Showing posts with label Personal Appearance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Personal Appearance. Show all posts

Friday, October 26, 2012


"Home is where you hang your hat."

I love being home, no doubt about it. I always have. Even when I was a teenager, I would have much rather hunkered down with my family in front of a good “made for TV” movie than to be out with a group of friends. To me, home feels good. It feels safe. It feels comfortable when the world seems edgy and rough. It feels consistent when everything else rushes to change.

In this world of striving – striving to be richer, striving to be smarter, striving to be thinner, striving to be happier, striving to be healthier, striving to BE anyone other than who we are in this very moment - in all of our conditioned discontentment, we fail to see that we are exactly where and who we need to be– in this moment. Yet, how can it be anything different? But if we are in a constant state of striving, how will we ever know? How will we ever become aware of the beautiful fact that we are already there?

In mindfulness meditation you intentionally commit to being fully present in this moment, not trying to improve yourself or get anywhere else, but to simply realize you are already where you need to be. You aren't trying to attain anything - not even mindfulness itself. You just accept things as they are. In Wiktionary, the Wiki-based open content dictionary, they give this definition of the Old English proverb, “Home is where you hang your hat".
Rather than feeling nostalgic or sentimental, one should simply accept any place where one happens to reside as one's home.
If we truly come to a place of acceptance about ourselves, if we stop striving and realize that in this moment we are ALL that we need to be, then home becomes a place within ourselves. Home is wherever we are, and coming home means a returning to our true selves, a place we are destined for. As the poet Cavafy describes in his journey home to the island of Ithaca, finding “home” was not some external place to arrive at, but a place of awakening and enlightenment within.
Keep Ithaca always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so that you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you've gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaca to make you rich.
Ithaca gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would have not set out.
I am very thankful for the physical place I call home. But I have also been in a mental state where no matter where I am at; I can’t seem to find my way there. In my days of striving to find a diagnosis, I was further from home than I have ever been. Fear is like the kindling of the past fueling the fire of the future we dread. It keeps us moving outward, farther and farther from home.

Letting go and accepting where and who we are is not some sort of passive resignation. It is your intentional invitation to the unlimited capabilities that reside within. When asked why people are afraid of this acceptance, Jon Kabat-Zinn writes,
Maybe the fear is that we are less than we think we are, when the actuality of it is that we are much, much more.
The hat in the above photo still hangs in my home. I bought it during a time of great transition in my life, long before I became sick. I've put it on and taken it off many times over the past seven or eight years, each time hanging it back up on the corner of my mirror or on a hook in the entryway. It's presence comforts me. Seeing it there tells me I’m home. 

Right where I’m supposed to be.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

What You Don't See

This is my current Facebook profile picture. 

May 2, 2012

This was my Facebook profile picture on March 22, 2012.

...and January 7, 2012

...and December 4, 2011

...and October 19, 2011.


This is me today. In fact, this is me almost every day.

Minus the make up,
minus the wonders of Adobe Photoshop,
any pretense.

May is lupus Awareness Month. If you didn't know me, or have lupus yourself, or actually know someone with lupus, you most likely would not even know this small piece of trivia. You might not even know what lupus is. Four years ago, before getting sick, I sure didn't.

Each day this month various lupus Facebook pages have been posting interesting and informative snippets of information to help bring awareness to people in regards to lupus. Most of the information I already know, but every now and then, something shows up that I was not aware of and I am reminded of how important these communities are to me. 

But, if I had to guess, the average person on Facebook probably does not "Like" these particular pages. In fact, I don't imagine my friends and family even do. So if one does not "Like" a particular page, then one does not receive the "informative snippets of information" that is sends out every day. Which got me thinking...

What do I want you to know? What do I want you to really know

In fact, what if I only had one thing I could write about today? What would it be? 

It would be this...

