Friday, January 11, 2019

Vanity oh Vanity, thy name is Mary

"It is very often nothing but our own vanity that deceives us..." Jane Austen

OK. I did say I would be honest. I will not achieve the goals I have set in this blog to share with you my reader unless I come clean and strip away my pretenses. Just a reminder of the goals here: peeling away the layers of my complicated self; open dialogue about life, love and other issues; and share my physical and spiritual adventure in Kenya.

I am providing a vulnerable moment here, so count to 10 before the harsh judgments fly. And trust me, the irony is not lost here.  In a state of panic, as I contemplated the loss of the easily accessible beauty treatments while in Africa, I crammed my last week in town on vanity rituals that I cling to—botox for the wrinkles, a keratin treatment for my hair (it frizzes in humidity), and a way too expensive root color and edgy haircut. Unfortunately, I ran out of time for a mani/pedi. Mourning the thought of a future lacking my latte's at Starbucks, or a tasty vino accompanying an overly indulgent meal, I crammed my body full of delicacies as if I felt I deserved them. In the back of my mind I kept saying to myself, "You are heading to a country full of famine for God's sake! You will lose the extra 10 pounds you have put on!" Like that's the point of this all, right? I know. I know I spent more money on these things than many people make in months. Not sure whether to hang my head in I feel I should. It's a quagmire, to be sure.

I have good intentions. I desperately desire to break away from the boundaries I have lived within–to open my world view, change my priorities in order to authentically love and understand myself, others and our connection with the Universe/God. But I come from a long line of vain women. I remember sitting in the den next to the kitchen in my childhood home, listening to my mother talking on the rotary phone to her good friend. "Men don't look at me anymore!" she shrieked while laughing out loud. It was one of those conversations we women have with our friends as we start to age! You know those conversations we have at parties my dear friends! The specter of invisibility creeps in at a certain point, and everyone under 40 starts calling you "Ma'am" at every turn. Advertisements for products and procedures to improve that youthful vitality that use to be "for people like my mom" I now pay attention to.

Sometimes I feel assaulted by invisibility. Yet, I am going to admit, there is something incredibly liberating as well—i'm just unsure of where I am on that mental see-saw. Did any of you read the interview in Marie Claire with  the 50-year-old French writer Yann Moix?  In this absolutely disgusting article, he claimed himself  “incapable” of loving a woman age 50 or older. He goes through a litany of why a 25 year old's body is superior and an over 50 year old woman is anything but a beautiful sexual being. First of all, yes, we all recognize that 25 year old body we all had! Remember that body, the one prior to the one we now embody with its remarkable capacity to stretch as new life grew and was nurtured in the womb? Do you remember that 25 year old body that worked and focused only on itself, versus our older bodies that move and stretch to behold and accompany others in the world?  Yes, those young bodies are/were beautiful. But I would not go back. I wonder if Yann Moix experiences the inevitable changes that occur in the aging male body. Statistics show half of all men over 50 have erectile issues. And I bet his body looks nothing like that of a 25 year old man! Have any of you read articles where women shame the aging male? I don't know about how each of you feel, but there is something incredibly sensual about aging men and women and love. When I went back in to the dating world (more on that later), the intimidating and unwieldy on line pursuits echo Moix's perspective! I laugh at how many men, beer bellies hanging out of their unbuttoned shirts who demand only full body female shots. Umm, what are they not getting?

Oh friends, it is a jumble at times. What messages should we embrace, and what messages should we reject? I know I place so many false pressures on myself that I should reject. I creates stories in my head of what others think about me...and it is often very unkind. Remember the unwelcome voices in my suitcase? Women need to unabashadly cultivate an incredible amount of self love, don't you think? We are told to "love your neighbors AS you love ourselves." I know I love my neighbor more. Why is this so hard to understand?

In Boston now. Thought today would be a good day to start a vegan diet until I saw the clam chowder and lobster roll that went well with the icy cold pint! Up early and off to Kenya tomorrow.

More to follow....

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