Category Archives: Beauty

The Getting of Wisdom – A Letter to my Daughter

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Have a lioness heart, baby. Stay fierce and determined, as you are now. Breathe deeply, even when you feel unsure. Slow down and dig in the garden. If you have a decision to make, if you feel stressed or lonely or unsure or afraid or overwhelmed, stop, breathe deep and dig your hands in the soil, mop the floor with mindfulness, curl up with your cat and think of nothing but soft fur and quiet purrs.

Stand your ground, but don’t hurt another’s heart. Be the bough that bends.

Love your legs, my heart. Love your nose and your skin and your face and your belly and your hips. Love them fiercely. Defend them if you need to, but never try to change them or be ashamed of them. You are beautiful beyond measure. Trust me. I know. My hope is that you work this out so much sooner than I ever did.

Trust yourself, your instincts, and your feelings. The time of the goddess is returning and oh how wonderful it will be to be a woman then, my darling. Teach others. Help the men – they will need it.

Never say I told you so. Hug often. Be expansive in your thoughts as well as your life. Your thoughts will create your life, so think creatively, think positively, think about abundance and joy and magic.

Treat sex with reverence and with lightness. A great sex life is one of the keys to happiness. So if anyone ever hurts you, you talk about it, straight away. There is too much shame, too much fear, too much hurt and too many assumptions around sex, my sweetheart, and as a woman the tools you need to navigate this are many, but the most important by far is self-love. Self-love is a shield and also your greatest weapon against the patriarchy, the media, the advertising industry, the dickhead. It’s the greatest gift you can ever give yourself. You having this is my greatest desire for you, and I will try to teach you this as best I can until the day I die.

Explore your own heart, my baby. Be of service to others. Do at least one thing every day with mindfulness and you will know peace. Make friends with people older than you. Seek out wisdom in creative places.

Go easy on yourself, love. Mistakes are opportunities, not an excuse to stop loving yourself, or retreat in fear.

Tread lightly on this earth, my darling. Leave a soft footprint. With everything you do stop and think about the next generation and the next and the next.

Really look at your grandmother and remember her face and her manner. You will think of her more often than you think when you’re older. And then one day you will see her in your own movements and you will cry with pride and love that a part of her lives in you.

Laugh uproariously. Be a good listener. Practice it. Know compassion – for all things, all people, even those you don’t understand. Especially those.

Keep your body flexible. Do something you’re afraid of and throw all of yourself into it, even if you get it horribly wrong, you’ll be glad you did it, because next time you won’t feel so afraid. Know that fear isn’t a real thing, my love. Fear itself can’t hurt you, so do it anyway. And if it’s an old fear, just let it go. How? By digging in the soil. Repetition isn’t boring, it’s cathartic. Remember that.

With service comes humility and grace and a deep understanding of the world and yourself. My hope is that you know yourself like I know you right now. All I see is an open mind, a full heart, and joy. So much joy! If you lose yourself, call me and I’ll tell you what I see, what I’ve seen from the moment you were born – an open mind, a full heart, and joy. There is nothing to discover but who you were at the very beginning, my sweetheart. The rest is just the getting of wisdom along the way. You came in perfect, remember that.

Know love, my daughter, even if it hurts. Don’t hide from big feelings. Jump in – in all things, but especially in love.

Stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. Your voice has immense power within it.

Learn to hold the space for others. Listen, breathe slow, have a warm heart, a soft touch, and be able to see beyond fear and ego and into potential and divinity.

Remember to look up and down as well as forward and backward. Some of the most amazing things in this life are often right under your feet.

Don’t over complicate things, my darling. You come from a long line of over-analysers and trust me; it doesn’t help you get there any faster or better informed. Just, simplify.

