Enough already!

I recently read an article dealing with ageing. Despite the many clichés, it really hit home with me.

I’ve reached an age where I find myself looking at my body critically. I’m falling into all the traps. I catch myself pulling my face back, searching my reflection for my younger self.  I check out my backside in the mirror, wondering where my ass went (oh, there it is – above the back of my knees) and my boobs. Well….

My hair is greying at an alarming rate. The sleep creases on my face and chest when I wake up in the morning seem to linger for hours, refusing to let go. The lines around my mouth are particularly troubling.

I could go on and on. And sadly, my inner voice does.

Having spent over 20 years working in an industry that celebrates beauty certainly hasn’t helped. I won’t elaborate on that belaboured topic, but one can well imagine how that would affect a person living and working in that world for so long. Ageing as a woman is stressful enough, but ageing as a model has its unique set of challenges.

Despite all of this, I have been careful to promote a healthy view on ageing. I try to lead by example with my children. I remind them that, in my opinion, beauty is a virtue, not an asset. I don’t wear makeup, and my hair is worn in a ponytail more often than not.

I have always felt my true beauty was my personality – something I was fine with believing until my physical beauty began to fade. Have I been lying to myself all these years? Maybe I believed beauty wasn’t important to me because I was beautiful.

Looking at my reflection now, and not loving what I see, does that make me a hypocrite? Why do I feel compelled to judge myself like this? I guess in a way, I’m disappointed in myself. I need to snap out of it; I know better. Enough already!

Ageing is a privilege. I have known way too many people whose lives ended too soon, people who would have given anything to see their ageing faces looking back at them in a mirror. Lives cut short. If only they could experience the feeling of having survived another year.

It certainly puts things into perspective, and it makes my superficial complaints seem so childish and selfish.

Moving forward, my goal will be to embrace the passing years and all that comes with them. I should be proud: these changes are the battle scars that tell the story of who I am. And it’s a wonderful story. My lips have kissed away booboos, been kissed in friendship and in passion and brushed thousands of cheeks. My “ass” has flown 35,000 feet above the earth more times than I can count. It has sat in trains, theatres, on park benches, hospital beds, and oceans – plus the occasional photocopier, “back in the day.” My breasts have felt the tenderness of early pregnancy and the pain of breastfeeding. They have nourished and comforted three babies.

And my wrinkles? These lines on my face form the landscape of a life fully lived. They speak of years of laughter and happiness. This face has been held between the hands of lovers and caressed by the tender hands of my children. And sadness, loss and strife?  Those lines are there too. Without them I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

Baby love
Baby love

It’s a good reminder that time doesn’t really take away. Rather, it gives. It helps you write the chapters of your life. Yes, it’s a wonderful story. And it is not finished yet. It’s time to look in the mirror with pride.

Who is with me?

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Bugs

I love bugs. I do. Except for flies and mosquitos.

Inner-city living will present you with bugs, of course. The odd fly or bumblebee might find its way into your home. An evening stroll or drink on a patio might entice a stray mosquito, but rarely. But the country? Country living finds you surrounded, hounded and plagued. And like the racoons, these country bugs mean business.

I remember visiting my cousins’ farmhouse when I was a child and marvelling at how easily the family coexisted with the flies. Flies were everywhere: on the table, on the walls, on your face…suspended and motionless in the green Jell-O mould….

My cousins were oblivious to them; unfazed by these little creatures that I knew, even back then, were born of feces.

Now these farm flies have become my problem. What to do? I’ve been asking my neighbours about their strategies and was expecting some age-old magic cures passed along from generations of farm living, but to no avail. Short of hanging fly tape all over my house, or spraying my home with pesticide (which I’m not about to do), I’m going to have to learn to be at one with the flies. Something I’m not willing to accept.

Then there are the mosquitos. Sweet jeezus, the mosquitos! In my effort to maintain a healthy, functioning nervous system in my body and in those of my children, I’ve opted to forgo the DEET in favour of a more natural alternative. I have tried everything from dabbing vanilla extract to my pressure points (was skeptical-and no, I’m not crazy) to rubbing lavender leaves all over my body, but these approaches were not effective.

However, I have found a concoction that seems to be working!

I Googled homemade bug repellent recipes, and this one from Wellness Mama caught my eye.

My take on it was similar but I did make a few changes. And please note: This will sting if you get it in any cuts, and watch your eyes!

Here’s my recipe:

Fill spray bottle (I used 16 ounce bottle that I found for 2$ in the bbq section of my local grocery store) 1/2 full with cooled, boiled water

Add witch hazel to fill almost to the top

Add 1 tsp glycerin

60 drops (give or take) of essential oils. I used a mixture of

Clove, Eucalyptus, Tea Tree Oil, Peppermint and Rosemary

Shake well and voila!

