I’m amazed at how incorrectly I still see myself. I love the freedom of not putting on make-up every day, which has the added benefit of less time in front of a mirror. But every now and then I catch my reflection…one of the elevators in our apartment has a mirror, a store front window with the light just right, or inside a store’s dressing room.
Just yesterday I saw myself and had to take a second look.
I’m old. There is no getting around it. And I’ve aged a lot these last two years. Really, it’s not about my age. At 52 I hope to have many years left, maybe 30 or so. It’s really about my appearance. I admit it matters more than I want it to.
My beauty is fading. It took me almost 30 years or more to embrace my appearance, to just accept that there are many women more beautiful but if I take care of myself and dress myself up from time to time, I clean up ok.
I lived with that settled for less than 10 years before I realized that even that is crumbling fast. The wrinkles are deeper, the discoloration of skin is everywhere, the collagen is melting away and bones show through places that used to be padded. Padding settles where tight young skin used to stretch over muscle.
Oh I know I could work out harder, have treatments and surgeries to improve what is left, but it would be fighting a loosing battle. Thankfully I’ve decided there is something more important than how I look. But it’s still hard.
So much of our time, effort and brain power as women is spent on our appearance. The hopelessness must be great if that is all we have for we cannot hold onto it.
I watched “Snow White and the Huntsman” the other night and wondered how many of us can admit we are more like the wicked queen than we want to see. Envious of the young and more beautiful, focusing on ourselves and the myth that a better appearance can give us all we long for. It’s there in the mirror, if I choose to look.
We had such a great visit with our son that I’m not as sad saying goodbye as I thought I would be. When we moved to Yokohama a month ago telling our 20 year old son good-bye was the most painful part of the experience. But leading up to his first visit here, I was concerned about how the visit would go and how I’d feel once he left.
The apartment does seem a little empty, a little too quiet…but all my memories of him here bring a smile of warm affection. We have stories to remember and to tell, we even have great photographs to help us remember. We will talk about this first visit for years to come.
I don’t wish he lived with us here in this apartment, because there is too much joy in seeing him move into the unknown, even though it’s still a rough bumpy road. He’s a man with his own life to discover and live. His own story to write.
I do wish he could visit more often and bring his girlfriend and stay longer. We rushed a short visit in before his retail job gets really busy with the holiday season and it probably worked out for the best this way.
As we walked home from the train station after leaving him at the airport, we agreed that this may have been the best 4 days we have spent with him in many years.
But it was real relationship. It wasn’t strained silence or avoiding reality to ‘keep the peace’. We had some hard moments of misunderstanding or disagreement and we talked them through respectfully, although intently. There were tears but love was confirmed, felt and enjoyed. We have a history that’s kind of a mess. It would not have been real if we avoided all hard discussions.
At one point my cynicism cracked and I wondered if friends and family were praying for our time together. I know many were aware of the timing and have prayerful hearts, I just sensed that something better than I was even hoping for was happening in our son and therefore in our relationship. Even now I feel the tears realizing it has been hard to hope things would get this much better between us. As you read this post, if you are one of the one’s who prayed for us this week, thank you. I believe God used you to intercede for us and it somehow made a difference, even though we had to say good-bye again.
Tumblr Post from June 8th, 2012
Japan: Writer’s Block
I’m at a major turning point in life and I haven’t been writing about it much. I thought I would. The months preceding this big decision to move from California to Japan, I thought I would journal, blog and post lost of words expressing my emotions, telling the story and documenting the journey so I could remember. Like I did when I went on my artist retreat in France. I blogged every night. I’m wondering what is different this time.
For a while I felt like I couldn’t openly talk about what ‘might be’. Once the plan was official I found myself needing to preserve some privacy about specifics so I wrote nothing. Once we were on our house hunting trip we started posting photos on facebook with short captions and my husband started some new albums on one of his sights but I couldn’t seem to write many words. Not even in my private journal, which I took all the way to Japan and brought back after more than a week without one fresh paragraph.
I have a lot of excuses like internet or electronic tablet difficulties(no laptop on the trip), jet lag, travel digestive problems, stress, exhaustion, etc. but I know from experience that writing can actually help with some of those things, I just refused to write. I think the biggest reason was just feeling overwhelmed. My mind and heart was flooded with new visions, experiences, feelings,…so many all at once I couldn’t calm myself to choose only a few thoughts to start with. Every time I would think of something I wanted to write down my mind jumped to 10 other thoughts.
Another possibility is fear. I’m afraid if I start writing I might tell the truth. I might write down all the thoughts not just the positive ones. Then I’ll read it and have to face the sad parts and feel them more deeply. Or maybe I’m afraid of how whiny I will sound. As I was talking with a friend about the mixture of blessing and struggle I realized this is a popular theme in my life. So often the blessings seem so generous that I feel guilty about feeling any loss or sorrow. I go back and forth with accepting that there will be fun exciting aspects and really hard elements. Both are true, both will be felt.
I made a decision a long time ago that being fully alive means moving through this fear toward desired goals. And partly because the pain and loss of life is unavoidable anyway. Using all my effort to stay where life seems safe and controlled is an illusion so I might as well go for it. So we are going for it.
The apartment was chosen, the basic rental furniture picked out and now I’m starting the process of looking at every possession we have accumulated in 30 years of marriage (and some we brought with us into this union) and deciding what will be taken to Japan, put in storage, given to family/friends, sold in a garage sale or taken to charity.
I woke at 4 AM this morning, possibly a little jet lagged but most likely anxious about the decisions that have to be made. Oh, and of course there is much more to the story than this…but I have writer’s block.
My last post on this site was a recipe for Baked Penne Pasta. I can still picture myself in my old kitchen that had become so much a part of ‘home’ for me.
That house is now empty, waiting to go through Escrow, waiting to house a new family, waiting to be full of life and laughter, struggle and tears, food and fellowship. My old house is empty but my life is full. We are in the ‘Honeymoon’ phase of our adventure.
I’m starting my days in very much the same way I started them back in California. Coffee and Facebook (a little email and Instagram thrown in). Some days we are up early enough to have breakfast together and some days my husband rushes off with a breakfast bar.
My computer is still set on California time (I like to know what time it is back home when I have live chats with people there). My new cell phone is set on Japan time. And that about describes where I am with this transition. Keeping a foot in both worlds for now. About the time I start feeling like this is almost home, it will be time to pack for the move back…or at least that’s the way we see the story going. But who knows.