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Shutting down the world

21 Mar

Sometimes I dabble at writing a blog. Frankly, if you follow me, it’s been a minute… I honestly don’t pick the topics. They roll around on my heart and stay on repeat in my mind until the only way I can get them out is to put them on paper. That is the case with the writing below. I am not a super Christian, nor do I play one on t.v..

The world is a crazy place right now. Legit, crazy. We are living in unprecedented times. No one really knows what they are doing… What we should be doing….I find it difficult to follow those in leadership because while we are supposed to be “flatting the curve” we have no way of really knowing if it is working due to the lack of tests available… In a matter of just a few weeks, we’ve seen huge layoffs, school closures and a shortage of toilet paper. If you would have told me at the start of 2020 that a virus would shut down the world, I would have thought that was an impossibility. Yet here we are in the middle of a pandemic, and the Corona Virus is doing just that – shutting down the world.

It’s a scary time, no doubt. Worry and anxiety are at it’s peak. (At least it feels like it is at it’s peak – but let the chicken nuggets my kids eat run out at the grocery and I’m at a whole new level of anxiety!)

To deal with it all, I find myself diving deeper into prayer, into scripture, into places that I can latch on to other Christians to find hope before the curtain of darkness (which feels all to close) falls around us.

In my quest, I landed on a video where our church worship leader said something that just resonated deep within me. He said something to the effect of “We are all social distancing to keep the virus at bay. But social distancing is just unhuman.”

WOW!!! 

Yes….as Christians we are taught that we are created for relationship. Wayyyyy back in Genesis 2:18 we read  “The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (NIV). We were not meant to be alone. Men, certainly were not meant to be alone. (I kid, I kid…)

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Here is where I know I’ll lose some of you…but stay with me, ok!

Say what you will but I believe in the spiritual battle between good and evil. I know there will be some people rolling their eyes at this point, and maybe you’ll even stop reading. I get it.

I didn’t always know about this spiritual battle nor did I believe in it. But it is actually in scripture. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of the evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:10.12, NIV)

Could it be then that this virus is a spiritual attack meant to divide our relationships? To cause distance between “them” and “us”? I’m not disputing that this is a REAL virus. I’m saying, could there be more to it? If you believe in scripture, this is not to much of a stretch.

So what do we do? How can we prevent the darkness from taking hold, from gaining ground?

1)  Spend time with the Lord. Let him lead you; calm you. My prayer is that you hear his voice. Dive deep into your Bible. There are so many resources out there if you are not a reader or find the Bible difficult to navigate. (I was there too – a good study Bible is everything!) I love watching Joyce Meyer, or Pastor TD Jakes. Find something that brings you closer to God. Pray on your walks around your neighborhood. Look for his beauty – and you will find it. Those are some of my sweetest moments….when I’m just walking outside, looking for something good – and God sends a special moment or ah-ha thought. Try it.

2) Be kind. Look for ways to help others. Don’t allow ‘me versus them’ mentality to take root. During a crisis, we will see the worst and the best of humanity. Be part of the best. If you have a few extra bucks, donate to a blessing box or food pantry. Offer to pick up groceries for someone who is high risk. Protect yourself but do what you can.

3) Spend time with your family. The ones that live in your house. Call or face time the people who don’t! Stay connected! Don’t let this time in quarantine be sucked up with hours of social media scrolling!

My grand-precious and I have a routine that she calls “relaxing”. It’s where I decide I’ve had enough of the day – and I go upstairs to the quiet of my room. I turn on the tv or read, but essentially all of my mom, work, and wife duties are over. I’ve clocked out. At some point during her five years on the planet, she has decided that she should join me in “relaxing”. This means that I’m not officially off the clock, but it does provide one-on-one time with my girl, and that is not lost on me.

Last night I said, “I think I’m going upstairs.” Her green eyes widened, and she said “I want to go with you! To relax! I can relax with you!”