Practice forgiveness, dear one, always and always. Those who stand in front of you in this life are your teachers, hard as that may be to grapple with, the more forgiveness and gratitude you can project at them, the happier you will be. That includes your father and I. We will fail you, you will think it many times, and that’s ok. It wouldn’t matter what you did, said, or felt about me, the depth of my love for you would make your head spin if you could see it. That’s part of the wonderful, magical, preciousness of life, my sweet!

Dream big and learn not to worry about how these dreams may come to pass, just trust that they will. Trust a lot. Gullible is far preferable to impenetrable.

You will be hurt, disappointed, afraid in this life, my heart, and where you put these things after they’ve happened will determine the course of your life and how much joy you experience every day. Work hard not to put them in your body, my darling, for they are very difficult to get out again and can cause more problems than you could ever imagine. There’s no need to be angry at your thighs, afraid of your sex, or disappointed in your hips. They had nothing to do with it. Let it go, and right quick. How? Dig in the soil. And then do it again, and again. The present moment is your only true reality, my precious, and in it these past hurts don’t exist, so the longer you stay in the present the less impact they’ll have until you realise you have indeed let them go. What a gift if you can do this from young, my sweet.

These are my wishes for you, my daughter. And so I wish them, and I hold the space for you, and as I hold you to my breast I allow myself to sit in the present moment and think of nothing but loving you and giving you the space to show me who are. But I do see you, my daughter. I see your perfect, joyful, beautiful, mindful self. I see you.

 

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Filed under Baby, Beauty, blogging, Family, Health, Inspirational, IVF, Love, Melbourne, Motherhood, Women/Feminist, Writing

Taste of Motherhood

pregnant-woman-avatar-cartoon

My husband CJ was a ten+ pound baby. I’ve already had a chat to the Bean and suggested that that was not an option for them. Not much else has been going on really, and certainly nothing glamorous. I’m sleep deprived already so I guess I’m in training. No-one tells you any of this stuff though. I mean, it’s in books, sure, but reading it in a book is far removed from your girlfriends actually telling you stuff. Like how I had to sleep for two hours sitting up last night because my hip was horrendously aching from lying my on side all the time. No-one tells you this stuff. Like birth – all you seem to hear is ‘mother and baby are both doing well’. But what does that mean exactly? Ultimately it just makes me think one of two things:

  1. It was plain sailing and after an hour or two of ladylike pushing, a baby fell out.
  2. It was so horrific it can’t be spoken about.

I did bring this up with a friend recently who is pregnant with her second and she said she experienced the same thing with her first – where are all the shared stories? So she shared her birth experience with me and I was SO grateful. Hers was also a good experience which was great to hear because basically all the women close to me have had emergency c-sections, and they make me a bit, you know, terrified.

In other news:

  • I recently spewed pink spew all over our front garden after eating porridge and raspberries and then doing Pilates. I just made it home before losing the lot on a bush in front of a surprised husband who happened to be taking the rubbish out at the time. To be honest, I think he was impressed my spew was so feminine.
  • My breasts are seriously fabulous – big, perfectly round orbs of lusciousness that many women pay thousands of dollars to try and replicate. I’m constantly running late for work because I can’t stop staring at them. I guess I should take photos before they turn into huge, veiny milk-wagons….
  • I was told I’m carrying small (I sucked in the bloat as much as I could) for 17 weeks this morning and I could have kissed her. Because 10 pound baby husband.
  • My mother-in-law is in a knitting frenzy already. This is going to be one warm, soft, lucky baby!
  • Marlowe has completely abandoned me. He can see the bump, and no-doubt his extrasensory-cat-sensors told him long ago his rival was on the way, and he’s now totally and utterly CJ’s cat. The love-affair they have going on is ridiculous quite frankly, and I’m jealous, but there’s nothing I can do about it. What a traitor. I spent many weeks at home every day when he was a tiny kitten, making sure Bronte didn’t eat him, and this is the thanks I get. If this is a taste of motherhood I’m seriously concerned.

