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My Valentine

Source: My Valentine

My Valentine

It didn’t start out as a love affair. I took everything you offered and seldom thought about what you needed. We were never apart. You’d think that would mean I’d have more awareness of you. But for so long, I took you for granted. I abused you. I tortured you and asked more of you than you could easily give. And yet you rose to the challenge.

In the beginning, it took you awhile to do what I asked. We floundered together. Trial and error. Bumps and bruises. Until finally, we were off and running.  Together forever.

I was often ashamed of you. Yet I never took responsibility for our relationship. I was envious of what others had. I began a campaign to change you.

I starved you and denied you. I didn’t listen to you. I ignored your voice in favor of the transformation I so longed for. And yet, you stayed with me. You made your best effort to be what I wanted you to be. But always, we’d end up back in the same place.

Eventually, you began to let me know that you needed something different. At first I resisted the change. I knew it would be hard and after all, I get to choose how we journey through life. You may have your little ways of letting me know what you need, but that didn’t scare me.

Then your warnings magnified. No longer little hints that surfaced occasionally, now every day and often, your message was delivered.

I need love!

I need nourishment!

I need protection!

I need to move!

I need attention!

Your cacophony made my head swim. Your twinges, restrictions and throbbing could no longer be ignored. I began to realize that, while you’d never leave me, you could certainly make life more painful and difficult.

I started paying attention to you. I’d notice your hot buttons. I’d notice how you reacted when I put something inside of you. I’d notice how you got even when I didn’t take you out.

I decided that we did indeed, need to make this a love affair. If I want you to be your best, I have to help you. I promise to nurture you. I promise to walk with you. I promise to fill you with what you need. I promise to be gentle with you. I promise to love you as you are and not try to change you.

I am so grateful for you and the places you take me.

Happy Valentine’s Day dear body.

 

Source: Christmas Memories, story by Linda McKenney (ME, DURING THE HOLIDAYS Poetry and Prose Series)

Imagine

Today is the anniversary of John Lennon’s death.  And as I read commemorative pieces on the internet, I can’t help but think about how meaningful his song Imagine is right now.  Yes, we’re afraid, for ourselves and those we love.  This is the time of year we generally are feeling the love.  But that’s not the case for so many of us.  What seems to be emanating in the world is hate and suspicion.

I’m not advocating for an abandonment of prudence, but we can balance that with compassion.  There are terrorists that we cannot reason with.  But they are in the minority.  Throughout history there have been senseless killings in the name of some religious belief.  But those are distorted beliefs.  I hold on to the belief that we are more alike than we are different.  And in this time of fear and suspicion, we need to find our commonalities and an end to senseless violence and death.

Imagine all the people living for today

Imagine there’s no countries

It isn’t hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too

Imagine all the people living life in peace

You may say I’m a dreamer

But [I hope] I’m not the only one

“Merry Christmas!”

“Light the candles and be blessed.
Get a wish and hope that it will be given.
Happy Hanukkah!”

“Habari gani”

“Umoja”

“Kujichagulia”

 

Source: Sky Bar, story by Linda McKenney (MY SWEET WORD Series)

My Calves Are Big

Recently a dear friend suggested that I delete the word “big” to describe my calves from an essay I’d written.    She said that I didn’t need to self-deprecate.  I deleted it, but that got me to thinking, “Wait a minute.  I was not intending to be self-deprecating.  I just wanted to describe my calves.”   They are bigger than some and smaller than others.  I will not need to ask Lloyd’s of London to insure them.  In addition to their size, they are scarred, laced with varicose veins and speckled with brown spots.

I was not using the word big in a good or bad sense.  I was simply using it to describe my calves, as compared to others’.  My granddaughter even commented that I have hefty calves and asked if I’d been working out.  She said that with a sense of amazement, not derogatively.

When I was a younger woman, I was embarrassed by my legs.  My calves were clearly larger than most of my friends.  After childbirth, the varicose veins surfaced.  I seldom went out in public in shorts, regardless of how hot it was.  If I wore a skirt or dress, I always wore stockings to camouflage my legs.  I’ve worked at getting to a place of loving, kindness and acceptance for my body.    Particularly at my age, I celebrate how my body serves me.  Those calves allow me to hike and swim.  They allow me to shop for hours with my daughters.  The support me when I pick up my great-grandchild.

Words like fat or big are only shaming when you believe that fat or big is shameful.   My boobs are large, my ass is flat, my skin is flabby and my calves are big.  Why not love all of me?  I do

I’ve discovered the best take-action. motivator  In my younger days, I used the “cleaning the oven” technique.  If I said to myself, “I really need to clean the oven,” (This was back in ancient times when we didn’t have self-cleaning ovens.)  I would do just about any other task to avoid putting my head in the oven.

But now, I have a much more exciting motivator.  Buy New Underwear!  This Spring I was once again faced with the daunting task of spring cleaning.  At this point, heck at any point, in my life, cleaning is not high on my desire-to-do-list.  But I do like our home to be clean.  Sooooo – I procrastinated and went shopping.

At the I-won’t-mention-the-name-of-the-store outlet, I was bedazzled by the underwear on display.  I chose a variety of colors and when I returned home, I realized that the first task was to clean out my underwear drawer to make room for the new items.  So out went the panties with stretched elastic, the bras that no longer fit on the third hook and some of the ‘mold me” undergarments that are supposed to make me ten pounds slimmer but only succeed in making me take twice as long to go to the bathroom.

I folded and arranged the new lingerie and looked at the drawer with bliss.  I could find everything.  It was all in neat stacks.  This moved me to the sock drawer, then to the closet and then to the rest of the bedroom.  Even under the bed!  I dusted, vacuumed, polished and organized.

That night you could feel how much cleaner the room was.  When I closed the blinds, there weren’t any particles floating in the air.  When I set my glassed on the nightstand, I didn’t create a tsunami of dust.  When I entered the walk-in closet, I could actually see the floor.

So that’s the secret my friends.  Want to get started on a project?  Buy new underwear!  Now for the rest of the house . . . .

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