Of course I said okay and before long she was snuggled under the covers with me on her Poppa’s side of the bed. She loves to learn (a child after my own heart), and we buy her these big learning books. She already sailed through the K5 book so we are onto the first grade book. This makes her sit up a little taller, as she says, “I can do first grade, Gigi!”. We get started on the first few pages, with me reading the directions and her doing the work. She has her blue crayon in her right hand, and she is giving it her all. Sounding out the letters “kkk aaa ttt …Cat!” and learning new words. At some point, ten-ish minutes or so in to “relaxing”, and she purrs, “I looove you Gigi”.

WorkThat’s it. That’s all it took to fill up my heart and wash away the day. We are created for relationship. We need it. I need it. Baby girl needs it. Hold on to your people and to God during this crazy time.

Join me in prayer:

Dear Lord,
I don’t even know how to deal with this Corona Virus. I don’t understand its presence in our world. What I do know is that you are not caught by surprise. Lord, help us through this. Strengthen our hearts and our immune systems as we put on the

“full armor of God…standing firm…with the readiness that comes form the gospel of peace.” We “take up the shield of faith..to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one”…and we carry ”the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:13-17).

Just like you did Lord during Passover this very time of year so long ago, please allow the virus to pass over this house. Over our friend’s and family’s houses. For you are not a God of favorites. If you’ve done it once before, you will do it again. Lord I ask for your peace that surpasses all understanding. I pray for your guidance, your protection and your wisdom during this trying time.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen

xoxo – Lady Chats A Lot 

 

Caution: curves ahead

22 Mar

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This week I watched a recent video of myself that I made with my son.  I was shocked  at the image I saw reflecting back at me. I’ve had a rough couple of years with some things …and apparently, I am an emotional eater….or possibly an emotional drinker… maybe…I’ve found a fondness for red wine and it found a roomy home on my hips.

Over the last few months, I began moving the clothes that no longer fit to the left side of my closet. I’m still flabbergasted  when I’m unable to pull up the pants I’ve worn for the last 10+ years past my thighs….The pile on the left of the closet  is large.

This means I’ve also had to  purchased new pants – begrudgingly. My collection is minimal in comparison. It was either that or go naked… I had no choice in the matter. Yes, leggings work well and are cheap…but they hide the fact that I appear to be growing – out, not up. At this point, my ass could qualify for it’s own zip code…

So, I’m watching this video thinking – How in the world?  Really.  How did I let myself gain 30 pounds? When I look in the mirror I know I’m bigger…but this video.  Lord, please promise me that the camera adds 10 pounds…that I really don’t look that way in REAL life.

But the truth is I’m now heavier than when I delivered both of my children.  I know I’m teetering on the verge of no return….and I don’t know what to do about it.  Don’t get me wrong. I know there are many women larger than myself. This isn’t about them. THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL. This is about me feeling good, or not, in my own five-foot-five-and-half skin.

This is how my day starts:  I try on a new black skirt that arrived yesterday.  To tight.  I contemplated keeping it for “when I lose the weight” but more than slightly depressed at the likely hood of that NOT happening, I tossed the skirt on the bed to return later.

I then selected white slacks that I knew were a size or two larger. They fit, but the view from behind was not so cute….On went the Spanx – boy shorts.  Spanx, the well-known by ladies around the world (but rarely seen by men) undergarments that are made to make me look skinner.  Yet, I some how now feel like a sausage.  A bratwurst to be specific…But damn it to heck, I have to go with this outfit because I’ve already worn the other two pants that fit me this week.  Tomorrow it’s jeans….

I tossed on a cute shirt from a local boutique that I haven’t worn since last summer. It was a little snug across the chest but nothing terrible I thought…However, the more I moved my flat iron across my hair, I realized it was too constricting.  I no longer liked it.  Crossing my arms at my waist to lift the fabric….I find I can’t. I was stuck. I couldn’t get this damn shirt off my body.  I twisted, I tried….I grunted…I thought, “Imma have to cut this bitch off.”…For a second I contemplated running downstairs to wake up one of my children to help me pull this sucker off….I’m not sure I’d live that one down…EVVAHH… Five minutes and a few tears later, I wiggled out of  shirt looking like I’d been on a subway fight. Red in the face, hair a mess…

I promptly moved it to the left side of my closet.  My first thought?

