Dating Chronicles: The Superficial

I love to take pictures. I mean do you know how hard it is to find the perfect shot when you’re over 40? There’s a lot of work that goes into that shot. Things like…

  • Taking the shot from multiple angles to get the right lighting
  • Taking multiple shots so that my double chin doesn’t show (really it’s just an illusion)
  • Taking the shot in speed burst method while adjusting your head movement ever so slightly for the perfect shot
  • Taking the shot with a selfie stick so that your round face appears slimmer
  • Taking the shot with just the right smile to not show too much teeth or too little teeth. A smirk? Yeah, that’s cool

I say all this because it is a lot for women to try to find the perfect shot whether to put up on a dating website, Facebook or Instagram. When you’re over 40 you have to try a little harder because you’re not as young as you were plus you don’t want to look like an underage video vixen.

My best feature? Definitely my smile. I can create the perfect smirk that leaves people wondering what I’m thinking. Usually, I’m thinking “Dang, this is hard.”

It’s superficial that we strive for the perfect picture. But, I will keep trying because it is so worth it when the picture comes out just right and your lazy eye looks lustful instead of droopy.

Ah, the joys of dating over 40!

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My Commencement to My 18 Year Old Self

It’s funny that at this time right now when people are graduating that I should be re-evaluating or evaluating my life as well. You know, wishing I had known things that I know now. Thankful for the things that I didn’t know then that probably would have scared the heck out of me. So, it got me to thinking about what I would say to myself at 18 at my high school commencement.

Why? Because no one remembers the speech the valedictorian gave. High school (much like college) was filled with papers, my senior thesis, community activism and parties and I really can’t remember what was commenced. But, if I could for just one moment go back and give my younger self a message it would be this…

  • You are bigger than your problem. Sometimes things will happen to you that you are unprepared for. Mountains will seem unmovable and your problems will seem insurmountable, but you should not distress love. You will be okay. Your student loans will be more than your paycheck and you can’t figure out why your boss is a raging lunatic and you want to walk out the door, but don’t fret love. You will get through this.

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  • Love will hurt. You won’t end up with your childhood love, but that is a fairy tale. Life is different. You will fall in love, get married, live in NYC, have a baby, separate and divorce and you won’t even begin to scratch the surface on the issues you both had. Drink lots of wine and understand that this pathetic period of self-pity can only last for two weeks. You have bills to pay, a job to get to and a child to raise. He needs you. Yes, you will lose some friends, some respect for some people and money because everyone knows that divorce is costly, but you will get through it. Love hurts. You will need to remember what your mom said, “Ain’t no shame in starting over.” You can start over. You will start over. You will know your worth.

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  • You will become a mom. I know it is hard to believe that you will become a mother, but it is true. You will be 32 when you feel your beautiful son kick for the first time. He will be born the April after you turn 33. I know you never wanted children, but I promise you that he is awesome. He will bring more smiles than tears and more hugs than heartache. He is perfect. Perfect for you. He will restore your faith in men and you will have the opportunity to raise a beautiful man to become a wonderful husband to a woman someday. But, be careful sis. The war on our black boys takes center stage as your son is growing. He will be feared. He will be hated. He will be despised. He will be labeled. You have to stand up for him. You have to fight for him with all your might because you are the rib of man. You have to teach him how to love in spite of society’s attitudes. He will love you just for you being you.

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  • Forgiveness is free. You spend so much time carrying grudges and being mad at those that hurt you that it is literally like putting a band-aid on a wound that needs stitches. Look, you don’t have to ever forget those that hurt you. In fact, I encourage you not to. But, what you need to do is forgive yourself. Forgive yourself of the guilt that you carry because you hate what people have done to you. When you forgive those that have wronged you and when you forgive yourself of the guilt you carry you will realize that your burden seems lighter. You will know the true meaning of “thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” You will be comforted because of your faith and the Comforter hears your cries. He hasn’t forsaken you.