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Filed under Baby, Beauty, Boobs, Cats, Family, Food, Friends, Health, IVF, Love, Motherhood, Women/Feminist

Today

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Today I stared at a giant green frog for inspiration.
He stared back.
Today I received several compliments on how I looked
and for each of those moments I stopped criticising myself.
Today my computer beeped at me like it might explode.
It didn’t.
Today I walked through an empty hospital ward
soon to be filled with sick babies.
I felt inspired and upset.
Today I thought how amazing my sister is
and I missed her.
Today I wanted to hug a friend who needed hugging.
Today a colleague drew some boobies on my work pad.
It made me laugh.
Boobies are funny.
Today I wondered what the other me’s are doing in their alternate universes.
I hope they’re planting trees and swimming across oceans.
I hope they’re living in full colour.
Because today I don’t think I lived to my full potential.

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Filed under Beauty, Boobs, Communicating, Family, Flash fiction, Friends, Hothouse exercise, Humour, Inspirational, IVF, List poem, Love, Motherhood, Poetry, Women/Feminist, Writing

The New Black

Wednesday evening saw me on all fours on the kitchen floor sobbing as silently as I could. This is certainly not my usual Wednesday night activity. But I’m guessing it isn’t an altogether uncommon experience for an almost 40 year old woman with polycystic ovarian disease, three unsuccessful IVF attempts in her recent history and some weight gain issues to deal with. Top that with work stress and not looking after yourself and I reckon a bit of a sob was in order.

The hands and knees thing was purely about pain control. It’s likely a cyst was bursting right about the time I figured the floor was the place to be. But the sobs were about the whole raft of things listed above. The sobs were me sick of being in pain, me grieving not being a mother yet, me wondering if motherhood for me will always be to furry, four-legged babies, and me feeling so much like a failed wife that I had to do it quietly so CJ couldn’t hear me. Of course, I also didn’t want CJ to see me in that state because I knew he’d want to take me to hospital and I’d just worked all day in a hospital and I sure as shit didn’t want to go back.

The next day, with the help of one of the most beautiful medical practitioners I’ve ever met, I was also able to realise that I never sob in front of CJ and perhaps I should. I mean, it’s all well and good being tough and showing the world the amazing, resilient me, but if my own husband isn’t allowed to see the wailing, breaking, grieving, angrifying me, then who the hell is? Aye, but there’s the rub.

So Friday morning saw us sitting at the breakfast bar together and me howling in CJs arms. CJ is a tall, broad man who gives the best hug this side of the known universe. It turns out that being wrapped up in those arms when executing crying of the wracking sobs kind is extraordinarily comforting. (Note to self: choose husband over kitchen floor for future emotional breakdowns.) I felt proud of myself for crying like that in front of him. Even he commented that he’d never heard me cry that hard before. I felt sad then, because I have cried that hard in the last two years, several times. Obviously I chose to do it alone.

Well, no more. Just like fluorescent yellow is the new black, my husband is the new kitchen floor. Lucky husband.

And I’m ok now, I’m good now. I spent hours just talking with my best friend today. And I could feel CJs love stretching out to me, out through our front door, down the road, up around the corner and right into the café where I sat; like a beam of light, full of grace, ready to guide me home.

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Hair

Me in the 70s, with my amazing hair 🙂

Hair. Why is hair often so fraught with drama as women get older? Hair is very important to a woman. I know this. When I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Disease over ten years ago, my diagnosis came about because I was losing my hair at the front of my hairline. This was one of the single most horrendous discoveries of my life. It actually lead to a drama-filled breakdown in a bathtub followed by years of anxiety about my hair.

Of course, this was most certainly made much worse by the fact that my hair was considered (by me and many other people) my crowning glory up until that point. I was the child and then the teenager and then the woman that people stopped in the street to compliment my hair. When women of the more jealous variety found out it was all natural their responses were occasionally far from magnanimous. You see, I had inherited my father’s extra thick Italian hair, but somehow got my mother’s blondness with it. It was the colour of the sun and it was glorious.

