Your Age

 

 

large photo by Beverly Couper
#letyouragebecomeyou

I’ve been doing some writing for another publication. I can’t publish it here because it’s exclusive to them, but if they choose not to use it, I’ll be popping it up for you to see. I enjoyed writing it so much!

It’s all about curves and confidence, and the circuitous path it took my soul to find a way for both to exist simultaneously in my world. When I was younger, I had no idea that curves would eventually be such a useful part of my self-esteem. I had no idea that the things I hated about my body would become things that I celebrate. How did that happen? How did I get from self-loathing to self-loving?

I had a massive reality check in the experience of living with Pandysautonomia.  A gift of sorts, in the way that all the most memorable life learning can be simultaneously painful, difficult and uplifting.

It made me realise that there are body issues which transcend the petty concerns of comparison. It made me feel the sting of all the time I had wasted on self-criticism, there in front of the mirror, thinking about all the ways people would disapprove of my dimensions. So ridiculous. Mum used to tell me when I was a teenager, that most of the time, other people wouldn’t even be thinking of what my body looked like. That it was a kind of vanity to assume they were. I was convinced there must be others like me. That they were studying every other like-aged-girl to see what was ‘normal’, hoping that they could become it by studying it in all its minutae.  Hoping to find the magic code for ‘cool’ so we could programme ourselves to be so.

I couldn’t be. I was far too tall and generous of beam to ever fit the narrow-hipped, slim legged archetype of the eighties fashion teen; those oversized tops and legwarmers only looked good on petite little things. I didn’t yet understand that being a six foot tall woman required a certain level of bravado. That you need to own your height, your wiggle.  That the most uncool thing of all isn’t wearing a home-made dress, but being a mouseling in a giantess’ body. I had no idea that confidence and ease are the symptom of a simple choice you make. To accept your unique self, no matter how different you are to the established norm. Being free within your own expression of DNA to be your own kind of beautiful.  I wish I’d known that back then.

I could have done a lot with my gorgeous young self that was left undone, all because I didn’t understand. No amount of wishing, dieting, exercising, hoping, slouching, yearning or moping was ever going to change the facts.

I am a giantess.

Fast forward to my middle age… I’m so proud of being built this way. My size has become a bankable commodity since I started plus-size modelling last year. My confidence comes from finally getting it. I’m this person. Who you see is me. All of me. I wear my love of cake in my curves. I wear my love for people in my smile and the wrinkles around my eyes. And I wear my heart on my sleeve, because that is just who I am. No filter. No problem.

Some people love these things about me, and others don’t… and that’s no problem too. I can’t change a thing about it.  I’m happy, at last, in my own skin. Happy to be who I am, in a body that functions. Happy to be surrounded by people I love and to know that above all things, that’s the most beautiful thing of all. He tangata. Happy to be the age I am. To know the things I know. To leave behind me the pointless self-flaggelation of living to the standards of others. It’s a kinder, freer way to live. It makes space within my noisy head for more useful thoughts… the sort that create and feed and nurture me. Building me up to do the same for others.

I’m starting a hashtag across my social media, because I think we don’t celebrate nearly enough, all the ways that age can be ‘becoming’ to women. I’m all about the notion that beauty is relative to your soul, and sometimes, that takes a long time to understand. How are you letting age become you? What are you noticing about yourself that you finally GET, that you didn’t appreciate about yourself when you were younger?

#letyouragebecomeyou

The Wide Blue

Oops.  I really AM having a break from the blog, but I just had to share this with you…

I’m listening to  ‘John Dunbar’s theme’  by John Barry, far above the Pacific Ocean.  The evocative, heart stringing melody pulls me into a contemplative space. The clouds out my window look like snow drifts on blue ice.  It is so beautiful.  My heart aches with the beauty of our world. I can barely understand how it is that I am flying through the blue atmosphere of this planet, eye on the curve of the horizon. Feeling so far from lost. Home in the clouds, in the air.  On my way.

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 6.07.59 pm

The first time I remember being in a plane was when I was around seven years old. I was clutching hold of a single rose, struggling to make sense of the painful lump in my throat.  If I close my eyes I can feel the shape of the cellophane stem in my hands, I can feel the sadness that overwhelmed me.  My best friend Dana had just said goodbye to me in the airport and given me a rose. The singularity of that flower made me realise; I was leaving the safety of being of ‘she and me’. It is the first time I understood the loss of friendship.