  • Take your time. There is no rush to decide what you want to be when you grow up. Allow yourself the opportunity to discover what makes you happy. Whether it is in law or human resources. You deserve to take your time trying to figure out what you want to do. I mean who really knows what they want to do at 18? You should try different things and just go with what you can make a living at. Remember like mom always says, “You have to be able to support yourself”. Trust me — you will.

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  • You are beautiful. You spend so much time hiding your true you that it is at the end of your marriage that you will truly shed your layers and become comfortable in your skin. This is a good thing. You are beautiful. Intimately created by the man up stairs and you know what? You should rock that short shift dress and show off those honey colored thighs. Your momma gave them to you. Don’t hide behind baggy jeans and big shirts. Love that awkward shaped nose and big arms. Your curves are gorgeous. They tell your story and yes you have a butt that others will try to emulate by taking injections. Keep your head up and rock the skinny jeans sis! You are beautiful.

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All in all, just remember where your help comes from. Don’t allow your pride to stop you from asking for help. Allow others to get close to you. Enjoy the ride baby girl because it will be bumpy!

Curvy Girl Shopping

Okay so this year one of the things that I’m trying to do is show you me. All of me. Be more transparent in my writing. I think I’m pretty transparent, but there are some things that I still hold back on. One of the things is simply…me.

I don’t like putting my body out in cyberspace. Not that I’m embarrassed. No, I just don’t want the attention. Good or bad, I’m really private like that. Well, in my published piece last year I talked about owning my attitude about how I feel and look and being comfortable in my skin. I wanted to stop hiding and start loving.

Yeah, I love me. However, not on cyberspace. I am withdrawn and shy. As I started approaching 40, my best friend encouraged me to buy some new jeans. She said, “You’re losing weight and all your jeans hang off your waist and it’s not flattering.” I was shocked. One that she noticed my weight loss and two that it was bothering someone. I know it may seem small to some of you, but a curvy girl hates to be told she looks drab. Especially by someone you love and admire.

So, with that piece of advice, I bought my first pair of skinny jeans. Yep, at 40. It was hard ya’ll. I hated drawing attention to my waist and backside. But, I had to admit that it did flatter my shape in a positive way. Great advice bestie!

This weekend I accompanied my bestie shopping because she is going out-of-town and needed some cute clothes. Let me tell you that my bestie is a curvy girl too and if she does shop, she needs to try on clothes in the store. I’ve not tried on clothes in a store in years because I hate undressing in public spaces. I always wonder if they are secretly recording you. LOL!

So, I decided it would be a good idea to get another pair of skinny jeans and try on some clothes for moral support. Now, I’ve been losing weight and I find that I’m in between sizes. I hate that. I was originally in a size 26 jean and now I’m in a size 20 because a 22 is too big. I can’t believe I shared that, but I am owning my size and loving the skin that I’m in.

Now, back to the clothes. Ashley Stewart had their spring collection out and I was loving it. I was gravitating towards the bright colors because I could use some enhancements in the color department for my wardrobe.  Why? Because, I tend to gravitate towards darker colors. I found this beautiful fuchsia peplum trench jacket because a girl can never have too much pink in her wardrobe and this green trench with gold detail.

I’ve never been a fan of green, but let me tell you that I loved it. I loved the fit, the cut and the color was so eye-popping sexy that I had to buy it. I didn’t really try on any clothes outside of a pair of jeans and a lightweight sweater. I told you that I hated trying on clothes. But, I wanted to share the photos with you.

Let me know what you think.

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Under Construction

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I recently read this great piece on Huffington Post entitled “My Stretch Marks Don’t Define Me” and I screamed “Yes”. I love the article. Mainly because the author was talking about how she loves and accepts her stretch marks and they don’t define the sum of who she is.

In the beginning, I felt that my body was still under construction. You know trying to lose the baby weight, get sleep, eat right and get back down to my pre-pregnancy size or smaller. Well that didn’t happen and six years later it is still under construction.

