I’ve been dieting/watching my weight/lifestyle changing/ since I was about 13. That’s 26 years of thinking about food, my waistline, feeling bad about eating, eating to feel better, using food to cope, using food as a reward…I think I’ve done it all. I’ve tried no carbs, low carbs, low fat, low calories…I’ve tried eating clean, paleo…I even throw in regular exercise now and then. And you know what? It. Is. Exhausting.
Most days I like what I look like. I don’t mind that my stomach isn’t taut – it’s carried four babies. I don’t mind that my arms and legs aren’t more toned or that my boobs are no longer where they started in life. Most days I’m pretty confident. However, occasionally, I’ll see something and it triggers the insecure 13 year old me – that I will never look like the girls on tv or in magazines. Yesterday I was watching a marathon of Salem on Netflix and there are some pretty racy scenes showing almost-nudity. The main character, Mary Sibley, a witch, is played by british actress Janet Montgomery. And she is beautiful. Bee-U-TEE-Full. Instead of just appreciating her beauty, I felt bad about myself. I felt bad that I didn’t take care of myself better, that I didn’t look like this woman, who is paid to look good. Who knows? If my job depended on keeping myself in tiptop shape, maybe I would work harder at it.
I’m at a point in my life – almost 40 – where I have gloriously let go of the idea of the perfect body. I am not even fooled by the “Strong is the New Skinny” mantra that companies like Beachbody put out – so that now women can feel bad that they aren’t ripped as well as thin. I eat better and exercise because it makes me feel better. I feel like crap when I eat crap. So I try not to eat crap. I don’t know if it is my age or my metabolism slowing down, but if I tried to eat an entire pepperoni pizza in one sitting, I would die. My body is just pickier than used to be. Thankfully.
I guess I am a work in progress- and will probably always be. And I will always be searching for that sweet spot between self-approval and self-improvement.
What about you? Do you like what you see in the mirror?
My daughter gave a wonderful speech at her high school graduation last spring titled “Follow Your Bliss.” And its message of doing what makes you really, truly happy has stayed with me over the past year. Inspired by her speech, I started this blog last October and over the past nine months I have been trying to figure out what my niche is, exactly. I had thought it would be a cooking blog. But honestly, I am not much of a recipe developer. I love to cook, but I don’t feel the need to reinvent the wheel, when so many other blogs do it so well. I had thought to blog about the happenings at my little farmhouse, but there’s not much is going on at Boxshop. We aren’t doing any big projects and I.Don’t.Do.Crafts. of any kind. Me writing about gardening would be a dramedy – just ask my tomato plants. So over the past couple of months I’ve been scratching my head trying to figure out what is it, exactly, that I want to write? What do I love? What is my bliss? How do I follow it?
“We lose ourselves in the things we love. We find ourselves there too.”
– Random Pinterest Quote
In preparation for launching Far From Perfect I did lots of research about how to blog, how to gain a following, how to get sponsors. Instead of just writing, I spent time setting up social profiles, trying to understand Twitter (didn’t happen), finding out about link-up parties (FYI –not a real party – there is no wine), learning how to navigate BlogLovin’ (still not sure of its purpose). The whole endeavor was just disheartening.
I tried posting on a few other blogs I liked reading and a couple of the authors responded, but honestly, we just weren’t that into each other. Blogging is all about reciprocation is what I kept reading. But here’s the thing. I work in a busy office all day long. I encounter dozens, sometimes hundreds, of people each day. I didn’t want to spend my free time, my writing time, trying to be social online with a bunch of mommy-bloggers. It was like high school all over again. I’m still sitting alone at the lunch table. Luckily, as an adult I have a great in-person social circle. So, why would I have any interest in starting a whole new virtual group of friends just to get some page-views?
“Whatever, I’m getting cheese fries.” – Mean Girls
During this period of reflection I also remembered that I am already a published writer. [hand smacking forehead –duh] I already operate a significant website at About.com. [duh, duh] I already have a strong readership in other areas. [duh, duh, duh] Why am I getting so anxious and intimidated by a bunch of stay-at-home moms (yeah I just said it), many of whom describe themselves as “A momma, blessed wife, and lover of all things chocolate.” Or how about the newly married twenty-something’s who like to cook healthy meals, and take pictures of their food and themselves in a bikini and have, like, zero life experience. How come these two demographics get to set The Rules for what makes a successful blogger? Well, they don’t. Obviously. There are loads of blogs, written by moms and dads, which are a far cry from mommy blogging. I just got swooped up in the success stories of A Beautiful Mess and Six Sisters Stuff. I wanted my blog to be turned into a book. And then a TV show. I wanted to out-pioneer Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond.
“We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we have only one.”
– Confucius (551-479 B.C.)
Besides the [obvious] jealously that I don’t have a second income that lets me be home with my kids, and the fact that I’m almost forty with lots of life experiences and a penchant for the occasional potato chip and Big Mac, being a mommy-blogger, food blogger, or lifestyle blogger just wasn’t my bliss. It wasn’t what I’m about. And I shouldn’t begrudge those who do have a passion for writing about their toddlers dressing up the family dog or their Paleo coconut banana ice cream. Good for them. Really. If I were 10-15 years younger, I’d be right there in the trenches with them, lamenting over pregnancy heartburn or the blue crayon marks on the new living room walls. I’d be all up in that Paleo/Clean Eating/Beach Body Junk. But the fact is, I’ve done my baby-time and I’ve done my ‘if I could just lose 20 pounds’-time.
For me, the beauty of being a divorced, single-parent, almost-40 something is the absolute freedom of being yourself. I have never ever been so happy as I am right now. If you had seen me 8 years ago, on the cusp of a divorce, bankruptcy, foreclosure – you wouldn’t know I was the same person. Losing everything was the best thing to ever happen to me. Because I realized I didn’t lose anything of real value. What really mattered – my kids, my health, my friends, my family, my ambition, my desire, my intelligence – were all still with me. My bliss, as it turns out, is to write what I want to write, for myself first and foremost. If others like it, great! I’ve come too far to go back on myself now.
V-Day is always a last minute affair with me. I made these cute valentine’s for the boys, with some extra jelly jars. I think they are rather adorable!
I’ve learned over the years that the only way I enjoy Valentine’s is if it’s low key and usually handmade. Having worked long enough in the restaurant industry to know Valentine’s is amateur night, I much prefer staying in. Especially since winter in Maine is at it’s coldest this time of year. Instead of going out, I’m making a belated V-Day dinner for my better half on Sunday (with a pending blizzard, no less – love knows no bounds).
Do you make your own Valentine’s?