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Laughter

“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”
– e. e. cummings

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about our dog, Lucy, and a lesson I learned from her one day.  Well, apparently, Lucy hasn’t hung up her teaching hat just yet – she had yet another tutorial for me this week.

lucy3If I didn’t describe Lucy well enough in my last blog, let me give you a few more details.  Lucy is one seriously happy dog.  I mean…seriously.  That girl LOVES everything.  She loves me, she loves my boyfriend Richard, she loves our kids, she loves squirrels, birds, the mailman, the UPS guy, the cats….(ok, that may be pushing it a little – she loves torturing them, does that count?)

But I noticed something else about her the other day that made me smile.  Apparently, Lucy’s happiness isn’t just dependent upon someone or something else being around.  I was walking through the house and just happened to glance out the window and there stood Lucy in the middle of the yard – not looking at anything in particular, not doing anything noteworthy, just standing there – and that tail of hers was just wagging to beat the band.  No one else around, and Lucy was just as happy as she could be.  Just because.

I told Richard about it later and said, “I want to be just like Lucy. I want to be so happy that I wag my tail even when nobody’s looking, don’t you?”

He laughed and agreed, the subject was dropped, and we went on about our business.  Situation forgotten.

Until a few days later.  I was driving along in my car listening to the audio books that I always listen to when I’m traveling anywhere, and I realized that I wasn’t retaining much of what I was hearing.  I was just stressed and distracted and not in the mood to try to follow along with a book.  So, I ejected the audio book CD and started looking for something else to pop in, when I came across a CD that my ex-husband bought me the other day.  Yes, you read that right – my ex-husband bought me a CD.  Ok, it was a $1 CD that he saw at Goodwill, but still.  It was nice of him to think of me. What was the CD, you ask?  New Kids on the Block’s greatest hits.  Yup.  He remembered that I used to be an NKOTB freak (their last known fan actually – I have a tendency to hold on a little too long), and he thought I’d like it.  Up to this point, I hadn’t listened to it yet, but I just decided to go ahead and throw it in the player and see what they sounded like after all these years.  And boy, was I glad I did.  I was immediately transformed back to the late 80s/early 90s and I still remembered just about every word to every song.  Before long, I was signing at the top of my lungs like nobody’s business – and with a goofy smile on my face to boot.

That’s when I noticed the car that had pulled up beside me at the red light.

And what did I do?  *sigh*  I turned the music down, wiped the smile off my face, and sat staring straight ahead until the light changed.

Now, what the heck did I do that for?

Isn’t that dumb?  What’s wrong with wagging my tail when I thought no one was looking, you know?  I was just so darn afraid of how I looked to someone else.  Why are people like that?  It’s just plain silly.  I don’t even think I gave it much thought at the time – I think it was just instinct to pull it together and look like a decent, non-crazy, non-NKOTB fan girl and make myself ‘presentable’ once I knew I had an audience.

I so need to stop that.

I’m like that with pictures too.  I am the queen of “Wait – don’t take the picture yet, I’m not ready.”  Or, “Ew, that one looks like crap, let’s take another one.”  My family just loooooves that too, let me tell ya.  And my boyfriend Richard and I couldn’t be more different when it comes to that kind of thing.  He is crazy about the candid photos – the ones that no one knew were coming or that we weren’t exactly ‘ready’ for.  Me?  I think I look like a doofus.  Especially the pictures where I’m laughing.

laughter2See this picture?  For some dumb reason, I never posted this picture on Facebook or had it framed.  I wasn’t “ready” when the picture was taken.  Instead, I posted the version where we were standing up straight, both looking at the camera, smiling, with just one arm around each other.  I even have it framed and sitting on my bookshelf at home.  But this one?  This one was just sitting on my phone as one of the ‘mess ups.’  I ask myself now, “What the heck were you thinking, woman!?”  I mean, look at that picture.  My daughter is all snuggled up to me and I’m laughing.  I think I had told her to stand closer just before the picture was snapped, so she bear hugged me being silly.

Good grief, Me.  Get it together.  *These* are the memories you want to hold on to.

laughter3Or, how about this one?  We were trying to take a ‘selfie’ just before we had gotten all dressed up to go to the theatre together.  It took about 30 shots before we finally got the ‘right’ one – you know, the one where we’re both smiling sweetly and looking straight the camera.  This funny, goofy one where I was laughing so hard my eyes disappeared was never posted.  This shows so much more of our personalities than the one that I did deem ‘post-able.’ Kelly being silly, me laughing like a dork – this is ‘us.’

But I was just so afraid of it not looking ‘right.’  Not looking good enough.  Not being posed and ‘perfect.’

Silly, silly me.

So, today, I ask you this – are you like me?  Do you make sure the picture looks ‘just right’ before you take it?  Do you hold back on laughing so that you don’t like an open-mouthed hyena?  Do you stifle your happiness so that you look decent and presentable to strangers that don’t even matter?  Do you only publicly post the pictures where you’re smiling perfectly and everything is in order?

Or are you like Lucy?  Do you express your joy, no matter the circumstances…laugh until you cry when you see the ones you love…stay so happy that you wag your tail even when you’re alone?  And for Heaven’s sakes, not stop just because someone is looking?

Well, here’s my advice.  Be like Lucy.

We only get one go-around, you know?   Just one.  Don’t waste it.  Wag your tail, people.  Just wag it.

Life sure is a heck of a lot better that way.

