How about a resolution to Be Yourself? (a.k.a. – a Proverbs 31 post)

You are more precious than rubies.

You are more precious than rubies

I am reading a new book that I’ve wanted to read for awhile now: A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans. I am enjoying it immensely. I avoided it for a while after hearing about it, because I expected a self-righteous written lecture about how to obey all the Old Testament legalities that most of today’s Christians consider unimportant. But it isn’t that at all.

Consider her “Proverbs 31” chapter, where she studies the chapter of Proverbs that begins “A wife of noble character who can find?” and continues with a long (looooong) list of all the things this exemplified woman does in her role of virtuous woman. I expected this chapter to make me feel “UGH”, but to my complete surprise, that isn’t how this author writes at all.

In this time of New Year’s Resolutions, I simply adore how Rachel Held Evans addresses the Proverbs 31 woman. First, she points out that no such woman ever existed. The chapter is not about someone who did in fact “do it all”. Also, in Jewish circles, it is not considered to be a list of things that all women should strive to master. In fact, the only instruction in that passage is given to other people – they are instructed to “honor her for all her hands have done”. Simply put, it is not a to-do list!

You are not blocked from being a valorous woman if you can not sew. You are not blocked from being a virtuous woman if you can not cook. You are not blocked from being a woman of noble character if you are not married. Not at all.

So what if you work, and purchase the clothing you wear from another person? The Proverbs 31 woman had servants, surely she didn’t sew every single item she wore, so if you work honestly and spend your money honestly, you are still clothing yourself and are a valorous woman.
It doesn’t matter if your method of cooking is opening a can of soup or ordering pizza. The point is that neither yourself nor your family is going hungry because you ignore them. So you are still a virtuous woman.
And since our society today does not require a male person to be the sole representative for his family in matters of law or policy, so if you are a single or widowed or divorced woman, you can still can be a woman of noble character without a husband today.

It’s not a to-do list, folks. You can use the strengths God already gave you, to be the best you can be, without trying to copy anyone else. You don’t even have to copy the non-existent Proverbs 31 woman.

So enough with the resolutions to change. Enough with the resolutions to be “good enough”. Enough with the resolutions to be more like someone else – whether that person have a model’s figure, an Olympian’s strength, or the homemaking instincts of Martha Stewart. Enough.

God made you who you are. How about a resolution to Be Yourself this year?

For my part, I ordered a unicycle. Yep. A unicycle. If I were to rewrite Proverbs 31 for myself today, “makes others laugh” would be part of it, I’m sure.


When it rains, it pours (aka: the week of teething, and chickenpox, and several other things)

Being a mom is lovely, absolutely lovely. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Keep your corporate job, keep your million dollars, I’ll keep my stay at home with two toddlers life. Seriously. I waited so long to be able to rock children to sleep that I’ll keep it and love it  even during the phases everyone dreads.

Have I mentioned on here that we have two toddlers now? Two boys, 17 days apart in age but worlds apart in development. One walks, runs, and climbs. The other is still cruising the furniture. One is trying out sign language and is very close to talking. The other has the Early Childhood Intervention people visiting because he is not making any strides toward communicating at all. One is 2’8″ and 30 lbs. The other is 2’3″ and 23 lbs. But both have light brown hair and blue eyes, and the most charming smiles!

If you know anything about adoption, you know that artificially twinning children is a bad idea. I would not have done it if this second child were not a short term placement. But he is – he has an adoptive family already identified! They just haven’t finished their training yet, but everyone is waiting for them because they already adopted two of this toddler’s siblings a couple years ago. So adopting him will bring the family of children together again. And that is worth a lot of waiting and a lot of bother. And because he has delays, having a same age sibling to identify with and to copy for a couple months just might help him out. So we agreed to do it.

The good news is the copying theory seems to be working out just fine. Our first child, DittoChild (DC), does something like take a toy and walk off with it, and our second child, Chipmunk, gets upset and starts cruising the furniture even faster in an attempt to catch up to DC and take the toy from him. Good workout for him.