You know you are fat when you get stuck in your freakin’ shirt. What the hell…

On to work. As I’m walking up the sidewalk I say a little prayer.  “Lord, I don’t like this. I don’t like how I feel about me. You love me and have helped me in so many ways.  Help me to lose this weight.”

Fast forward through my day.

I’m in the ladies room where a coworker asks How I’m doing. “busy. good.” I say.    I tell her she looks beautiful today.  She shrugs, not believing my words, her eyes drifting away from me.  Then she says, “You look good too. How did you gain your weight? Eating too much.”

Yessssss. She said those words.

Before you get riled up and ready to kick ass, please hear her story.

She is from South America. She LOVES curves.  Which until her recent weight loss, she had — curves for dayyyys!  She tells me, almost too eagerly, she can’t wait until she can put on some pounds.  She is serious…This I know.

I tell her I’ll shift her some of mine – If only it were that easy!   She then says with a large grin and wiggling eyebrows,  “I bet your husband is happy” as she points to my zip code carrying ass….

She is losing weight not because she wants to friends, but because of the chemo.  You see, she has breast cancer.  She wears a scarf to cover the hair loss which makes her self-conscious.  She has a hard time looking me in the eyes,  really – looking anyone in the eyes, these days.  Yet, I think she looks more beautiful than in any day prior.  Her warrior spirit is shining.  She is fighting and it shows. Without the distraction of her hair, which was indeed gorgeous, her eyes become the focal point, dancing in the light.  She is simply stunning.

I get back to my desk and think, “You know your fat when…”

Then I stop.  I close my eyes….I sense God’s hand…and I pray.

I thank God that I’m healthy.  Specifically, I thank him for my cancer free body.  With embarrassment, I apologize for believing anything different. A few extra pounds is nothing in comparison. I thank him for this lesson, for humbling my spirit.  I know I have some work to do…and I will.

Ladies, would you please join me in shifting our focus away from who we want to be and allow ourselves permission to be who we are?  Let’s not put our self-worth in our hair, our bodies, our curves – or lack of…

PS – If no one told you today, let me have the honor of doing so.  I love you. You are beautiful.

Put that on repeat.

Perspective.

In the Eyes of the Beholder….

18 Apr

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In an effort to declutter our home, I’ve posted a few items on Craig’s List.  One item happens to be a heavy desk we’ve had in a spare room for many years without use.  Because of it’s shape and girth, the deal required someone to come to our home for pick up.

We’ve met some characters during this process.  The last lady, purchasing another piece of furniture, and her family came in our home as if they were looking for a place to shack up. Each eyeballing and commenting on the rooms as they passed.  “Oh you have xyz, that must be nice….Ohhhh, and the high ceilings….I’ve always loved those” …..I half expected to find them on my sofa when I came home the next day.

While I find humor in it all, and I like the cash, my husband finds it more burdensome.  Not because he doesn’t like cash….just because you never know what you are going to get when someone pulls up to your house…. and that makes him a wee-bit uncomfortable.

After several messages and missed appointments our buyer for the desk finally arrived….thirty minutes late.  My husband is now shifting his feet, anxious to get this over with as it  dinner time….  And dinner time takes priority over all else in this house!

I meet the young blond outside and noticed his slightly broken English. He states twice in a rather short period of time that he is not from the area so I asked the question, where are you from?  The Czech Republic.

What the heck are you doing here?

He couldn’t contain his smile and his eyes danced wildly as he told the story.  Turns out, he was “finishing university” and applied for a green card on a whim.  He received the notification that he won! His mannerisms and body language  told me that it was a major, lottery size win to get selected for the green card. He was joyous…boundless joy exuded from his every movement.

So, he said, “I packed up my book bag and came over.”  ….

That simple I thought….Just a book bag and a smile.  A new country waiting for you to explore awaits.  How fantastically scary, yet tremendously awesome. Brave!  Good for you!

My husband on the other hand, is now looking at him as if he were crazy…Our travel book bag, for day trips, barely zips with all the crap we tow.  He is thinking…a book bag? Your whole life fits into a book bag?  He clearly does not share our last name!