Of course, all this attention on my hair made me both vain and anxiety-ridden at the same time. From quite young I had a recurring nightmare that a horrid little bald man with a few long, grey wisps of hair on his fleshy pink  head was trying to sprinkle dust on my hair to make it fall out. Because of that I used to wrap my long hair around my arm and sleep with it like another child might sleep with a teddy bear.

Apparently thick hair with the natural colour I had was a bit of a rarity and I was offered several thousand pounds for it when I was living and working in London. I was a barmaid in London living on about £2 an hour. My hair grew at an alarming rate of knots, but I never even entertained the thought of actually considering the offer. Don’t touch the hair, man.

Except for a disastrous dying of red for a stage play when I was 19, I didn’t touch my hair with hair dye until my wedding day and that was with a few highlights. Prior to my hair starting to fall out, just like in the nightmares of my youth, I never had any concept that as you age your hair changes in texture and colour and volume. I thought I would have the head of hair that wig-makers offered thousand of pounds for forever. There really should be a guidebook about all these things.

So why am I musing about hair and is there a point to this story? I’m musing because I don’t love what my hairdresser did with my hair yesterday, and there really isn’t a point to this story, just good old-fashioned musing. Yesterday I paid my hairdresser handsomely for her attempt at dying my hair to its glorious colour of old. (I’m actually always paying hairdressers to do this.) It’s an un-replicable colour though. I’ve been told this by every hairdresser I’ve ever shown a picture of my virgin, younger hair to. They all say wow and then look uncomfortable.

I know I shouldn’t complain. I still have a fine head of hair. And thank the lord (and my Italian genes) that I had so much to start with when it started falling out.

My hair and I have had some grand adventures together: the red dye job that went horribly wrong, the $700 African braids that looked amazing and weighed several kilos, the offer of thousands of pounds from a London wig-maker, the post-India, Sinead buzz cut, and of course, this one on the lead up to my wedding day – this one still makes me laugh.

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Forty, Feminist, Fabulous

I am 40 in March. 40! It feels weird to me. I’ve only been married five years, I still have no children, and, frankly, I don’t look 40. Of course, I’m not altogether sure what 40 is supposed to look like. It looks like, what you look like, right?

 Well Jennifer Lopez is 43 and she looks like this.

Cameron Diaz is 40. She looks like this (airbrushed of course):

40 looks like what your genes gifted you, how much time and money you have, and how much you want to focus on your body and looks. A huge part of me wants to look like JLo and Cameron, and I have been gifted enough of the sorts of genes you need to achieve a shorter, bigger-nosed version, but at what cost and, more importantly, for whom would I be doing it for? And by ‘doing it’ I mean the incredible dedication, time and work it takes for women in their 40s to look like Diaz.

My husband doesn’t want me to do it for him. He loves my little love-handles, because, well, they’re not called that for nothing, and when I was a whippet from all the exercise I used to do, all he had to hang onto was some ribs, which apparently just isn’t the same.

That leaves me and the rest of the world. And, well, I seem to have a hard time distinguishing between me and the rest of the world, despite the fact that I doubt the actual rest of the world cares in the least what the hell I look like, or who the hell I am. But as a western woman that’s what you learn, from very very young – that you must look a certain way in order to be an acceptable, desirable being. This is something every woman I know knows. We rail against it when we feel strong, but it’s still, if not more than it has ever been, such a tangible, confronting thing for women.

I am bombarded every day with images of women that I will never live up to. And while I feel so much more removed from the expectations that come with this because of my age and my relationship, my heart aches for the young women around me. As I get older and more pissed off I’m slowly allowing myself to feel less obsessed with marrying myself to these images.

I’m also exhausted by the confusion and the internal conflict. As all the women I know are. All of my friends are dieting at the moment. All of them. And yet we all also try very hard to love ourselves, just as we are. It’s very hard to do both well, simultaneously.