Lupus can be a very invisible illness. Because of the chronic nature of the disease, those who have lupus must learn how to manage with the illness on a daily basis, every days a week, 365 days a year...every single day of their life. Mothers continue to care for their children, fathers go to work, students go to school, people mow their lawns, cook their meals, shovel their walks, go to social events...all the while struggling with issues such as severe joint and muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, headaches, painful skin conditions, vision problems, kidney failure, cognitive difficulties... the list goes on. And most days, if you were to look at any one of these people you would have no idea the suffering they are enduring. 

I've been very fortunate in my life. I have a supportive family and a beautiful circle of friends that refuse NOT to know the real me. Not even Photoshop pulls the wool over their eyes, and I simply cannot imagine it any other way. But there are many out there who travel this journey completely alone. I hear stories every day of partners and spouses that are unable to fulfill their roles as caretakers. I hear stories of comments spoken by well meaning friends and acquaintances that absolutely break my heart. A simple "you don't look sick" can pierce like a knife when you're standing there suffering silently. Even the tone of it seems to imply you must not be sick then. Yet, "You look nice" is such a lovely comment to get and does nothing to imply any conclusions about whether or not I am sick.   

It took a lot for me to post that last picture. Not out of any sort of vanity, heaven knows I'm way beyond that whole concept! But because just like everyone else struggling with this disease every day of their life, I work really hard to....yep, you guessed it...not look sick.  And therein lies the crux. Like my mother always said, "You're damned if you do and damned if you don't!"

So what advice do I have to give? What snippet could I leave you with today that might actually make a difference? I think it would be this. And this pertains to anyone you meet in your life. 

We must always do our best to not make any assumptions. 

Because we just never know. The person standing before you could be struggling with depression, they could be victim of domestic violence or they could be suffering silently from a disease such as lupus. We just never know. Assuming anything because someone looks happy or dresses well or just happens to be out for the night is an assumption we must not make.  

Looking at our friends and loved ones through the eyes of compassion, trusting that their journey is exactly that - their journey and loving with our whole hearts is what we can do. 

I recently received a post on my Facebook wall that said this,

The average person tells 4 lies a day or 1460 a year; 

 a total of 87,600 by the age of 60. 
And the most common lie is...
I'm fine.

Who knows if this is true. I actually think the numbers should be much higher, especially if we take into consideration all the lies we tell ourselves! Either way, this does not make the job of caretaker or friend very easy. I will be the first to say that I could do much better at being honest and letting others know when I am sick. Just remember that those living with chronic illness are managing the best they can each day with something that will never go away. Actually admitting you don't feel well every time you don't feel well...well, even WE get tired of hearing about it!

If you would like more information on lupus and how you can help bring awareness to your community, please visit The Lupus Foundation of America.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Taking A Shower

