Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Body Image

Normally, I don’t concern myself with drama surrounding the beauty pageant world, but this story intrigues me.

Apparently, Miss England, Georgia Horsley is being advised to put on weight for the upcoming Miss World Competition.

It seems the Miss World judges favor curvier women.

I believe they favor curvier women now, due to the outcry in the past year or two that stick thin, heroin-addict-looking models should not be a beauty ideal… and I agree with that.

Clearly, Horsley's advisors are concerned with winning, and their suggestion is just that… a suggestion, in the direction of having their girl win the crown.

This woman is no stick figure. She says she has an athletic, almost boyish figure that she doesn't feel looks unhealthy at all. I have to agree.
What I admire most is Horsley's attitude in the interview with Meredith Vieria. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21486415/?GT1=10450

She’s a good sport. Okay, I’ll try eating more, but if it changes my figure in a way I’m not proud of, I’m scrapping the whole plan.

Good girl!

But here’s the thing. I am very supportive of the effort to promote healthy body images. I think Dove’s campaign for real beauty is REMARKABLE!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaH4y6ZjSfE (watch: Dove Onslaught. part of it is hard to watch but stick it out, the end is key.)
(this one is awesome too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYhCn0jf46U )

Yes! Women with curves are beautiful. But guess what! So is a healthy, lean, athletic body.

I, like Miss Georgia Horsley, will never be a curvy woman. If I put on weight, I’d just be a thicker stick! Just because I’m naturally thin doesn't mean I’m anorexic or unhealthy.

It always bothers me when, voices in support of realistic body images use the phrase ‘Real Women’. Does that mean that if I'm thin I’m somehow not real? Am I not a complete woman because I don’t have curves?

When we support a healthy body image… shouldn't that be all inclusive? Do we really want thin, athletic girls to feel less than? Why can’t we just accept people as they are? As long as you are healthy, strong and mobile – why point fingers?

What really bothers me are the stargazers who feel obliged to 'diagnose' certain celebrities with anorexia. Ellen Pompeo & Sandra Oh (Grey’s Anatomy), Calista Flockhart (Ally McBeal, Brothers and Sisters) for example.

I championed Ellen Pompeo when she spoke up to Entertainment Tonight reporters this summer, saying it’s very dangerous to assign eating disorders to people just based on their appearance. (of course very little was made of that – which was disappointing) Clearly, the entertainment media wants to hold on to thin women as their scapegoats.

Allow me to explain why I feel so strongly about this.

I recall Health class in junior high. Part of the curriculum surrounding healthy eating, included a discussion of the eating disorders Anorexia and Bulimia. I remember the whole class turning around to stare at me.

Yes, I was a walking twig with knobby knees as large as my head.
I wanted to scream, “Didn't you just hear the definition? Those disorders involve a distorted body image and an obsession with food! I know I’m thin. And I probably eat more than any of the rest of you. (and I don’t barf either!)”

It wasn't until college that I found the words that worked.

Girls in the dorm and in my classes would tell me how jealous they were of my size, saying, “You’re so lucky. You’re anorexic."

My blood boiled. They claimed it was a compliment.

Finally I told them, "So if I said that you look like an alcoholic... would you take it as a compliment?"

Bottom line. To promote a healthy body image for all women, let’s just accept one another as we are. I won’t criticize women with sexy curves. And they won’t criticize the women who don’t have to struggle to be thin.

Having a thin, athletic body is no more a sign of disease than being blessed with ample breast tissue without surgery. Or having bigger hips after a few pregnancies.

As long as we’re strong and healthy and eat well – let’s celebrate one another!

Love your body for what it is capable of! What it looks like is inconsequential.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


My dear, dear friend KH, the very cool chick pilot - called me yesterday to tell me.... she's pregnant! Yay! It's still early, but promising. I'm so happy for her.

It was just last month that I shared with her the rip off I did of a cool baby gift designed by the fabulous lady behind http://disdressed.blogspot.com/2006_03_01_archive.html .

This is my version. I had to recreate the pattern myself. They are pouches to add to your diaper bag... the big one is for baby's food, bowls and spoon... the smaller one for baby wipes and a handful of diapers.
I made it for a friend who is due right about now! KH said, "How cute. I hope I get pregnant soon so I get adorable gifts from you!"