The young man goes on to talk about the work he found while here, a German based company.  He has high hopes that he will be able to transfer when his green card expires.   He states he will one day need to go back home because he is a “child of one” and will have to take care of his parents. The duty understood and accepted without question.

As he says this, urgency builds and he spins on his heels. He says “I’m sorry. I just need to look”…..pausing…  “This is so beautiful, his arms wide, an effort to take it all in. I’ve never seen anything like this… but in the movies.”

Huh?  My husband I both twist and turn trying to see what he saw.  Nothing.  Our faces perplexed he said, “I’m living downtown and it looks a lot like my home. But here, you have grass and yards, and trees….It’s so…so beautiful.  I’ve never seen anything like this.”  He truly is almost brought to tears.

We smile back, softly….kindly….unable to match his energy.

In our minds our house is nothing special in comparison.  We bought it with the sole purpose to keep our oldest child in the school district we wanted him to attend.  It has never been our dream home, only our in-between home.  In fact one of the reasons we are decluttering is to prepare to sell it over the next few years.  Sadly, we’ve never been in love with it.

His words, his pure wonder and excitement….sit with us through dinner and into the days that follow.

I recant the story to my youngest on our drive to school. He says, “that makes me sad for him.”

“Why?” I say

“Because, what must his country look like if he thinks this is beautiful?”

Taking a few minutes to ponder, I respond, “You know what? It makes me think I need to travel more.  I’d like to see his country. He said it looks a lot like down town.  Because he is so used to that, the beauty has worn off….It just is normal…boring…to him.  Yet people travel from all over to vacation in our city.  Here, with green grass and birds and trees…that is beautiful, because it is different.  I may feel the same about his country if I saw it.  It may be so, so beautiful to me because it is different than anything I’ve seen before.”

He nods in agreement.

Thank you Lukas for the lesson.  I’m not sure I’ll ever look at my home the same.  Your words echo in my ears when I pull into the drive way, and I am grateful.

I pray my young man grows up to be just as courageous one day. Following his dreams with his smile and his back back.  Ready to take on the world, fearlessly educating himself through experiences.

I pray that my eyes continue to open wide enough to see beauty in all things… even the beautifully… normal things.

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Brain Mush

27 Feb

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Brain.MUSH….

As a recovering perfectionist, I hate when I can’t seem to form coherent sentences…or when the words that are on the tip of my tongue don’t form into the vocabulary I’m accustomed to. I struggle for syllables, tripping on consonants…misplacing vowels. Apologizing for my brain mush seems silly…but I do it anyway….

I’m not one to set resolutions at the new year. I do however, set goals for fitness, finance and personal growth. Over the last few years, this odd thing started to happen…Something on the spiritual level started to tug…snag on my day until I acknowledged it’s presence.

It crops up on its own..taking shape before my eyes… and I know…I know it is my job for the next twelve months to work on the assignment at hand.Like the dutiful student that I am, I dive in…Hoping to gain wisdom and find peace on the journey.

The first time this happened, it was the year of practicing patience… THAT was a freakin’ hard year…I had LOTS of homework and on the job training. I still wouldn’t define myself as a patient person…In fact, I don’t do anything slow…but I’ve come a long, long way. I can wait in line now without turning into a two year old with behavioral problems stomping my feet and rolling my eyes.

Last year I worked on loving people for who they are…where they are. Also…NOT AN EASY TASK, folks. Some people are NOT that loveable…Just saying… But what I gained out of that experience far out weighs the pain….

I even became friends with some folks that only move in first gear….as their fastest speed…Trust me when I tell you this used to drive me C.R.A.Z.Y….

Seriously….BAT SHIT CRAZY…who knew they could be so loveable?

So this year, I was a little shocked when the knocking at the door wore a lighter coat….a trench, let’s say. Putting his arm around my shoulders he said, “Let’s work on being in the moment”….

Hmmm….Don’t I already do that?

“Not very well” he replied….

So here I am…Drinking a glass of red wine, sitting on my back porch listening to the birds chirp. I had a very successful work week, watching an event that took months to plan, come together.

I’m exhausted…and will allow my body to rest without pushing for more.

My brain is mush…and no apologies are needed.

Visualizing a job well done…and basking in it’s light.