I think of you often
Every other day, mostly. These are shower days - cleansing rituals
I think of you
Mothers, daughters, grandmothers
Stepping into the steam with me
I wonder
About your
Are you tired?
I never imagined so many things 
So many things 
At 40 I imagined 45 to look so different.  I had just found the love of my life
The love of my second chance at life. I imagined so many new and wonderful things
Running the back roads of Wisconsin, canoeing the endless water ways that make up the BWCA
Coffee shops, art, travel
Making love
I never imagined getting sick. No one does, really. We give it patronage like a Hallmark greeting card
Understanding it on a poetic level. Giving gratuitous sentiments like we’ve walked even one mile  
We don’t know. We don’t imagine, really
I didn’t
Something as simple as taking a shower. Rationing out the days. This is what I do. As if it all stops if I just don’t think about it
Or maybe it really is just too hard. It takes too long
Taking a shower
When you’re losing your hair
I just never
Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities
All is vanity
Why can’t I be bigger than this?
This thing that insists on
I stand face up
Hot water flowing down my body
I watch the drain
As if this baptism
Slides down my shins and slips between my toes
Soap alludes
Some sort of
A ritual of sorts.  Lather makes things slippery. I brush my fingers through my hair. The first few strokes are the worst
Hair winds around my palms, wraps around my fingers like spun wool on spindles
I tell myself
Not yet
As the hair falls freely. Letting go of me.  I hold my hands up to the water, fingers down
As the fragrant spume
Carries dresses and patent leather shoes, pony tails and sparkly earrings, lipstick and sexy lingerie
Breathe in the steam. I calm myself, let the water pour over my face
Even though each breath feels as though ten thousand were gasping to get out 
Breathe as I turn and spin and maneuver
Shifting here and there so that the water can wash the hair off my shoulders
And arms
And back
And belly
And buttocks
And thighs
And calves
Stopping to tangle around ankles and toes as if to say
I have lingered not long enough, not long enough to
Prorogue the pain of letting go, to delay this grief
It’s sticky business, picking and pulling
Shifting and rinsing, it never ends
Not until I pile what’s left atop my head inside my white cotton turban
Do I feel the satisfaction of
Moving on
Can I say
Can I feel as though this soap
Somehow makes me
Can I step out onto this rug
And dry what’s left of
This disease doesn’t take anything from me that 90 years does not take from you  
I've  watched you grow old gracefully. I’ve admired your gray hair and your soft wrinkled skin 
And I’ve been empowered by your inner beauty.  Your radiance. The soft wisdom that passes your lips and finger tips 
It comforts me
It makes a path in the deepest forest of my being. A place of gentle knowing. A field for rest  
A settling
I never imagined getting sick
I never imagined
I never imagined
Letting go
And yet
I never imagined
In all your
Grace and loveliness
I think of you
You mothers, daughters, grandmothers
Who have come to the last chapters of your story
By age
By disease
By death
By letting not what lacks define you
Not by any letting go
By accepting
What is already

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Beauty From Within

Artwork by me...
for my daughter Aleela a few years back.

The Beauty of Old Bodies
by Mary Logue

In the locker room, old women bend
and take off their clothes.
I watch them.
On the border of their country,
I want to see
what will happen to me.
The folds of their bodies
tend toward the earth.
These aging women move
as if they have more time than I do;
they carefully hang their clothes up
and wrap towels over their breasts.

I lie in the sauna with them
and see their bodies as pots
that hold more
than is comfortable.
They're dimpled
and rumpled with life,
curving and sagging
with the stuffing that flavors it.
Their flesh is soft and in dim light
doesn't look like marble,
but flows like a worn cloth
generous in its cut.

I trembled at the first puckering
of my skin
and I'm sure I'll wince again, 
but in a heated glow,
I see that beauty
comes from enduring life,
carrying it within.


Celebrate the women in your life this weekend!


Monday, March 21, 2011

The Women In The Mirror

Aleela and I running in Marshall, Minnesota

The second day of Spring! A welcome season, indeed. Especially this year. I have always prided myself in being a true Midwestern girl, loving the change of seasons and all they have to offer. Winter in general has been a time of rest for me. Less hours in the day has always meant less to do and more time hunkering down with the family watching good movies and getting to bed early. Since becoming ill, my reaction to the change of seasons has evolved significantly. For example, much of my time is spent indoors regardless of the season. Sunshine and heat can be my worst enemy and if not taken with precaution can lead very quickly to a flare. So the reprieve that winter once offered now feels even more restricting. This year in particular, I had to work very hard at keeping things in perspective and staying in the "Now".  But I'm not always successful, and sometimes that's not only OK, but maybe a little bit necessary. 

This will be my third Spring "post-diagnosis". I'm hoping to be be better prepared this year. The past two years things really crept up on me and it was not until I did a considerable amount of suffering that I finally figured things out. Much like holidays and birthdays bring suffering to those that have lost loved ones, so too, I feel loss associated with particular times of the year. The embodiment of my loss of health is epitomized by one thing - my inability to run. I started running when I was eleven years old. I knew at a very young age there was something in running that gave me space. It opened me up, cleared out the mess of life and made me feel good about myself. Until this illness, running had seen me through every struggle. Whether it was the birth of babies, back surgeries, the death of loved ones or the end of a marriage - running helped me to heal.  And springtime was my favorite time to run.