The downside is really just about me. Because having two children the same age means two children going through things at the same time – like teething. Oi! I hate teething. With a passion. One question I’ll definitely have for God when I get to heaven is why he invented it! I mean, our head produces strands of hair without pain, why can’t our gums produce teeth without pain??? I’m sure he has a reason, but sheesh – I do not know what it is! My mom laughs and says I get to experience all the typical parenting headaches on fast forward because of the ages of these two children.

And now it looks like I get to experience a child with chickenpox. It might be hand/foot/mouth, or some other blister-causing virus… but chickenpox is the leading theory. We’ll know more Monday, 3 days after the first of the high fever and spots. So far just two blisters, and a bunch of red pinpoint sized dots. You know, the doctor at Urgent Care hasn’t seen a case of chickenpox in YEARS – all because most children are vaccinated for it nowadays. We went to Urgent Care because Chipmunk got a fever that spiked very quickly to 105.5 degrees. Noticing the blisters was just icing on that cake. At least I left with doctor’s prescription for how to administer tylenol to a child too small for the smallest dosage on the package – stuff like that gets really sticky when dealing with foster children. It’s always best to just have a doctor write it down and then it’s suddenly OK to give it. A recommendation over the phone is not nearly as official.

So by Monday we’ll know for sure, supposedly. Which means Monday I get to call all the professionals we saw on Friday and tell them what they were exposed to – because Fridays around here are “professionals” days. This week we had the Early Childhood Intervention people out, and the CASA rep. I’m sure I’m not the only person to tell them they’ve been exposed to something, though! It’s probably a professional risk they know about all too well.

So Monday’s schedule includes:
calling for a doctor’s appointment,
going to the doctor’s appointment,
emailing Chipmunk’s worker to say what he has,
griping to Chipmunk’s worker about being told he was up to date on vaccinations when I was told at Urgent Care that he’s 6 months behind,
emailing DC’s worker to tell her what he’s been exposed to,
talking to the medical transportation reimbursement people,
calling the ECI and CASA to tell them what they were exposed to on Friday.
And oh yeah – calling my brother to tell him we probably won’t make it to HIS WEDDING this week. (Oi, that one’s gonna hurt. But if Chipmunk has chickenpox, then we can’t bring him and doubt we could find a babysitter OK with it. So it is what it is.)

I can’t find out until Monday whether DC is vaccinated for chickenpox. He should be, but then again Chipmunk should have been, too. I’m not a proponent of the chickenpox vaccine, in my opinion it is still too new to have documented all side effects so parents can make truly educated decisions for their children. But being in foster care, I am not given a choice about vaccines. I must have them done on schedule. MUST. So now we have to deal with a catch-up schedule for Chipmunk as soon as he’s over this illness.

So: Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
may my kids sleep through the night,
and wake up with fevers LIGHT.

Bless mommy, daddy, Chipmunk and DC.
May all involved adults make the decisions for these children that are in their best interests. And may they wake up healthier and happier than they went to sleep.


Algebra in farming

I was never good at math.  The times tables baffle me. I know it’s just straight memorization, but all those repetitive numbers just get jumbled in my head. I can usually do one or two problems, but give me one of those speed tests where you have to solve 100 problems in a set amount of time, and all the problems start looking the same to me and I have to start *counting* to keep things straight. Which means I fail all of those because one just can not count quickly enough to pass them.

But I had a marvelous math teacher in 7th grade. Wonderful. Mr. Bordelmay. He taught me in remedial math. Those same stupid speed worksheets, over and over. But what he noticed was that while I was failing the speed tests, I was always aceing the extra credit questions – and they were complicated word problems requiring logic to solve. He went to bat for me and got me moved from 7th grade remedial math to 8th grade algebra, skipping pre-algebra entirely. Like he once told me, as soon as I was permitted to use a calculator in my math, I did just fine!

So why is today’s math problem stumping me? I must be over-thinking it.

I need to worm my rabbits. I have seen evidence of worms in their droppings. The information I can find on line told me I wanted Panacur for rabbits, at a concentration of 18.75%, administered at one click per 2.5 kg of rabbit weight.

