaws, but I think it’s okay.  It’s out in the world, anyway, and the world has probably not stopped spinning.   So, I guess what I am saying is, if the internet has survived witnessing my bum in shorts, maybe I can get through it, too.  it’s kind of sassy, I think.
Photo on 8-28-15 at 8.23 AM

This next pic is one Justice snapped.  I’m okay with it.  I need to rescue that flamingo from the lemon balm, but I feel okay about the shorts.
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This next one was really hard for me.  I decided to tackle one of my biggest issues with wearing shorts.  When I sit down, my thighs spread. I know, EVERYONE’S thighs spread.  For some reason, I find it unacceptable that mine do.  I don’t know what I expect them to do.  They are made of flesh.  It spreads.  I do PT every single day for my foot/leg, and walk every day, too; so I know my thighs are in decent shape.  It doesn’t matter, thighs spread when we sit.  Its just true.  It happens to everyone.  And here’s the thing: I don’t look at anyone else’s thighs ever and think, “Ew, gross!” because they are sitting down.  I never think anything whatsoever about anyone else’s thighs, and I know mine look just like all the other thighs.  I KNOW they do…I just have trouble seeing them that way.  So, like I said, this is hard to post.  But, if I do, it’s out in the world ~ and, maybe, if everyone has already seen my thighs all over the internet, I won’t feel so worried about them being seen anywhere else.  Maybe.  Let’s see.
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See?  They’re FINE!  I think they’re kind of tiny, even.
Nevertheless, this is how I felt about taking that picture:
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Ah, well.  I tried.  I will keep trying.

For now, I think I will go put on my jammies and leaf through a magazine.  Maybe I’ll have a second glass of wine.

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Short & Sweet ~ Sam

Today I had a horrible allergy attack while shipping a package.  I have no idea what triggered it ~ red, itchy, burning, watery eyes, runny nose, that just stuffed-up allergy-head feeling, even a little bit of an asthma attack.  Had to use eye drops, inhaler and take allergy meds, just to be able to make the 4-block drive home.  Put lemon, peppermint and lavender oils in my diffuser, drank tons of water, and tried to feel human again, but it only sorta worked.  But, hey, at least I remembered to wear shorts.

Here I am, after picking up Hallie from the Metro station after school ~ Me, in shorts, Day 4:
ShortsDay4

If I look like I am trying very hard not to sneeze, it’s probably because I am.  But, hey, look what a pretty colour our house is!

That was the “short;” and now, the sweet.  I thought I would share this recipe, since I just made these the other day, and ate the last one today.

Simple Peanut Butter Cookies:
Preheat oven to 350℉.
In a large bowl, mix:

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2-1 tsp. vanilla extract

Roll dough into walnut-sized balls, place on an ungreased cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and flatten slightly with a fork (make a crisscross pattern with the tines of the fork, if desired, for a peanut butter cookie classic look).  Bake for 8 minutes.  Allow cookies to cool completely before serving, or they will fall apart.  these cookies are very rich and peanut buttery, and super easy to make.

Short and Shorter ~ by Sam

Today was the first day since Hallie and Kaia started school last Tuesday that I have actually been home while they were at school.  Shane has been working his regular job, plus 3 side jobs, so he has not been home much, either; and, when he was home, he was working.  Justice’s first day of college was this Monday.  I planned to pick her up after her classes and treat her to lunch, but, alas, it was not to be.  I had to make a delivery to Shane at his office, then drop off a forgotten notebook at school…I am not sure what else happened, but, as has happened every single day since school began, something came up.  Last week, it was an ant infestation in the dining room and bar. That was followed by an injured bird in need of help (I spent a day driving a bird to Compton).  It seems like there has just been one thing after another.

