Breasts Gone Lemming

There was a time when I needed a sports bra for doing sport, not watching it. Sadly that time is past. Of course I didn’t know it until last week when my gynea – wearing a look of concerned pity that said “at least you don’t have ebola” – told me I did.

“You’re getting older,” she announced. Apparently this means the puppies need a firmer harness; the equivalent of moving from a silk cord to a choke chain.

If this is how they plan to behave, I think they need more than that; they need linguistic reassignment! The zest with which they’re heading South suggests lemming more than puppy. I shared my thoughts with Dr R, whose muttering I took to mean that no matter which furry mammal I named them after, my breasts needed firm, functional support, not the rainbow bits of silky magic lining my drawer.

The lemmings are being a pain in the breast.

And that’s why I went to see the gynea in the first place. I pointed out to her that I hadn’t suffered this kind of pain or enjoyed this kind of plumpness since I was pregnant. She said, a little too quickly, that she didn’t think pregnancy was a possibility. Now I know it’s not, unless sperm has a 10 year hibernation period, but I expected her to be a little more optimistic. Hell, I’m paying her for optimism! And apparently for corsetry advice.

I feel the lemmings are letting me, and of course themselves, down. Not because they’re succumbing to the flirtations of gravity, but because they’re blatantly displaying the fact that my hormones are going from crazy to lazy. (Odd though how my mind still opts for the former.)

What do I wear on that side of the hill?

By way of explanation she drew a graph that looked suspiciously like a hill. She explained about oestrogen and progesterone and peri-somethings and other things I would have paid attention to if not distracted by the fact that the little red dot representing me was just over the pinnacle of the hill-graph, on the downward slope.

Dressed to travel, because it's hot on the other side of the hill.

Dressed to travel, because it’s hot on the other side of the hill.

I’m not ready for all of this. For discussions on pills that regulate periods. And wondering if it’s really hot or if it’s me having flashes. And I’m definitely not ready for sports bras that make my chest look like something that’s been bandaged up under a pyramid for a few thousand years.

So I’ve taken to walking around the house without a shirt on and taking selfies of the lemmings wearing gorgeous bras and occasionally glitter. If I’m heading to the place where I’m gearing up to go over that hill, then I claim the right to do it with awesomeness!

Yup, we’ve got out travelling clothes on, the lemmings and me. We’re admiring the view and planning our wardrobe for the downhill slalom.

Teaching the Puppies to do Double Unders

On Sunday someone asked if I was my 28 year old friend’s mother. I suppose I could be. If I had her around the time I had my braces off. So this week I’m feeling … what’s the word … starts with an “o” …. At my age it’s so hard to remember things.

Fading like a … that thing with a stem and petals and nice smelling centre

So it’s been one of those weeks! When the woman in the mirror looks a lot older than the one who was there a few days ago. I can’t exactly say I have a double chin, but it’s definitely at least a chin and a half. Maybe even three-quarters. The “melons” are looking more like “pears”. And although I tell people I’m a natural brunette, that hasn’t been true for several years; snowy-grey not being a shade of brown on even the most adventurous colour chart.

Yes. This week I’m feeling faded and old.

Young of heart and fleet of skipping foot

Except when I’m skipping! It’s impossible to feel old when you skip. Well, unless you forgot to put on a sports bra and one of the pears is flung from its packet. When I skip I feel like a kid again. And when that skipping turns into double unders I feel like Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons.

Double-unders were thoughtfully added to CrossFit by Coach Glassman for women such as me. Women who fall and drop and cry their way through WODs feeling far more Cross than Fit. After a year and a half I still can’t do pull ups. I still come last in runs. I still feel kettlebells would work better if they had little bells tied on with ribbons like my one at home. But I can smash out 30 double unders in a row on a good day! (In fact they make me feel so young I slipped the word “smashed” in there as if I was a 21 year old box bunny.)