So today I poked into the fabric store to look at some more fabrics and nursery patterns.
Well, guess what happened there.
The very fact that KH is pregnant is what pulled me into the fabric store. While in line at the checkout I overheard the conversation between two women behind me... describing the younger woman's job. It sounded like she worked at a production company... so once we were both out of the store I stopped her, apologized for overhearing their conversation, and asked where she works. She was lovely, charming and kind and told me to look up the company and call her at work.
Amazing... I picked up a job lead at the fabric store!!
I love this kid already! (the one in utero)

Oh, about the patterns. Who knows if I'll get around to them... but on sale for 99 cents each I figure I'll have a good source for baby gifts and hopefully I'll get to reproduce myself one day and have a cute room to decorate.

Here's what I got: I would use much much cooler fabrics but you get the idea!

The one on the left includes the Fitted Sheet, Dust Ruffle, Bumpers, Quilt, Pillow, Diaper Stacker and Organizer.

I also picked up this one I've been eyeing... for myself.

I'll make the short red cape coat on the bottom... if I ever get around to it. Probably in green or blue.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Wheeling and Dealing with God

I want to share an article I read today. It's the most beautiful thing written about prayer that I've read in a long long time.

At first I thought the author was describing the church my mom and I went to while we were visiting D.C. - but I was wrong.

Still - this church is gorgeous. A great place to get in touch with the Almighty Father.


Cutting, and keeping, a deal with God

WASHINGTON — I've started hanging out at the Cathedral of St. Matthew downtown here. It's a great old church, with gilt statues, deeply hued mosaics and marble — oh, the marble. It's all green and gold and black and white, and it all has the look of having been polished by the hand of God.

St. Matthew also has these private alcoves — prayer nooks and crannies that modern churches lack. You can duck into the Chapel of St. Anthony of Padua or one devoted to Mary. And of course, there are those little stations (10 to be exact) where you can light a candle instead of cursing the darkness.

There's also great people-watching. Sometimes, like for the 12:10 daily Mass, there's a crowd of a hundred or more people. Sometimes, when I just poke my head in to kneel and say a few decades of the rosary, there might just be a handful of us. Very rarely am I the only one there.

I'm not sure who I expected to show up at St. Matthew during the business day. But there's no one type. There are homeless people, perhaps just getting out of the heat or cold. There are Catholic tourists, perhaps wanting to see where the Kennedy funeral was. There are old men and pregnant women. There are immigrants in blue collars and professionals in white ones. Some, no doubt, are regulars. Others are there for reasons they can't quite fathom. They are there because of a pull that is as primal as anything they can imagine.

Put me in that category.

I found myself making the four-block pilgrimage from my office to the cathedral without really knowing where my feet were taking me. When I got there, I almost blindly climbed the 15 steps, pulled open the heavy brass door, dipped a finger in the holy-water font, slipped a dollar into the donation box and lit one of the candles that shimmer in the glazed, garnet holders.

I was there to cut a deal. By the time I found myself in that cathedral on a sweltering summer day, I knew what I wanted. I also knew that I would trade away just about anything to get it. What promise would you make to save the most precious person in your life?

I found myself pondering all sorts of ephemeral promises I could make to God: I would be a better person. I'd be less judgmental. I'd be more patient. But how do you gauge if you're really keeping that kind of promise? And when you're cutting this kind of deal with God, you don't want there to be ambiguity in the contract. Then amid tears and rosary beads, it came to me. I could come here, every day, if even for a few minutes. I could light a candle. I could say thank you or help me or curse you. Or I could just people-watch. God would know I was keeping the deal. I would know I was keeping the deal.

Thy will be done.

How many thousands of times had I uttered those words in my lifetime before I really understood them? If you say them and mean them, then you keep the deal even when His will and yours have nothing in common.And so more than a year after I started, I still come, not every day but often. I come even though the prayers that originally drew me here have been answered in a way that shattered my life. I come because keeping the deal isn't just about saving the life of the person most precious to you.

It's also about finding a path that helps you go on without him. It's about knowing that God always hears our prayers and always answers them and that the real life journey of faith is discovering the meaning in His answers.

These days, as I make the 10-minute walk, the questions of faith, mercy and grace sear my soul. I pray the rosary, not always concentrating on the prayers that come from somewhere deep in a Catholic schoolgirl's past. I sometimes find myself looking at the other people scattered among the pews, wondering what deals they are cutting.

But I come and I light a candle. I'm keeping the deal. Because at St. Matthew even when the pews are empty, I know I'm not alone. And that's how I know that He's keeping the deal too.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

She Has So MANY Secrets!!!

Ugh. The worst thing about this stupid Vicky's Secret job -- besides the incredibly self-important managers who seem to think selling undies is very important work -- is the terrific lack of training!