I lost weight my entire pregnancy and in the end I gained 15 pounds before they removed munch for medical reasons. I was sick. So, that cute mommy whose baby was eating off her fat cells the entire time she was pregnant was excited that I could actually eat normal again after delivery. However, no one told me that the pregnancy weight would redistribute. I had pockets of fat in other places.

Too weak to exercise and too tired to care about being smaller for the first 4 years of his life had me accepting my bigger figure. But, I wanted to be healthier. Make healthier choices with food. Be alive for him. I have no health issues and I wanted to keep it that way.

I made many life changes this last year and the weight and inches are coming off. My body is still under construction, but I’m not embarrassed by the imperfections. I don’t want surgery to fix the reminder of my struggle to conceive. I accept it and will work at being healthy in my own way. Naturally.

My stretch marks show the path to parenthood running from my stomach to the top of my (umm, let’s say Olivia Pope). They show the price I paid to be a parent. The white weirdly shaped lines show that I fed my son in my womb. They mark the immense pressure my body was under when I was pregnant. They remind me of the painful bursts of pain I experienced when my son sat on my sciatic nerve. They are beautiful and I love them. I accept them.

Many things about my body changed when I had a baby, but I don’t care. The only thing I’ve ever hoped for was bigger breasts and a smaller nose, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. Wasn’t in the plans. My breasts grew big enough to nourish my son and then sadly went back down to their original size after nursing was done. But, even that doesn’t matter.

Why? Because I love my body just the way it is. Yep, I’m working out (not to be skinny) to be healthy, but my stretch marks won’t disappear. My breasts won’t grow (without surgery), my stomach will always bulge (unless I do liposuction), my thighs will still have cellulite and my incision will still be seen because of my C-section.

This body is and has been under construction for the last six years and it’s okay. Because you know what? I will still accept that I’m perfect just the way I am.

Moments

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One of my favorite quotes. I haven’t had many breath taking moments by many people’s estimations, but I’m thankful for those that I have had (both good and bad). So, my #favorfriday message is to be thankful for the moments that have taken your breath away.

Here are 22 of my breath taking moments:

  1. My first “real” kiss. Was sweet and reminded me of the simplicity and softness of lips.
  2. My first love. Was wonderful. Showed me that I’m beautiful both inside and out.
  3. My acceptance of Christ as my personal savior and baptism. It showed me that there is nothing that can separate me from Him.
  4. My first heartbreak. Was needed. Prepared me for the reality that life is not fair.
  5. My participation in a beauty pageant. I was scared as heck and couldn’t walk in heels, but it taught me how to smile through the uncomfortable situations.
  6. My graduation from high school. I was free. I was legal. I was going to travel the world.
  7. My graduation from college. Showed me that I could actually be committed to something for four years. It was hard.
  8. My first job. Taught me that I could be a great assistant while figuring out what I want to do with my life. I started from the bottom and didn’t mind.
  9. My first and only time filing a restraining order against a boyfriend. Because it showed me that in the midst of terror, I was still strong enough to survive a judge questioning me in courtroom full of other people.
  10. My marriage. Taught me that I can do anything. Good, bad or indifferent. My wedding day was perfect.
  11. My pregnancy. Taught me that I am strong. The illnesses that plagued me during my pregnancy didn’t break me. I prayed harder than I ever knew possible.
  12. My delivery. Taught me that I love my anesthesiologist. He didn’t paralyze me when he gave me my spinal. I felt no pain. All was good.
  13. My son’s cry. Showed me that God has favor over me yet again.
  14. My separation. Showed me that even in the midst of my pain, if I go to the throne of grace, it will get better.
  15. My reparation with my dad. Showed me that even the most dysfunctional and broken person needs love and to be forgiven. Just like God forgives me.
  16. My girlfriends. Remind me that I am incredible. Beautiful, smart and deserving of happiness.
  17. My family. Reminds me that we are sometimes cracked up and crazy, but there is no other place I would ever want to be.
  18. My heart. Shows me that I am deserving of love because I have a beautiful beating instrument inside.
  19. My head. Reminds me to never just follow it, examine everything and pray for guidance.
  20. My accepting Public Displays of Affection (PDA’s) allowed me to see what others see. I’m a beautiful woman deserving of attention and affection. I like PDA’s.
  21. My writing. Allowed me to bond with people in different parts of the country that see me as a kindred spirit. They appreciate what I write. I am immensely grateful.
  22. My current job. Reminded me that I can have it all. Both motherhood and career and still be happy.