One of the best things about running for me, was the opportunity it presented to run with my family. Dave and I talk frequently about all the cities and states we have run in. It's fun to go back to certain locations and think about all the roads and paths we have traveled. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of miles on foot, each step carrying with it a story. Even around our own home, there is about a twenty five mile radius of endless country roads that bear the footprints of our travels. We can drive those very same roads and never experience the sights, smells and sounds that we do when on foot. It's unexplainable.

My oldest daughter Aleela is also a runner. The years immediately preceding my illness were some of our best together. There is a lot of conversation that goes on when you are on a twenty mile run together. We traversed some pretty intense terrain in order to get miles logged during marathon training. I remember one summer when Dave was unable to train with us. We had traveled to Marshall, Minnesota where she lived so that she would not have to do her "long run" alone.(we did this a lot for each other, alternating who had to travel) Dave drove us out into the country so that we could run our seventeen miles back into town with the wind at our backs. He drove slowly behind us the entire way carrying our water and food, and offering transportation if either of us couldn't make it back home. Going only about five miles per hour the heat off the engine made the thermometer rise a bit more than normal, but even at that, it registered 118 degrees Fahrenheit!

A record run!

Zumbrota, MN
Winter or summer, we never seemed to let the elements keep us from our time together. On one occasion we could not physically be together for our long run. The weather was horrible. About thirty-eight degrees, twenty-five mile per hour winds and torrential rain was the mix for the day and we both needed to log about fifteen miles. Half way through the run my cell phone rang and it was Aleela. I could barely understand her because of the howling wind and rain! That was one of the few times we agreed to give up the fight and go home. Thank goodness for husbands and cell phones!

Sometimes I long so desperately for those days that I can barely swallow the lump that fills my throat. I suppose, on the outside looking in, most would think us absolutely crazy. I wish I could describe better how much more those experiences were other than just "exercise". I think what I am realizing is that it was during those times that I began to experience what it is like to be present in the moment. And to have been in that space with the people I love most in life was a gift beyond measure.

 This past weekend I was with my daughter Emma in Kohl's. She was in need of some new summer clothes and we thought we would take advantage of one of their big sales. She's easy to shop with. It usually takes her about fifteen minutes to grab up a few items, try them on, take what fits and head to the check out. I usually wait outside the dressing room with all the other moms for the "approval viewing". This time I stood there alone. And there it hit me. Reflecting back at me in the mirror ahead, was the image of a women I am still coming to grips with today. Two and a half years of illness, hospitalizations, medications and inactivity have definitely taken their toll. Hair loss, skin changes, teeth coloring, dark eyes and prednisone weight make looking and feeling healthy a struggle to say the least. A year ago, even though I was unable to run, I would have looked at this issue as a challenge. Much like I would have done during my running days. "Well then, set some goals! Write things down, stick with plan and change my situation." If I were to have been writing this article a year ago I probably would have ended it with some sort of analogy about running. "Even though I am no longer hitting the pavement with my husband and daughter, I am still running marathons of a different sort....blah, blah, blah..." But I'm not.

The women in the mirror is indeed a different women. She's a better women. I may still struggle with the image I see (and even that is getting much better), but the women looking back at me is no longer running - TO anything or FROM anything. My life is much less about "becoming" and much more about "being". I guess you could say I'm experiencing my own change of seasons. Like we all must do at some point or another as the days of our lives pass so quickly by. And it's OK to sit and think for a bit about the paths our feet have trod along the way. But it's the very ending of those stories that make way for the new. It's the cold, barren dirt of winter that provides the life giving energies to the beauty of spring.

For in everything, there is a season. 

I love you, Aleela.