Middle Age

Trends I Don’t Get and Won’t Touch

Trends I Won’t Touch.

I’m noticing as I age, I’m better able to assess the rank stupidity of fashion and beauty trends. Follow along:

contour

Not even happening.

1. Face contouring. I’m not drawing various shades of brown and beige clown makeup on my face, then “blending” it in. I have 10 minutes in the morning, TOPS. The world is just going to have to deal with my sub-par, non-contoured face.

2. Armpit Hair – I’m just gonna go ahead and keep shaving my armpits, mmkay? (see also: legs)

4. Grey hair on purpose – Already got it, not on purpose.

5. Neon anything -Been there, done that, circa 1984. See: Madonna, Borderline video. The only way neon is going to be on my body anywhere is if I’m running outside at night and I don’t want to get hit by a car.

6. “Chaotic” mascara – Tammy Faye Baker? Paging Tammy Faye?

7. High-waist pants – I’ve had two children. Need I say any more? The higher the waist, the bigger your ass looks.

8. Bell-shaped sleeves. Listen, I’m a spiller. You don’t want me at your dinner party with sleeves on that can drag food and red wine all over your house. Trust me on this. I will take one for the team here and be hopelessly out of style so I can eat and drink and come home minus a cleaning bill from my host.

trends

Comfy! Not!

9. Waist Trainers – So, I thought we let those all go in the early 20th century, right around the time women achieved the right to vote. Back in the day, they were called “corsets,” and they actually contributed to the oppression of women. YOU try breathing in those things. Go ahead. I’ll just be waiting over here in my yoga pants, you know, breathing.

10. Denim overalls. Flashback to Weezer and her tomatoes in Steel Magnolias.

11. Period-stain Instagrams – I’m not ashamed of my period. Never have been. However, I don’t need to broadcast on social media that I’m in the middle of it. Nor do I need to run an entire marathon bleeding freely to make a point. I get through it, take care of business, and move on. No public documentation necessary. Note: Nor will I Instagram my hot flashes. I won’t be ashamed of those, either. Just gonna get through them and move on. Try it.

12. Thong or thong-ish underwear. Now, this is a perpetual trend that I have abandoned. I’m no longer willing to wear dental floss in my ass to avoid VPL (visible panty lines.) At 46 years old I don’t care if my panty lines show. My ass comfort is more important. If you notice my VPL, quit looking at my ass.

I am un-contoured, comfortable, hair-free, stain-free, I can breathe freely and drink my wine without adding sleeve to it. In other words, I’ve reached a point where trends that don’t fit into my life are trends I don’t follow. FREEEDDDDOMMMMMM. Try it.

Remembering the Pain of Postpartum Depression

postpartum depressionRemembering Postpartum Depression

We were digging through a drawer looking for something in our bedroom this weekend, and underneath the junk in the junk drawer, a piece of paper with my handwriting on it caught my eye. I didn’t recognize the paper at first, so I couldn’t remember how it got there or what was written on it.

I pulled it out of the drawer and then sunk down to the bed when I saw the date: 8/1/03.

I knew exactly what was on it. A long-ago forgotten letter I had written to myself when our daughter was 11 months old. This was during the peak of my lingering bout of postpartum depression. All the feeling I poured out into this letter is totally foreign to me now. And yet, at the same time, achingly familiar.

“8/1/03

It’s been a really long time since I kept a journal. I started on my first journal (that were written in non-third grader complete sentences) here in 1986. I was 16. I kept them for several years – through college and even a little beyond, but stopped in about 1995. I just lost the desire to write about my life. When I look back on those journals, especially the early ones, I kind of laugh. It was pretty much all about boys. I wrote down poems that I liked, and song lyrics, too. Sometimes other writers could express the feelings that I was feeling.

A LOT has changed since I last kept a journal. It’s some of these changes that are compelling me to start again. I’m married to a wonderful man, and we have a little girl. She will be one in three weeks. To say that becoming a mother has changed our lives is probably the understatement of the century. I knew that I wanted a child, but I was unprepared for the rigors of what being a parent entails. It’s changed everything. I love my daughter more than anything. She is so beautiful and sweet natured. What I’m struggling with right now is that I feel somewhat like I’ve lost a sense of myself. I’m not working right now – I’ve taken the last year off. I’m finding that my days stretch out in front of me. As much as I hate to admit this, being with her is boring for me sometimes. I crave company.

Here’s the problem: I don’t have a job to focus on, I’m not a big hobby person, and I’m finding it difficult to NOT feel sort of lost. [My husband] has hobbies that take him away from home, like waterskiing, golf, etc. I don’t. I like to exercise, and want to focus on that, but I have to find childcare, which is a big pain. Juggling her schedule can be tough, too. I look at these obstacles and talk myself out of doing things that make me more ME. The weight of the responsibility feels very heavy.”

What I couldn’t find the words for, or maybe couldn’t handle seeing written on black and white, was the conflict I could feel tearing me apart inside. I had everything I had ever wanted, really. Why did I feel so trapped and heavy? Why did I feel so sad?