OK, that’s not bad, except I can’t find Panacur at that strength anywhere local, and I’m not paying for shipping from England. I can, however, find Panacur at a concentration of 10%.

So the math problem should be easy. What measurement of Panacur 10% do I need to use to replace one click of Panacur 18.75%?

Except then I need to know what a click is. The instructions don’t say. There is a photo of the syringe in question, it looks like there are 16 indentations on the handle of the syringe. So, it’s reasonable to think that each indentation would cause a “click” sound when you hit it while depressing the syringe. So the next step gives me the number of grams in the syringe tube (5 g) divided by the number of clicks (16). That’s .3125 g (313 mg) of Panacur 18.75% per click.

OK, I could do the math now. What measurement of Panacur 10% do I need to use to replace 313 mg of Panacur 18.75%?

The answer is 599 mg of Panacur 10%! Woo-hoo!

Now, that’s 599 mg of Panacur 10% per 2.5 kg of rabbit. And I only know what mine weigh in pounds. *Sigh* More math.

And even after I know the dose per rabbit, I need to be able to *measure* that amount. I need a scale that measures milligrams, which I don’t have. Or I need to know how to convert the milligrams into millilitres so I can measure it into a syringe.  That requires knowing more things than I know. And it requires even more math.

At this point I should have just ordered the stuff from England. It would have arrived before I could figure out the math for the dosage of the stuff I bought locally!

The horror of mirrors in movie theatre bathrooms

Mirrors. Like many people, I have a love/hate relationship with mirrors. I use one to apply my makeup, but ignore the tiny wrinkles at the corners of my eyes. I use one to style my hair, but carefully avoid looking at the grey hairs while doing so. I use them to adjust my clothing, but don’t want to see the size of my waist.

Looking at a beautiful image of myself in new clothes or with a new hair color is worth it. Noticing that the person next to me looks better makes it worse.

So why oh why do they put such LARGE mirrors in the restrooms at movie theatres???

It never fails. I go to the movie – one I’ve been waiting to see for some weeks. Fully half the people in line are teenagers, rowdy and flirting with each other to some degree, as teens do. Every one of them is gorgeous, because when you’re over 35, you realize that everything you thought was ugly as a teenager is actually just a uniqueness, and that every healthy young person is actually stunning. The shiny hair, the bright complexions without wrinkles, the effortless movements are all graceful. I get my ticket and proceed to the theatre to watch the show. Then on the screen, every woman is skinny and beautiful with flawless skin, impeccible hair and makeup and clothes. That goes for the commercials, the previews, and the feature movie. Of course they’re skinny and beautiful, they’re paid to be. Of course the hair and makeup and clothes are perfect, they have a whole staff to make it that way. If they were normal they’d be in an office, not on a movie screen.

So full of images of beautiful teens and women by the end of the movie, I proceed into the restroom, where in every movie theatre I have ever visited, a whole wall is dedicated to one of the largest mirrors I have ever seen. It starts at hip level, even with the skinks, and extends over my head. I glance in the mirror as I pass, and am immediately struck by one fact –

I look nothing like all the images of teens and women who have filled my eyes and mind in the past few hours.

Nothing. The differences stand out to me. The haircolor that needs retouched. The wrinkles that are now showing because the tissue (used in laughter or tears at the emotion of the movie) removed some of my makeup. The waistline that is flat or convex where every other waistline I’ve seen in the past few hours is concave. All my faults – real and imagined –  are displayed to me in this mirror. They stand out all the more because of the differences between the images I so recently put into my mind vs the images I see in this mirror.

Somehow I never remember to avoid looking in that mirror.

Why do they need those mirrors to be so large? Other than dressing room mirrors, they are the only ones I see in public that show so much. I mean, they are low enough they are below my hips! Why? Large mirrors are expensive – more expensive than tile for that much of an area. I have no idea why large mirrors in movie theatres are so prevalent.

