Monday, May 20, 2013

Happy Me

I stood at the water's edge, the waves gliding along the flat, smooth surface of liquid sand.  It's an interesting place to be; stable enough ground to walk upon, yet if you stand still for too long, you start to feel your feet slowly sinking into the softness of the earth.  With each wave that glided up to my ankles, I felt my the ground beneath me shift ever so slightly and watched as my feet became less visible as they fell victim to the supreme power the ocean gave to the tiny grains of sand.

I watched the waves reach the shore, smooth out any imperfections left behind from beachcombers and sandcastle constructors as it retreated back toward the abyss.  It was peaceful and serene, yet incredibly powerful.  Wave after wave came forth, an unending barrage of renewal; each one with its own unique path, but all bearing the strength of the almighty ocean from where it came.  I stood and watched; mesmerized by the tranquility, the sound, the beauty.  I was grateful for the scene, the calm, and my physical proximity to one of my 'happy places'.

Just about an hour earlier, we were loading the last of the 'gear' into the truck so we could venture off to discover a new {to us} section of coastline, just south {well, technically southwest} of Galveston.  I had heard from a neighbor that for just $10, you can purchase a beach pass for the entire year.  What added even more appeal to the deal is that you can drive right up on the sand, back up to the water's edge, and 'set up camp' for the day.  The twenty or so feet of beach that spans between your 'space' and the neighbors that flank either side of you gives the feeling that you have carved out your own niche of rented coastline for a few hours.   It makes for an ideal 'day trip' kind of a place; when we need to 'escape' for a little while, we can just want to pack a cooler, grab some towels and sand toys, and head out {almost literally} 'on the water'.  Check one for this little corner of the world where we find ourselves living.


At the 1962 America's Cup, President John F. Kennedy said in his speech that, "We are tied to the ocean.  And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch--we are going back from whence we came..."  Standing at the water's edge, taking in the sights and sounds and smells, feeling the power of the surf as it crashes at your ankles, and watching my kids skip and hop and run and dig and laugh and play without a worry in their mind...that is a definition of happiness.  From whence we came.  The beach makes me happy.

So, when I decided to share a smile and my happiness with others using the vehicle of social media, I did so from a genuine place.  My happy heart, my blissful mind, and my bikini-clad body.  I was at the beach.  It's what I wore.  An eggplant two piece that my husband bought for me, despite my initial unease with how I would 'look'.  I'm a mom of three, and have a bit of issue with physical appearance (#3 in Writing My Truths), as well as have a hard time receiving compliments (#12), regardless of what others say about me.

When I put the suit on yesterday morning, I glanced at the reflection staring back and me and instantly starting making assumptions of what others might think, worried that my body wasn't looking fit enough to don such a style, and I even felt a little under-dressed.  With some reassurance from Randy, and a dose of reality I found in a small snippet I'd highlighted in Glennon's book that said, "...nobody's secure, and nobody feels like she completely belongs.  Those insecurities are just job hazards of being human.", I threw on a tank top and jean shorts and we headed to the coast.

Once we had 'set up camp' and the kids were content with their beach-like activities, I decided to snap a picture and share on Facebook.

I captioned the picture 'Happy Me', and went about the business of being a beach bum.  Reading, lounging, jumping over waves, collecting shells, and standing at the water's edge.  Unbeknownst to me, the simple act of sharing a little bit of happiness quickly became fodder for a few comments that left me feeling exactly how I had felt when I had gotten ready for the beach in the morning.  Exposed.  

Listen, I get it.  The elephant in the room is the fact that my eggplant bikini top left me with tan lines.  That's what swimsuits do.  They cover up parts of your body in such a way that the sun can't shine there, and you're left with a visible reminder of the day you spent soaking in vitamin D and memories.  And despite the hourly reapplication of sunscreen, we were all left with tan lines that breach more on the edge of crimson than the toasted shade of a summer day.  But why is it that some people instantly feel the need to address the elephant in the room {the tan lines}?

I recognize that by posting to social media and by writing on here, that I've opened the door to my heart and soul and mind wide open, allowing for a wide range of feedback.  And most of the time, it is from a supportive and caring place; which is reassuring, helpful, and appreciated.  But seriously.  Poet Francis Duggan wrote 'The Human Will Never Cease to Surprise'.  A perfectly concise sentence for how I felt after reading a few of the responses to my posting of 'Happy Me'.  However, there was one kind and sweet friend, whom I've recently had the pleasure of getting to know, despite attending the same high school for a few years, was kind and genuine and complimentary.  I was grateful for her boost of confidence, and even moreso after reading the comments posted both before and after her words.  I was so disheartened and, quite frankly, embarrassed, that after deleting one of the comments last night, I decided this morning to remove the picture all together.  I was hurt.

As I sat with Randy and the girls at the breakfast table this morning, I shared my frustrations with my husband.  Our conversation wasn't overly in-depth, but I knew that he knew how I was feeling before I even told him.  That was reassuring.  Also reassuring was his advice to not care what others think or say, but focus on my own happiness.  Which is really what the whole picture thing was about.  'Happy me'.

The more I rolled the idea around in my head, the less irate I became at the insensitivity of others, and the more I thought about the way in which I choose to attempt to personify 'Be Happy.  Be Yourself.  If others don't like it, let them be.  Happiness is a choice.  Life isn't about pleasing everyone.' to the best of my ability, I realized that my therapy to get past the bitterness would be to write about it.  You could argue that it might not appear as though I'm letting those who don't like it 'be', but I look at it as I'm not naming names, and not making presumptions about the mindset they held when they chose to comment.  

I need to be myself, not what others envision for me.  Standing at the water's edge in my eggplant bikini; watching the waves reach the shore; smoothing out any imperfections left behind from beachcombers and sandcastle constructors and retreating back toward the abyss...there is {just one of many places} where I am happy.

shine bright

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