Bug Off
Bug Off

It smells amazing, and misted on your body, it’s quite refreshing on a hot day. You must SHAKE WELL before use and I re-apply it every time I go out the door. It won’t damage your clothes, and it can go in your hair, too. I even sprayed my dog (don’t use it on your cats because they’ll lick it and I don’t know if it would hurt them).

My daughter and I applied some and took a stroll through the trees – not a single bite. We fed the chickens – no bites. We did cartwheels and sat on the grass. I cracked my hip joints, but only got one bite on my upper inner thigh (where I hadn’t sprayed). It was incredible! I haven’t been able to stroll around my property and enjoy it like this in weeks because of these pests. This is a big deal!

As for the flies. I’m still working on that one. Fortunately, we don’t eat Jell-O.

The ‘Licker Store’

Cal and tantrum. Circa 2012
Cal and tantrum. Circa 2012

Looking back, I can see the humour in this. But at the time, I was mortified.

We’ve all experienced the grocery store melt-down at least once, either as the parent of the kid who is freaking out, or as the bystander having to listen to it. Whichever your vantage point, it is always irritating and sometimes extremely embarrassing. I was lucky that my daughters would rarely tantrum in public. But when they did, I had the anonymity of city dwelling to shelter me. All the faces that would look and judge were the faces of strangers, so I really didn’t care what they thought.

In a small community that cloak of anonymity drops, and you can feel a bit naked without it, let me assure you.

My son is getting to the age now where he tries to take me on intellectually, and sadly, often wins. “Why did you do that?” I will ask. “Because, I did that,” he will reply.

We’ll hold eye contact for a few seconds, until I look away in defeat. It’s hard to argue with that logic.

For many parents of young children, the trip to the grocery store can be stressful. It’s hard to keep the toddler strapped into the cart while trying to be a smart-shopper, and letting them out is simply not a wise option. The outing is often preceded with bribes and in some cases outright threats. Two things that, in my righteous pre-parenting days, I thought I would never do.

But threats and bribes have become two of the most effective tools in my parenting arsenal.

And so it was that I found myself at the local grocery store along with my mother and my son when Cal convinced me he could walk instead of riding in the cart. I was feeling generous and decided to allow it, but I warned him that if he ran off or touched things, he would find himself back in the cart.

Seconds later, he ran off and touched things. I wrestled him back into the cart. He was furious. I could see it happening; I could see his little brain trying to find just the right words to let me know the depth of his rage and disappointment. And then, he found them. Perfect in their simplicity. And, with a voice radiating decibels only achieved by infant vocal chords, yelled:

 

“YOU HAVE A VAGINA, AND IT’S DISGUSTING!”

 

I could see all the heads in my vicinity turning towards me in perfectly-timed synchronicity. I am grateful for the gene that separates me from the violent creature I could be. Instead of doing what I wanted to do, I calmly exited the store.

But, I had to swallow my pride and return a few days later. It’s my local grocery store after all, and there aren’t many up here. And so with as much dignity as I could muster, I returned, with my son in tow.

Now, remember my good friends “threat” and “bribe?” Well, they made an appearance in the car on the way. I promised Cal that if he behaved well and stayed in his cart at the grocery store, we would go to the liquor store on the way home. I know that sounds crazy, but here’s the thing: they give him suckers when he goes there. Little rewards for good behaviour. Now, I must explain something important here. He refers to suckers as “lickers.”

I suppose it’s because whenever his big sisters had suckers and he was too small to have his own, they would offer him “licks.” And so, “suckers” became “lickers.”

The irony here is that he calls the “Liquor Store” the “Licker Store.”

Cute, right?

Jump back to the grocery store. Cal has decided to be a jerk, and so I told him no licker store….

For the next 20 minutes, at the top of his lungs, he hollered:

“I WANT TO GO TO THE LICKER STORE! I WANT TO GO TO THE LICKER STORE! I WANT TO GO TO THE LICKER STORE!”

Sometimes, you just have to laugh. And after trying to explain to the lady at the check-out that he meant suckers, while she just looked at me blankly, I saw it for what it was: a fantastic story of the trials of parenting. And, of course my revenge will be sweet….

I get to teach him about the birds and the bees. And, vaginas.

 

And speaking of vaginas, check out this fabulous muff. “L’Origine du monde” by Gustave Courbet, 1866. I got to see the original hanging at the Musée D’Orsay three years ago in Paris. Beautiful.

 "L'Origine du monde" by Gustave Courbet, 1866.
“L’Origine du monde” by Gustave Courbet, 1866.