Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Invisibility update!

This afternoon I returned to the exercise class where only last week I had worked so hard that I had become invisible.  I was running a few minutes late getting there and getting set up because I had a hair appointment right after school.  I hurried upstairs to the bathroom next to the aerobics room and pottied while undressing (I am a great multi-tasker).  I hurried into my workout clothes, threw everything I had just taken off into my bag, slipped on the same gray tennis shoes with bright pink shoe laces and stepped into the aerobics room.   I grabbed a step and weights, set up and began following the instructor's directions.  As I settled into the routine I looked around and there she was; the one who thought people with flabby arms are gross.  I grinned.  I was set up immediately behind her.  Every single time she looked forward into the mirror, which she did a lot, she saw me!  This brought me an odd feeling of satisfaction.  We did shoulder presses, frontal and lateral lifts, biceps curls, and rows.  We held our arms at ninety degree angles and punched side to side while holding weights; my baggy arms worked hard but the skin hung limp, flapping as my arms moved.  She kept looking in the mirror.  I kept smiling.

The class continued and just as she did last week she did not pick up weights and the instructions given were followed only when it was something she liked to do.  The instructor must have finally had enough because she said, "Alison (Whoo hoo!  I have her name) what exactly are you doing here if you aren't going to do what the rest of us are doing?"  In my head I am jumping for joy, my smile is broader.  Alison said something about weights and a stiff back.  I seized the moment and said, "I don't mean to be rude but those of us with flabby arms are using heavy weights, following instructions and working hard!"  I believe I heard the instructor laugh!  It felt glorious to be VISIBLE!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Becoming invisible!

She was there tonight just two steps in front of me in the fitness room at the Y.  We were both there for the step sculpt class and we had both been there before.  I was one of the members working hard, breathing hard, sweating.  I had on my favorite short sleeve hot pink Under Armor shirt and my black workout pants and my dark gray tennis shoes with the new hot pink shoe laces which were purchased online to support a teenage girl fighting breast cancer; I was bright, hard to miss.  She had on a skin tight light blue tank top and similarly fitted black workout pants. She was average in size and she was directly in front of the instructor. Apparently she saw nothing wrong with doing her own thing.  I watched her as we went from move to move, all of us, except her, stepping up and down on the step while doing endless reps of rows, delts and biceps with hand weights.  She would work a while, weightless, and then get a drink and stand admiring herself in the mirror for several minutes as we worked on.  I never saw her break a sweat. I did see her comb her hair and put it back into the already neat ponytail it started in.  If we were doing 20 repetitions she would stop at 12.  If she didn't like the instructors call she would either look in the mirror or do what ever exercise she felt like doing which is not only distracting to the instructor but just plain rude when you are in the front row.  We all worked on and we worked hard, or most of us did.  Arms and legs were shaking, shirts were wet with perspiration, and muscles were exhausted when we finished.  Everyone stayed until the class ended.  Not much talking went on; we were working hard to breathe and ignore the burn in our muscles.

The cool down and stretching finally arrived and this is when I realized I had worked so hard I had become invisible.  Her comment might have gone unnoticed by me on any other day but for some reason today I heard her loud and clear, "I really hate to see women with all of that sagging skin hanging from their arms!  Why don't they just cut it off?  Don't they know how gross they look?"  I am mad, furious, but I am also silent.  Did she not see me?  How could she have missed me in that hot pink shirt?  She doesn't know a thing about me or the journey I have taken to get those baggy arms.  Is she so insensitive to those around her and so wrapped up in herself that she feels it is socially acceptable to make not only a statement but such a judgement?  I am getting madder but I remain silent.  I pray she never comes to the water aerobic class I teach because she will find out not only do I have saggy baggy arms but thighs as well.  My brain is shouting say something to her! Don't let her get away with such an insensitive comment.  Tell her you could choose to have surgery but why should you change something that works.  Tell her, tell her, tell her...

I left the Y, mad, fighting tears for all of the others whose arms sag, whose bodies do not meet her expectations but I WILL NOT apologize for my saggy, baggy arms and thighs.  I FOUGHT too hard to get them.  Next time I will not be silent.  Next time I will tell her and maybe, just maybe I will not be invisible when she sees me again.

Monday, February 13, 2012


This post was one I wrote last year for Valentine's Day.  I started several new postings about love but kept coming back to this one, so here it is again.

4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1Corinthians 13)

He was 16 and she was 15 when they met that July and yet something deep inside her told her this boy was different, special, worth getting to know.  She didn't have a lot of time to get to know him because he was getting ready to go to Sweden as a Rotary International exchange student for the year and yet they had enough time.  They wrote letters back and forth once, sometimes twice a week, and he called her on Christmas Day, something that had to be prearranged in those days.  They talked for just a few minutes yet it was enough.  He returned home at the end of his school year abroad and they spent the summer together and the next year until he graduated from high school and immediately headed off to college.  They continued to date and when he was home you rarely saw one without the other.  She had a moment of doubt her freshman year in college and broke off their relationship despite the fact they had already picked out an engagement ring.  Her mother was furious with her.  He was brokenhearted.  He returned the ring.  She dated other boys often calling them by "his" name.  By Christmas she realized her mistake and called him hoping to re-establish a relationship, begging for forgiveness; he was dating someone else but they talked and before long they were together again.  They married, had 2 children (a girl and a boy) and they now are Nanna and Gramps to their first grandchild, Erika Jean, whom they both fell instantly and deeply in love with simply by holding her and looking at her perfect face. They have battled the ups and downs that come with any relationship; the good times outweighing the difficult ones.  It is now 40+ years since they met.  They have been married 36 years.  She has been with him for more than 70 percent of her life and yet she still loves him with all of her heart and soul.  Tomorrow is Valentine's Day and the card she will give him will not begin to express the depth of her love for him and so she is sharing this on her blog again but writing it for him.  

To my loving husband, Jay, who I love more than words can ever express.  Thank you for sharing your love and your life with me.  You continue to show me what love is in everything you do.  I am blessed to have found you but know without a shadow of a doubt that God arranged our meeting at that church paper drive 40+ years ago.

Here are some profound answers from children when asked; "What does love mean?" 

'When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different.
You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.'
Billy - age 4

'When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore.  So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love.'
Rebecca- age 8

'Love is what makes you smile when you're tired.' 
Terri - age 4

Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.'
Bobby - age 7

My favorite is a four year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, 'Nothing, I just helped him cry'   

I know the answer to what does love mean.  I hope you do too!