I’m in the moment…and it feels pretty damn good right about now….

I’m a work in progress…but I’m in it…to WIN it…

PS – during the writing of this blog…I posted to soon by mistake (^ see comment about brain mush)…AND, I lost half the post having to retype it…only for my computer to do a random shutdown and software update….

Guess I could still use some work on patience…because I nearly quit…and a few cuss words may have escaped into the atmosphere…

Thanksgiving

26 Nov

On the eve of Thanksgiving, I’m reminded of my mantra…

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Living a purposeful life.

Thankful for blessings and thankful to be a blessing.  For we are not meant to only receive…or only to give… but to find balance between the two.

My twelve year old asked that I write about our experience today…and at first I was hesitant. Weighing heavy…I’m not sure that it is the right thing to do.  It’s not normally something I share…In fact, it makes  me quite uncomfortable to do so.

However, lots of topics on this blog make me uneasy…vulnerable, even….

-slips on the blind fold….I feel my feet bouncing on the board beneath me… I’m diving in…-

Admittedly, my life has been a bit disorganized and chaotic over the last few weeks. The lack of energy causing me to wait until the last minute to do our holiday food shopping.  By the time we crossed the threshold today, the store was packed and the aisles a bit bare. Sighing as we joined the crowd, our nerves take on the energy of those around us…It is maddening….

Our cart now full, I recant from memory the ingredients of the dishes I plan to cook tomorrow, ticking each one off as I scan my cart for accuracy…check..check…good…  Our cart picking up speed as we head to the register as if in a race.

Finding the shortest line, which on any other day would not be described as such, we wait…shifting my weight every three seconds…my hands on my hips…I’m a  bit impatient wondering why this conveyer belt is not moving and why the cashier appears to not be working.

I’m tired from a day of errands, from playing the referee  between two bickering ADHD-ers…one fully grown…to whom I happen to be married…and the other, well, twelve…

Moms around the world nod with understanding and sympathy…

At this point I just want my sweat pants and a hot cup of coffee.

TAKE.ME.HOME

Loading my groceries on the belt, I vaguely hear the lady in front of me.  She is having trouble with her new debit card. It worked at the gas station she says…she tries it again…and again. Maybe four times.  A mix of stress and embarrassment flush over her. She doesn’t have another form of payment. The line continuing to form behind her.

And I know

…I make a face in response. Twisted lips because I see the outcome before I’m ready to make the decision.

(Honest confession) I’m Torn…I’m not sure if I want to ….but I know I’m supposed to…..

I’m supposed to because I come from the belief that there are no REAL accidents, just missed opportunities.

So I slide my card to the cashier.

Done.

I didn’t have all the right words…didn’t do all the right things…It was a bit awkward for all…it wasn’t a planned moment.

Why? Because we are all in it together.  Because I know the panic that washes over you when you don’t have the money to pay… because blessings are meant to flow to you and through you….and I am blessed.

Shocked she wasn’t sure how to respond…She leaned in to hug me..clasping her hands to her face, then chest…..I mumbled quietly out the side of my mouth, “happy thanksgiving…and merry Christmas”….still not having a handle on  the events  transpiring before me.

I asked T, “Why would I…should I… tell this story?”

Proud to be a part of the day, he said,

“It was literally the meaning of thanksgiving.  You gave and she said thanks.  It was so awesome.”

From the eyes of a child it is just that simple.

A story to be told.

Take Chances. Give everything…. And have no regrets.

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Don’t poke the bear

16 Nov

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I remember watching my younger cousins bouncing around the den. Their laughter piercing the ears of my grandfather as he silently sat in his chair, his lips forming a straight line. My gram hunched over the coffee table, lost in her own thought, searching for letters to fill the boxes of the daily crossword puzzler, as she would say, a grin of known cleverness spreading across her face. They were watching the People’s Court, Judge Wapner presiding, a daily six o’clock ritual.

Rolling on the floor, and throwing pillows. I watched the agitation wash over my grandpa’s face, his body. Twisting in his chair, willing my cousins to silence with the narrowing of his eyes until they were nothing more than slits. His jaw hardening with increasing speed….and yet no one else seemed to notice.