I can’t imagine that the large mirrors bring them any business, and they just might be keeping some business away. (Especially in the snack area – who would buy snacks after seeing themselves in that light?) One of life’s mysteries I guess. For me, the mirrors in the bathroom would be a good feature for a horror film!

Have you had an experience like this? What are the mirrors in your movie theatre like?

Ranting about conformity


  1. Compliance with standards, rules, or laws.
  2. Behavior in accordance with socially accepted conventions or standards.

Sounds like a good thing, doesn’t it? A society filled with people who obey the laws, who behave in the way that makes others comfortable, who say “please” and “thank you” and who cross on the green light. Utopia.

But it doesn’t mean just that. It also means a society filled with people who obey the letter of the law instead of the spirit of it. Who don’t worry about others’ feelings or comfort because they are doing what everybody else is doing.

We tend to praise conformity in our society. We teach youngsters to stand in line and to take turns. We look askance at teens who dress in clothing we can not define. We tell each other what they “should” and “should not” do. Give to this charity. Smile more. Don’t eat at that restaurant. Walk during your work break to keep in shape. Spend quality time with your kids. Wear a scarf this season even though they were “out” last season. Hate this group of people. Love that group of people. Support the troops. Support the protesters. Support your government. Put a ribbon magnet on your car. Adopt a dog. Get married. Don’t get married yet. Join the military. Go to college. Get a job. Change your hairstyle.

It’s easy to conform. It’s easy to hide while you conform. People pick on you less when you’re conforming. People notice you less when you’re conforming.

But is that really who you are? If nobody told you to act that way or believe that way, what would you do? If everyone around you suddenly decided to act and believe differently, what would you do? Are those actions what you really wish to do? Are those beliefs really ones you hold?

There are always other people who believe the way you truly believe. And others who act the way you wish you had the courage to act. It just takes work to find them. And they’re usually called nasty names. Like “dissidents”. Or “heretics”. Or “stupid”. Or “ugly”.

Let’s take a major example – the Declaration of Independence. It contains the line “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” At one time, most people believed that line applied only to men, and specifically only to white men. Those who believed black men were also created equal were called abolitionists. They were white men themselves, in many cases. They were looked down upon, even cursed at and beaten. At another time, those who believed women were also created equal were called suffragettes. They were often women. They also were looked down upon, cursed at, and imprisoned. Yet today we look back and realize that the abolitionists and suffragettes had it correct. Those who conformed to what society considered acceptable were in the wrong.

Each of those people who helped shape today’s public opinion decided not to conform to majority opinion any more. They stood up. They became visible. They got picked on. They were noticed. But they turned off that never-ending voice in their head that kept telling them to be quiet and go with the flow. They thought their own thoughts. They believed a different truth. And they chose to no longer conform. And they were right.

My example was a very serious one. But conformity pops its head up in all sorts of situations.

Have you ever stood up against socially acceptable behavior, that wasn’t acceptable to you? Would you do it again?

For those of us who don’t “work”…

The next time someone asks me “What do you do all day, since you don’t work?” I think I’m going to blow a gasket. Then, when the steam stops rolling out of my ears, I’ll make them read this:…the imperative of protein

What a wonderful, well-written article about the value of processing your own food. It IS time-consuming, but the alternative is getting a job so that I can buy the cellophane-wrapped version from the grocery store. So in my opinion there is no comparison. I’ll stay home and raise and process my own, thank you. And since that IS work, I’ll value the work accordingly.

Do you have anything to say about the article? Are there people in your life you wish would read something like this?

My Mii is fat!

There’s a story behind this. Of course.

It started with last fall’s challenge to myself. I wanted to improve myself, to do things I would not normally do, to work on making myself a better person. Sounds good, right? Well one of the things I did was join a gym and start going regularly. And one of the results of going to the gym was that I became annoyed with the fact I did not lose any weight.

None. Not one single ounce.

I was working out, working hard, sweating buckets, improving my strength and flexibility, but I did not lose any weight at all.

