Size doesn’t matter

Topsail Island
A view from Topsail Island

Life has finally caught up to me, and although I own several fairly new bathing suits, I found myself, as my grandkids would say, “still growing.” I had to have a new one. I dreaded it, and I knew by the number on the scale and the other clothes I’ve had to buy recently, that it would probably be a much bigger size than I’m used to ever wearing.

I could have stressed about it. I am stressed about my weight. I don’t want to weigh more than my last pregnancy weight. I don’t want to wear a size this large, and I want to be able to reach over and tie and untie my shoes without grunting, “Ugh!”

But, as much as I didn’t want to have to try on that size bathing suit, I knew I couldn’t squeeze myself into an old one, and look any kind of good. So, I sucked it up, and went shopping at a discount store that almost always has cute clothes in stock. I must have picked a good day, because I found two – one in the size I need now, and it’s pretty cute – and one in the next smaller size, in case I do lose those first 10 pounds. I wore the new one last weekend, watched the grandkids play, and picked up a bit of a tan.

This morning, though, I had to go in for a physical. I usually don’t mind that, I love my P.A., but I know I’m at least 20 pounds heavier than I was last year, and I wasn’t happy about my weight then. She quizzed me for a bit, and I said something about wishing I weren’t this big, and she told me that when women get to a certain age, they just gain weight. The only way to stop it, she said, is to do 30 minutes of aerobics, every day, without fail. I made a face. Since I’m in between jobs, I’ve started talking a 20 minute walk most mornings, but not all. I go to the gym 2-3 times a week, but not daily. And those meds I’m on that make me hungry sure don’t help.

A few months ago, I tried one of those mobile apps for people into fitness. It let me track my intake, calories and exercise on a daily basis. I did that for about six weeks, and lost four pounds. Then I went to visit my mother, and ate some Tudor’s biscuits, and some Gino’s pizza bread. And . . . you get the picture. I didn’t exercise. I came back home, the weight came back, and I thought about all those teeny, tiny portions I’m supposed to be eating and keeping track of to keep my calories under 1,200 a day. No wonder people hate dieting.

I decided to try to eat more veggies, and consume less sugar. And keep up with the walking and the gym. I’ve never lost weight easily, or fast. My P.A. said all my lab numbers are fine, and to keep up the good work. I have too many other things to stress about right now without obsessing about that number on the scale, or the size of my latest bathing suit. I’d like to be a size 10 again, but I think I’m better off concentrating on how good proper exercise and a better diet will make me feel.

Like all women, I’d like to be fabulous looking and fit. I know I have some control over that, but some seasons of life are easier than others. And some seasons are slimmer, too.

It’s bathing suit season. I’m not the size I want to be, but I do have a cute bathing suit. And who else, knows, or cares what size it is, anyway? I’m ready for the beach.

Surviving the in-between

Walks to a neighborhood park rank high on my mood-boosting list

What’s on my list today? Completing and turning in the last assignment for my online class, cleaning house and filling the fridge for three active and hungry grandkids, and getting some exercise and sunshine before I talk myself out of it. For most folks, that’s probably a week-end, or at least an evening, kind of list.

What I’m trying not to do is think too much about the situation I find myself in right now, which is stuck. In-between. Not bringing in a paycheck, and not happy with what I was doing when I earned one. Wanting to move forward, and feeling like the wheels are spinning, and the car’s making lots of noise, but it’s not leaving the driveway.

I know that’s not true. I’m working on new skills, starting a new project, reconnecting with family, and enjoying hobbies I’ve long neglected. If I really think about it, the way I should think about it, I realize we’re all in transition – all the time, even when we feel like we’ve got everything coordinated in our calendars, all under control.

We’re starting a relationship, or ending one. We’re preparing for a new job, or project, or assignment, or completing one. We’re getting ready to leave a place, or an idea, or a dream, and preparing to embrace a new adventure. We’re moving away from something old, and toward something different.

We can plan all we want, but we still don’t know how things will turn out. I’m on a new journey, but I’m not sure where it’s going, or where these next few steps will take me.

Well. I’ve checked most everything I need to do off my list for today, and the weekend’s coming. A blank work week, for me, now includes an empty weekend, ready to fill, with family and fun. I won’t look at this time as in-between, but as an opportunity. The sun, the pool, and the grandkids are calling. We’ll see what this weekend holds.

Look up

Clouds over Falls Lake
Clouds over Falls Lake

I have developed a habit, I’m not sure when it started, of looking at the sky. When it’s sunny (or partly cloudy), I study the clouds. I know from taking a peek at the National Weather Service web site that there are 10 basic cloud types. I don’t know them all, but I know which ones I look for: the altocumulus, which spans across portions of the sky, their ripples reminding me of the lively tidal pools on Hilton Head Island I peered into as a child.

I recognize the cumulus, which sprout up like ballooning heads of cauliflower, changing and bulging brilliant white on the edge of the horizon. I also look for the cumulonimbus, the mighty, towering clouds that produce dazzling lightening, booming thunder, and rains down damaging hail and deadly tornadoes.

At night, the sky where I live is quite different. I live close enough in the city that on most nights, all but the brightest stars and planets are obscured, but I can pick out a few. I can usually spot Venus, the third-brightest object in the sky, and Jupiter, the “almost a star” planet, and if it’s close enough to earth, and I know where it is in the sky, I can pinpoint Mars by its tell-tale red glow. I learned to recognize Orion when I drove to and from work on my shift job; either driving home at 11 p.m., or to work at 10 p.m. Connected ethereally by Orion’s belt, I would sneak glimpses of the mighty Hunter through my windshield, or pause to stare at it when I arrived at my destination.

I’ve been acquainted with the Big and Little dippers since childhood, when my mother pointed them out. I’d look for other constellations, but the sky was often hazy and my eyesight, even with assistance, has never been that good.

Still, I remember the thrill I felt as a child, aiming my telescope toward Saturn, and seeing the clarity of the rings of that faraway world, standing out before me, through the glass instead of on the pages of a book. Seeing that helium giant, tiny but clear through the simple telescope, filled me with amazement.

I remember visiting New York City back in the 1980s. I was there to cover a medical conference, and I went out sightseeing with a newfound friend. I looked up, and up, and up. Straight up, between all of those skyscrapers, was a thin slice of sky. I loved my visit, but disliked how the heavens were obscured by all the buildings.

When I bought my first house 14 years ago, I would stand out in the driveway at night, look straight up (our house is surrounded by trees), and think, “that’s my piece of sky.”

If you’re not in the habit of looking up, there is much to be missed. That first magnolia bloom on the huge tree down the street. That sunrise or sunset, splashing the sky with fiery reds, deep oranges, and tinges of pink. A hawk, silently watching for a meal, on a power line near a busy street. One night driving home, I saw a thunderstorm to the east, and the nearly-full moon, and clear sky, to the north. It was glorious. One fall, out walking through my neighborhood, I watched a lone monarch butterfly meandering just above me, trying to find its way. I watched it until our paths diverged. At night, I ponder the planets, and those endless, brilliant stars.

The day may be long; the night may be trying. Burdens get heavy. Life gets hard. But there are still moments of wonder, if you look for them. Look up.