Category Archives: aging

The Bucket List



This past summer while searching for fresh ideas to use in the juvenile lockup where I lead a group, I flipped through a copy of “Life’s Little Instruction Book,” the kind of title placed to keep customers entertained while waiting in line to pay at a bookstore. Among the 1,560 bits of advice and wisdom there was this:

“Make your bucket list and keep it in your wallet.”

Since May of this year, I have been incorporating this exercise with the groups of adult male and female felons I see both in jail and in their halfway house-reentry programs.   It’s become the kick-off to a 4-week goal-setting group that I’ve created and of everything I’ve done with them for the past year this has been, by far, the most fascinating.

I’ve had a 22-year old black man just wrapping-up a two-year sentence for drug distribution share that he’s always wanted to learn how to ride a unicycle.  I’ve had a 50-year old white woman tell the group that her biggest wish is to fly a kite with her now adult children.  A middle-aged Latino man who has lost all contact with his children dreams of bringing them all back together for a family portrait.  Perhaps the most agonizing for me was having connected rather strongly with an initially very reticent 25-yr old man from South Boston who just yearned to “be normal,” which to him meant getting married, having children, and eating dinner together every night.  The day after he shared this, he had a near fatal heroin overdose in his room and after being hospitalized for three days, was sent back to jail.

As I’m handing out index cards and pencils I tell them that nothing is too small or too big as long as it’s legal and no matter how lofty could theoretically be achieved.  I give them about 10 minutes to brainstorm without holding back and then I ask them to share, which they almost always do.

To be fair, to level the playing field, I always share mine with them. I tell them that I keep it with me so that I can refer to it and cross things off once I’ve accomplished them. I read it out loud in the exact order it was written and when recently a young man said that he always wanted to visit his grandmother’s grave, “visit mom’s grave” got added to my list.  It’s interesting where and how our personal light bulbs are lit.  My mother has been dead for almost 28 years and I had never visited her grave.

Soon after adding it, I read my list to a group of men who had just begun the 4-week workshop.  I blew through it pretty quickly and a young man said,  “Whoa.  Wait a minute.  How long ago did your mother die?”  When I told him he asked, “What are you afraid of?”  Every week these people astound me for moments just like this.  The rest of the group joined the questioning and urged me to do it.  I don’t think they trusted my eagerness to do it probably picking up on a slight hesitancy in my voice.    So, when I made a concrete plan to go to Long Island where she happens to be buried, I promised them that I would go.  This past Thursday night at my last group before I left, one of the guys asked how I was feeling and if I was ready.  He then made me pinkie-swear that I wouldn’t back out.  It was that mutual tugging of our little fingers, that bond that I know as a parent you NEVER break, that guaranteed that I would make it.

I have indeed been afraid and I have been lazy.  Afraid of finding an overgrown jumble of thorns and tumbleweed around her grave and afraid of finding an empty headstone.  (In the Jewish tradition when someone visits a grave, we leave a rock on the headstone to signify that someone has been there.)   I have been to Long Island, less than 15 miles from the cemetery endless amounts of times since she’s died and I’ve always come up with excuses not to go.  Shame on me.

My brother and uncle explained what to do once I got to the cemetery–to check in at the front office, tell them who I was there to “visit” and they would give me a map of where to find my mother.  During the drive there, my husband at the wheel and my 12-year old daughter in the back, I found myself looking as the miles ticked down on the GPS, my heart racing as we got closer.  I pictured myself falling to me knees, crumbling in a mass of sobs and snot, and, on the flip side, not having any reaction at all.  I asked my husband and daughter if it would be okay for them to stay in the car while I found her grave and that I would wave them over when I was finished reacting in whatever way I did.

I got out of the car and scanned the headstones, knowing hers would be pretty close to where we were.  I slowed down when I spotted her last name, my last name.  Seeing  her full name, her dates of birth and death, and then her life roles listed, “Mother, Daughter, Sister, Grandmother,” on the footstone did it to me.  I bent down to wipe off the puddle of water that had formed from the rain and stared at those words and those dates.  I cried quickly, neatly and quietly before calling over my husband and daughter.  My husband came up behind me and put his arms around me, asking if I was okay.  I was okay.  I don’t think I felt any particular sense of closure (I wasn’t really looking for that) but I had made a promise, to myself and a handful of people who have become a strangely wonderful and influential part of my life.  I can’t wait to see them this week to tell them that I did it, to hear their cheers and receive their high-fives.