I can pick up boys … if they lay like planks

I can also deadlift 110kg. The fact that most of the small melon-chested girls I know can’t, makes it seem like 220 kg. With everything else slip-sliding down the gentle slope of the years, I’m stronger now than I’ve ever been. And I expect I’ll be saying that next month. And the month after. Especially now that I’m focussing on my Olympic weightlifting.

Lifting makes me feel young! Somehow having that heavy weight overhead makes me feel light inside. Maybe it has something to do with discovering new ways to use my body. You know: sit, crawl, walk, lift. Or maybe it’s about challenging my preconceptions and doing this thing I always thought only young people could do.

Or maybe it’s just because when you enjoy something so much that you lose yourself in it, then your soul sings and your heart ends up bopping to the beat like a delirious teenager.

Pouncing on life like a puppy

Of course, I’ve considered that the cure for this week’s feelings of aging inadequacy is to simply stop playing with the puppies. Start running (or walking, or maybe just sitting and playing scrabble) with the old dogs. But then I had to admit that when they’re not making me feel old, the puppies keep me feeling young.

So maybe the secret to eternal youth isn’t avoiding anything that highlights my age, but seeking out those things that fill me with all the giddy feel-good energy I took for granted when I was young and a natural brunette.

And maybe I need to hang my skipping rope in the bedroom. So that every time I wonder idly if I could make charcoal rubbings of my wrinkles, I can spend a few minutes skipping in the passage. And maybe then I’ll skip until I feel I feel frisky enough to pounce. Because I’m still young enough to run with the puppies, chase butterflies, and get my clumsy muddy paws all over life!

My Head Fuzzy With Dreams

“Do you ever wonder where swallows go in the winter? They come to my workshop to fetch the dreams they’ll take with them in the spring.”

When I was 13 I had a part in the school play as the Maker of Dreams. I stood on stage and proclaimed that “I make all the dreams that float about in this musty world.” At 13, my awkward shyness masqued by layer of green sequin and thick makeup, I never knew how close I was to the truth.

When we’re young we spin our hopes into dreams like sugar into candyfloss. Every dawn brings something new to wish for. Our days are spent fantasizing about the people we’ll become and planning for the lives we’ll live. The present is just a series of stepping stone that we flit over, hurtling towards a future that awaits us, resplendent with the rewards we’ve dreamed into being.

When do the unicorns die?

So what happens when tomorrow comes and you’re finally there, in the future you longed for, living those dreams?

What happens is that you look in the mirror one day and you realise that the lines on your chest aren’t imprints from the sheets; they’re wrinkles. They’re the fingerprints of Father Time on your body.

What happens is that you wrestle your clothes on and wonder how you went from pert to plump and why that extra padding isn’t smoothing out those wrinkles.

But more than that, you look around you and you suddenly realise that this is it; this is what you’ve worked a lifetime for. 

It happened to me. Amidst the sound of departing unicorn hooves and the rustling falling of fairy wings I looked at my life and asked the aging, tired looking woman in the mirror: what if this is all there is?

What if this is as good as my life is ever going to get?

Clousbusting

Not that I have a bad life! It’s actually pretty much what I dreamed of … more or less. There’s more fat and less fame. More debt and less freedom. More bad 80s hair and less good 80s music.

But then there’s also move love and less longing. More settling and less running. More appreciation for the beauty I possess and less angst over the beauty I don’t.

So it all balances out, more or less. Except when it comes to dreams. Dreaming is something you do less of as you get older. The bustle of work and traffic and kids and homes traps pins you to the present. And there you struggle, trapped like a beautiful butterfly with dusty wings, worrying how you’ll make it through just this next day.

So this year I plan to start dreaming again. Not small dreams that are easy to achieve; giant untamed dreams huge spiralling out like a distant nebula. Dreams that spark and crack like lightning in my brain. Dreams I wake up thinking about at 2 in the morning and then lay awake imagining until sunrise; so sweet I can taste them. 

This year I’ll be seeding clouds with my wishes so that beautiful things will rain down on me and nourish my soul.

