What do you see when you look at this piece from the talented blogger at as much cake as you want? Are you happy for the couple on the street and sad for the one at the table? It’s all about perspective.
As a young woman, I would have looked at that man and woman sitting a million miles apart at the same table and thought: no way, never going to happen to me. I probably would have concluded that if it got that bad, I’d leave.
But, I’m not young any longer. I’ve been married for thirty-four years and I think the drawing perfectly illustrates the reality of long-term marriage. In my mind’s eye, the two couples could very well be one in the same captured at different moments in time.
The man and woman at the table may be poised to forgive one another. Maybe something quite unexpected will happen that will clarify both the beauty and fragility of life. Perhaps they will be drawn closer together in grief or joy. Or maybe the idea of a life without the other will suddenly become too difficult to imagine. Of course, it’s possible they’ll be separated soon, but it’s just as likely that the lovebirds on the street won’t stay together.
It’s hard to know about these two couples, but I do know that my husband and I have looked like both of them through the years. We’ve been close and we’ve been distant. We’ve appreciated each other and we’ve taken each other for granted. We’ve made mistakes and we’ve learned a few things:
It’s the tough times that can serve to really cement the union.
If you choose wisely in the first place (as I did), marriage is worth the effort.
Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful and marriage is never perfect.
My daughter insists that she remembers the day we passed a tattoo shop in Lahaina, HI and I said, “Someday, I’ll get one!” She was five years old, so I would have been 42 years old. I don’t remember the moment, but I’m sure it’s true.
I stop to admire people’s tattoos all the time, and sometimes I ask if I can take a picture. My phone is full of random shots of stranger’s body art. So, when Natalie told me she had a second ear-piercing done at a tattoo shop, I thought…it’s time! I visited her the following weekend and asked her to accompany me to Traditional Tattoo. I figure a college town is a great place to find a good shop; they work in volume.
Before an artist begins to work on you, there’s paperwork to be completed. I laughed out loud when I read the question on the consent form asking if I was drunk or in any other way unable to make a sound decision. Ha, ha…I thought…I’ve been planning this for 16 years!
Then I met my artist, Brian, and told him my story and showed him a picture. I wanted a shell on my ankle because two of the three most important people in my world have or continue to call me “Shell.” My dear, sweet brother, who was four years younger than me, could not say: “Michele.” So, he abbreviated from a tender age and continued to call me that until he died in July 2001.
Sometimes, when there’s a death, little things like nicknames will disappear. But, I’m fortunate. My husband of 32 years mourned the loss of Matt with me. And, he picked up where my brother left off and still occasionally calls me “Shell.” It always touches my heart when he does. (I haven’t told him that…oh, now I have!)
There’s one more very good reason for me to carry a shell around with me; I’m leaving my home by the ocean to move to a tree-lined street in the city! You can read more about that right here in the coming weeks.
Brian checked out my photo and asked if I’d like it exactly as shown or if I wanted him to artistically interpret it. You guessed it. I told him to put on his artist’s cap. He came back a short time later with a tracing of a shell and I agreed to it immediately. I was then ushered back to a room that resembled one in a dentist’s office…if the dentist was really wild.
I took a seat in the dental chair and felt the butterflies alight in my tummy as he cleaned my ankle and started to prep for work.
“Two things,” he said. “Do not move without first giving me a head’s up. AND NO WHINING!”
“I don’t whine,” I said as my daughter took my hand and nodded in agreement.
He began the work slowly pausing to allow me to gauge the level of pain I was going to feel. I knew I could handle it. It’s a small tattoo. From prep to clean-up, it was a mere twenty minutes and we passed the time easily talking about his three daughters and the ink he’d placed on his wife’s body. We laughed when he told us that he sometimes gets carried away checking out his work and noting needed touch ups when his wife would rather he stay focused on her other assets.
My art was covered with a special, medicinal tape used for burn patients, so my after-care has been easy. Nothing was needed until I gently peeled back the tape four days later. After another four days, the redness has dissipated and I love the look. I continue to simply clean it and apply Thayers Witch Hazel Toner and Vanicream lotion to alleviate the itching.
As we left Traditional Tatoo, my daughter asked if I’d be back for more art. My initial response was “No!” But, within ten minutes, I noticed that I kept referring to my shell as my FIRST TATOO!
It’s not easy being a mother; it seems someone is always at the ready to judge our performance. My daughter is a full-grown 21-year-old college student, and yet, I sometimes still meet with the harsh disapproval of another mother.
It happened over lunch when my friend asked for Natalie’s telephone number. I could not recite it.
“I don’t know her number,” I said. “I’d have to check my phone and I left that at home.”