I could see the eruption forming. His feet near the edge of a cliff. I darted up the steps, hiding in my Gram’s bedroom turning up the t.v..

My cousins would soon follow, a wash of tears and embarrassment, the intense tongue lashing leaving their heart bruised.

I knew better than to poke the bear. In all my years, I don’t remember him ever exploding on me.

I would venture to say by the age of eight or nine, I had already become very adept at reading people and situations. The river of alcoholism and dysfunction running deep and wide in my lineage. Learning to alter my behavior to fill the box that would offer the most protection was necessary to avoid  the land mines hidden beneath the surface.

On one hand this skill has served me very well, catapulting a career and opening doors. However, it is also a double edged sword, whittling away the wholeness of who I once was, trying to morph into a space that is not mine to fill.

As a child it was essential. As an adult it is exhausting.

Round peg, square hole.

Tight and uncomfortable. Claustrophobia searing through my veins as the walls creep in a little closer, another piece of myself falling away. My inner voice screaming to get out. She knows she was created for more. She does not belong here.

Fueled by faith, and little else, I trudge through the muck of confusion. Footsteps heavy, deliberate, requiring  more energy than normal to place one in front of the other. Bending to pick up the pieces of my former self, haphazardly strewn throughout the path I’m walking. I hold each in my palm, examining closely under the microscope of recovery. Knowing they will never form the same puzzle  they once did, they are nonetheless valuable. Tarnished, I brushed away the lose dirt and slide them into my pocket.  I inch forward. Slow but diligent.

I could say I don’t know how I got here.  Truth is, I do.

I know better than to poke the bear.

Unwilling to stay in the box.

Feet on the edge of the cliff.

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Go Left

3 Nov

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Getting ready for work this morning, I slipped on a familiar pair of pants. Hmph…tighter than I remembered.

The side zipper biting into my fleshy hip. I take a few steps, shake out my legs… trying to decide if I can tolerate 9 hours with the pinch….Undecided….Shruggingly rationalizing that maybe they will get looser as the day goes on….Sliding a sweater over my tresses, I glance at my reflection.

Muffin top….

Not.gonna.work….I flip through the hangers with a bit more force than necessary to find a slightly roomer version… without the pinch.

One more look….Turning to the left, then the right.

WHAT THE HELL? My sweater, which I’ve  decided at this VERY moment is my favorite, has a spot on the sleeve….not a little spot either.  Surely it wasn’t there the last time I wore it. I wouldn’t have wasted the energy to wash, dry and hang…damn the wasted energy!

Frustrated…feeling like I must have gained five pounds JUST this weekend…. and THIS is why my clothes shrunk…and has stains.

I’m mad…mad at my weekend food choices….chocolate drizzled popcorn…wine…cheese…Oh to HELL with the Mexican deliciousness!

I toss the sweater in the trash. Heading back into the black hole that is my closet, it  has now consumed my daily dose of self esteem. I don’t even care at this point. Wherever my hands land, that is what I’m going with.

I forgo cute shoes for flats…the right toe slightly chewed by the Damn Daisy Dog. WHATEVER, that is how I feel at this point.

BLAH…

Spilling my coffee…dropping my phone…and my book…using fumes left in my tank to get the car on the road.

I listen to music in an attempt to sooth the angry spirit now roaming inside. It is looking for any little trigger to sink it’s teeth…I mouth the lyrics without much energy. Drinking the last of my  coffee, the heat long gone from the 45 minute ride.

Traffic is unusually light.

I glance at the clock, noting that  I’m actually a little early. Fishing my sunglasses from the bottom of my purse, I look around at the other cars rushing around me. I wonder if they are running late…or are they early too?

And…out of no where the fog lifts.

 

Of course my belly is rounder than it used to be….

I have never known the feeling of hunger. I have enough.

My tummy isn’t as toned and etched as it once was in my twenties….I’ve lived a couple extra decades…happily.

This abdomen stretched to hold two healthy miracles to full term, a decade apart. They changed the world for the better. They are my greatest gift.

 

It is softer, wider, lived in….

  I’m blessed. I am thankful.

No complaints. Just gratitude.

Perspective changes everything.

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