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A Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom Moment
By R. Ann Rousseau
It was the scream heard round’ the world…well maybe just the neighborhood. I’ve been advocating to have a state law changed that would secure the same property rights for condominium owners that single family home owners have for being notified about land board hearings when they are considered abutters. In New Hampshire, only the Officers of a Condo Association are notified, and they don’t always deliver the notices to other condo owners in the building. That becomes a problem when you wake up one morning to find construction starting on a new Walmart across the street, and you never knew about it. I appeared before a committee of the State Legislature to speak about the Bill. Now, my story was appearing in the local newspaper—something most advocates would love to have happen. Only there was a catch. The local newspaper wanted me to have my picture taken in the city square for the article. It also happened to be my birthday. I thought it was no big deal, so I agreed. Being a single girl, I hadn’t had my picture taken in years. The photographer showed up promptly and had me do a series of poses. I felt like a model enjoying her one minute of local fame. People were driving by honking horns and watching us. It was a fun thing to do on your birthday. Within hours, I got an email from the reporter, “Your story is online, but we couldn’t get the photo in. The photographer hasn’t gotten back from another job.” I followed the link to the article—and there it was. No big deal about the picture not being in. I just wanted my issue noticed by the community. All of sudden, I get a Skype message from my friend Donata, “Nice picture in the Herald.” “Picture?” I asked, “What picture? The reporter emailed me that the story was going out without the picture. I saw it that way online.” She said, “No, there’s a picture.” I immediately looked on line and sure enough, the most horrendous picture I had ever seen of myself was now available for all the world to see—not that they would want to but in my mind it was global. “Holy Sh..! That’s not me! Oh my God…Oh my God!!! It’s horrendous!” I don’t think my description here does justice to the melt down I had when I looked at that photo. I called Donata. “Oh my God. I look old and tired! I don’t look like that! I held the picture up to my face in the mirror and that’s not what I see! Jesus
Christ! I’m single. If any guy Googles me, that’s the picture they’re going to see! Oh my God,” I said crying to my poor friend Donata. “Robin, it’s not that bad. Really. You’re overreacting,” She said in her Lithuanian accent. Maybe it was the fact that I had my period that day or maybe seeing a picture of myself on my birthday at age 46 was just a completely eye opening experience, but I was having an official melt down…on my birthday! Being the wise 30 year old Yoda that she is, she said, “You know, you have to accept the fact that you’re not 30 any more. We all get older. It happens to everyone. There’s a spiritual lesson in this.” I said, “I know. I know. I was thinking about that myself. But, I think it’s a combination of a spiritual lesson AND an outrageously bad photo!” She said, “Well, there’s nothing you can do about it. What’s done is done. You have to accept it.” After hanging up with her, I thought, I don’t HAVE to accept that this is me. I’m going to have my friend Mel Snodgrass, a professional photographer, come over and take some good photos of me. If I don’t like those, then I need to lose weight or do something to accept the way I look, because I wouldn’t go out on a date with that picture! Armed with my battle plan in mind and a call to Mel who agreed to drop by on Sunday, I felt some relief. I decided that I needed to treat myself well to change the energy, so I took a walk downtown on Saturday morning. I bought some jeans at the Gap and some earrings at a local shop. It was a warm winter day so I decided to take a walk to my favorite park on the river. I was happily walking in my own little world towards the park when I saw a newspaper box on the sidewalk next to the entrance. As I walked closer to the park, the newspaper box and front page came closer into focus. All of sudden, I let out a scream—that scream heard around the world/neighborhood, “Oh My GOD!!!!” My ugly picture was plastered, larger than life, on the front page of the Saturday Herald staring up at me from the box. Meltdown #2. It’s one thing to look at your tiny picture in a story online. It’s another thing to see it a half a page large on the front of the local newspaper. My feel good day turned somber. It made me even more determined to get some great photos of myself sooner rather than later. The next day, Mel showed up. “I saw the front page of the Herald. Yeah, bad picture,” he said. We got down to business immediately. He took a series of shots. We played with the lighting and poses. He was patient and very willing to get just the right shot that would