So, I get home with the kids, make dinner while they do homework, make sure everyone gets homework, laundry, dishes, etc. done, and, before I know it, it’s time to head to bed, so we can start all over again bright and early the next day.  To have a whole day with no real demands on my time was something of a luxury.  Naturally, I decided to use indulge by cleaning the house, mopping the floors, washing the slipcovers and baking snack cake.  In my defense, the house REALLY needed to be cleaned.  I did take the afternoon to have my hair done, which really was a luxury.  I usually dye my own hair, but I have been so overwhelmed by the messy house and my busy days that the thought of having to clean up after dyeing my hair was intolerable.  Also, we are going to a Bar Mitzvah this weekend, and I wanted to look okay, and didn’t have time to screw it up and have to fix it.  So, off to Floyd’s 99 Barbershop where, for $74, Ada cut and dyed my hair.  She insisted on the cut, and she was right ~ it is so much better.  I didn’t even mind having to pay for it, and you all know how much I hate spending money.

Now, I am home for a few minutes, so I will keep chipping away at the messy house.  It’s much better, but not great.  I want it to be great.  One little corner of it is pretty great.  See?

TidyPassThrough

That’s the pass-through from the dining room to the kitchen.  It’s too high to really function as a pass through on the dining room side, so it’s just this awkward window into the kitchen.  Shane seems to really like piling stuff on it.  (Sorry, honey, I have made other plans.)  Trust me, for us, this is tidy.

But, you know that feeling you get when you work really hard cleaning one room, and you are feeling super-accomplished….until you walk into the next room, where stuff is just everywhere.  So, you walk into the next room…and the cat has peed on the laundry hamper.  Yeah.  It was like that.  (Really, Cat?  The LAUNDRY HAMPER??)

I guess you could say today has been a mixed bag.  Somehow, I remembered to put on my shorts today.  For those who don;t know, I am in the midst of an experiment.  Having struggled with body image, low self-esteem and eating disorders, I have challenged myself to post pictures every day for about 9 days of myself in shorts.  If you want to read a little bit more about that, read my previous two posts.  Right now, I feel like I have been talking for a long time, so, without further ado, I give you:

Me, in shorts.  Day 3:

photo 2

This picture was taken right after I had my hair done.  The shorts are simple knit shorts with an elastic waistband.  I bought them some time ago, thinking I would wear them, but…well…sometimes I sleep in them.

Kaia snapped the picture for me, having met me at the salon, which is right down the street from her school.  Here we are being silly together, me and my favourite 7th grader:

Me&MyGirl

That’s all for now!

How Soon We Forget ~ by Sam

So, after my exciting post yesterday, I awoke this morning, threw on a dress and dashed off to drop Kaia off at school. It was around the time I was dropping off Justice that I realized I probably wasn’t going to go home and change…and I wasn’t wearing shorts.  On Day 2 of my experiment, I had already blown it.  That seemed to show rather a dismal lack of commitment on my part, so, not so easily beaten, I devised a plan.  I needed to pick up a few things at Target, and Target sells shorts.  I decided I would improvise, and spend Day 2 trying on many styles of shorts.

Having realized after my last post that at least two pairs of my shorts might not be shorts at all (one comes to below my knee, so I think they’re out), I thought, maybe, I would find a pair or two at Target that I actually liked.  I made myself try a variety of styles, colours, and lengths, to see what I thought looked best.  In the end, I did not buy any, but I didn’t hate them all, so that’s a step in the right direction.

So, without further ado, I give you: Me, in shorts.

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Above, you see the first pair I tried.  They’re not terrible, I guess, but they aren’t really my style, either.

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Next, I tried these.  I was a little skeptical.  They look sort of like bloomers, I think.

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These ones were flowery, and…voluminous.  I think maybe a size too big?

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Dude.  I actually like these.  I like the length, the style, the colour.  The only problem is they are one size too big, I think.  The leg openings are a bit wider than they should be, and the waist gaps at the back.  I tried to take a picture of that, but it’s hard to get a photograph at that angle.  It pooches out much more than it appears in the pics, below.  I would say there was a good 2-3″ of air between me and the back of my shorts, which probably is not a good plan, if you don’t want to fall out of your pants.
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Okay, these brightly printed ones, above, are kind of cute.  Maybe I should have bought them.  I even struck a silly little pose.  I think I like them because they almost look like a skirt, instead of shorts.  They are short, but not binding around my thighs.  The flamingo shirt was pretty fab, too, but I would probably only wear it in a Target dressing room.

