When the Bombs Exploded

When the bombs exploded, I was not there.

I was wandering through the botanical  gardens many, many miles away. I was looking for beauty and inspiration with my brother.

The daffodils  from above.

The daffodils from above.

When the bombs exploded, I wasn’t thinking about the cruelty and senseless acts of violence that fill our world today. Nor of the acts of cowardliness that are disguised as rebellion.

Because make no mistake, yesterday’s act was the ACT OF A COWARD!

Yes, the person or persons who did this are cowards. They sit back and enjoy the chaos and pain they caused. They revel in the news coverage and in their moment of glory. But they don’t have the  courage to claim or explain their act.

THEY ARE COWARDS!

When the bombs exploded, I was not thinking about acts of bravery or cowardice, or how I would react in the face of tragedy. I was reflecting on possibility and hope and ways to change the world to make it a better, more peaceful place.

Sibling Reflections

Sibling Reflections

When the bombs exploded, I was writing a poem with my brother. I would write one line and then show him the last word. He would then respond and show me the last word. And so on . . .

These were the words we saw:

Time.

change.

Possibilities.

hold?

fold?

fantasy.

world.

toes.

Eerie words in retrospect, because the bomb went off and limbs were lost, and the world changed.

Here is the poem we wrote together:

MIND’S ALIKE

By Lisa and Steve Kramer

Changes come with the seasons but also with
Time.

Moving forward, moving back, always now, always
change.

Yet with change comes growth and unexpected
Possibilities.

Ready to fly, or maybe dive beneath the depths; what does the future
hold?

Should we hold onto past dreams? Or is it time to let go and move forward? When do we know when it is time to
fold?

It often comes back on itself, or maybe makes shapes of
fantasy.

How does one turn fantasy into reality? Perhaps we can’t reach the fairies and the magic, but with focus and intent we can, indeed, change the
world.

It is our heart, it is our soul, it is the solid beneath our
toes.

When the bombs exploded, this was a poem of hope, but now it feels like a poem of sadness. And yet, the beauty of the day remains, and the beauty of those people who helped others outshines the horror of the act. The words of people who were there make me feel that perhaps change can happen. Hope can happen. Kindness can happen.

Beauty still exists.

Snapshot_2013415 (41)

When the bombs exploded, a  poem was just a poem. But now everything is different . . .

because the bombs exploded.

“Crood” Lessons

Yesterday Sarah and I went to see The Croods.

Image found at IMDb

When I first saw a preview of this movie, I had no desire to go. The figure of the daughter (named Eep), the rebel teen who initiates the journey this family goes on (aided and abetted by a natural disaster as the earth moved) disturbed me. Not her character, so much, as the fact that she was drawn as a completely sexy, and possibly unrealistic, body type–thus supporting stereotypes of women that need to be confronted in our culture. When I begin worrying that an animated character is about to bust out of her clothing (pun intended) then there’s a problem.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of the people who believes that if a woman dresses to feel sexy she’s asking to become a victim. My concern lies more with the contrast between how this character was presented and how the others were presented. I have no problem with her being a little aggressive as she discovers her attraction to the first unrelated male she sees. I have no problem with her desire to be more independent and break free of the unrealistic and controlling restrictions laid on her by an overprotective father. I have no problem with her trying to express herself as an individual separate from her family.

The only thing I have a problem with is the fact that her animators created her as an ideal sexualized woman, with large breasts and a dress that just barely covered her lady bits. I have a problem with the message this sends to my 10-year-old daughter–a message about appearance and dress that she doesn’t need to see.

The mother in this movie is–in my opinion–sexy because she exhibits strength, caring, power, and intelligence. That to me is true sexiness.  I agree that women should be able to dress in whatever makes them feel comfortable, confident and happy. To me there is a big difference between being sexy and being sexualized. Sexy comes from feeling confident in who we are  as women, in believing that we have many things to offer including brains, beauty, ideas, words, and kindness.

Sexualized is the type of sexy laid onto us by society. It is the picture of a woman who has little more to offer than the physical beauty  of her body.

