I Want to be a Lady

Can I be a real woman and still radiate the aura of class required to be considered a lady?

I love the 1940's and the way women looked: Red lipstick, gloves, hats, dresses or pants suits, fabulous hairdos and Class. They also had some sass to keep things real. The new found freedom of employment and independence, coupled with the frantic romance of wartime love created for me an intoxicating combo of polish and sass. They were LADIES. They were real and they were iconic in my mind.

As time has passed I see how casual everything in the world has become and I mourn for just a little restriction. I'd like not to see gratuitous sex in movies but rather the passionate and mysterious clutches of a vintage film. I'd like to hear clever dialogue in coffee shops instead of the f-bomb or other crass words I struggle to avoid. I'd like not to see my own or anyone else's muffin top dangling out over the waistband of their pants. I'd like to have the energy and desire to do my hair on a daily basis in something more than a 'claw' hair clip or ponytail. I am grateful not to be judged, harshly at least, when I run errands in jeans and a ponytail but I would like to find myself looking and acting more like a lady than I currently do.

I cannot be alone in my lifelong desire to be beautiful and real at the same time. I have often struggled between the "Real Me" at home in fleece sweatpants sipping coffee sans makeup or class....and how good I feel as the 'Ladylike Me" decked out from hair to lips to heels out in public on a good hair day. I have prided myself on enjoying the dichotomy between the two versions of myself, yet I will admit envy when I look at a few of my close girlfriends who seem to be all lady all the time.

They are beautiful- the first lady in my life is Missy. She is the intelligent and doting mother of two tots. I have hardly ever seen her without tasteful makeup and coordinated outfit with sparkling beaded jewelry she created herself. She has a sweetness and poise I am delighted to find in one of my friends but dismayed not to see in myself. I am more of a chocolate dipped hurricane of energy and opinions...more likely to be decked out in a hilarious combination of perfume, wild hair and red lipstick and the same diamond earrings I wear every day unless I forget. I see Missy as a lady...and without betraying myself and my uniqueness, I would like to be more like her...more of a sweet lady.

The second lady in my life is Cathy. She is fiercely intelligent and creative in her business...she is also a lady. She cares for her family and loves her friends well and still pampers herself regularly. She has an elegance and presence in a room that grabs attention without shouting, more of a sultry 'come hither' whisper without pretense. Although we are both redheads that is where our likenesses stop. I would like to be more like her...more of a cosmopolitan lady.

Please do realize there are many more 'Ladies" in my life, these are just two great examples of women I see living the life of a modern woman and making her look good at the same time...reminding me of a true 'Lady". As I consider what makes me see both of them as 'ladies' I do begin to see some aspects of my own persona that could qualify even flatulent me as a lady. I am kind to people- often seeking out the overlooked to try to impact them in a cheerful way. I love my husband well- there is not a day he walks out the door to go to work that he doesn't know how great I think he is or how much I respect him as a person. I am honest...I know who I am and am usually forthright about it regardless of my audience. If I am being a sloth on the couch I do it up right- lap blanket, snack food, good magazines and the phone nearby for girlfriend chatter. If I am going out with my man I am as pretty as I can get and relish our adventure in it's entirety...especially the food and bevvies!

Whether I am dressed up or down, feeling pretty or feeling scummy, feeling flatulent or well mannered I enjoy every single moment of my life. Maybe I will realign my values of ladylike behavior to include authenticity, inner beauty and daily joy. As a matter of fact, I think that is what makes my friends Missy and Cathy so attractive after all...authenticity, inner beauty and daily joy. Maybe it isn't the clothes or lipstick that makes a lady at all.

Plump With a Purpose WVPE Narrative

"Plump With a Purpose"

So I got my “little miracle” and it seems over the next ten months- and it is ten, anyone who says pregnancy lasts nine months is a liar and should be soundly smacked-it seems over the next ten months I will not only grow my own personal mini me, but will add an impressive amount of weight to my already over-upholstered frame. This is apparently common with pregnancy, but as anyone with a brain can realize women do not want to gain weight. Ever. For any reason. No matter how healthy their sense of self may be, weight gain is not a good time. So how do we come to terms with becoming plump with a purpose to deliver a healthy baby?