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These were the shortest shorts I tried on today.  I felt pretty brave, even if I was in a dressing room all by myself.  They are so short that you can see the curve at the top of my thigh.  That’s the part I have the most trouble with.  Why, I do not know.  Thighs curve.  That’s totally normal.  But, you know, there’s that demon again, saying things it shouldn’t say.  Maybe I should have bought these ones, just to piss it off.  Maybe, then, I would have felt truly brave.

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I really wanted to like these last ones.  It’s hard to tell in the picture, I think, but they had a sort of lacy/crochet overlay, and a smooth black liner.  I think they were too big.  Maybe if they hadn’t been quite so big and floppy, they would have impressed me more.  They looked pretty on the hanger.  I think they make my legs look spindly, which is not something I ever thought I would say.  Also, it occurs to me that, years ago, if I thought a pair of shorts made my legs look skinny, I would have snapped them up, even if it was just that they were way too big and floppy.

So, that’s how my experiment went today.  At least I spent a lot of time looking at my thighs today.  I’m still working on it.  Who knows?  By the end of this experiment, I just might find I like shorts, and add them to my regular wardrobe rotation.  If nothing else, I spent a lot of time looking at my thighs today.  More than I usually do.  I might be getting used to them.  Only time will tell.  So many shorts, so little…fabric.

The Long and Short of It ~ by Sam

About a week ago, on Facebook, I shared a video of a young woman making a very powerful statement about eating disorders, self-esteem and body image. I commented:

“This. This is the reason I wear a bikini at 45.

I am still working on it. Just yesterday, I started out in a pair of shorter shorts, then decided I didn’t like the way my thighs looked, so I changed. I weigh 102lbs. My thighs look tiny, no matter what I wear, but I still don’t love the way they’re shaped. I’m working on it.

Even now, all these years post-eating-disorder, I still struggle to see my body the way it really is. I still struggle to focus on being healthy and fit, rather than fitting into some arbitrary, media-created mold of what an “ideal” body looks like. I still struggle with the idea that my body is perfect, and beautiful, exactly as it is.

There is a movement now toward making sure girls know that there is so much more to them than their looks. That is wonderful, and important; but I think it is important, too, to make sure all people are told regularly that they are gorgeous. If I tell you that, please know that I am not just saying it to be nice, or to make you feel good. I’m saying it because it’s true. I think it’s important that you know; so I tell you, in case no one else does.

I know that’s a lot of information to throw up on a wall on Facebook, but I think it needs to be said. I think the best thing we can do to fight eating disorders is to keep talking about our experience. To be open, and honest, and brave. It is important for people who are still struggling with their own body image to know that they are not alone, that they are beautiful, and perfect, and that they will be okay. Those of us who have survived are proof. This girl, and the people who stopped to read her sign and draw hearts are proof.”

Since then, I have been thinking about one line I typed there. It is, “Just yesterday, I started out in a pair of shorter shorts, then decided I didn’t like the way my thighs looked, so I changed.”

Over the weekend, I started weeding through my clothes. If my count is correct, I own about 9 pairs of shorts. I thought about giving them away, but then, I had a better idea.  What if, instead of giving away all of my shorts because i still don’t like the way my thighs look in them, I kept them?  What if I posted a picture of myself, wearing shorts, every day for a week?  What if, since I have 9 pairs, I posted a picture every day for 9 days?  What if I challenged others to do the same ~ or to post of picture of themselves in whatever is that piece of clothing they avoid, because they don’t feel like some part of their body looks “good enough” to be seen in it (swimsuit, tank top, crop top, etc.)?  What if we all agreed to tell each other how great we look?  Wouldn’t that be the right kind of revolution to stage?

