She Wore An….

“Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini, So in the locker, she wanted to stay.” ~ Brian Hyland

I think I wore my first bikini probably when I was four years old.  I imagine that I had a big belly at that time, which most four year olds do, and I looked absolutely dashing!  Sadly, that was probably the last time I wore one too.

I remember one time when I was about seven years old, and my friend’s aunt who was a seamstress made her a cute white bikini with red and orange stripes.  I was jealous of her.  The bikini was beautiful, she looked really good in it and I wanted one just like it.  Her aunt then made one for too, and I looked awful in it.  I was so embarassed that I swore to stick to one pieces from then on. And I did.

I’m pretty sure that I’m not alone in this, but walking around in your intimates at the beach or pool (because really, what’s the difference between a bikini and undearwear besides material?) is nerve wrecking.  It’s the worst thing in the world, right up there with public speaking for some.  I hate it. Every time I walk out onto the beach in one (and pool too) I feel as if everyone stops what they’re doing and stares at me – and not for a good reason either.

So you can probably imagine the shock I experienced when I was stared up and down when going to the beaches in Amalfi and Pescara in Italy. The strange thing is –  I wasn’t stared at because of how my body looks but because I was wearing a one piece bathing suit!  No one wears a one piece bathing suit.  And I mean no one.  Everyone wears a bikini.  Even the grannies who are ninety wear bikinis, revealing all their loose parts.  The pregnant women, the obese women, the fruit shaped women (apple and pear) wear them as well.  Everyone!  And nobody cared about what other people thought.  And they rocked, they wore them with confidence!

I also noticed that the figures we mostly see in magazines and tv were practically non-existant there.  I managed to push aside the fact that I was wearing a one piece and for once in my life, I was able to enjoy walking around in my swimsuit.  I didn’t feel the need to use a cover up.  I went from the sea to the bar to the beach chair and even making a sand castle.  I finally felt free to enjoy being in my own skin!  I was totally comfortable – oh boy!

And then the unthinkable happened.  I decided to buy two bikinis!!  Not one, but two.  And I said I bought them, I didn’t say I wore them.  Actually, I didn’t wear them because I bought them on my last day at the beach, and also because I thought that I would look rather silly in it as I am tanned on my upper and lowere body and it would mean that my midrift would be snow white.  That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

So yesterday my daughter and I decided to go to the outdoor community pool. I reached for my one piece bathing suit and she immediately stopped me.  She wanted me to wear my “cute” bikini with the polka dots on the inside.  Boy was it ever hard to put that on. Not because it didn’t fit, but because the courage I had experienced in Italy drained out of me the minute I stepped onto that plane to come back home.  I knew that at that point if I didn’t put it on, I never would.  So I sucked it up and I put it on.

At the pool, when I walked out of the change room in my bikini I felt that everyone was staring at me.  I talked myself out of running for the change room, and encouraged myself to believe that I don’t care what people think.  I wasn’t there to impress anyone.  I was there to enjoy myself.  And I did enjoy myself.  I didn’t know that being in a bikini is actually liberating.  The water feels different against the skin, against your bare belly, than when you’re in a one piece.

Then nice things began happening.  My daughter said to me that I look cute.  A woman complimented me on my bikini and I noticed a few men staring at me.  This helped me feel more comfortable in it because I don’t have a model’s figure.  I know I’m soft in a few areas.  I looked around and found that those “perfect” figures were non-existant here too.  Was all the fear I felt about wearing a bikini driven by my mind and what I thought I needed to look like in order to wear one?

I’m so thankful for those ladies on the beach in Italy.  Some may think it’s gross to see some of them in bikinis.  I think it’s beautiful.  They prove that no matter what, you have a right to be free.  Society shouldn’t stop you from enjoying life.  No one should dictate what you should or should not wear.  If it wasn’t for them, it wouldn’t have even crossed my mind to wear a two piece.  So girls, pull out you bikini and be free!!  Love what your Mama gave you!

Ya-Ya, Succulence and Red Hats

“Invent your world. Surround yourself with people, color, sounds and work that nourish you.” – SARK

There is an entire secret society out there. I’m not talking the Templar Knights. They aren’t hiding some kind of scrolls or protecting a family linear. But what they do, it’s just as important. And it’s a sisterhood, not a brotherhood. Ok, so they aren’t a secret, but it was to me, because I just found out about them this past weekend.