Gaining weight on my body makes me think of gain elsewhere in our lives. We gain weight in stuff, effort and maintenance through the things we spend time with, buy and value. I gain too much at the grocery store, sadly watching the excess rot away to a squishy mess in the bottom of my crisper. We gain too much clothing with so many options to choose from that our mornings run long and we are late to work. We gain too much in our recreation, spending so much time , money and effort to enjoy ourselves we return from a day’s adventures or our vacations exhausted and needing more time to rest again.

Somewhere there is a balance, a level of (dare I say the hatefully prudish word) moderation that enables each of us to fully enjoy our gains without being overrun and exhausted by them. In the same way that weight gain is unavoidable and necessary in pregnancy, gain in our lives makes them go round and fuels our joy not to mention the economy.

What does enough look like? How can I be sure to gain enough weight without going to the extreme? How do we enjoy the things in our lives without letting them become burdensome and overwhelming? I think sharing is the best place to start. I share my food inviting friends to dinner and I split the ice cream sundae with my husband. I give clothes away to Goodwill if I do not love them and wear them regularly. I try to simplify my daily life, space and desires so I only keep near me what I truly use and love...what makes me healthier, happier, more whole.

As far as the weight on my waistline, I could regurgitate encouraging philosophies from the books I have been scouring for help. I could take the feminist route and berate society’s obsession with thinness and remind myself even models in magazines are airbrushed to look...”better”. I could throw out caring and get good and fat on ice cream sundaes and deep fried pickles and add not shaving for the duration to the mix just for show. Or, I could simply appreciate the entire process, dress to accentuate the positive, and eat healthy food most of the time. I can appreciate the fact that the bigger my belly gets, the smaller my thighs look, and that is not even the best part. After four more months and about twenty pounds, there will be a new someone in our lives I can share these random thoughts with and that will be more than enough for me.

Making Family WVPE Narrative 2008

“Making Family”

Last night I dreamt that I was at a yard sale and found a partial set of three gorgeous pottery dinner plates for my little cousin Portia. She is one of seven cousins; there are two others my age and five younger ones I have called the “little cousins” all my life. In the dream I remember worrying that three dishes are not enough for entertaining, but I do not know my cousin well enough to even know if she has people over that only three plates would be a problem.

Portia and I do not see each other outside of reunions as she lives in Colorado and I live here in South Bend Indiana. I guess most families are spread out today- it is rare for one to live where their parents grew up. We move to follow love, career or traveling whims and this nomadic approach often separates extended family like mine. I think our experience of 'family' gets diluted because we cannot know each other on a daily basis. In my travels I have often made my own family from a handful of dear friends, and while it is good, it is....different than blood relatives.

Regardless of location, as the cousins all grow up and begin to marry or live otherwise very ‘grown up’ lives I am sheepishly aware that to call the little cousins ‘little’ is inappropriate and yet I cannot stop. The three of us older cousins have now gotten ourselves all “married off” and are trying to advance the family name by making family of our own. We are done for the moment with ourselves and eager to create someone new out of our love with our spouses.

It is interesting and painful to discover that making more family by having a baby is truly a miracle beyond our control. Two of us have had heartbreaking miscarriages and the other is conquering other fertility issues. It seems that it is not so easy to make babies that you become glowing with child the moment your interest in parenthood outweighs your fear of it.

This struggle to expand our small families makes me consider family more seriously and I want to know my cousins better. With the advance of modern distractions like Facebook this seems possible. Even just this week, there are photos from the wedding tagged to my account and with a few clicks I can keep tabs on the cousins and their life adventures from across the states. I believe that we can and WILL stay in touch throughout the years in ways we have not before.

I might just find a lopsided set of pottery plates for my little cousin Portia in real life, like in my dream, and by then I may know her taste well enough to know if she even entertains. As I grow older and become less interested in myself and more interested in family, MY family - I may even be able to stop calling my beautiful, accomplished and grown up cousins ‘little’. Maybe. I have heard miracles do in fact still happen...and I am counting on it.