Shortly after writing this, I basically hit bottom. I went for several days either crying or nearly crying. I had intrusive thoughts about escaping. I knew I needed help, so I made an appointment with my doctor. I told her, weeping, “I have everything I’ve ever wanted. Why do I feel like this?” She handed me a tissue and told me, “Because you’re depressed, and it’s not your fault.” We talked some more, and then I agreed to start taking antidepressant medication and come back for follow-up.

Within a few weeks, the fog had begun to lift, and I started to make a plan. I realized that prior to the medication, I wasn’t even able to make a plan. I was stuck.

How did I get myself back? Medication, more exercise, a part-time job that involved doing something I used to love but had lost in the preceding years (singing) and that’s what started the slow but steady climb out. Looking back, I know that it was the combination of those things that began my rise out of the dark.

Thirteen years later, sitting on the edge of my bed remembering the pain in my words, I got a sense of just how far I had come. The next years weren’t without setbacks, to be sure, but I am healed. I may have times of sadness and depression again, but the difference today is that I know what to do about it: lean on my tribe. Take action. Ask for help. Reclaim something that I enjoy. Ignore the voice in my head lying to me, telling me “I can’t.”

I can. And I did.

If you’re reading this and think you may need some help, you’re not alone. Here is a link to resources. Please reach out. You are NOT “crazy” and there is help. 

Everything is Toxic!

toxicI’ve had this post in draft for a few months now. It’s time to put it out in the world.

TOXIC!

A few years ago I started down a journey of learning about and getting attached to where our food actually comes from. I called it “The Year Of Food,” and wrote a series of blog posts on Random Thoughts about the things I learned along the way. We have some work to do along these lines, as a country.

I became loosely attached to the “New Food Movement” a few years ago and advocated for GMO labeling. I haven’t changed my mind on a label. I believe in disclosure and truth in labeling. What I have changed my mind on is the “New Food Movement.”

I can’t sit by and watch while meme after meme shows up in my newsfeed about how toxic everything is. What I’ve found is some of the people who represent this movement believe that Western (i.e., evidence-based) medicine is trying to kill us. I am the daughter of a Western-based medical practitioner. I have been taught in scientific method, logical fallacies and the psychology of bias. I can’t abide what I’m seeing and associate myself with it any more. Reason has to prevail at some point.

For example:

Girl Scout cookies are poisonous. Wheat is toxic. Seed oils. BEER. School lunches, breakfast cereal, cream soups, milk, your perfume, sunscreen….you get the idea. Don’t get started on vaccines.

My kids go to a school where ~30% of the children are on free or reduced lunch. The meals those children get at school are sometimes the only ones they get for the day. The school community holds a food drive every year for the families who are food insecure in our area. I will sometimes bring in easy, quick breakfasts for the school counselor to have on-hand in case a child is late to school and the cafeteria is already closed. These families don’t have the option to choose the “non-toxic” cream soup. They’re hungry, and they’re trying to survive. They don’t ask “is this ORGANIC?” They say thank you.

If you like Thin Mints, then help a Girl Scout out and buy a box. If you don’t have Celiac, eat bread if you want. If you like Coors Light, DRINK IT. (I won’t, but you carry on with your bad self.) You are lucky to have the choice. Many among us don’t. Screaming at them that their food is poison doesn’t help them, it creates shame. No one should be ashamed for doing the best they can with what they have.

There is an emerging eating disorder called “orthorexia.” It is defined as an obsession with the purity and quality of food. A sure sign we’ve gone too far.

The never-ending stream of fear memes around food has finally worn me down. As I said, I’ve been an advocate in the past for GMO labeling, and I still am. A label offers choice. However, extremism with avoiding any food or medicine that *might* have science in it is a serious problem that hinders health for all.

Asking questions of the industries producing our food is appropriate. I’m not advocating a head-in-the-sand approach to food. I am all for looking at the way we do things and questioning – is this good for humans? Is it good for the earth? Is there an alternative? What are the unintended consequences of these decisions when it comes to food production? Questioning science in an effort to further dialogue is good, and good scientists question themselves. That’s how discoveries are made, and how we move forward. However, it’s important to keep in mind that questions like these and the ensuing arguments are immaterial to a person who needs something to eat.

We have a long way to go in this country when it comes to food equality, education and quality, but fear mongering won’t help. I’m taking a stand. A two-tiered food system – those who can eat “well” and those who can’t – is wrong.

Running For My Life, In A Green Tutu

I have been saved by exercise over and over again. Depression knocks at my door, and one of the ways I’ve learned to keep it outside is exercise. Particularly running. I get into my own head with good music and all the awful stays away, at least for a little while.

I’ve had ups and downs with it over the years, injuries, bronchitis-induced asthma, and chronic foot aches and pains.

The foot pain has been hanging on for a few years now, making running difficult sometimes.

I’m doing it anyway.

I am running, icing, stretching, cross-training and resting. Lather, rinse, repeat.

If I can do this, so can you. I will run until I can’t. And when I can’t, I’ll figure out another way to get moving. Being able to play with my kids without getting winded means that much to me. I’m running for my life. I’m running to keep the bad at bay. I’m running to refill my glass.

I’m running for them. They deserve a wife and mother who feels strong and able. That’s what running gives me. I ran in my first 5k in several years yesterday, and it felt fantastic. I can’t wait for the next one.

Most of the time I’m not actually dressed in a green tutu. I break that out for special occasions.

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I run for them.