Next up is that pesky 5K.  After I do that, I will be rewarding myself with the biggest turkey leg I can find.


40 Years in 4 Hours

No, no, no, this was NOT my 40th high-school reunion.  I might not admit when that one comes around.  It was my 30th, making me sound old enough.  I remember, when I was younger, hearing people wistfully mention such high numbers and I just assumed they’d be dead soon.

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I was unexpectedly whisked away in the middle of my first year of high school ( for those who never knew why, see my below post):

I spent my childhood on a nice, upper-middle-class street from kindergarten and followed the trajectory of elementary school through junior high with friends I adored. I rode my bike until it got dark when kids still did that, playing with my neighbors before parents checked with other parents that we’d be supervised.  I liked my life, I fit in, (despite always being the tallest and the biggest in elementary school).  When I was forced to move to Los Angeles at 16, I lost touch with all of my Long Island friends.

The beauty of Facebook (and to me, it has been miraculous in bringing back that part of my life) has re-introduced me to people I barely knew, those who moved in different circles.  It has also been responsible for reconnecting me with those whose houses I slept over and spoke to on the phone for hours at night.

In many ways, I felt like an interloper at the reunion, since I missed those awkward and fraught high school years with those who were there.  To me, in my day, I looked at life as there were the Jews and then there was everyone else.  (Read the below post about my 30th boarding school reunion, where I spent my last two years of high school, one among a smattering of Jews.):

I felt slightly disappointed not knowing the football players who looked at my face registering not a bit of recognition and moved right past me. Everyone had meshed and merged in those two years and I had missed that part.

I felt most rooted reconnecting with my elementary school friends, those who appeared in the school photos I had uncovered and brought with me.  There were three who lived on my street in houses I have memories of pretending we were the Partridge Family.  We took the school bus together, a short distance, but memorable just the same.  Seeing these boys who had turned into men, had me hugging them the hardest, staring at their faces and marveling at who they’ve become.  I’ve become particularly close with one who lived around the corner, all through Facebook and words.

There was the smallest boy in the class who actually let me put my finger into one of his dimples (well, I never asked if I could), what I remember him for.  I heard stories about lunging to kiss a boy in first grade only to have him throw me off in a panic.  I learned that a sweet boy gave me a coin from his collection and that my mother, thinking I had stolen it, called his mother and forced me to return it.  I learned that one of the nicest boys laughed at me when I stepped in dog poop and he’s felt guilty about it for all these years.  I learned that I always had a nice “aura” in junior high.

I drank wine and laughed with a woman who I had totally confused with someone else, another Facebook friend who I never really knew.  We have shared written quips and laughter, found many things in common, and I breezed into her hotel room as if we were best friends.  Another connection who I barely knew has turned into masked mush over his incredible work with urban kids.  We stole away for a few minutes having discovered so much about each other through my writing and constant Facebook posts.  He’s wonderful and I hope he never has to compromise his love and passion for the lives he changes.  And of course, there were a couple of my very dear friends who I would occasionally whisk past during the night and whisper to them and move on, confident just knowing that they were in the same room with me.

There were many people there who I know read my blog and many others I had no idea did.  Throughout the night I was sought out, hearing praise for my writing that was unexpected and beyond flattering.  A man made it a point to come over to me to compliment me and on the teeniest, tiniest, itty-bittiest scale,  I felt like a real writer.  As I was leaving a lovely woman who hasn’t aged one second said “You better write about this,” and well, here it is, my homage to my roots and the lovely people I had to leave behind.

The Shock of Realizing How Old You REALLY Are

Last week Michele Obama, our country’s First Lady, turned 48. I’m 47. I’m ½ a year younger than she is and she’s married to who could be argued is the most powerful man in the world. First Ladies used to look like Betty Ford and Barbara Bush. When did they get so young, or more accurately, when did I get so old?

I am a senior staff member at a well-respected human service agency in Boston. I am about 75% accountable for all fundraising efforts that keep the agency afloat and thriving. At a recent board meeting I looked around and realized that I am older than an at least half of the members. I’m not in my 20s and early 30s anymore, where I would be forgiven or get a pass on unmet goals or vague timelines because I had a boss who was ultimately responsible. I have to be overly articulate and strong in my presentations and smile through any questioning and skepticism lobbed my way. I’m not fresh-faced and wrinkle-free. I wear double layers of concealer and dread that my hands are starting to show their age. I have recoiled from recent pictures of me, especially my profile where my chin-neck combination is starting to look like a goiter.