Before I tell you about them, let me tell you about my lifetime search for them. You see, I think I’m different from other adults my age. Actually, I think I’m different from most adults, any age. I enjoy being a kid, being silly, and get excited over the most simplest things, just like a kid, and I try to keep my little girl inside of me happy. I remember when I was a kid and looking at the adults around me and thinking, “Wow, they look miserable, and they’re so serious! Don’t they have fun anymore?” And swore to myself that I would never be like that.

As I grew older, I noticed that the more I tried to maintain my attitude of being silly, the more people would distance from me. I began to tame myself in order to not upset others, and essentially keep my friends. Then about ten years ago, what I think is one of the most best movies I’ve ever saw was released on video – The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. One day I was home sick from work, couch ridden, and I watched it about six times. I absolutely loved the bond between the women, the confidence they had, and especially how they were so comfortable with having fun and being silly. I longed to be a part of something like that. This is what I wanted with my friends.

A few months ago I read a book, recommended by my therapist, called Succulent Wild Woman. This is a fabulous book which talks about what a Succulent Woman is all about. It’s a woman who knows what she wants, treats herself with care, and enjoys herself and life. She isn’t afraid of what others think. She is a woman who doesn’t dim down her lights for others, and is true to herself. She is fun to be around, and is full of energy. Hmm, and my therapist thought this was me? Well, I think it’s cool to be considered a Succulent Wild Woman. I love that label!

Now, it’s great to be thought of that way, and I’m beginning to actually see myself through that lens, but it’s kind of boring to be like this on my own. As I mentioned above, I long for that sisterhood, to be understood. Half of my friends from childhood pretty much walked out of my life when my father died, and the other half walked out when I separated from my ex, and really, I have to say that this would be overwhelming for them anyway. The two Succulent Women I know and blessed with their friendship now, are wonderful, but I’d like to see them more often.

So this past weekend I was invited out to dinner. Normally I would just throw on jeans and a nice top, but this time my daughter and I got all dolled up. I couldn’t decide between two beautiful dresses, and so my daughter encouraged me to wear a bright red sleeveless dress. I was so self-conscious and nervous. I was going to attract attention! (Note: I’ve never owned anything that wasn’t black, blue or brown). After a few minutes, I began enjoying the bright colour.

At the restaurant, to my amazement, I saw at a nearby table a group of the most beautiful women that I had ever seen. They were all wearing purple, and on their heads were the most reddest hats ever! I wanted to go up to their table and congratulate them on being Succulent Wild Women so many times, but my courage would just drain right out of me. I couldn’t stop staring. I couldn’t believe it, here, right in front of me, was a sisterhood that I longed to be a part of. Right in front of me! I had so many questions that I wanted to ask, and I was paralyzed by fear. And then, they were getting ready to leave, and my heart began sinking. Then, the unthinkable happened. The gorgeous person sitting next to me stops them and tells them that I think they’re great! OMG!!!

I felt like a babbling idiot, but they were gracious enough to entertain me. I found out that this sisterhood of theirs is worldwide. They belong to the Red Hat Society! It’s about empowering women to have fun, and support each other. Just what I wanted!

I’ve been on their website so many times since then. So I decided to take the leap. I’m now a Red Hatter. Well, technically, I get to wear a pink hat because of my age. Now to come up with my name….should I be Lady Lightbulb, or Princess Peculiar? Or something completely wild like… Duchess Smartie? I’m open to suggestions….really, I am.

You Are All Beautiful People

“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”  ― Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

So yesterday I decided to do something which scared the heck out of me. I decided to put myself out there and ask for feedback. Yes, I did say that I welcome feedback, but after I hit the “Post” button I realized what I was actually getting myself into and thought, “OMG, what did I just do?!!”  I also realized that most of my life I’ve received feedback which was unsolicited, and I had to deal with it. This time I decided to solicit it, and it was torture waiting for the comments to roll in. All sorts of questions were swirling in my teeny, weenie brain.  Would they be good? Would people be kind or cruel? What could I expect?