But then, women are amazing creatures. Look at what we have been through and achieved in the last century. Most of it in silence. I do think this craziness will soon turn into something extraordinary. As long as women start talking – to young girls, to young women, to men, to one another – we can end this unfathomable obsessing over  the outside – over being instead of doing.

As Caitlin Moran puts it so very well in ‘How to be a Woman’:

       I presumed that once I’d cracked being thin, beautiful, stylishly dressed, poised and gracious, everything else would fall into place. That my real life’s work was not a career – but myself. That if I worked on being pleasing, the world would adore, and then reward me.

       Of course, this supposition that women are supposed to just ‘be’, while men go and ‘do’, have been argued as inimically sex-tied traits. Men go and do things – wage wars, discover new countries, conquer space… whilst the women inspire them to greater things, then discuss afterwards, at length, what’s happened: like Ena Sharples and Minnie Caldwell over a bottle of milk stout.

       But I don’t know if I believe ‘being’ is an innately female thing to do… I would suggest that when you’ve spent millennia not being allowed to do anything, you do tend to become more focused on being self-critical, analytical and reflective because there’s nothing else you can do, really, other than a) look hot and b) turn inward.

      Would Jane Austen’s characters have spend pages and pages discussing all the relationships in their social circle if they’d been a bit more in control of their own destinies? Would women fret themselves half to death over how they look, and who fancies them, if this wasn’t the main thing there were still judged on? Would we give so much of a shit about our thighs if we, as a sex, owned the majority of the world’s wealth, instead of the men?

Right. 40, honest, expressive, feminist, doing, relaxed, happy, love-handled and fabulous – here I come.

 
 

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Maiden Mother Crone

Failure. It’s an interesting word/concept/insult/description/tag. I used it about myself in my last post and, as a consequence, received some comments and private messages from friends wanting to make sure I realised I wasn’t a failure. The message that touched me most was from an ex-boyfriend from more than a decade ago who reminded me that I’d been a great step-mother to his then very small children and how was that failure? It made me cry, partly because I suppose I’d forgotten that I’d ever been so involved with those beautiful children for several years, and because those few years were like what I imagine motherhood on roids might be like, but mostly because this man had acknowledged what I’d done and thanked me for it. Step-motherhood is hard. Getting up in the middle of the night and rocking a screaming child back to sleep, telling them that their mother (who hated me with an intensity that, to this day, makes me shudder) loved them and they’d see her really soon, was not in any guidebook on womanhood I’d ever read. But step-motherhood is another story for another time.

Failure. I love that people who love me, and even some people who barely know me, wanted me to know that they didn’t think I was a failure. It’s just that, I think sometimes it feels right and good to do a gigantic all-over-body-and-soul-shake and say ‘gosh I failed at that!’. I tried to get pregnant and I failed. I tried to get my book published and I failed. I don’t think I’m a failure. I just failed at ticking a few important things off my list. It doesn’t mean I’m not going to try to succeed at these things again, it just feels good to acknowledge those raw, dark, shadow-side feelings that scream FAIL FAIL FAIL deep within so they hold less power, take up less room, and enable me to shake them off and not hide the dark stuff so much.

It’s taken me a long time to realise that the dark stuff is often the good stuff. When you acknowledge the dark stuff deep healing takes place and a much more holistic acceptance of oneself starts to arise. This is so important for me. This is what 2012 is all about for me. Accepting all the bits of myself: the dark bits, the bits that feel like failure, the bisexual bits, the creative bits, the fecund bits, the funny bits, the annoying bits, the amazing, inspiring bits. I’ve always wanted to present the ‘best’, shiniest bits to the world, but I am more than the sheen on my achievements. I am maiden and mother and crone, all. I am all the songs of all the women who ever walked this place. Like you are, and you are, and you, and you.

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August 18, 2012 · 2:41 am