This certainly isn’t a unique situation, but I remember just entering the working world at 21 when even 25-year olds seemed so much older than I was. They got excluded when my peers and I would go out after work for drinks because we needed to be able to vent about our “superiors,” our bosses who were only a handful of years older than we were. Slowly, as I moved into my 30s, I started to go out with my peers who WERE the bosses needing to vent about our supervisees. Where I work now there is a lovely, exuberant group of young women who giggle and love each other and dress in their funky clothes. I can’t help but look at them and feel incredibly jealous.

This year I have my 30th high school reunion. I can barely even say that number out loud. My ob-gyn now has mapped me on the trajectory towards menopause and I’m getting to be much closer to a 10 on the scale than a 5. I just got my first pair of bifocals. I’m using moisturizer for “mature skin.” I have random gray eyebrows. I’ve had a cortisone shot in my hip and my shoulder, both for conditions that come with aging. The much younger men who used to look at me when I passed them on the street now look at me wondering why I’m looking at them.

My age is so anomalous to how I feel. I have the spirit of someone 15 years younger than I am but I have to be realistic about where that contradiction fits into my life. I feel like it’s too late to reinvent my “look” or to catch up on who all the “celebrities” are in slick and meaningless magazines. I used to be THE go-to person who knew EVERYTHING about pop-culture, who was married to who, what movies they had uncredited appearances in, what they won an Oscar for, but now I have to ask my 10-year-old daughter who a lot of these people are. I used to insist on seeing the newest indie film on opening night. Now I’m lucky if I remember to put them on my Netflix queue let alone hearing of them at all. I am fully aware of how vapid this sounds but those things are pieces of me that are gone forever that were once part of my identity. I’m not quite sure what I am the go-to person for anymore, if anything.

I’m the almost 50-yr old “baby of the family,” my father’s youngest child and my siblings’ “little sister.” I’m sure this makes them aware of their own aging but they don’t do much complaining about it. I have this great dread of my own mortality and an overwhelming fear of dying. When I hear on the news of the death of someone at 86 (seems to be sort of a magic number) I calculate how many more years that means I have and that number is obviously shrinking every year.

All of this isn’t to say that I don’t have a fantastic and full life, because I do. My second marriage, only one year old, feels like someone has lifted a pawn on a board game and sent me back to “Go” (in a good way). My growing daughter is remarkable (but again, a reminder of how we are aging together) and my friends are more important to me than they will ever know. I laugh constantly, challenge my brain daily and I don’t have any addictions or compulsions that might effect me physically.

This all sounds so horribly depressing and I hope some of you aren’t stepping away thinking, “Thanks for that hideous wake-up call.” This is my missive, my fear, my wistfulness at a life that is behind me. I love that my nephew calls me his “cool aunt” and that teenagers seem to adore me, and those are the reminders that my younger self is always with me and always will be as I take on larger and larger adult responsibilities. She’ll help get me through. She’s really cool.

You May Ask Yourself, Well, How Did I Get Here?

Tomorrow I have what is now my 6th annual parent-teacher conference. My ex-husband and I will sit at student desks with their attached chairs that barely accommodate my spreading thighs and his growing gut. We might feel ashamed of our sometimes lack of organizational skills when it comes to the shuttling back and forth of our daughter and the things that get lost in the shuffle. We’re not the Poster Parents for keeping the details together ( as I write this, she has a day off for a “teacher professional day,” something they seem to have a lot of, and, well, we didn’t know this until 3-days ago and had to scramble to find someplace for her to go.) The best part, though, is that he and I are in this together and both will admit, in this arena at least, we’re not exactly “Parents of the Year.”

I have never felt as old as I did when we had our first parent teacher conference back in kindergarten. It was a rite-of-passage that blind-sided me. How the hell was I old enough to be sitting talking about the future of my (very high verbal skills, not so great in math) 5- yr. old child? I was more caught up in that than the content of the meeting. I smirked while my ex-husband engaged in the conversation. I now do everything MY parents did—I sign permission slips, quiz her on her social studies homework and vocabulary words, while I have to fob off the math homework on my husband or stepsons because as my parents would say, “I don’t understand this “new math.” I still feel occasionally strange being called “Mom.” Aren’t I too YOUNG to be someone’s “Mom?”

For me, and I will never forget this, was the epiphany that I had in college, shopping at a local supermarket with a friend, that becoming an adult was the second it occurred to me that I could actually choose my own cereal. If Fruity Pebbles ended up in my cart it was because I wanted it to. I didn’t have to argue about it with anyone. My choice. I feel bad for my daughter having to hear an endless stream of “nos” every time she unleashes the “Can I have this? Can I get this?” but she will some day experience the joy of throwing that first box of cereal made of cookies into her own cart.