Coupled with this was a doctor’s visit for something innocuous. But while I was there, I was stuck in the office for a loooooooooong time. So I was reading the charts on the wall, one of which was a BMI chart. And I discovered that according to my height and weight measurements, I was obese.

Obese. Me. Seriously?

I’m strong. I can lift 50-lb bags of livestock feed. I don’t lead a sedentary lifestyle. I am outside every day with the animals. I don’t ignore my health. I eat natural foods made from scratch, with plenty of vegetables. I’m healthy. I work out 2-3 times a week, strenuously. I can touch my toes. Heck, I hiked up to the top of Pikes Peak mountain in Colorado less than 2 years ago! In my mind, none of those things are congruous with being obese.

Was her chart incorrect? No, I went home and Googled other charts, and there was no difference. It took a while for the knowledge to really sink in, but it finally did.

I am obese.

Even my Wii gaming system knows it. The little icon representing myself (my “Mii”)  on the Wii Fit is fat. They automatically take my weight and height and make my Mii proportional to that.

I hate it. Instinctually I know I do not look like it does, but I also acknowledge that I do not look like I did when I was 29 either.

Obese just doesn’t look like I once thought it did. One doesn’t have to be in a wheelchair, incapable of walking more than a few feet, before they’re considered obese. One doesn’t have to sit on the couch all day eating fast food, to end up being obese. It can happen slowly, in a healthy and strong person. It can creep up on you when you think all is as it always was.

I am not plagued by any of the health issues that often accompany being obese. My blood pressure is great. I’m hardly ever sick. I don’t have trouble doing exercise. I just have the extra layer of fat over parts of my body. And for that I am thankful.

But in what ways might my life improve if I were no longer obese? I bet I would have better flexibility if I had less fat to maneuver around. I bet I could pick up 75 lb bags of livestock feed if I got rid of some of the weight I’m carrying inside my skin. I’m sure there are more, those are two that came to mind most quickly.

I don’t know what the future will hold now that I have internalized this realization. But I’m not happy with the way things are, and I will change them.  I have not made any lifelong changes yet. But I will.

I think I look forward to seeing my Mii get skinny as much as anything! Sometimes the small things matter. 🙂

Disappointed in Babies R Us

When hubby and I were in Seattle this past week, we went to a Babies R Us. With a number of baby showers coming up, and our application to become foster parents still pending, it seemed like a good thing to do (since they don’t have this store down where we live).

I expected to find a plethora of things I’d been hearing about, some new things, and to have an awesome time. But after we left, I realized that the feeling I had was, in fact, disappointment. And it surprised me.

If you believe the advertisements, Babies R Us is “the” baby superstore. It is supposed to have everything a family needs for a young child. But it definitely did not have what THIS family needs for a young child.

Sure, I could buy blankets. Acrylic ones with fire retardant and created with chemicals so that even the packaging warns “wash before using”.
I could buy clothing – if I were OK with ones that are “Made in China”. Didn’t we Americans learn anything when we found out they were painting children’s toys with lead paint? Apparantly not, since we still buy things from them that we immediately give to children who put everything in their mouths.
I could buy baby formula. But isn’t breast supposed to be best? Then why does this baby superstore have exactly two short aisles as high as my shoulder selling items needed for breast feeding, while it has two long aisles taller than my head full of formula? (And that doesn’t even count the aisles of bottles, because they can be used with both formula and breast milk so I counted them toward neither.)
Then there are diapers – they sell exactly two brands of cloth diapers, and on the shelves were two packs of one, and one pack of the other. Yet disposable diapers were stacked upwards of six deep in every brand and size. And no diaper covers for the cloth, either, which is a very necessary piece of cloth diapering!

We went to the toy department – and found exactly one type of doll that came in both a “white” and a “black” design. *Sigh* As half of an interracial couple, variety in doll skin colors is going to be important to any child in this house. I appreciate that so many children’s dolls come in colors like red and blue, but when skin tones are available, I really REALLY wish the tones reflected real life. Even Crayola has removed their “flesh” color name, because they have realized that flesh comes in many colors. Why can’t doll manufacturers do the same? And since a few of them do, why can’t Babies R Us stock more of those?