These are merely a few and I have many more that may not be appropriate to share in cyberspace. LOL. But, know this…I love to live in the moments. I’m grateful for them because if you’re lucky, some may just take your breath away (in a good way).

No Fat Chicks!

Sometimes the hardest thing we can do is put ourselves out there. You know go “all in” to show someone we are ready and willing to be available to let happiness and love come into our lives. Dating has changed dramatically since I was last single. I’ve expressed how I’ve tried the on-line dating thing and my experiences from some of the men. That being said, I wonder what would have happened if no one tried to contact me after I posted my profile? That was the case of one woman who wrote an article about her experience on XO Jane last month.

The article titled “IT HAPPENED TO ME: I Tried Online Dating And No One Even Messaged Me Back” was depressing to me. I mean her profile and picture looked nice, what was wrong with men? Why didn’t they find her attractive? The author, Patrice Bendig, was crushed that not one person messaged her back. She put herself out there and was emotionally crushed by people who never got to find out how incredible she was.

She said that her self-esteem took a hit and as a curvy girl, my heart ached for her. I think one of the hardest things women (especially curvy women) deal with is finding someone who will admit to liking a thick um and wanting to be seen in public with them. All things curvy women fear. The fear of rejection is real and I think we need to stop acting like loving and dating a curvy girl is the end of the world.

Why would it be? Just because I have a little more cushion doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in exercise or am one step away from being featured on an episode of “Obsessed: I Weigh 650 Pounds and Can’t Get Out of Bed”. Nope. Not me. I am not ashamed of my size and I don’t want a man who is ashamed to be with me. I love the shape of my hips and the curve of my thighs. The stretch marks from carrying a king. All badges of honor that I wear well while working out on the treadmill.

Curvy girls come with a certain level of confidence, but that confidence is fragile when you find yourself dating and trying to meet new people who think you need to just work out and they will help you because they are a certified personal trainer. I’m always cautious about men who approach me and say they like thick women. They find curvy girls sexy. Really? So, everyone else is below par if they are smaller? Why are you saying you are a closet chubby chaser? (May not be rational, but I’m guarded).

Even one of my favorite plus size bloggers, CeCe Olisa blogged about her experiences in an article on Refinery 29 titled “Is Online Dating Different for Plus Size Women”. CeCe said “It can feel like everyone has an amazing dating life but you, and it can feel like you only attract people who have issues or fetishes. But, someone reminded me that those things happen to girls of any size.” But, do skinny women get humiliated like a faux curvy woman did in this Tinder experiment? (In case you don’t know, Tinder is an app that matches people based on appearances).

Probably not. I mean the guys who conducted the social experiment even said that women’s biggest fears about meeting a man on line is that he is a serial killer whereas a man’s biggest fear…meeting a fat chick. Wow! Let’s sound the alarm and have a revolution against ignorance. What happened to men who appreciated beautiful women inside and out? Where did they go? Can the non-jerks who love God, their family, curvy women and are employed please stand up?

In an “Instagram I got to show you how I can twerk like Nikki Minaj and close the partition like Beyoncé age” it makes me wonder how many times curvy girls will keep getting the short end of the stick in dating? Are we resigned to believe that we have to take what we can get because they’re not a lot of options out there? What happened to getting to know me first before trying to guess my pant size?

A lot of stuff huh? Well I’m going to deal with it like my momma said, “Put your big girl panties on and formulate a plan.” My plan is simple. Keep my expectations low, my self-esteem high and have a lot of confidence to carry me through this foolishness. Rejection is a part of the process. Rejection builds character. It is in our painful experiences that we can grow and realize that we were built to last.