As I’ve moved up in my field, I’ve also found myself in the unlikely role of being a supervisor. I EVALUATE people. I MENTOR people. When did I become any sort of expert that I am looked up to as a mentor and guide? When did I become the person that people who have reported to me are complaining about me to their friends saying what a bitch I am or telling them how great I am? Am I feared when I have to call someone into my office to confront them on something they’ve done? I still have to hold back tears in these situations because I hate confrontation of any kind.

I’m not going to like that day when I am offered a seat on the train simply because I look too old to be standing. I don’t want to be the old couple that is called “cute” by people in their 20s just because I’m holding hands with my husband. None of these are original thoughts, I know, but as I turn 47 in just two days, I find myself wanting to run and flee, in the opposite direction, down the timeline, from a big giant statue of a 5 and a 0. I ADORE my life. It is absolutely everything I want it to be (except for never having the money part) but there is something about mortality that doesn’t sit very well with me.

"Poor Prep," Or How I Failed My First Colonoscopy

“It’s kind of like drinking the beach,” a friend of mine told me.

“Sounds awesome,” I said.

My boss told me it wasn’t THAT bad (Clearly, I have the kind of relationship with my colleagues where we can stand around and talk about our colons.)

For about twelve years I’ve had these random, double-me-over stomach cramps that come out of nowhere. I can feel them coming on slowly and then within about 3 hours, they hit full force and I literally can’t stand upright because of the intensity of the pain.  I used to have them about 3 times a year, but they’ve become a bit more regular now. The one upside to this is that I get to walk around with prescription painkillers (one being valium because my doctor is the best doctor EVER) in a wonderful little case that a dear friend gave me that says “Happy Pills” on the front. I’m slightly in love with my “Happy Pills” case.

After 12 years of stumping my primary care physician we figured it was time to go see a specialist. He’s such a lovely man, which I suppose helps in his line of work. I remember when doctors used to say “You’re WAY too young to have such and such,” but now they say “Well, you’re getting closer to the age when…” Fuck you, lovely colon doctor.

I left his office with a scheduled colonoscopy for two months later and a packet of information about what and what not to eat 24 hours in advance with urgent and asterisked sentences about having a ride home and the usual hideous side effects that would scare the hell out of anyone. My packet soon became part of the detritus on my dining room table that when not looking, my husband would put in a box along with an entire week’s worth of mail, magazines, catalogues and bills.

A few days before the procedure my doctor’s assistant called to confirm my appointment and to make sure that I had everything under control. “Yep,” I said, willing the paperwork to be among the piles in that box. 2 days before the appointment I found it and also discovered my first mistake: “No seeds or nuts within 7 days of the procedure.” Oops.

The clear liquid diet that begins 24-hours before the procedure, includes about 7 things. No matter how hard I stared at it, the list didn’t get any longer. Jello (NOT RED!), broth, popsicles, clear grape juice, clear soda, coffee with COFFEEMATE (probably the WORST sacrifice of the entire ordeal), tea. What I couldn’t understand is why I couldn’t drink white wine since it’s basically white grape juice gone bad. Vodka is about as clear a liquid that exists, but nope. No vodka or wine on the list.

I filled my prescription for my jug of “the beach” and tried to make eye contact with the young pharmacist so he would acknowledge the pure HELL I was about to go through. He didn’t take the bait but I’m sure as I was leaving the counter I heard he and his co-workers break out into hysterical laughter, falling to the floor while clutching their stomachs.

At 9 am the morning before, you have to drink a small bottle of what tastes like flat Alka-Seltzer mixed with Sprite. I know not ONE human being who hates Alka-Seltzer more than I. According to the many testimonials I googled, something was supposed to “happen” within an hour.My sweet husband just kept on looking at me saying, “I’m so sorry honey,” as I waited, like waiting for your water to break, but without the mind numbing pain.10:00, nothing.11:00, nothing.I decided to try to take a nap, which I managed to do rather well.Many more hours of nothing while I sucked on tangerine fruit bars and choked down a mug of chicken broth.