And I probably ought not to get started about the whole “baby container” industry. Really, do parents today really look for any available way to put thier child into something and walk away from him/her? Infant car seats that you can carry around without ever touching your child. Baby chairs with interactive trays so you don’t have to interact with baby yourself. Talking toys to teach your child their colors and shapes. Bumbo seats so you don’t have to hold your child while feeding him/her. You could feasibly have whole DAYS with your child where you never touched them other than to move them from container to container, starting with breakfast and ending with bed. (And changing a diaper, of course, which you don’t even have to check anymore thanks to “color change wetness indicators”).

Sure, all this stuff probably makes parenting much more convenient. But is that really what parenting is supposed to be? Convenient? Done with minimum muss and fuss? What happened to people who actually enjoyed touching their child? Ones who pay enough attention to notice when their child wets or soils their diaper? Ones who hold their child while they eat? Ones who give their baby a wooden spoon and a pot to bang on while they cook, so the child can “help”? Why do we feel the need to fill their lives with plastic replicas of real life items, while putting the baby anywhere other than against our skin?

Please understand – I KNOW some of these things were invented because of the needs of special needs children and their parents. If you NEED one or more of these things, I am not condemning you. Invite me to your baby shower and I’ll even buy one for you. But to use multiple things to limit your interaction with (and touching of) your healthy baby is really starting to grate on me.

If God ever grants me a biological child, I fully intend to baby wear, cloth diaper, breast feed, rear face in carseats until at least age 2, touch my child at every opportunity, clothe him/her in fibers from suppliers I trust, and provide a generous number of toys that feature people of every race and that are not plastic. And his/her colors and shapes will be taught by me, not by something that runs on batteries.

I am surrounded by parents who do many of these things. I would have plenty of support for any of them. I think cloth diapering is the only out of the norm (for here) thing I’d choose to do.

And I guess I just figured out why there isn’t a Babies R Us where I live. It would go out of business. People here – including me – are different. And we like it that way.


On body image and beauty

How do you picture yourself? In your mind’s eye, how do you look? Does what you envision match what you see in the mirror?

My husband is a sociologist (pursuing his PhD), and a lot of things that his classmates talk about includes how people see themselves and others. A lot of the world’s problems – and solutions – have their start in that little issue of perception. Today I’m ranting about body image.

I have learned that approximately one third of adults in the USA misclassify their own weight. (That is, given the categories of “underweight”, “correct weight” and “overweight”, their perception of themselves does not match the category their BMI actually puts them in.) A THIRD. That is a lot of people. And that’s only considering what the people actually say about themselves. How they feel can be even further separated from the truth. (This is the study I am paraphrasing:  Self Perception Of Weight Appropriateness in the US.)

And I have learned there is such a thing as “phantom fat”. It is sometimes experienced by people who have lost large amounts of weight. They may know that according to the scale, they are now an appropriate weight. They can state out loud that they are an appropriate weight. But they don’t feel that way. In their mind’s eye they are still overweight. They still are concerned with fitting into chairs. When shown clothing, they think the larger sizes will fit their body, instead of the smaller sizes that actually fit. The fat they have lost still sticks around in their memory and in their perception of their looks. (Here’s the story: “Phantom Fat” can linger after weight loss.)

Personally, I have the opposite issue. When I was several years younger, I was a lean size 6 and looooved my collection of short skirts. I took ballroom dancing lessons and got to wear those outrageous dancing costumes at the competitions. And in my mind’s eye, I still look that way. But that was 8 years and several clothing sizes ago. I now wear the same clothing size as the average American women, but because of the image I have of myself in my mind’s eye I still look the way I did then. I can tell you my weight and size and the fact I am in a doctor’s opinion, “overweight”. But none of that changes how I view myself or how I feel about myself. I feel, and therefore act, sexy, confident, and sure of myself. This is in spite of the fashion industry trying to convince me I need control panels in my jeans and push up pads in my bras.

