Tag Archives: on beauty

the birds and the bees


Memory is such an odd thing. The things we remember. The things we forget.

Yesterday morning a friend posted a poem and with it was pictured a painting of a monster that had chewed off the head of a body which it held in its hands. I can’t remember what I ate a week ago for dinner, but both the title of the painting (Saturn Devouring His Children) and the painter’s name (Francisco Goya) chimed brightly in my mind as though I’d just seen it in one of the art history books I used to pour over in my teens.

There are so many things that I’ve forgotten over time; some out of choice, others out of neglect or atrophy. It seems that choosing to forget some things somehow makes other things disappear as well. I fear my memories, sometimes, and I fear for them. All of them. The good ones. The bad ones. Even the mediocre ones. Perhaps especially those.

I spent the weekend lying in bed in my underwear, swaddled in my comforter and watched the first season and a half of Being Erica. The menu mostly consisted of chocolate, spelt and flaxseed rice cakes, freshly brewed coffee with milk, bananas, apples and buttered toast. On Sunday I even sparked up the stove and made scrambled eggs and pan fried potatoes. But I digress.

I love this show. I love it because the writing is fabulous, the characters authentic and the acting stellar. I love it because on so many levels I can relate to the main character, despite our disparity in age. Who doesn’t have regrets? Who doesn’t wish there could be do-overs? Who doesn’t wonder, if they are alone, whether they will always be that way, wonder whether there is something fundamentally wrong with them and thus forever deemed unlovable or to never have the sort of lasting intimacy that I’m certain we all long for?

This morning I got my daily email from Neale Donald Walsch reminding me that intimacy is not a physical thing, it is a condition of the soul, or rather two souls or more. Maybe “soul” is too esoteric of a word, or elicits the impression that it’s something bigger, better or of higher insight that the self. Maybe I should correct that to say that it pertains to the authentic self instead.

I think intimacy is to allow another (and self, in the end) to unfold and be witnessed by another without shame and to be held (beheld!!) in love.

During my marriage I had hoped that my husband could, and eventually would, meet me there. In a more recent relationship, I had had these same hopes. Both came to an end and were devastating to me on so many levels, leaving me to ponder on the same issue that Erica did just before she broke up with the person who she thought was the One. Was she simply not meant to have such a relationship?

To me there is no greater connection and yet it seems like such an illusive improbability. For me. And yet I am hopeful. And so I wait.

on beauty…

I thought I’d share this most recent life experience I’ve had with you all.  It has to do with self-image, and how society feeds into what we ultimately view as ‘beautiful.’

In January I started dating this fellow.  Now, I’m far from young (46) and recently single, so after being with the same person for almost two decades, there are a lot of things I simply didn’t think much of anymore, including my appearance.  On our wedding day I was beautiful.  Slim and fit… radiant.  Within half a year I packed on forty pounds, and after getting pregnant put on about fifty more.  I lost a mere ten or so pounds after Gabriel’s birth, and it took several years to even get close to the 200lb mark.  I was self-conscious about how I looked, but my husband found me to be sexy anyway, despite the fact that we were slowly and methodically falling out of love.

So, last June we separated for good, after being together for 16+ years.  I’m still somewhere between 40-50 pounds overweight, depending upon whose “ideal” scale you go by, but I’ve come to love my body despite its imperfections.  I look womanly, with buxom breasts and a belly that one can readily observe as having housed a (relatively large) child.  It took me a long time to feel comfortable with the way I look… the way I look today (which will change going forward… as I age… as I become more active… as I change my dietary habits… as I become more settled and happy in my “new” life).

Recently I began thinking of dating again, wondering how that would go, never having liked doing it in the first place.  But how else was I to meet anyone?  So after the first of the year, my ex-husband urged me to join an online dating community.  Soon enough I connected with someone… we met… and we began to date.  It appeared that we were compatible on many levels but immediately seemed to have some problems jiving physically.  He had problems maintaining an erection, which he attributed to being nervous.  Fine… that was understandable.

Eventually, after many more visits, and varied degrees of success on the physical front, and continued issues on others as well, we finally decided to take a hiatus from each other.  During this time we exchanged several emails, speaking to our wants and hopes and what not… and at some point he shared that he found my “breasts” and my “cheeks” appealing, and would perhaps “learn to love the rest of” me as well over time… that perhaps sketching me (because he is an artist) might help.

I was floored.  How could you cherry pick parts out of an individual?  The rest of me is a package deal… I don’t come with snap on parts, and the parts I have are not interchangeable.  I kept thinking “I am more than the sum of my parts.”

Let me move forward with this thought… I think the human body is beautiful.  I am an artist too, and I love to render the human form the best.  It’s wonderful in its diversity.  Tall… skinny… short… plump… muscled… sinewy… soft… voluptuous… all shades of flesh tones… freckled or smooth… hairy or not… it amazes me.  Not just the container, so to speak, but how each spirit within its confines emotes.  It is what makes each of us unique… and beautiful, despite perhaps not being “conventionally” beautiful.

Whose convention, anyway?  The ideal for what is considered beautiful has changed every couple of decades or so, although the skinny coat hanger look (which leads to so many eating disorders in our young women today) has been around since the late sixties, thanks to the fashion industry.  When I studied art history, I fell in love with the impressionists, particularly Renoir.  I was definitely a Renoir “gal”… round and red-cheeked, soft and buxom. I thought I was born in the wrong era, at a time when I had to somehow cultivate a six-pack (and we aren’t talking beer). Even when I was “in my youth” I had trouble doing that. Compound that with a busy lifestyle, not much of an inkling for physical activity, parenting, etc., and that is just not a reasonable goal to shoot for at this point in my life.

Still, though… I think that I am sexy, and I love having an intimate relationship with someone.  It’s fulfilling on many levels, and I have never had to work at it… ever.  It’s something that comes naturally.  So when I’m made to feel “less than” I am by someone who is supposed to be raising me up to a higher potential, perhaps it’s just time to get off the bus and wait for the next one.