The strains of losses, goodbyes and farewells fill the spaces in airports and airplanes. Almost every soul on board this flight must have said goodbye to someone, somewhere.  There are heavy hearts and happy hearts, hopeful hearts and the heartbroken.  We are bound for a new destination and whatever might come.  I wonder about the stories they hold, all these people.  I wonder who they are.  What are they carrying on board today? Not their luggage; their heart burdens.  Are they as fortunate as I am? Do they have a compass for home? A warm nest of their own? Will someone be missing them tonight, reaching out their hand to find cool sheets where their warmth used to be?  Will someone be wishing they could hear them breathing, wishing they could rest their cheek against their back?

I sometimes feel so unfortunate.  I see how things are changing for me, how much less mobile I am, how much more I am struggling. And it makes me feel a strange combination of desperation, frustration and sadness.  And then, here I am, looking out the window; the arcing blue sea shifting into powdery sky and I feel calm. Blessed, even.  I get to do this. See this. Be here and have thoughts and words and experiences.  I get to make memories with people I love.

I can’t give you all the beauty outside my window; I see it, but so many people won’t.  All around me eyes are closed to the view.  People shift in their seats, or resolutely shut their eyes to the gift just there, outside the window. You have a window too, somewhere there, where you are. Have you looked out of it lately? Taken deep slow breaths and let the beauty fill you up?  I quench the parched terrain of my sad thoughts when I look outward. Don’t look down, look out. Look up. Just, look.

Listen to this music. Come, get lost and found with me, out in the blue.

(…and just in case you are wondering, that friend and I are still friends.  We found each other again at 19, saw a bit of England and a bit of the Netherlands together.  And twenty years later, we email still.  Hi Dana!  True friendship is never lost).

How To Just Be

Every now and then, I’m going to post some photographic magic here.

Photos by a friend of mine with a talent for catching beauty in her camera.   Her name is Be Couper.

Thank you Be, for giving us a little window to look through.

These posts will be called, ‘How to Just Be’.  Their purpose is to give you something to pause and wonder over.  Something beautiful.  Something to inspire you to take a deep breath. A moment to drink in the view, even if you can’t get out to see these wonders.  Something to help you to just be in the moment.

This photo was taken from Northcote Point and is a view of our Auckland Harbour Bridge.  Be tells me she was taking photos with a friend who was endlessly patient, teaching her how to take photos of lights at night to give this ‘starburst’ effect.  I love the way the lights march up toward the bridge.  Whose journeys are they illuminating on this night?  Did someone look up at these lights at the very moment Be was taking this photo?  Where were they travelling?  For some reason, it puts me in mind of this golden oldie lyric:

Where do you go to my lovely, when you’re alone in your bed?
Tell me the thoughts that surround you.  I want to look inside your head.
Peter Sarstedt – 1969

spaghettj
Photography by Be Couper

How to Just Be

 

Every now and then, I’m going to post some photographic magic here.

Photos by a friend of mine with a talent for catching beauty in her camera.
A little window for us to look through.

These posts will be called, ‘How to Just Be’.  Their purpose is to give you something to pause and wonder over.  Something beautiful.  Something to inspire you to take a deep breath. A moment to drink in the view, even if you can’t get out to see these wonders.  Something to help you to just ‘Be’ in the moment.

Standing on St Heliers beach looking back across over Brown’s Island.
Hello Day. 

Photography by the wonderful Be Couper.

DSC_0822Here is an extract from a the writing of a poet I have always loved. I read another of her poems at my Mum’s funeral.  That one was “Remember Me”.
This poetry extract comes from

de Profundis
by Christian Rosetti

 

I never watch the scatter’d fire
Of stars, or sun’s far-trailing train,
But all my heart is one desire,
And all in vain:
 
For I am bound with fleshly bands,
Joy, beauty, lie beyond my scope;
I strain my heart, I stretch my hands,
And catch at hope.

 

“De Profundis” is reprinted from Poems. Christina Rossetti. London: Macmillan, 1891.

Read more at http://www.poetry-archive.com/r/de_profundis.html#3bCKbCWxAcQiqAkc.99

 

How to Just Be

 

Every now and then, I’m going to post some photographic magic here.

Photos by the crazy talented Be Couper.   A little window into Be’s world.
These posts will be called, ‘How to Just Be’.  Their purpose is to give you something to pause and wonder over.  Something beautiful.  Something to inspire you to take a deep breath. A moment to drink in the view, even if you can’t get out to see these wonders.  Something to help you to just ‘Be’ in the moment.   This one I have called Yellow Skies.  Don’t we live in a gorgeous country, down here at the bottom of the planet?  Thank you for sharing your art with us Be.  You clever lady!

Photography:  Be CouperBe Couper Yellow Skies