So, here I am, on Day 1:  No makeup, my hair still in a “growing out” phase, and, IMO, in need of a dye job, in my shorts.  These are among the shortest ones I own.  They are knit exercise shorts ~ short and snug.  I’m wearing fuzzy socks, and my top probably doesn’t really go with my shorts.  Before she took the picture, Justice asked if I wanted her to get my feet, because, you know, i’m wearing fuzzy socks.  Well, I am almost always wearing fuzzy socks, thanks to Raynaud’s (my feet are cold!) and CRPS (my left foot hurts!), so I figured we might as well show me as I really am.  So, here I am World, thighs and all.

ShortsDay1

For the record, I know my thighs are fine.  Cognitively, logically, I know.  But then, there’s the demon that will forever live in my brain, trying to tell me I’m not good enough.   Not thin enough.  Not pretty enough.  Not perfect.  Because that’s how my eating disorder works.  And no, I don;t still HAVE an eating disorder ~ that is, I am not engaging in those destructive behaviors that fall into the eating disorder category ~ but, as far as I can tell, it works (for me, anyway) like an addiction.  It’s always there, lurking just under the surface, waiting to rear its ugly head.  So, when I hear that little voice telling me my thighs don’t look good enough for me to wear shorts, I have to yell back at it, “Oh, shut up!  My thighs are fine!”  It’s when I hear myself say those things out loud ~ when I utter them in front of my daughters, and other young people in my life ~ that I know I need to take a step back and give myself some perspective.

Screw you, eating disorder.  Screw you, self-esteem issues.  Screw you, negative body image.  My thighs look great.

New Custom Earmold ~ by Sam

Don’t worry, “earmold” is not some kind of frightening new ear infection.  It’s actually an earpiece for my hearing aid that has been custom molded to fit perfectly in my ear canal.  The earpiece that came with my hearing aid was small, soft,and probably a little bit more comfortable, but it kept slipping out of place, which sort of defeats the purpose of the hearing aid altogether.  If the receiver is not actually in my ear canal, it’s not going to help me hear.  So, my audiologist squirted some stuff in my ear to take an impression that he then sent off to be used to make a new earpiece that is custom molded, just for me.  This should mean it stays in place, and I get to hear everything, all the time.  Isn’t technology exciting?

I picked up the new earpiece today, and I am still getting used to it.  At the moment, I am very aware that there is something in my ear, just as I was for the first week or so with the original earpiece.  I will say, in the first hour or so since I got it, it has not slipped one bit.  It is a little less unobtrusive than the original, which sat fully inside my ear canal.  This one is a hard piece of molded…hmmm…plastic, I suppose.  It is clear, but there is a tiny little bar that sticks straight out, which I use to remove the hearing aid.  So, it looks like my ear has its very own tiny clear plastic antenna.  I feel like a character from Star Trek.  Which is okay, really.

While I was elated with the hearing aid in general, having to readjust it all day was getting a little tiresome.  Hopefully, this will improve my hearing aid experience.  So far, so good.

Customearmold

Oh, and it occurred to me that you might be wondering why my hearing aid constitutes a “Low Life” post.  Obviously, a hearing aid is not cheap.  To me, however, it is seeming like it might be an investment worth making.  I am still in the trial period, and that’s what I need to decide: Is the benefit I get from using the hearing aid equal to or greater than my investment?  So far, it is seeming like the benefit might be priceless.  I can hear my kids.  Music, movies and television programs sound fuller and richer, I can tell from which direction sounds are coming.  The cost is not cheap, as I said, but we can make monthly payments; and, if we manage to pay it off in the first year (it is financed for 2 years), we will not be charged any interest whatsoever.  So, it is a financial decision, and a big one, at that.  I’ll keep you posted on the trial, the decision we make, and whether or not we are able to pay it off in the first year, if I do decide to keep it.

Also, it’s part of our lives, which is why we keep this blog.  It’s all about our lives together, as a family, and how we live.

Thanks for coming along for the ride 🙂