¡Viva la revolución mis hermanas

(Long live the revolution my sisters!)

Here’s the social experiment video:

One and Done

“The natural state of motherhood is unselfishness. When you become a mother, you are no longer the center of your own universe. You relinquish that position to your children.”

Jessica Lange

 

The pressure that society puts on you to have children can sometimes be stifling. I felt the pressure my first year of marriage. I was 27. Some of the things that I heard:

  • You should think about starting a family.
  • You know each day you age, your eggs die.
  • How long are you going to wait?
  • Are you trying?
  • You do want kids right?

So many questions about my reproductive rights. Dang, I had just gotten married. I would cringe when elderly women would ask me “So, why don’t you pop a couple of children out for your husband?” (Yes, this actually happened.) Really, like a chicken? I thought. Well meaning I’m sure, but to a career woman, this was not what I wanted to hear. My husband in fact wanted children the minute we got married. I made it a condition of our marriage….Not before I’m 30. He accepted.

As time moved forward and three years after my 30th birthday at the beautiful age of 33, I gave birth to Brennan. Perfect. I was elated. I felt complete. Whole even. But, a difficult pregnancy combined with a difficult birth, I thought…maybe we could do it one more time as I gazed into Brennan’s beautiful eyes. Three months later I was sitting in a hospital watching my husband hooked up to machines with words like auto immune diseases and strokes being passed around.

Scared. Overwhelmed. Alone. Those were the emotions that I went through when my life changed. That moment, changed me and my decision. No more children. I was “one and done”. It wasn’t a mutual decision. It was a personal one. Choice. Personal choice. I was supposed to take care of him and I couldn’t add another child on top of all that I had going on. Selfish, possibly, but I decided at that moment…our family was complete. We were a family of three.

Well, what do they say about the best laid plans? Yep. My marriage unraveled and we still only had one child. Now, that Brennan is 6, he constantly asks for a sibling. He has replaced the constant nagging I experienced from well-meaning folks and strangers. He wants a baby brother or sister bad. I smile and tell him, “You have 3 best friends who are all only children”. He replies, “But, mommy they are not my brothers and sisters.” I respond, “You have two god-brothers and a god-sister.” He says, “But, mommy they belong to God not me.” Dead face. I couldn’t think of anything to say. (He’s extremely smart on his toes.)

But, what do you say? Me: “Not going to happen man. You’re it. Deal with it!” However, as I’m approaching my 40th birthday I realized that my fertility is dying more each day. I’m like the elderly women except it is my own fertility that I’m wondering about. Motherhood was the defining moment in my life and I’m overwhelmingly blessed that I was able to conceive one happy and healthy child, but I wonder had I missed an opportunity to have more?

No, was my fervent reply. I’m good. Me and Brennan. Always. The gift that I was given, so let’s make it permanent right? So, I went to my OB/GYN visit for my yearly exam and announced to my doctor that I was thinking of getting my tubes tied as a birthday gift to myself. I said, “I think I’m done”. He responded, “There are a lot less invasive procedures. You’re still young and fertile. Think about something else.” Are you serious? Really? I had decided. I wanted to stomp my feet and yell “Why are you not listening to me?”

Why was this man suggesting or rather deterring me from my “one and done” motto? According to everyone and their mama, I was approaching “no man zone”. You know that zone where you’re absolutely too old to think about conceiving. I don’t think anyone in my family has ever given birth over the age of 40. What brand of crack is he smoking? Why would he even suggest an alternative to permanent sterilization?

Because he cared. Point blank and the end. My doctor wanted me to have all the options and not rush to make a rash decision just because my marriage ended and with it so did my hopes of someday giving Brennan a sibling. I have options. I have choices. My fertility is in my hands. I can be “one and done” forever or I can expand my family one day, but I’m in no rush. I have time to decide what I want to do with my own womb. Whatever my choice, I’m happy that I was able to carry this one six years ago.

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