Where are my wings?  

This year I’ll be living my life like a Pantomime. Where every frog is really a prince. Where the ending is always happy. And where women never grow old, they just grow sparkly wings and become fairy godmothers.

Because this isn’t as good as it’s going to get. This is just a good beginning. And today and tomorrow and every day I’m going to make candy-floss dreams and keep imagining the kind of woman I’m going to be when I finally grow up some day.

But since I’m older and wiser I’ll do it without worrying about whether my spiral perm will take or if George Michael will ever realise I’m the material girl for him.

“We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams.
World-losers and world-forsakers,
Upon whom the pale moon gleams;
Yet we are the movers and shakers,
Of the world forever, it seems.”      – A. O’Shaughnessy

Put On Your Batgirl Panties

Have you done anything this week that really matters?

Before you answer that consider this: someone out there saved a rhino, someone preserved a dying language; someone met the president; someone had a baby.

Ready to answer now? Maybe you should mull it over while I tell you about the things other people did that really mattered in my world this week.

Someone smiled at me in traffic when I was frustrated to the point of tears. Someone at work made me smile when my day was playing out like the Itchy and Scratchy Show. Two somebodies shared a vision with me that restored my faith in a community I care about. My partner made me cappuccino with glitter on. And my son snuggled with me even though it meant taking time away from his X-Box Live buddy SpyGaz, who he believes is a 12 year old boy from Switzerland and who is therefor most likely a 52 year old peeping tom with flatulence.

I think you’re better equipped to answer that question now, don’t you?

Wake up and smell the bubble gum

There was a time in our lives when we never needed to be reminded about what really mattered. Back when tying our shoelaces was a superhuman feat and learning to blow chewing gum bubbles put you on a pedestal so high only the kids who’d finally figured out yoyos and hula hoops had any hope of joining you there.

Back then we knew instinctively that a wilted flower yanked from a crack in the pavement and given with love was a precious and cherished gift that would live forever in someone’s favourite book. We knew that when we laughed the people who loved us laughed too and we did it as often and as loudly as we could. Without thinking about it we understood the happiness we gave when we shared our juice bottle and the hurt we eased by letting someone else hug our favourite bear.

Back then we I knew a hug could fix hurts and heal hearts and I felt like a superhero just because I knew how to give them.

Blame it on Mr Miyagi

But then at some point we all learned that, like the Invisible Man, the world doesn’t see us unless we find a way to shine. We learned that the only things that really matter in the world are the ones other people can measure and compare. We learned that if someone doesn’t tell us we matter then we don’t.

So we work hard, we wax on and wax off hoping someone will recognise our effort, see our worth, tell us we’re special. We do it day after day, year after year, and eventually we find ourselves in adulthood in a world that doesn’t care how hard we’ve worked; it only cares whether or not that work has put us on a podium or platform or pedestal. It doesn’t care how far we’ve come but only how far behind everyone else we are.

And here we are, all of us, wanting to be winners but feeling like losers a lot of the time because everyone around us seems to have mastered the Art of Happiness, the Secret to Success, the Lessons of Love.

Somehow everyone else just seems to shine while we scurry along in the gathering darkness hoping that if we keep polishing away at our rough bits that somehow, sometime we’ll shine.

Put me in spandex and call me Batgirl

You know what we’ve forgotten during all these years spent growing up?  We’ve forgotten that we don’t need to be the brightest star in the sky to light up someone’s world.

I’m realising more and more that there really are superheroes out there. Not the kind who live in a world where Victoria has no Secrets. I mean the wonder women and super men who do the small things that make a difference even if their only superpower is using X-ray vision to see through someone’s smiling façade to a heart that needs a little extra TLC.

Yup, I’m going to be that person today! I’m going to put on my Batgirl panties (feel free to substitute with Batman boxers unless you’re one of the Village People) and I’m going to “practice random acts of kindness and senseless beauty”. Why? Because when I do the things that matter then I matter; and that’s what really matters, right?