My response was met with a simple one word reply: “REALLY?!” The disbelief in her voice matched the mortified look on her face. And, I felt absolutely horrible. Many months ago. This was months ago and, mind you, I’m still talking about it.
However, today I’m remembering the event because I felt a slight reprieve come my way when another friend asked a somewhat more personal question about my daughter and I was ready with an authoritative answer.
“I’m visiting the park in Florida and I wonder if you could ask Nats what Hogwarts House she’s in so I could buy her a piece of memorabilia?”
“HUFFLEPUFF,” I responded immediately. “What kind of mother doesn’t know what house their child is in?!”
These are tough times right now, but not for men who may be wrongly accused of crimes against women as POTUS suggested this week. These are tough times for women and men of good character and conscience.
Yesterday our president mocked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford while at a rally in Mississippi and Esquire magazine provided the perfect headline for the story underneath his picture:
This Vicious Buffoon Is a Vessel for All the Worst Elements of the American Condition (I couldn’t have said it better, so I didn’t try!)
I watched the coverage of his speech with a mixture of disgust, anger, anxiety and sadness. I was born in 1960 and I’ve been a feminist* for as long as I understood what the word meant. My only child, Natalie, is 21 years old and I knew that she would not be leaving college and entering a perfect world before the 2016 election. But, I sincerely believed that our country had made significant progress toward our journey to equal rights for the sexes. I think most people took that for granted. Perhaps we have, but, obviously there is more work to do in our homes, schools and workplaces. And, most significantly, in the courts, Congress and White House. We are being reminded of our responsibilities to one another as citizens of a country based on the principles of equality.
I’ve got a theory for what is happening right now. Here it is. Imagine turning over a rock in your garden, dear reader. What happens? Well, it’s creepy right? Everything ugly comes crawling out into the light. Exposed. That’s what’s happening right now in our country. The ugliness has come crawling out. The “Vicious Buffoon” in the White House has given it license to spew its poison upon us. We must wholeheartedly reject the president’s message and the Republicans’ spineless response to the nightmare that has become our daily reality since the election. And, we must remember that the yucky things that live under the rocks are only a small percentage of what inhabits our beautiful land. We are a majority and we have power.
Speak your mind. Change a heart. Write an opinion piece or a letter to the editor. Make a donation. Speak your mind, again. Stay engaged as much as you can. And, when you simply cannot take it anymore, pour yourself a glass of vino and tune into PBS for Poldark and The Durrells in Corfu. We all deserve a break!
* According to Merriam-Webster, feminism is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” and “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.”
Lynn doesn’t like it when I tell her that she inspires me. But, it simply must be said. I want to be like Lynn when I grow up! She’s opinionated, talented and strong. She supports other women who endeavor to be their best while offering a master class in how to age gracefully.
I like to think I’m following in her footsteps, as she began training with Jonathan at about the same age as I did. She’s now 80 years old and living life to its fullest.
“I pay Jon instead of doctors,” she says with a smile.
Three days a week she works out alongside men and women of all ages. All younger than her. Somewhat irrelevant in Lynn’s case. She cheers me on as I sweat and sing aloud on the arc. And, reads along as I chronicle my existence on the page, referring to me as Zone’s “wordsmith.”When I took a few days off from my cardio schedule, for a couple of weeks in a row, I had a note on my Facebook page from Lynn. Seems she misses me when I’m not there!
She’s the woman who tells other women, “You’re looking good!”
When she’s not in the gym, Lynn can be found in her home studio. She’s an accomplished artist whose work, depending on the subject matter, captures my heart or my imagination or both.
The works of Lynn Lupetti
I believe it’s a perfectly natural thing for people of all ages to look for role models. I did not have a close relationship with my mother and, consciously or unconsciously, I’ve always looked to fill my life with older women that I’d like to emulate. It’s nice to be reminded, through another’s example, that life is a gift and it should be treated as such.
Cheers to my friend, Lynn! Cheers to strong women of all ages.
Since beginning my Journey to Strong last November, I’ve had so many women tell me that I’m an “inspiration.” I have certainly appreciated the support, but I’ve found it difficult to fully embrace the idea that I’ve inspired others to become fitter or stronger.
But, my friend Kristin’s daughter, Julia, gave me an amazing gift that I will forever treasure. She tapped me on the shoulder, halfway through dinner last night, and whispered in my ear.
“I saw you lifting weights on Instagram. I’m strong, too!”
I was filled with emotion. Sometimes it takes a child to remind us that:
we don’t need to be anything more than who we are to inspire others
it’s important to share the small and large victories present in everyday life
social media can be a force for good
AND, our daughters are watching!
