Thursday, April 25, 2013

Not Even a Tan Would've Helped

Don't you hate it when you're reading a text or checking Facebook on your phone and just as the back light dims you catch a glimpse of your neck waddle?  That's right, you're looking down, oblivious to the detrimental effect gravity is having on your face and neck, and just when you least expect it, you're staring at an image closely resembling Droopy Dog.

Like this, sans the cute

I'm telling you, I must have supernatural lighting in my bathroom, because most days I feel like I leave the house looking pretty okay.  But then, as I bound to the car with a (fraudulently) youthful spring in my step...I see my reflection in the car window and think, "Who brought the old chick?"

Friends, lately I just haven't been feeling very foxy.

So what do you do when you start to feel all hausfrau-y?  In my experience, you can go in one of two directions. Option I (which happens to be my favorite) is to simply say, "eff it!"  Throw your hands in the air, tell yourself you had a good run and pass the baton to the younger and hotter 30's crowd.  This scorched earth attitude comes with a license to eat carbs in excess and drink to your heart's content.  It also comes with a ponytail holder, a pair of sweat pants and a holey oversized t-shirt.

Option II would be to embrace your age and start a day-forward approach by taking preventative measures and making healthier choices: Staying out of the sun, drinking more water, working out more, wearing SPF, eating better and cutting out alcohol.  This option comes with a looser fitting and more extensive wardrobe, (you know, the stuff in the back of the closet) but does require an additional hour of primp time each morning.  The bonus, however, is that this option comes with a new, sassy attitude and THAT is something I've been missing.

Now I know I said that I preferred the June Shannon Starter Kit option, wherein I get to eat and drink myself into oblivion.  But I actually ended up doing the responsible thing and going with the health-conscious - albeit joy-deprived - route.  I began applying SPF each and every day, I started drinking more water, I incorporated the Insanity program to my workout regimen and I made better food choices.

I know, I know, I know!  So I didn't cut out the alcohol.  Unless you count the time I used scissors to get the beer out of the case box...

After a week, I started to feel better.  And when you feel better, you look at yourself differently.  So there I was - feelin' a little foxier than the week before, and just in time to attend a friend's birthday celebration.

Because I'm the procrastinator's procrastinator, I decided to get my friend's gift on my way to her birthday dinner.  This particular friend loves her some vodka, which makes gift-giving a cinch and it just so happens there was a liquor store on the way to this birthday shindig.  I pulled up to the liquor store, gave myself one last look in the mirror and entered the store feeling confident.

I scarcely got past the lime display before a smokin' hot guy working the Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey sample table caught my attentionNow I don't do whiskey, but I would've for this guy.  He was cute with a capital H.O.T.  Sadly, as I got closer and did some quick figuring in my head, I determined that he could've been my son had I started in my 20's.

What's this?  Hotty McHot-Hot doesn't seem to care that I'm the December to his May?

Mr. McHot-Hot stared at me as I made my way to the vodka aisle - and I mean stared.  Hey, the heart wants what the heart wants, people.  I might be 43, but I clearly still got it goin' on...  After selecting a bottle of vodka and a gift bag with HAPPY BIRTHDAY plastered on every side, I proceeded to the checkout closest to my whiskey-peddling admirer.

Here was our exchange: 

Hotty McHot-Hot: (Motioning to the birthday gift bag with a chuckle) "Hey, it's my birthday tomorrow." 

Oh, Hotty McHot-Hot, you're embarrassing yourself.  So young, so naive...don't be so obvious.

Me - (in my coolest tone)  Well, then I'll have to come up here tomorrow and get you a bottle of vodka, too.

And with that award-winning line I sauntered out of the store with a confidence no amount of water, exercise or SPF could ever give me.  My foxy was back!  I felt good.

As I bound to my car with a youthful spring back in my step, I caught of glimpse of myself in the reflection of my car window and discovered why Hotty McHot-Hot couldn't take his eyes off of me.  But this time I wasn't so focused on the wrinkles.  No, no.  That day, my wrinkles were taking a backseat to the 3 middle shirt buttons that had come undone, proudly displaying portions of my bra, my boobs and my stomach in all their 43-year-old glory.

Those unbottoned buttons did no one any favors that day.

Hell, it's not even like my bra was clean.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

And It Makes Me Proud

In the wake of tragedy, I inevitably hear about those directly affected with the presence of mind – or selflessness - to take their loss and turn it into a positive: A law that prevents “x” from happening again, the creation of an organization or movement to raise awareness for “x,” or simply the idea that being happy and moving on with their lives is what he or she would’ve wanted.  I’m not sure I’d be able to be that person.  I’m fear I’m too selfish.  I can see myself finding a blanket to crawl under and rocking myself into a catatonic state. 
Yet, time after time I hear about people who’ve endured unthinkable circumstances, rising above their own grief, and doing something positive with the hand they’ve been dealt.  I’m sure it helps to pour yourself into something other than grief.  I know it’s necessary.  I know it’s cathartic.  I pray I never have to “know.”
In the hours following the Boston Marathon bombing I, like most everyone else, was glued to Twitter reading countless tweets under #bostonmarathon, flipping between news stations, checking,, CNN – you name it.  Every once in a while, someone would mention how “this could have been so much worse.”  It was never said with malicious intent or meant to be disrespectful – it was simply stated as fact in an effort to make the viewer feel better.  When I’d read or hear a statement with this underlying message, I would cringe and get angry.  I was angry for those who'd lost their 8 year old son, their 29 year old daughter, their leg, their arm, their ability to walk down the street without fear.  This tragic event is as bad as it gets for these people.  To say "this could have been so much worse" seems like a total dismissal to those who were affected.

But I know what they meant.

On Monday, my heart was broken both for the city of Boston and for our country.  Like every parent, I fear this troubled world my son is forced to grow up in.  Between school shootings, bullying, attacks on our freedom – both foreign and domestic – there’s not much recourse short of finding that blanket to crawl under.  But over the last 2 days, the outpouring of kind acts and stories of heroism have flooded the news and social media.  Typically, acts of kindness don’t make headlines.  But I believe we’re so deficient at this point, it’s what we crave.  Humanity has an exceptional gift for restoring balance. 

These acts of benevolence and goodwill are doing exactly what they’re intended to do; they’re making us stronger, more unified.  Each act is a thread of love, inspiration, heart and courage weaving this...blanket of sorts.  Not one to crawl under, but one to envelope and protect us. 
One of my favorite “threads” occurred the night following the bombings.  The New York Yankees displayed the Yankees and Red Sox logos flanking the words, “United We Stand” on their video board.  Further, the Yankees played (and most sang along with) the Red Sox mainstay, “Sweet Caroline,” during that game against Arizona.

People, this just doesn't happen.  That's like asking Jillian Michaels to cozy up to a package of pork rinds – and smile about it. And this isn't merely a sports metaphor - this act is symbolic of what is taking place all over our country right now.

While I hate that it takes an act of terror to pull us together and remind us to become the people we should’ve been all along – without losing sight of the pain and grief of those who lost loved ones and were directly affected on that fateful day – I am grateful that our country grows stronger (and kinder) as a result.

This is us - rising above our own grief and doing something positive with the hand we've been dealt.