Thanks for yet another lesson learned, Lucy dear.

laughter1
 

Self-Image

selfesteemblog

I remember a friend of mine once asking for help from her Facebook friends about possible upcoming blog topics.  One of her friends commented on her status and told her to “watch for signs” – that you’ll start seeing a common theme popping up in your life and when it does, then you know it’s time to write about it.

Well, it’s time for me to take that advice.

I’ve had it in my head for a while now to talk about how women feel about their self-images.  Ok.  Actually, about my self-image, and how I feel about it, to be more exact.  But that’s not a very comfortable thing to talk about.  Ya know?  It’s hard to admit that you don’t think too highly of yourself.  And even harder to admit that you know that is stupid and you need to change.

But something tells me now may be the time to bite the bullet and just be honest.

I have a wonderful friend, Iman Woods, who has dedicated her life to making women feel great about themselves.  She’s a photographer.  A photographer.  Now, I don’t know about you, but when I hear that someone who is a photographer is also someone who is going to make me feel great about myself – those two facts just don’t belong together.  How could a photographer make me feel good about myself?  I’ve seen me.  And having to see me immortalized in a photograph forever is probably not something that is going to make me feel good.  All it does is showcase all of the flaws in an 8×10 for me and all the world to see, right?  Right?

Wrong.

Check out her site: http://www.imanwoods.com/?page/88267/pinup-empowerment.  This woman can do wonderful things.  With some pretty girly clothes and a little makeup – she brings out the beauty in women that was there all along.  She’s not doing anything to change these women with her work.  She’s just showing them off.  Showing them what they may not be able to see without her help.  This is why she calls her work “photo therapy.”  And I think that she, and her work, are both absolutely beautiful.

Well, in addition to being a photographer, Iman is also a writer.  She posted a blog today about her own self-image and how it has changed over the years.  (See the link here if you want to check it out: http://www.8womendream.com/55706/find-your-body-role-model).  After posting this, she and I discussed it a little and she came up with an idea to interview myself and my boyfriend Richard and combine our responses with regards to how we see ‘me.’  I’m not sure what the end result will be, but I’m pretty excited about the possibility.  I have always loved watching an idea of hers as it comes to fruition.  (And you can bet your patootie, I’ll be posting the link here for you to read it when it does!).  Well, as part of the interview process, my first assignment is this – go through and pick out 5 photos of myself that I love.  Easy, right?

Whoa.

I had no idea how hard this would be.  I am looking through posted pictures of myself on Facebook, and I honestly cannot pick out ones that I like.  Each time I start to choose one, I think, “Well this is wrong…,” or “Well, that is wrong.”  “My hair looks bad in this one.”  “This one makes me look fat.”  “This one makes me look too tall.”  “My boobs look too big in this one.”  (Hey, I’m being honest here.)  Each and every picture holds something that I’m not happy with and don’t want displayed in an upcoming blog article.

What the heck is up with that??

I really don’t think I realized how much my self-image needed work until the past few hours.  Oh, I’d seen clues, of course.  For instance, I compare myself to other women like crazy.  Especially certain women.  I know I need to stop that, but I haven’t figured out how to just yet.  I’m working on it though.

This reminds me of lyrics from the Sara Evans song, “I Keep Lookin:”

“Well  the straight-haired girls, they all want curls
And the brunettes wanna be blonde;
It’s your typical thing – you’ve got yin,  you want yang
It just goes on and on.”

Yep.  That’s me.  I’m not extremely tall by any means, but when I’m standing beside certain short, petite women, I feel like an Amazon.  And I start to wish I was shorter.  (Ironically, one of these particular petite women has always wished she was taller…go figure).  I see a woman with long beautiful straight hair and I despise these wild crazy curls that I was “blessed” with.  And yet, women spend tons of money on curling irons and perms every day.  Again, go figure.  I search the ends of the earth trying to fight the right sports bra to fit my needs and then I see tiny little women not having to worry about that problem and I find myself wishing I didn’t have these giant….well, you know.  And yet, plastic surgeons stay in business for women who’d kill to have this problem.

Sigh.

I’m not the only one who does this, right?  Good grief, what the heck is wrong with us, ladies?

Well, as I have just displayed in this blog, I don’t have a quick fix.  I don’t know the answer to how to make us comfortable in our skin rather than seeing what we falsely deem as “perfection” in others.  All I know to do is this.  Start finding one thing you like about yourself every day.  Just one.  Of course everything you like about yourself doesn’t have to be appearance-related, but since that’s what I’m focusing on here – let’s start with that.

I’ll go first.  I’ll tell you one thing I like about myself.

Ok.  Here goes.

(Gosh, why is it so hard to do this???)

Alright….my legs.  I do, I like my legs.  They’re not too flabby – pretty muscular actually now after a year of running.  They’d probably look great in heels if I’d ever learn to walk in the dang things.  So, there we go.  It’s done.  There’s the one thing I like about myself for the day.  Now, on to trying to come up with something for tomorrow…

Hey, who knows?  Maybe after a few days of doing this, a few weeks, a few months…it’ll be less and less hard to think of something.  Maybe by then we’ll be seeing ourselves in the light that we so easily seem to see others in.  Wouldn’t that be awesome?

Oh, and I almost forgot.  Before I end this blog….since I have to do it anyway, I’ll go ahead and pick one of the photos of myself that I like and post it here.  This is a photo that was taken of me to use as a headshot in a theatre show I did earlier this year.  It took me a while to actually like it (it’s SO close up!), but once I decided it wasn’t so bad, I decided to just go for it.  So, here ya go.

me

There.  I did it.  One down, four to go…

Your turn.

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“Relentless, repetitive self talk is what changes our self-image.”
– Denis Waitley