I agree that women’s bodies are beautiful, and we should not have  fear of sharing that beauty. However, we all know that true beauty comes from other things as well. Eep’s journey had nothing to do with her appearance. It had to do with learning to love and respect her father despite their differences in perceiving the world. Actually, this movie wasn’t about Eep’s journey. It was about her father, Grug, who  had to learn the message “Never be afraid. Follow the light.” Grug’s journey was of discovering that he could learn, change, grow and have ideas. He learned that life is truly about taking chances, not hiding  in the darkness and safety of a cave.

Perhaps Eep’s appearance represents the wildness of taking chances. However, that message could have come across if she appeared more like your average, every day cave-teen, without all the sexualized curves.

I hope Sarah knows that beauty and true sexiness comes from the inside. But for now, I just want her to enjoy being a 10-year-old girl.

Sarah's eyes

My Relationship with Food

Yesterday I found myself in a place I never thought I’d be.

Over the summer I was on track to “writing myself right” and I was walking my way to health.

But then something shifted, and I lost my way again. A few weeks ago I found myself in my doctor’s office, looking at a number on the scale that was higher than its ever been before. My doctor terrified me with the words that, “if you’ve gone this high it will be not time before your weight doubles.”

I didn’t agree with her words. I’ve gained and lost my whole life. I know, deep in my bones, that I can beat this. However she convinced me to sign up for a Bariatric Surgery consultation. “You don’t have to have the surgery,” she said. “It’s really a program to help you deal with your weight.”

“I know what I have to do,” I said. “I know what I have to eat,” It’s just that my head knows but my body responds in its own way.

I went home and cried.

Yesterday I found myself in an introductory meeting, surrounded by people who (for the most part) had more severe weight issues than I do. I listened to the explanation about the program, the expectations before surgery, the different types of surgery. All the while my mind was screaming “How did I get here?!” and I fought back tears. I learned that I wouldn’t even really be a candidate for bariatric surgery, or at least for a surgery covered by insurance, because my BMI is not high enough. I felt relieved, but I still wondered how I’d even gotten so close to needing the surgery. Throughout the presentation I thought, do I want to follow this program in a non-surgical track? Is this program right for me?

At the end of the presentation a group of patients who had the surgery done went up and shared their stories. They all said how it was life changing, and hard work, and took commitment. They’d all lost (or were on their way to losing) well over a hundred pounds of weight. The all seemed happy, but . . .

They all admitted that they couldn’t see their thinner selves in the mirror. They still saw their overweight selves.

One of  them had admitted that she also had a tummy tuck, plastic surgery to remove the excess skin that came after her bariatric surgery. She was still in pain two years later.

A few of them said, “the excess skin isn’t beautiful, but it wasn’t beautiful before when we were fat.”

Why not? I asked. Why can’t fat be beautiful?

Now, granted, there are many health reasons to lose weight, and extreme obesity is a dangerous condition. But it doesn’t mean people who carry extra pounds are not beautiful.

I felt like I was at a sales presentation, marketing procedures that will make you beautiful and, in that way, make your world perfect.

It doesn’t work like that.

I left thinking, this program isn’t right for me. While they do include psychological help, as well as nutrition and physical therapy, it just didn’t feel like a match for me. Maybe I’m making excuses, but I have to go with my gut here.

But then again, my gut has been leading me wrong for a long time, or I wouldn’t have been there in the first place, would I?

This morning I woke up with a new determination. I am getting back on track. I’m going to find my way back to a healthy weight, by eating with awareness and exercising. I will go back to the plan to “write myself right”. I will believe in myself and my ability to do this. I will confront the issues that lead me to seek comfort in food.  I started today, eating a healthy breakfast and then doing a 1 mile power walk with weights (a video exercise program)

While I’m doing this, however, I’m going to get up every morning, look into the mirror and say to myself, “You are beautiful just the way you are.”

Lisa the fairy queen

 

 

Thankful for an Inferiority Complex

Yesterday I got my haircut and Roxanne, my hairdresser, spent a lot of time straightening my hair. While I realize that it looks good that way, I don’t really see myself when I look in the mirror.

Early morning hair this morning, still straight but the curls are trying to come back.

“Don’t go back to curly,” my mom said. “Your hair looks so good straight.”

