Me, MomSelf and I

Life's journey is full of twists and turns and sometimes we get lost. This is my journey to rediscover myself.


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Body Image

I got on a bicycle today, which might seem like no big deal. And it wasn’t really, except that it was my first bike ride in about 6 years. And only the 3rd or 4th time I was on it in the 11 years I’ve owned the bike. I’m trying to find a form of exercise I don’t despise. It was pretty hilarious though to see how worried the kids were that I would hurt myself. It felt like Freaky Wednesday where they were the parents and I was the child! “Mommy, be careful!” “Good luck mom!” I managed to make it around the block without incident. However, I did not lose weight with that bike ride.

I don’t know many women who DON’T complain about their weight. And I try not to unless I’m prepared to do something about it. Which I am not. But I will complain anyway. I’ve made the same resolution every December 31st for the last 30 years (save for my junior year in high school when I lost a bunch of weight basically because I stopped eating. Thanks depression!) Then, I inevitably find myself with my hand in a bag of potatoe chips or on my 3rd slice of pizza and into the 3rd week of January say, well, I’ll start fresh next month after the gym clears out. Fast forward to the beginning of summer when I can’t hide behind layers of clothes and reality of my undiscipline eating habits smacks my jiggly thighs and I think, “oh no, the season of exposure!” I would love to be one of those people who accepted themselves in all their glorious body. And sometimes I am. I mean, I’ve posed nude twice in the last year!  I admire people who don’t let their extra weight stop them from living life. I am just not that person right now.

A friend of mine who I don’t consider overweight at all lamented to me recently about how disappointed she feels about her post baby weight 2 years later. Yet she told me that she looks at me and thinks, “Darlene looks great at any size!” We both found it interesting that despite having very different bodies, and despite other people’s perceptions, we both struggle internally with the same exact feelings. So it all comes down to body image. What is body image?

Body image=The mental image of one’s own self, or the picture you have of yourself. Basically, it’s what you think you look like. The problem I have is that I’ll think I look good (in my mind) until a mirror tells me otherwise. The mirror is like my 6th grade bully pointing out each and every flaw and laughing at me for having the audacity to imagine I looked anything other than fat. Sometimes I feel embarrassed and ashamed that I can’t live up to the image in my mind. And I wonder what my kids think of my body? (Though with the amount of times theyplay with my belly and tell me I look pregnant, I have a pretty good idea.) Bottomline is, I know I’m not the best me I can be at this weight. I don’t play with the kids like I want to and I don’t wear certain clothes like I want to. And logically, I know the importance of getting to a healthy weight for me, for medical reasons. I understand what it takes to lose weight. All the resources are out there from online diet programs to streaming workouts, couch to 5ks and motivational daily texts . But like anything else, until you are ready to commit to the work (not the program or the trainer-but the work of change) you will remain stuck. Which is where I am with my hand in a bag of chips.

I believe that one of these days I will get it together. I mean I have to! But apparently I’m pretty stubborn. I just hope I can make it sooner rather than later. I’ve taken some baby steps, like climbing on that bike. And maybe this December I’ll have a new resolution like, jump out of plane next year! because by then, I could fit in the harness.


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Women Marching for Women

Until recently, I never considered myself an activist. I was always a rebel. But I was pretty complacent when it came to social justice issues, despite my job as a fair housing advocate. Three years into my 40’s and I’m ready, willing and able to put myself out there for causes I believe in, particularly after the election of a U.S. President who has been recorded saying he could grab women by the p**** because he was a rich man. So one day after his inauguration, I joined my sisterhood to march in downtown Cleveland for Women’s RightsCleveland for Women’s Rights, which this President and his cohorts seem determined to abolish.  It was only my second march and third protest action, but it certainly will not be my last.  Why did I do it? And why now?

Admittedly, I am a last-minute person. I take ‘live in the present’ a bit too literally. While I’d heard talk about the Women’s March on D.C., I thought it was totally unrealistic for me to participate. Then I heard there would be one in Cleveland. The week leading up to the marches, I began to see friends prepping for the events. One friend asked me if I was going, as she was on the fence about it. I was stuck in between a perpetual state of disbelief that our country was really going to continue disrespecting women the way it has, and a paralyzed state of not really knowing what I could do to make a difference.  We gave each other until Thursday to decide. The more I thought about things, I reflected on the Civil Rights Movement and how disheartened I was to learn that my parents had not participated in that historic event. I didn’t want my kids to look back and say, “Mom, what did you do when Trump got elected?” And my reply be, oh, I took you guys to basketball and did your laundry.  Everything I do at this point in my life is to make myself a better person, and someone my children can be proud to call their mom. Once I looked at it in that context, the answer was clear. I would march.

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My friend Danielle offered to drive and my friend Becky made us signs, and we joined an estimated 15,000 other women, men and children who marched for equal pay, reproductive rights, violence against women protections, religious freedom, gender equity and a myriad of other causes. When an election of this magnitude leaves you feeling powerless, you can find power in joining a movement. Regardless of whether you were black, white, Asian, Latina, Native American, Western European, lesbian, trans, bisexual, rich, poor, middle class, heavy, thin, short, tall, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, a woman with a disability, a mom, married, single, childless, and everything in between, under the bright sunshine of hope and solidarity, we all marched together and had each other’s backs.  Now the challenge is to keep going, keep marching. If that means calling your representatives weekly to make your voice heard-keep marching. If that means mentoring another women to lift up those coming behind you as you climb the ladder-keep marching. If that means driving someone in need to Planned Parenthood or Preterm to get necessary medical care-keep marching. In Girl Scouts we say be a sister to every girl scout. In life I say to the best of your ability, be a sister to every woman. None of us got anywhere without help. Be a help to women in your community. When women are stronger, the world is stronger! Everyone knows women are the backbone of society, yet in 2017 some still insist on trying to break that backbone and then wonder why they can’t walk. We must strengthen our core with daily exercises of finding a way to support another women every day. While I will still drive my kids to basketball and do their laundry (while drinking wine!) I will no longer sit on the sidelines waiting for someone else to pick up the baton. None of us can afford to be complacent any longer. We have some real work to do, and if you have been like me, and watched and waited for someone else, I urge you to look at the beauty of this day and these marches, and be inspired by the sea of pink out there ready for you join the fight. Let’s go!

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