At 5:30 I confronted the beast—the jug of HELL!The instructions say to drink an 8 oz glass every 15 minutes putting the last sip approximately 4 hours after you start.You’re provided with flavor packets to choose from which do NOTHING to disguise the fact that you have to drink an endless amount of slimy, salty water FOREVER!Again, within an hour, all hell is supposed to break loose (no pun intended).I set up camp in our bathroom—Sunday paper, crossword puzzle, candles, the jug and my 8 oz glass by my side.That jug taunted me like a character that keeps appearing in the scenes of a horror movie.It didn’t get any emptier and neither did I.Nothing.Hours and hours of NOTHING.

I’m a mutant freak. I’m broken. This is practically impossible. All the people on online message boards said that they had become limp rags, chained to their bathrooms. And me? Nothing. I settled in to watch tv miserable, a cleansing failure, and went to sleep.

At 2:30 there was a breakthrough—the skies opened up and assured me that noone noticed that I had poured about 24 oz down the drain. I was forgiven! The sign I had to look for was “clear effluence.” I was going to do it!

By 6:30 am, I thought, ok, I can hold my head up high and walk in to experience, what my aforementioned co-worker said was like “having a huge hose with a camera stuck up your ass.” Good times!

I had to sit with a nurse before hand, the id tag already affixed to my wrist, presumably in case I died and they needed to identify my body. She asked me questions about my “prep” and I told her that it took a really long time to finally work. She asked me to describe the color it had gotten to and pointed to the laminated tan top of the table.

“Is it this color?” Silence.

“Is it more beige?” I felt pressured, interrogated, guilty, so I just said “Yeah, it’s more beige.”

She then proceeded to tell me what was about to happen and what I could expect.Noone told me that I was going to need OXYGEN.Noone told me that in recovery, I’d be surrounded by people, with partitions between us, who wouldn’t be allowed to go home until they “tooted” (her word, not mine.)She told me that I might experience short-term AMNESIA but assured me that I’d remember the conversation we were having.REALLY?I thought I was just going to be in a room with my lovely doctor, “consciously sedated” watching the whole thing on high-def tv!

I signed stuff, put on my gowns and slippers and was escorted into the room.I was immediately besieged by three nurses who started clipping, cuffing, sticking and shoving shit everywhere.The oxygen thing freaked me out and there was a snarky nurse barking questions at me.My doctor appeared all sweet and lovely, told me how to position myself, and stroked my head to assuage my nerves.He pushed a sedative through my iv and from that point on, I remember very little.I DO remember that something was amiss, that I might have been told that they couldn’t do the exam because I wasn’t “empty” enough.I knew I had let everyone down and was rolled into the recovery room.

Under the heated blankets and in and out of a deliciously deep state, I felt horribly guilty. I had wasted everyone’s time. I had endured 24 hours of torture for nothing. As I was taken out of recovery and told I could leave, I was handed a piece of paper that in big, bold capital letters said”POOR PREP.” It advised me that I needed to have a repeat colonoscopy within 2 months. I hung my head in shame.

I soothed myself with an enormous peanut butter and jelly sandwich, steak and mint chocolate ice cream. The following morning I waited for the office to open to find out exactly what had happened.

“I feel like I failed kindergarten” I wailed into the phone when the secretary answered.

She laughed and said, “Well, the doctor has a new “recipe” he wants you to try for next time.”

Was he going to send me to the fancy Colonics place in the desert that I had read about in The New Yorker?

“He wants you to be on the liquid diet for 48 hours, drink two bottles of the (stuff that tasted like Alka-Seltzer) and drink TWO JUGS of (the stuff that tastes like the beach.)

“HELL NO!” (and FUCK YOU secretary I used to really like!) I said rather emphatically.

“Well, you’re getting to the age when you have to do this anyway, ” she said back.

“Yeah, in FOUR more years!”

At that point, she got a bit frustrated with me and told me she was going to have the doctor call me back. I still haven’t heard from him and most of all, I hate that he thinks I didn’t follow the rules. I won’t tell him about the (36oz) of stuff I dumped down the sink. I will promise to be a better colon cleanser next time. I will promise to note the color, even take a picture with my i-phone, of my most recent “effluence.” I will tell him that his gentle stroke of my head did not go unnoticed. I will beg him, and the colonoscopy gods, for forgiveness.

Awaiting A Hot Flash

Burning tongue can be a very irritating and painful symptom of menopause. Just like the name suggests, burning tongue occurs when an individual experiences a burning sensation on the tongue. Everyone has sipped a beverage such as coffee or tea that is too hot and burned her tongue. This is the sensation that those who suffer from burning tongue experience constantly.