There have been a lot of things in the news lately about body image and beauty. I like very few of them. Here are two of the more notable losers:

Ralph Lauren hires first Plus Size model. When you read that headline, what size of woman do you think she is? Maybe a woman who wears plus-size clothes? (Which is a horrible term on its own, but I’ll complain about it another day.) Nope! She’s a size 12, the size that half the USA adult female population is larger than. That is NOT “plus size”. That’s AVERAGE size. Of course she’s larger than most models. But she is not larger than most women. This is a very good example of the disconnect that exists between the fashion industry and the American public. Calling a woman “plus size” when she does not wear plus sized clothing is a misnomer that will affect every person who looks at photos of her and connects her with that term.  Here’s a link to an article with good statistics and good photos of the woman:

Skinny Disney Characters. Seriously??? We’re skinnying down children’s cartoon characters now? It’s not Disney itself doing it, it’s a clothing manufacturer. I dislike the idea of it, but I hate this sentence the most: “The standard Minnie Mouse will not look so good in a Lanvin dress”. It was said by the manufacturer’s creative designer. And he has it completely backwards. It is the Lanvin dress that would not look good on Minnie Mouse. It is clothing that is supposed to look good on the wearer, not the other way around. It is clothing, its design and its fit, that should be criticized, not the person. And the sooner clothing manufacturers realize that, the better. Here is the article with the best (worst?) photos I could find: 

It’s difficult to counter so many messages telling us that we are not tall enough, skinny enough, or pretty enough. Even men have to wrestle with these issues. Even my husband has had struggles with how he believes people perceive him. (And he’s gorgeous, by the way.) A small snippet of his struggle is listed in the first half of this post: Marathon Training Day 11: In the gym with younger, stronger, faster people.

But I am going to end this post on a good, happy note. Not everyone falls victim to the fashion and beauty and weight loss industries telling them there is something wrong that they need to fix. Some stand out from the crowd and empower others to do the same. Lada Gaga is one example. Her response to those viewers who criticized her recent weight gain is refreshing.

Here is one such video, with no apparant connection to stars or fashion icons. I definately encourage you to watch it. I’d love if this video and ones like it were shown in every classroom in the USA, every year. If only we could reach children and teach them they are beautiful before anything infringes on their ability to believe it. And amazingly, it includes a series of photographs of beautiful women that, for once, leave the viewer feeling as beautiful as they are.  It’s title: On Real Beauty:

Don’t let others put you in a box with any unsatisfying label on it. Ever. You are beautiful. You are handsome. No matter what.

“She’s even bigger than you are.”

For an American, I am a average sized woman. I’m 5’4″ tall and wear a size 12 in clothing and size 7 in shoes. Perfectly typical.

But in the Philippines, I am both taller and wider than just about anyone else I see! The men here are usually my height or a bit shorter. Women are usually a full head shorter than I am. And both sexes are thinner in general. Those living in poverty are very much skinnier, while most of those in the more affluant families would still be considered “slender” by American standards.

We were walking with our guide and translator the other day, and she wanted to direct my attention to a government official who was walking up to a building ahead of us. “She’s up there, on the stairs, she’s even bigger than you are!” was how she was described. Boo!S

ince I have been here, I have been referred to as both “stout” and as “big”. Compared to Filipinos, I definately am both. So why does it bug me to have someone say so? I have no idea, but it does, and that’s something I need to get over because I’m sure it will happen again before we leave here.

Filipinos are direct. I know this. If you quietly excuse yourself to use the restroom, someone will call out “Do you need tissue?” (referring to the fact you have to bring your own toilet paper to a Philippine bathroom). If you have a stomachache, someone will gently inquire as to how often you are having bowel movements. There don’t seem to be many taboo subjects, or taboo ways of talking about things.

This natual Philippine bluntness and willingness to talk about things that are normally left unsaid is a great boon to my husband’s research. People don’t get all shy when you talk about their income, how they earn their money, their medical issues, or how much they pay for things.

But on a personal note, sometimes I prefer that certain things be left unsaid, especially when they pertain to me!