bring me some peace. I found one that I could live with but I had to admit that maybe it was time I lost ten pounds. Perhaps the spiritual purpose of the meltdown was to make me wake up and look at myself physically. Mel is a spiritual guy. He and I talked about the whole melt down week. I mentioned that I was aware that focusing on physical appearance so much this week may be a little superficial. But, we both agreed that we have a physical body…a face, so it’s important that we feel comfortable with the one we see in a photograph. It’s important that we take a look at a photograph every now and then to see how the world sees us. It was a wake up call that I needed to accept the 46 year old me. I don’t think my issue is unique. After talking to my older Yoda friend Jean who is in her 80’s, she said it still amazes her when she looks in the mirror. She told me she frequently asks herself, “Whose older body and face is this?” Our physical bodies never seem to reflect the age our inner spiritual body feels. We always seem to feel that we’re younger than we look. At dinner parties, I often ask my friends, “If you didn’t know your real age, how old do you feel?” Many times I’m shocked. I’ve had a 90 year old tell me age 18. I’ve had a 28 year old tell me age 40. My 80 year old friend Jean feels 35. Perhaps our real age is what we feel inside. That would be all well and nice if our body reflected the way we felt. On days like my birthday meltdown, I am reminded that I’m really not 28 anymore-the way I feel, and I have to accept that—at least for just a moment. After I went through my whole meltdown spiritual awakening, my friend Donata called again. “Don’t forget we’re going to see Christiane Northrup tape her PBS special Women’s Bodies Women’s Wisdom at the Music Hall Saturday night. Do you have your ticket?” I said, “Yes Mom.” Remember, I said that I was the 46 year old. She is 30 year old. She said, “Maybe she’ll have something to say in her lecture about your meltdown. The program is called Women’s Bodies Women’s Wisdom after all. Maybe she’ll tell you to get some wisdom about turning 46.” Wisdom about my body? I’m never sick. I go to the doctor when I feel like it which is never. Quite frankly, the last thing I think about is my body which may have contributed to my little picture drama. I remember Oprah called Christiane Northrup’s book “The Bible,” for women’s health. I had never bought the book, because I don’t focus on illness. As a result I’m healthy. After this meltdown, I was thinking that maybe I needed to have a peek at the book and see if it could tell me how to have a 28 year old face on a 46 year old body.
Donata and I went to the PBS taping. The Music Hall was packed to the rafters with women of all ages, shapes and sizes. Camera men were walking up to audience members and taping them. They felt like movie stars for a moment in time. The big bright theatre lights were shining on everyone and the room was electric. Donata turned to me and said, “This is very exciting!” I was thinking, “This is what a successful author looks like.” We sat through a few hours of taping. What you don’t see in the final version of the PBS broadcast is a lot stops and starts. As kids, we would call them do overs. It’s not a sausage making process but it is choppy. The spiritual lesson I got from the taping was that many times in life, we get do overs. We don’t have to accept our first “take.” We can look at it and if we don’t like how it looks or sounds, we can do it over, edit it, divorce it, or get another picture taken. We don’t have to accept less than our best game face. We don’t dwell on what was, what could be, our mistakes or failures. We buck up and start over and get the picture the way we want it to look. It requires fortitude and the willingness to be the best we can be. When we’re young, we would get upset if a man leaves us, we lose a job or we flub a presentation, as if it were our last chance at success. This woman’s wisdom tells her to go back behind the curtain then come back out on stage and start again. That’s what I did to deal with my meltdown. I didn’t accept that the picture in the Herald was the best me, so I proactively got some more pictures taken. After I lose ten pounds, I’ll invite Mel over for some wine and say CHEESE again, and I’ll gradually get to the point where I won’t need another “take.” It will be a final cut—maybe by my 47th birthday. I’ll release it on my Linkedin page as a way to share it with the world…or at least my 100 contacts who already know what I look like. The bottom line is, I’ll be happy with a great picture and that’s all that counts…at least as an ending to this story.
Copyright © 2010. Revised 2011. R Ann Rousseau. All Rights Reserved. R Ann Rousseau reviews books and writes about spiritual metaphysical topics on her website http://www.explorebeyondtheusual.com and blog http://www.explorebeyondtheusual.blogspot.com She is the President of the Seacoast Astrological Association and completing her first novel Portsmouth – A Love Story.
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