“I don’t have a choice, Mom. It takes a long time to get it this way.” Well, maybe it’s not that long, but I simply don’t  have the patience to spend the time needed to make my hair behave everyday.

This is what I’m usually dealing with.

Now, I know my mom meant her words as a compliment, but it got me to thinking of all the ways I have felt not good enough or somehow inferior throughout my life.

I have an inferiority complex.

Appearance is just one of the areas where I don’t feel up to snuff. I doubt myself and my ability in all aspects of my life.

But today I realized something. I am THANKFUL for my inferiority complex.

Would I like to wake up every day feeling fully confident and like I can take on the world? Sure, who wouldn’t? But, my self-doubts, my questioning, forces me that much harder to improve, to grow, to challenge myself to do better, to strive for perfection.

My inferiority complex also enables me to help others. Although I sometimes feel jealous, I am genuinely happy when I see someone else surpass me to come out on top. perhaps because I don’t believe that I’ll ever really get there. I recognize that I ‘m good at helping others achieve their goals. That’s nothing to feel bad about.

Of course, the question then becomes, what is “top”? What does it mean to be “good enough”?  I am starting to revise my own definition of that, and realize that my best can indeed be good enough, even if nobody else sees me that way.

I am not inferior, I am myself.

So today, on a day when people reflect on what it means to be thankful, I want to acknowledge that I am truly thankful for my FLAWS because they have made me who I am today.

And that is someone who is, indeed, good enough. From there, everything can only get better.

The imperfect fairy house I built. I think fairies will still love it, don’t you?

Seeking Sass and Style

Something strange is happening to me.

Perhaps it is because I just turned 43, leaving me safely ensconced in (early) middle age.

Perhaps it is the fact that I only have to get dressed decently once a week for the class I teach at a University. Otherwise my normal look involves the least dirty comfy clothes.

Perhaps it is the recent decision my hair has made to be the bane of my existence. It has embraced frizz as a permanent state of being, and has begun a subtle sneak attack introducing new white strands when I least expect it. I admit, I tried to conquer that through color. My first attempt (over a month ago) looked great, but didn’t last long. In a battle against yesterday’s monster, Nathan helped me with my second attempt yesterday.

I like the results as far as color goes, but I have to do something with style.

Perhaps it is simply the “in” colors this season, bright pinks and corals that I have always loved.

Suddenly, I have started thinking about style. Suddenly I find myself seeking sassiness.

My new sassy sandals.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

The sandals are evidence that something has taken over my brain. Despite my 5 foot tall frame, I live in flats and sneakers, or the occasional 1 inch heeled cowboy boot.  But yesterday,  wedges called to me, saying “We are sassy and you want us!”  I tried many on, but none of them seemed to work until I put on this pair.

“Wow!” Nathan said.

Now I own  the sassiness.

Of course, being the fashion-notta that I am, I have to practice walking in these babies before I take them out in public. So I decided that I would walk around the house with them a little each day, figuring it might even help my legs get into shape a little.  Yesterday, I felt the beginnings of a blister forming, so I decided to protect my feet for this mornings sassy workout.

Still stylish in a Lisa's style way.

Nathan insisted on taking a picture, saying “you might want to blog about this.” So blame him for the craziness of this post.

Of course, once I started thinking about sass and style, I couldn’t stop. So I got dressed in one of my new purchases (made with birthday money last week). I can’t decide if I look:

a) matronly
b) like a maniac
or c) Sassy

All I know is I have to do something with my hair.

Suggestions?

The Search for True Beauty

beau·ty

–noun, plural -ties.

1. the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations (as shape, color, sound, etc.), a meaningful design or pattern, or something else (as a personality in which high spiritual qualities are manifest).(dictionary.com)
We can find beauty in nature if we keep our eyes open and look. We can hear beauty in music or in nature if we allow ourselves to truly listen. We can sense beauty in the delicate aromas of flowers or the scintillating taste of spices. All of this beauty is available to us if we only open ourselves to the search.

