This past Sunday, as I began running through the woods, forgetting that it had rained two days before and would be thick with mud and fallen fall foliage, I found myself frustrated and then amused by my frustration. It’s just mud. Of course it would be there. I had been running in the reservation long enough to know that. The mud could not be my real frustration. But I kept having to stop so my vulnerable back wouldn’t get surprised by a sudden slip of my footing. I wasn’t appreciating the interruption in what felt hard enough...running. I used to enjoy it. Now I am trying to find a new way to move that would feel satisfying, but until I do, I carry on and get myself out there. I ended up at the pedestrian bridge in the reservation where I stopped and sat, dangling my legs off the rock wall looking over the river below. My eyes settled on one rock where leaves coming downstream had gotten stuck, one on top of the other. The water was pounding it steadily. I kept my eyes fixed waiting to see when the top leaf would get dislodged and start flowing downstream again. Other leaves would slip right on by on either side. What made those particular leaves stuck while others simply moved on? Some even went straight over the top of the rock, as if mocking the leaves they sailed over, enjoying the ride of strong current. I resolved that I would stay there meditating on the rock until one leaf got freed. I wanted that satisfaction. Time passed, I got cold and couldn’t wait any longer. As I made the long walk back through the woods to my car, I thought about mud and stuck places and recalled myself the day before.
On Saturday I resolved that with my alone time, when the kids were not around and Mike was in a workshop all day, I would take the opportunity to find some winter clothes. It is the kind of thing I need to do alone and for good reason. I went to the mall determined to be patient and hopeful that it would be painless. I ventured into store after store trying to find clothes that fit my short, muscular legs. Clothes I could work in, that were comfortable and flattering. Two and half hours later, I went home with nothing. The style of the day is not just SKINNY. It is TRUE SKINNY, ULTRA SKINNY, SLIM, EXTRA SLIM, CURVY SKINNY. That’s the best one yet. I hate to tell them, but there is no such thing, at least not the designers’ idea of what curvy skinny is. I did go into the fitting room and made attempts on pants that did not say “skinny.” Finding I couldn’t get one pant leg over my calf, let alone the rest of my leg, I would pull it off saying a phrase of loving-kindness to myself. My time in fitting rooms can be very brief. I’d take a breath, pick myself up, and walk out ready to face another store. If I wanted to, I could attempt to put 2 pounds of muscle in a one pound bag (my nicer version of the phrase), but I don’t think it looks good. Nothing about it appeals to me, let alone the fact that it is flat out uncomfortable to be in all day. I left the mall defeated.
Back at the ranch, Mike returned from his workshop, filled me in on his day and asked about mine at which point I burst into tears. I don’t not like my body. I just wish they made flattering clothes for it. Though I am so glad not to live in the 1950’s, I do think the clothing was spot on. You could be curvy or pencil thin and the clothes appreciated the body, rather than body trying to appreciate the clothes. Instead, today, I have to endure the self-shaming that inevitably comes when store after store insists that you have a different body. The worst part was that non of this was where I wanted to be spending my energy or time. So I added shame to shame just to make it worse. But maybe, feeling like I must be the only woman (because that’s what we usually think...no one else has this problem in this way), who likes her body and can’t find flattering clothes...maybe this is where I need to spend my time. On the way out of the mall, I passed what I refer to as a middle aged store where the clothing is comfortable and I am guessing made for curves. For a brief second, I contemplated going in it. Of course there is nothing wrong with the clothes in the store, it’s just my association with it. It was a crushing thought for me. I kept on walking. Though maybe, if I could have gotten my ego out of the way, I would have found something to wear.
The next day, as I walked back out of the woods enjoying the remaining leaves shimmering in gold, I thought...that’s my rock. I can be just like that leaf that slams against it and can’t get off easily. Someday I will get freed from it. The current will touch me in just the right way to loosen my attachment and I will sail smoothly down the river again. I might meet another rock of a different shape later on. I know better than to think otherwise, but this one will be behind me. Even if it doesn’t happen in this lifetime, I do know it will change. For now, I will stick to my Lucky Brand jeans for the winter and even though I just learned that they, too, stopped making the one style that fits me, I have enough. Mud, rocks, and skinny pants...my teachers on this path.