Blah vs. Beautiful

I remember being called to the door to meet one of my mom’s suitors. It wasn’t long after the divorce and, therefore, none of the men who came to call on my mom would have been good enough. But this meeting, in particular, left me with bad feeling that stuck with me for many years. I was one of three girls — in the middle of the threesome, in the middle of those awkward years, and desperately in need of braces.

We were all called to the door at once to meet this man. He was introduced to Big Sis first. “Well Hello, Linda” he said, “My, you are a pretty young lady.” Lil Sis was introduced next. “Hi Carol” he said, bending down to shake her hand. “You are a real cutie.”
Then, he was introduced to me. He looked at me, smiled, and kindly said, “Hi Julie.”

That was it! No compliment. Nothing but, “hi.”

I remember running to my room murmuring to myself, “Linda is pretty. Carol is cute. Julie is…?” What was I? Was I ugly? Surely he wouldn’t say that if he wanted my mom to like him. I looked at myself in the mirror and examined the awkwardness of my overly miniature frame (late to develop and several inches shorter than my peers), my overbite, and wavy to the point of looking messy hair. I wasn’t ugly. But I wasn’t pretty either. Finally, I determined that I was “Blah.” I was glad that this stranger hadn’t found the words to describe me.

He’d been nice enough but still, I was glad we never saw him again.

That seed created an insecurity that stuck with me for more years than I care to admit. Like those bulbs which go dormant only to pop up randomly and flower, these feelings sometimes emerge unexpectantly. Thankfully, I have learned that being cute or pretty isn’t all that. Being full of beauty is where it’s at. And beauty is not on the outside; it is within.

A friend shared this blog post today. It served as is a nice reminder to embrace all that I have learned. The young girl is lucky to have such a wise mother to teach her this valuable lesson early on in her life.


Being the parent of an active teenager means managing transportation to and from the many activities they are involved in. In my case, it is football conditioning and skills training camps which all seem to be located nowhere near home and all occur in the middle of the day. Thankfully, there are a couple of other parents who are willing to ride share and, one in particular, who has gone over and above during the summer.

I try not be resentful when my coworkers are going out to lunch and I am doing my hour of shuttling. As my late husband used to say, “You wanted kids, Julie, so deal with it.” The real message is more one of my decision to send my son to private school (which is not within walking distance of the home) requires me to make sacrifices personally to make it work. It’s not easy though – especially being a single, working, parent.

All week, the family that has taken on the majority of the driving has been away on vacation. The other teammates of YaYa’s are either injured or out of town at a basketball tournament. I’ve managed all week but today’s work schedule is unforgiving. I am forced to call upon a woman who I’ve paid in the past for dog care and rides to tutoring.

The last interaction left a sour taste in my mouth for reasons I could not put my finger on. I needed a ride to tutoring and home (a total of 8 miles roundtrip). Different from prior interactions where I hand over the amount of money I feel appropriate – plus a little more because she has been out of work for many years and I want to help out. This past time, she named the price upfront. And although it was exactly what I’d planned to give her, it just felt wrong. So much so that the following two times I needed dog care, I called on a neighbor instead – who told me that I was over paying her and insisted that I keep $10 per day.

Since I was only able to get YaYa to practice, but not home due to a meeting, a huge part of me wanted to have YaYa miss today’s practice. Instead, I swallowed my pride and sent a message to the woman I’d been avoiding. I told her my request and asked her how much she needed me to pay for it. After she named the price, I took a deep breath and thanked her. YaYa immediately felt bad but I told him it was fine. Then I went outside to think about the whole thing.

I guess I’ve always felt like I was helping her out by saving these jobs for her instead of the people who I’d gone to in the past. It seems that at some point she realized that the scenario was quite the opposite: I needed her just as much as she needed me. I don’t think I was ready to admit it before but it’s true, I cannot do it alone. I need help, and if I need to pay for it than I guess that’s just how it goes. Feeling humbled.

simple pleasures

Enjoy the simple pleasures each and every day. Take the time to notice what makes you smile today. It may be all together different from what made you smile yesterday.

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One’s Down Fall

When hiking in the backcountry, especially on trails of a technical nature, it is of the utmost importance to keep your mind focused on the task at hand (the trail) at ALL TIMES. As the trail gets more and more difficult, muscle soreness, fatigue, and the other effects of increased altitude start to wear on you… and the mind wants to wander to more pleasant moments – such as being at the final destination.

It was Day 3 of our Mount Whitney adventure. We were making our way back to Whitney Portal from Trail Camp, where we opted to spend another night after an amazing but challenging day hiking to the summit. We woke at 4:30 am, packed up camp, and began our descent. Fueled on a Cliff Bar and a water, breakfast would come a few miles down the trail. We eyed the fatigue of the day hikers with respect for their ambitiousness of taking on the entire trek (Portal to Summit and back) in a single day – and were ever more grateful that we opted to cover the same mileage in three days time.

The trail was rough and rocky in these early miles yet I let my mind wander back to Day 1 as we revisited familiar territory. I knew better than to do this and would call myself back to the here and now when I would catch myself. Except for when we hit the spot where I’d had a melt down over my water supply running low, then completely lost it when theMAN hiked on ahead of me to scope out the water supply. I hadn’t heard him tell me what he was doing… and ALL my abandonment pictures ignited. The fact that we’d heard the news of the missing hiker having been found dead just an hour earlier certainly was having an affect on me. That was on Day 1. It was now Day 3 and I had 2 liters of water and knew there was plenty of spots to get more in the miles ahead. I came to the spot where I cried “you left me” in theMAN’s arms, and thought back to the emotions that coursed through my being in that moment: my late husband’s “deal with it” intolerance for my insecurity when bumping up against fear, and my dad driving off with his belongings stuffed into his VW bug the day we were told of the divorce, and how, in spite of his promise to be there for us, he was NOT.

Yes, I let my mind wander. I didn’t see the rock until after my foot tripped on it, my ankle rolled, then my other knee landed on it. THAT brought me right back. With well over four miles left to travel to Whitney Portal, there I was sitting on the ground, writhing in pain. It was NOT GOOD.

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I looked up at theMAN, there at my side (as he had pretty much been for the entire trek). I was not alone; I could do this. I stood up slowly and began again, feeling strong and capable after my downfall. I’d be okay. I put one foot in front of the other and, thanks to a little physical discomfort (aka pain), I did not let my mind wander off task until theMAN and I were safely off the trail.

the journey continues…

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