Underwater beauty

 

But true beauty in a human being seems to be a rare commodity.
I’m not talking about the perfection of appearance that can be defined as beautiful depending on “the eye of the beholder.” That form of beauty changes at the whim of a photographer, a culture, a style, or a personality.
True beauty that emanates from the heart and soul is the rarest form of beauty to find. I don’t have it. Deep inside me there is a ball of ugly–a place that holds hate, anger, frustration, jealousy and any other negative emotions that add ugliness to this world. I would like nothing more than to lose that inner ugliness and become a truly beautiful soul.
I have only met a few people who carry that inner beauty with them in such a way that it emanates outwards gracing all the people they touch. Sometimes, or perhaps most of the time, these people don’t even recognize their own beauty. I met one of these people several years ago, and learned of her true beauty as she battled breast cancer while she lost her daughter to another, even more aggressive, form of cancer. The following is a poem I wrote about them and posted on my other (ignored) blog, Life Without Tenure:

MOTHER AND DAUGHTER FACING THE BEAST

(TO CATHIE AND SAM)

Mother strength

Daughter wisdom

Woman/girl

Motherwisdomdaughterstrength.

Facing malignancy

Life mounds attacked

Throat constricted.

Consuming cells, consuming all, but . . .

strength, wisdom

power, purpose

Pain-filled power.

Knowledge-power

Love-power.

Mother strength

Daughter wisdom

Mother/Daughter wisdom/strength.

They are one.

(lak 6/13/07)

Despite the fact that this beauty is so rare, it is possible to find people with true beauty.  I have met them in the strangest places: at a hotel in Bali many years ago, in a Hebrew School classroom as a child, and even through the words of a fellow blogger  over the past through months. I’ve never met Sara or Kathy, but, with every word Kathy writes I recognize two truly beautiful women. (NOTE: I have since had the honor of meeting these two wonderful women, and they are indeed truly beautiful.

Have you ever met someone who is truly beautiful?

This is my response the The Weekend Theme at Viewfromtheinside’s blog.

Detailed Reflections

This Past Winter Break

“It’s not just God in the details, but the times in which we live. Details aren’t only the building blocks with which a story is put together, they’re also clues to something deeper, keys not merely to our subconscious but to our historical moment” (Francine Prose 207)

“Did you ever look in the mirror so long that your face didn’t make sense anymore? It just becomes all these shapes. Just shapes. Not good or bad.” (Noelle, The Truth About Cats and Dogs)

Me and Dad Years Ago

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is that really me?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time plays tricks in the mirror.
The boundary between then and now
reflected in minute detail.

 

White hair–
my father’s beard
peeking out of dark roots,
my future slowly sprouting
for only my eyes to see.
Not one strand but many
yet still invisible to most.

 

Lines etching lightly
not yet deep valleys
but delicate sketch marks
forming geometric shapes
of stories still being spun
and stories yet untold.

 

My face reforms daily–
new angles growing
as weight drops away
coming off
slowly
hesitantly
with the trepidation of an average woman
undressing for a  portrait
in front of strangers.

 

Fearful feelings of what might be revealed
of what others might see

 

My face
is becoming a face from long ago
yet never seen before.

 

I see my father
I see my sister
I see my brother
I see my mother
I am not sure I see myself.

 

I focus on the details.
The crinkles by my eyes
visual laughter
becoming real.

 

Shadowed circles underneath
a mark of the family
but also of the unknown
stress and sleepless nights.

 

The wrinkles by my lips
unexpected indicators of
kisses given
and secrets kept.

 

The angled shadow of cheek bones
usually hidden gems
sharply revealed.

 

Freckles run rampant
across my nose in winter hiding from the cold.
Blossoming star-bursts in summer
fireworks of the face.

 

Symbols of Childhood
on a face
that is no longer a child.
These speckles of self
represent the whole.

 

They are always me.

 

Free flowing hair
living its own life
sometimes curly
sometimes straight
sometimes red, brown, auburn
(sometimes coming from a box)
sometimes changing with the sun.

 

And now, sometimes white.

 

The tricks of time,
the mirror image of reality
But what is really real?

 

Details of memory
revealing the sum
of living life
and life lived.

Addition, one of the comments below suggested I read Lucille Clifton’s “What the Mirror Said,” While searching for it, I found some of her other powerful poems that truly embrace what it means to be alive and be a woman. Check her out.

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