Yeah, I know what you're thinking... how hard can it be to sell underwear? Well, it's not but Vicky is one self-important broad. There are all sorts of goals and rules and restrictions and incredible BS. All of this stuff they never bothered to tell me - but then look at me like I'm a moron because I don't know.

Today, I was working the fitting room and wardrobe center. I've been assigned to the fitting room for some portion of all my 5 shifts so far, so I didn't expect any surprises.

While collecting and rehanging all the lingerie, I heard a strange sound. Finally, I realized there was a pager on the tiny countertop, vibrating it's little heart out.
Hmm. Did a customer lose that in a dressing room? Is it something very important for the managers?

So I crackle onto the headset (epitome of self importance) and say, "There's a pager going off in the fitting room. Does anyone know what that is about?"
A crackle back, "Yes TRS, that's for you - it's for customers in the fitting to let you know they need assistance."

Really?! I've been running the stupid fitting room every day that I've been there and this is the first I heard about it! (there are little buttons inside the fitting room that light up a button on the outside... so a customer can ask for another size. I always wondered how I was supposed to see them when I was out on the floor.)

Without so much as a pause I replied, "Hmm. What an interesting way to learn about that."

Of course there was no reply.

Ahh. But the tide may be turning. Prayers, if you will, about an important job opportunity that will put me back in my career field. God has been trying to teach me about patience ... and I think He has a reward in mind.
I'll gladly surrender my 30% VS discount for the answer to this lesson!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Get a girl drunk and you can do anything to her hair!

Long overdue for a haircut, I made an appointment with a new stylist.

I got his name from a woman I accosted in an antiques store who had a great cut. I held onto his name for a while, since I've been trying to get some length.

So I walk into the salon and the receptionist/hostess tells me the stylist will be right with me and offered me a drink. The options being water, tea and wine... I decided that I was indeed in the mood for a glass of white wine.

Half way through the haircut, I realized that I hadn't eaten all day and the glass of wine managed to get me a little drunk! Hooo! Imagine that!

Of course I loved the cut. Why wouldn't I? I'd have loved the broom at that point.

The really strange part was leaving the salon realizing that I couldn't drive! So I walked over to a pub and got something to eat. (the best Eggplant Parmesan sandwich ever!)

Later, I told Kim about the tipsy haircut and she was a bit bewildered as to how the salon could afford to serve wine - then corrected her thinking by saying, "Well, I'm sure they make up for it in tips."
"No... " I insisted, "I just gave him 20 percent." Then it hit me. "Which I calculated on the price plus product!"

Ugh. That wine wasn't so free was it!

(my apologies, this story is much funnier over the phone!)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Why are menial jobs so much work?

For the past few years I've been doing contract and freelance work. It's been great. Good pay, fun work and fairly exciting. But for now that well has run dry. It typically slows down a bit as the holidays approach, but this year it's actually a problem. It could pick up in 6-12 months, but I need to find something else to do in the meantime.

Right now I appreciate the opportunity to try on some new hats (so to speak) and to take a few months to really discover what I want to do next.

So far, I took two months off - doing nothing. I've looked around the market here and I've had some nibbles - but nothing that will pan out until after the beginning of 2008.

Anyway, I looked into work doing something I've always wanted to do... work at a portrait studio during the busy holiday season!!!!
I got the job... it's just above minium wage and it's only part-time until I complete training... so I got another job at Vic-toria's Secret to tide me over.

I think the secret is that she's a pain in the @ss!!!

I've never done so much BS work just to do a sh!tty, minimum wage, retail job!!
They only have a million different kinds of bras. I'm supposed to learn the names and categories of each one and how they're different. Not to mention the other bazillion types of panties, their names and where in the store to find them!

On my first day I spent four hours straight on my feet, not allowed to have water on hand.... and having to ask permission to get a drink of water or go to the bathroom!!! Arrgh! I'm too old ( and too experienced) to be treated like a child! Four hours without a sip of water! I'm going to corporate with that! On top of that, new employees have to go online to submit availablity for hours... and the website was dang near impossible to register and log into - and believe me I'm not an idiot when it comes to accomplishing such tasks! I spent two hours on computer last night, doing it wrong but getting no help from the site to correct or navigate the process!

The portrait studio is great so far though. They also have some BS training modules but at least the manager knows they're bullsh!t and doesn't assign any further importance to it.
I got to take pictures of kids today... and that was really fun. It's really satisfying to hear the parents ooh and ahh over the pictures so much that they can't decide what they like the best.

The worst part is... I had to buy a new outfit to wear at the Vicky's Secret job.
No biggie, it's nothing that I wouldn't wear anyway - black pants and a black jacket... the depressing moment happened in a certain discount department store where I found some pants on sale. That's where I realized that two months ago, I could earn those pants in one hour. Now it will take four hours to earn the money to cover that expense!!!