The barely 29-yr old woman who sits down the hall from me at work knows that when she hears a scream from me in my office, that that’s the signal that I’ve just had my first hot flash. I’m sure by the time she gets to my office, mere paces away, I will be found in a crying heap on the floor.

There are apparently 34 symptoms of menopause and the only one that I haven’t had yet is the “burning tongue” described above. When that happens, I will take to my bed and never come out.

The hot flash will be a horrible reality check, a jarring wake-up call to my inevitable aging. I know that I should embrace it and feel very grateful that I’m happier than I’ve ever been but to me it’s the true reminder that my body has been rendered rather obsolete, that as in so many cultures in this world, if you can’t make babies, you are downgraded to, I’m not sure what.

There is an upside to this: the other 33 symptoms, irritability, memory lapses, fatigue and bloat can be used as an excuse and get me out of some tough situations. And gentlemen, don’t blame your aging wives on opting out of sex every once in a while–loss of libido is #4 on the list.

(I have absolutely no idea why this formatted the way it did.)

I Am Not My Body

I need to stop hating myself because I hate my thighs, my ass, my stomach, my flabby underarms, my hands. I need to stop telling myself that I’m “disgusting” when I see myself in a 3-way mirror. This is no longer okay.

Yesterday I was moved to tears by a snippet in a documentary film called “Life in A Day.” People from all over the world were asked to videotape themselves going about their lives on one particular day in 2010. In one section, the question “What do you fear?” was used as a prompt. Most kids feared ghosts and spiders, adults feared God and loneliness, but one extremely overweight woman in particular, completely in the nude, in stark sepia tones, standing, arms outstretched, said “This is me. This is what I fear.”

I became immobilized. It struck me as the saddest thing I had ever seen and heard. Maybe I misunderstood and she was worried that her body would turn on her at some point, kill her from the inside, but I’m pretty certain my interpretation was the right one.

My body issues are far-reaching and lifelong. When I try to put this in perspective as an adult, I truly realize that I’m not so bad, and according to all sorts of charts and statistics, I’m slightly below the size and weight of the average American woman, not by much, but enough to make me feel a little better (I’m also 5.5 inches TALLER than the average American woman.)

I’m not going to blather on about the media because God knows, that is a tired subject. I am so sick of seeing celebrities in their fucking bikinis with sunburst sidebars about how they lost the 30 lbs they gained during pregnancy in 6 weeks. Good for you. What an AWESOME human being you must be.

This isn’t to say that I don’t look at Beyonce’s legs and thighs and feel so envious, but I don’t bemoan HER for that or hate myself for it either. I think Christina Hendricks from “Mad Men” is exquisite and I have to say, that I have those curves and do feel lucky for them.

I guess I’m extraordinarily hypocritical when it comes to this subject because I haven’t worn a bathing suit bottom in years. My top ½, not so bad, but, the rest, not so good. I wear these swim shorts things and I’ve recently decided that I hate my knees. When I say things about my body to my husband, which is almost every day, I tell him that he doesn’t even need to respond, he doesn’t need to bother telling me how gorgeous and perfect I am. It won’t help until I believe it for myself.

I’ve loved how regular exercise made me look and feel. I dropped a nice amount of weight and I did in fact have more energy. I did love that for about a year I was wearing a size 10 when all I really wanted was to be a perfect size 12. Recently, I’ve cut down on carbs and it shows. I’m certainly not torturing myself and I do treat myself to whatever I want, whenever I want. I know I should start exercising again, but I can’t beat myself up for not doing so right now.

There are many things I’ve come to really like about my body: I adore my collarbone. I’ve figured out a way to pose in pictures that make my arms look defined. When I wear perfectly fitting things, my profile is pretty great. I look really good in a maxi dress. I love the color of my eyes, the size of my lips and my really soft skin. I have a freckle on the fleshy part of my hand below my left thumb that I find strangely sexy. I like that I’m tall, but wish I were one inch taller.

I have a 10-yr old daughter who I think is the most magnificent creature on Earth. I’ve spent a good part of her life just staring at her in awe. She is definitely on the tall trajectory and has grown a bit of a belly, but, when I ask her if she thinks she’s beautiful, she says yes. This isn’t vanity, it’s honesty and it’s remarkable. I’ve always told her that you don’t just come out and say “I’m pretty,” but that you wait until someone says it to you first. She gets this, but I love that she feels great about herself. When she has occasionally said to me “I’m fat” I totally lay into her and tell her that she’s perfect and I don’t want to hear her say that ever again. I wish someone would have said that to me at her age, instead of hiding food from me under the table linens in the hutch in our dining room.