The results were astonishing, and I’m very touched by the responses I have received. Many of you have decided to keep your comments private, and I will honour this by not publishing them. Others, you put yourself out there and shared them with the world. There have been many different approaches with your feedback, but one thing is noticeable – you are all caring, wonderful people.

One of my readers, whom I will call Caring Carol from now on, took me up on my offer of giving me a topic to write about – “what is beautiful about people” (What a wonderful topic, considering that my readers are the most beautiful bunch around!!)

Everyone is beautiful.  We’re born beautiful.  The question isn’t “what is beautiful about people” or “what makes them beautiful” rather “what takes their beauty away?” Everyone has a spark, a light inside of them that radiates life into everything they do and meshes with everyone they meet. A baby is born angelic, kindergarten students are adorable, teens are full of curiosity and wonder, adults have a wise beauty about them – this is all beautiful. So what is it exactly that diminishes a person’s beauty? If you really pay attention, you will see it around you.  For example, that one person who looks miserable or rarely smiles, and when they do, suddenly their entire being transforms. They are breathtakingly beautiful. What causes this transformation?  Usually, it’s a result of being complimented, validated, heard – essentially, being seen and accepted for who they really are. Sometimes even for a split second. This lifts their mood, esteem, they feel valued.

Some people need help to bring out their beauty – a kind word or act, a bit of gentleness and encouragement. We all know the saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and it’s true.  But why not take it a step further?  If you see someone who isn’t radiating their beauty as they should, why not lift them up a bit?  It really doesn’t take much time, and while you are lifting them, you’ll also be lifting yourself.  But the same holds true for yourself. We all have days where we don’t feel up to par, we don’t feel beautiful, we need a bit of a nudge in the right direction. Rather than sitting there and stewing, why not ask for assistance?  I did that yesterday, and look at what happened!

I’m smiling a lot today. I feel good.  I feel beautiful. Why? Because I have discovered that my readers see me. They have validated me, encouraged me, and renewed my sense of purpose, given me the push I needed to continue on materialize my dream.

My readers are wonderful, beautiful people. And I am blessed and honoured that you have chosen to read my blog and follow me on my journey. Thank you!

Hugs,
Smartie

Let’s Play with Play-Doh!

“One of the greatest feelings in life is the conviction that you have lived the life you wanted to live-with the rough and the smooth, the good and the bad-but yours, shaped by your own choices, and not someone else’s.”  ―    Michael Ignatieff

 

I would like to say that the last few weeks have been such an awakening time for me, but I’m not so sure of this. Has it been a few weeks? Or could it have been months? Or perhaps it’s a year? Does it really matter? Part of me would like to find out, but at the same time, maybe it’s irrelevant. More importantly it is the events which took place that really is of impact.

I have a sense that I am going through a transformation. I am no longer the person I was, and at this point in time, I don’t k now who I am. This is what I am trying to figure out. However, I must admit that I feel like I’m a piece of Play-Doh. Yup, that’s right, good’ol Play-Doh. I’m playing around trying to sculpt myself into a masterpiece. This is so exciting and yet really scary at the same time.

Here’s the thing, with Play-Doh the possibilities are endless. I can be as beautiful and big as I want. I get to choose what colours I want to use, how I want to look. I can be a rose, a swan, a bear, or even just a big blob. It’s up to me. I can take my time, and carve out the find details of my work, or I can be rough and throw things together. I decide what I want to be. It’s my choice; my sculpture.

But I find that when you’re playing with Play-Doh, building your creation, there are always bits and pieces that fall off to the side. You don’t use these pieces. They’re left behind, and you save them just in case you may need them later on. Most times you don’t because they just dry out. And when you use different colour dough for your art, trying to separate them later on becomes difficult, and as a result the two colours will be joined together forever. And if the colours don’t work well together, this means when you mix the dough up again, the colours will merge and become an ugly brown.

So I guess what I’m trying to say, or admit to myself is that I really need to think about what masterpiece I want to be. I must take the time to think things through. I need to ensure that the pieces that I leave behind are not the crucial ones I will need to survive. That the colours I choose to use, when blended together, actually complement one another, and don’t turn an ugly brown. I don’t lose sight of the end piece.

And the neatest thing about Play-Doh is that if my masterpiece really isn’t what I imagined myself to be, I can reshape myself until I’m satisfied. I am flexible to adapt to any situation. What an awesome feeling!