I shared that thought with Mr. Burns (formerly referred to as Mr. B) who was sympathetic. While shopping though... he picked out a few shirts for himself, a golf sweater and a pair of jeans, so when we reached checkout he wanted to save time at the register by combining our purchases. (so he paid for my pants and I bought lunch) But the cashier ringing it up said, "She gets one thing? That's unusual. It's normally the other way around!"

The whole thing was really strange to me.... I've never had anyone but my mom buy me clothes before!

Pretty Things

Some lovely things are finding their way to my home.
The day I found the flower painting (below) at an antique store... I also found this way cool vase.
It just screamed "special" to me. See, the base is square but the mouth of the vase is a triangle. Pretty tricky eh?
I love the color and the great texture on the base. It's not much for putting flowers in, but that fault is made up for by it's great design!
So, considering it's design I wonder if it is significant at all. There are NO markings at all so it's tough to determine when it was made. And to me the bottom seems smooth enough to suggest that it's not handmade. Any thoughts?

Friday, October 05, 2007


Today is the 22nd anniversary of my sister's death.
In one more year, she will be dead for as long as she was alive.

She was eight years older than I... so already I've lived without her longer than I lived with her.

It is so strange to arrive at the point where you don't miss someone anymore.
I used to wonder what it would be like if she were still alive. Would she have moved with me when I went to college, where we would have shared an apartment? Maybe she would have finished college too.

I don't wonder any of that any more.

Even now that I'm dating Mr. B -- I don't even wonder what she would think of him. If she would like him. While I'm anxious for my parents, my nieces and nephews and other relatives to meet him... I don't even pretend to want my sister's approval. But I know she'd like him. Are ya kidding?!

It really stinks that she's not a part of my life in any way.

My Renewed Passion for Soup

I love soup. It makes me happy. It makes me warm and cozy. It always tastes so good. I mean really, have you ever had soup that wasn't delicious?

What is funny is that I didn't realize until I reached my 30s just how much I love soup. I think I was having Minestrone one day after having another delicious soup a few days before and it hit me. I really enjoy soup.

Shortly after that profound realization, my soup days were over. You see, my doctor explained that I'm allergic to many simple foods: carrots, celery tomatoes, chicken.

If you know anything about soup - those are the very things that make up any basic soup stock. Woe is me. No soup. I've been pretty much soup free since late 2003!

So imagine the sheer joy I felt upon discovering a line of soups just for me!!!!
Okay. Pacific Natural Foods is not making them just for me, considering they are mass produced. But the ingredient list is completely TRS safe.

They are also organic, all natural and gluten free - none of which matters to me but I know plenty of people who will be thrilled to know it's available. (actually, some of you might find it helpful to have something like this on hand if you have friends or relatives who suffer from celiac disease -gluten intolerance. It's always nice to know you can avoid giving your guests an allergic reaction with minimal effort!)

I found these at Super Target, which is terribly handy.
Yesterday I tried the Butternut Squash and it was just SOOOOOOO tasty. I'm thinking the Buttery Sweet Corn will be tasty with some potatoes and fresh corn mixed in.

Oh sweet happiness! SOUP IS BACK!

Back when I had to give up soup, my mom and I spent some time trying to figure out what to substitute for the basics in soup stock. Now that's a hoot. The girl who doesn't cook* is going to make her own soup stock! Absurd.

I did find an organic soup broth from Swanson that is also TRS safe (also at Super Target). I use that to make my fabulous Squash Bisque... but I just don't have that many soup recipies... nor the patience to tinker with it.
So finding these ready made soups is a real coup!!

* FYI - I can cook. I actually cook quite well. In fact, I guess my friends hear me say so often that I don't cook that they think I can't cook! Please, who can't follow directions? When I do make a dish... everyone is shocked that it's so good!
More often than not I simply choose not to cook. It's too much work, too much mess and I've never figured out how to keep produce around long enough to eat it!


Last weekend my friend Ben left me a message asking if I could help him fulfill an obligation.
He occasionally commits to organizing a group to serve food and clean up at the Denver Mission. Somehow - the people he was counting on couldn't make it and he was frantically trying to round out his staff of volunteers.

Considering he only had 24 hours notice he wasn't holding out hope. But Mr. B and I went to Mass Saturday evening and he had plans to golf Sunday morning so as it happened I was free. I didn't really want an obligation Sunday morning and I almost said no - that I wouldn't make it.

