So I Took My Shirt Off The Other Day….

***WARNING: Things stated  below are not meant to be taken self-deprecating.  All statements listed below are done so with clear-headed truth.***

I’m over-weight.  (You see the reason for the warning above.)  Anyone who knows me, especially as of lately, will know this is true.  While I know there are “proud-to-be-plus-size” women out there (who I totally admire, by the way), I am not one of them.  I am not proud of my plus size.  Yes, my body type is more on the bigger-boned side.  However, if I was disciplined in my eating and exercise I would not be a plus size…at least I wouldn’t be a plus size in my own mind.  I probably would not be in the impossible Hollywood standards, but those aren’t the standards I really care about.

Swimming is always a conundrum for me.  I love swimming.  I love getting in a lake or river, immersing myself in and just floating.  But, with swimming comes the ever dreaded……….BATHING SUIT!  If you’re a girl or you’ve ever been shopping with a girl, you know how stressful bathing suits can be for us.  Especially for us who are in the bathing-suits-are-not-very-forgiving plus size.

I’ve had the same bathing suit for the last few years.  It’s a modest one-piece that doesn’t make me feel completely worthless when I put it on.  However, not many people usually see my bathing suit. Since a teen and for as long as I can remember, I usually wear a t-shirt over top…even in the water.  Even though the t-shirt doesn’t really provide a slimming illusion, there’s some comfort in having that extra little bit of cover up.  Maybe, just maybe, I don’t look so fat with this shirt on over my bathing suit.

This summer, my sister and I took my girls to Fundy Park on Canada Day.  It was hot and Fundy provided the coastal coolness we craved to enjoy the day.  Our first stop was Bennett Lake.  The girls were very excited to get in the water.  We set our blankets and towels and bags and coolers down and tried to get everything ready.

Then, the moment came.  That moment when I look around and realize how many people are at this beach with me.  How many people would see this fat body in a bathing suit.

But my eyes zoned in on the only two people that mattered.  My two beautiful little girls.  What message was I sending them if I walked in the water with a shirt on?  What was my answer going to be when I was surely to be asked why I was wearing a shirt in the water?

My apprehension about people seeing me in a bathing suit were nothing compared to the fear I had for my girls.  The fear that someday, maybe not that day, but someday my daughters would become concerned with their body image because they saw for themselves that their mother was so concerned about her own that she hid herself under a t-shirt.  A t-shirt is not made to swim in.  A bathing suit is.  So, as I looked at my daughters, so excited about the beach and water in front of them, I opted to not put on my swimming shirt.  I waded in the water with them, swam next to them, played with them.

My daughters mean the world to me.  As they are grow, I realize more and more how my own issues could directly affect them.  It would break my heart if I felt that I influenced them into thinking they weren’t beautiful, that they should be self-conscious instead of confident, that they weren’t as worthy as other people around them.

So, step one.  I took off my shirt.  Step two…still in progress.

 

Canada Day 2014

My sister, myself and my two girls. Canada Day 2014

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What it’s like to be Ralph and Etta’s Grandchild

Being Ralph and Etta’s grandchild meant being fussed over every time you walked into their house.  It meant hugs and kisses and delightful “Hello’s” when entering followed by the statement “I bet your hungry.”  It meant your visit never came at a bad time.

Being Ralph and Etta’s grandchild meant being excited just to be around family.  They didn’t have toys (unless one was left behind by a cousin who had recently visited), there were no video games or movies.  The only television shows on were the news or something from the National Geographic channel.  Yet, it was an enjoyable place to be and you didn’t want to leave when the visit was over.

Being Ralph and Etta’s grandchild meant poached eggs on toast for breakfast and dessert after every meal.  Whether the dessert was a cookie or a fancy cake, there was always the option of adding ice creme, usually at Grampie’s suggestion.  And if the dessert was ice creme, there was always the option of adding sliced bananas, strawberries or even peaches to it.

Being Ralph and Etta’s grandchild meant being surrounded by laughter.  Humour runs in abundance in the Carruthers family and after spending a few minutes with Grammie and Grampie, it was easy to see why.  It meant that you didn’t always need a spoken joke in order to laugh. Sometimes, you just needed to share the right look.

Being Ralph and Etta’s grandchild meant being in a warm house.  The thermostat was kept high, no matter the season and no matter how many people were in the house.  But the warmth of love and family was even more powerful.

Being Ralph and Etta’s grandchild meant you could introduce them to your friends, knowing they would receive the same sincere kindness and interest that Grammie and Grampie bestowed upon you.

Being Ralph and Etta’s grandchild meant being apart of something big.  With 10 children, their spouses and 25 grandchildren, any family gathering was guaranteed to be a party.  Being surrounded by this family is always an immense joy.

Being Ralph and Etta’s grandchild meant having an amazing example that you can follow in any aspect of your life.  It means being a part of a legacy that includes godliness, integrity, faithfulness and generosity.

Being Ralph and Etta’s grandchild is something to be proud of.  It has been an honour and a privilege.

Grampie & Grammie at their 70th Wedding Anniversary Party June 2011

Grampie & Grammie at their 70th Wedding Anniversary Party
June 2011

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Sailing Through Life

“He’s just sailing through life.”

Have you ever heard that phrase or used it to describe someone?  Do you know (and maybe envy) someone who seems to “have it all?”  People we describe as “sailing through life” are often seen as someone to whom things come easy.  Someone who doesn’t seem to face a lot of conflict.  Someone with very little problems.

I have some hope to pass on to you.  All of us are sailing through life.

For a few years, my husband and I had a sailboat.  It was a little 18′ Sandpiper.  It wasn’t a big boat, but big enough for the two of us to sail through the day and sleep through the night.  We really enjoyed it.  

Sailing is a beautiful, peaceful, calm and relaxing way to spend time.  No noisy motor, just the sound of the water splashing against the hull.  The perfect breeze.  Beautiful water. But Sailing is hard work.  Unlike what many of us picture you don’t just get on a boat, put the sails up, point to where you want to go and just sail.  It doesn’t work that way.

First, there are terms to learn.  Most of which don’t make sense and can be hard to remember.  Instead of right and left you have starboard and port.  Instead of ropes you have sheets. Instead of saying “the sail is flapping” you say “we’re luffing.” Instead of saying “DUCK” when the boom is going to move (the metal arm the holds the main sail) you say “Come about.”

Then there’s the actual act of sailing.  You need to know which way the wind is blowing and how fast. You need to decide how high or low to set the sails.  Whether to have both sails up or just one.  When to “tack” (yep…another term).  And what do you do when there’s little or no wind…or too much?  And the biggest challenge for me, remembering that the boat is supposed to heel over (tip to one side) to gain speed and momentum.  (I tended to freak out a bit and constantly repeat “It’s supposed to do this. It’s supposed to do this.  It’s supposed to do this.”)  And just when you think you’ve got everything set right, you’ll have to jump up and readjust the sails and sheets and…

See, sailing through life doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy.  Nothing about sailing is easy. But when you have your moments of beauty, peace, calm and relaxation it makes it worth all the hard work you put into it.

Those people who seem to be “sailing through life” are facing problems and complications as well.  We may not see them, but it doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

So, the next time someone says that someone else is “sailing through life” (especially in an envious way) you can truthfully reply, “Yes, we all are.”

My husband and some friends sailing "Piper" a few summers ago.

My husband and some friends sailing “Piper” a few summers ago.

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