Dear readers, venture out and do what you do best…and then share it!
You may have heard or read in the New York Times that:
“The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, under mounting pressure from senators of his own party, will call President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, and the woman who has accused him of sexual assault before the committee on Monday for extraordinary public hearings only weeks before the midterm elections.
The hearing with Judge Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, a research psychologist in Northern California, sets up a potentially explosive public showdown that carries unmistakable echoes of the 1991 testimony of Anita Hill, who accused the future Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment in an episode that riveted the nation and ushered a slew of women into public office.”
I was 31 years old when Anita Hill was persecuted for telling her truth. I was riveted by her testimony and repulsed by the Congressional response. I’d liken the feelings I experienced then to the feelings I experienced when our current POTUS was elected. I can only hope that we’ve really progressed to a point that character matters and the definition of “character” encompasses how men treat women.
But, I’m dubious. I hear lots of comments like this one culled from the Wall Street Journal : “Well, if he did this, he was so young. We all did stupid stuff in high school. Why does it matter?”
Let me just ask then: Would it matter if Kavenaugh held up a liquor store in high school? Would it matter if he held a bank teller at gunpoint and requested she hand over the cash? Would we care if he stole a car or lit the neighbor’s house on fire? I wonder???
It seems to me that crimes against women are simply not important to this nation. We don’t take women’s accusations seriously. Let’s see, goes the thinking, he tried to rape a 15-year-old girl when he was 17- years- old? Hmmmm….well, that was a long time ago.
Um, let me just say: I did stupid stuff in high school. Nothing I did was violent. I don’t think anything I did would preclude me from serving on the highest court in the land. How about you? Attempt to rape anyone in high school? Attempt to rape anyone after graduation? Ever attempt to rape anyone? Does it matter? I really hope so.
We need a hearing. We need to acknowledge that crimes against women are FIRST AND FOREMOST….CRIMES! If the accusation is credible and believable, this man does not deserve a place on the highest court in our land.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, I took a call from my husband as I was driving to my weekly counseling appointment.
“Something horrible has happened,” he said with uncharacteristic alarm.
You mean another horrible thing…I thought. It had been six weeks since my well-loved 36-year-old brother had died and only two weeks since we’d buried him. I was heartbroken; life was off-kilter, out of focus. Every time the phone rang, I anticipated more horrible news. I was living with the burden of a heightened sense of vulnerability.
That day the collective sorrow of the nation merged with my personal grief. I pondered what we term “senseless death” as I did when Matt passed. People taken too early, before hopes and dreams can be realized. Families left wondering why. Faith and equilibrium threatened.
The lives lost on 9/11 became part of our country’s history. Matt’s life was part of my history. The parallel drew me closer to all those who suffered that day. Loss and sadness are part of what it means to be human. It is there for all of us to experience together, but ultimately to resolve on our own.
Today, I remember my brother, Matt, who was taken too soon. I miss spending time with him; it was so easy. I remember the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives on that awful day when as a nation we felt our collective vulnerability. I remember, most of all, that loss is part of life, and as such, kindness should be our imperative.
With heartfelt condolences to all who have loved and lost,
You’ve read his name and seen a few stills of Jonathan on my site, but I thought you’d like to see him in action. Isn’t he amazing?! Yes! The answer is yes!
Let me take this opportunity to tell you a little about my trainer. As you can see, he has aced his own journey to strong. He’s been a trainer for nearly thirty years and I could dazzle you with his resume. But, to those of you who are lucky enough to live on the Monterey Peninsula, you know I wholeheartedly recommend him. Just do it…join the waiting list at Zone Fitness and be forever grateful that you did.
I could rant and rave, but to put it quite simply: Jonathan has changed my life! At 58 years old, I know that there won’t be many people who I can say that about when the end rolls round.
I’ve approached my fitness journey as I approach everything in life: as a scholar. So, I’ve read a lot and brought a ridiculous number of questions with me to my sessions. Jonathan has taken the time to educate me and this has made it possible for me to fully embrace the process.
I am leaner and stronger as a result of my sessions with him. I recently ran into an old friend that I hadn’t seen for nearly a year. She took a step away from me after giving me a hug and just looked at me. What came out of her mouth next was quite direct …and really fun!
“What happened? I mean, it’s good…but, really,” she asked.
I know that my appearance has changed and that’s nice, but it’s truly so much more than looking a bit better. I’ve gained a new level of confidence that transcends what I do in the gym to encompass every area of my life. And, I truly understand the concept of a mind/body connection. My body now asks me to move and I hear it. I respond to its need for motion, and, as a result, I feel better.
So, I just told my curious friend that “Jonathan happened!” That explains it all.