At 10:30 I met Ben and some of his friends at the mission in the gritty part of downtown Denver. We set up the tables with water and bread and prepared to serve the homeless as they came in for lunch. I got to work the dessert table, with a variety of donated cakes, pies, cookies, danishes and coffeecakes.

It's just starting to get cold at night so the homeless are wearing their layers of coats everywhere now. (It's so sad, I see so many wearing heavy coats in the heat of summer just because they have no place to store them - and they can't bear to think of the coming winter without that coat so they suffer through the summer. I wish we could supply a place to store them - and clean them, but I suppose efforts would be better spent on food and shelter)

So these men and women are coming through the chow line a little dirty, holding all the possessions they can fit under their arms while carrying a lunch tray.

Going for the protein and nutrients they get chicken and beans and a salad... then they came to my station for dessert. There's that part of me that thinks the last thing they need is a sugar crash, and another that knows the sweet treat must be a little slice of heaven in their world.

I smiled broadly at each of them. Asked them to tell me what looked good to them. I made sure they heard me say 'you're welcome' when they thanked me... and I called each of them sir. (I assume women don't like to be called ma'am! I don't anyway.)

It's not often that I can truly feel the Holy Spirit at work. But that morning I felt the strong presence of the Holy Spirit in that dining hall! What a blessing to be there and have an opportunity to help them feel God's grace in some small way.

Some of them asked for two and three desserts! Some of them faked me out... "I'll have the cake. Oh wait I didn't see the pie!" So I gave them both!
Whatever they picked, I told them to be sure and enjoy it. A few of them looked me in the eye and said, "God bless you."
Ohh! That touched me! I returned the blessing... "God bless you." But inside I thought.... "He has. Oh He has!"

Just a reminder to respond to those last minute arrangements when you think you have something more important to do. (I really needed to clean my house) Well, my house is still a mess, but my heart is still full.
I can't wait to share the experience with Mr. B the next time Ben gets a group together.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I Can't Commit!

The main thing my home is lacking is art.
I've always been a little afraid of it I guess. More to the truth is... anything I really love is just out of my price range.
Part of my problem is that I don't want pictures (paintings) of things. I don't want a picture of a barn in my living room. A landscape... hmmm maybe.
My big pet peeve is paintings or drawing of things that you would already find in that room. As in... a drawing of a pedestal sink with a chair and towel in the bathroom. Uh. I'm in the bathroom. I see a sink and a towel. Why do I need a picture of it?
Even that really great painting of the dog lying on the bed... which I love! if I have a bed, and a dog... I can probably see that play out in real life.

I like photography best... but getting pictures big enough... or such that I want to stare at every day is just not so easy.
So I guess I'm drawn more to abstracts. Just give me a canvas with some color on it. If I have to think about what it might be... so much the better.
But today, in a little antiques store I found this beauty for $5.00!
It's a batik... the oil or wax is what stained the matting over time. I think it's a little lost in the tiny frame and green mat... so I'll frame it in a thicker black frame with a white or cream mat to make the flower pop a bit. Opinions?

Here's a close up out of the frame:
Someone drew a pencil line down it to line it up with the matting, as the art is (surprisingly - in a good way) bigger than I originally thought. I suppose there is no way to erase that line. Also there is the yellow green discoloration on the sides. But that may be the original color before it faded.

I already have a spare oblong black frame... and I thought I could mount it in there a bit off center.
like this... or maybe horizontally? Maybe best in a big square frame.
Or, do we think considering my dark wood furniture (and that the couch will be dark brown) that I should go for a nice wood finish frame rather than black?
I'm also thinking of playing with either watercolors or pastels to make two small complements to this piece... I'm thinking circles with the same colors... to hang in a cluster arrangement with this one.

Anyway. I feel like I'm finally off to a start.

So Far - Big Changes

If anyone read this and it doesn't appear anyone has! - it must look like I haven't accomplished anything.
Well, I haven't! Work got really crazy and I met a great guy (one of the goals) so this page got back burner.
The only progress I've made has been in the Apartment Therapy realm. My inspiration is here: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/

My living room gained a marked improvement with the purchase of a this credenza last winter.

Big change from this mess eh?

I've also selected a new couch... the purchase of which is on hold. But I did get a new 8x10 cream colored shag rug. It was a super bargain!! When I went back to Omaha for a visit, I stopped at Nebraska Furniture Mart and found the exact rug I was looking for ... marked down to $200! That's as little as I can expect to pay for an 8x10!! Amazing!

For now it's rolled up in my hallway, pining for the couch so it can take center stage when the time is right!! big improvement eh?!