Do the F*^#*@% Things: Learning to Relish What Really Matters

“Hey, look! Mom’s doing it!” My ten year old daughter shouted these two statements as I dove feet first into our local not-so-warm reservoir. The other children clamored to catch a better view.

We are fortunate to have close friends who indulge us in lake time each summer. They are generous with their time and their boat. We cherish the opportunity to be with them, our children, and our many other friends and “framily” while at the lake. I’ve grown up with this group of people. I can’t put into words how special it is to do it all over again with my own kids.

So…when it was my turn to strip down to my swimsuit, zip on a lifejacket, and take a spin on the surfboard, I didn’t hesitate. I handed Hubby my phone and reminded him to take photos. He did one better, he videoed.

Watching the play back I saw things…cellulite, bulges, rolls, soft spots where there used to be muscles. Imperfections abound at first glance. Should I take the time to really scrutinize with The Head Wench leading the discussion, who knows what I might find.

*Pauses. Takes a deep breath. Tells Head Wench to shut her pie hole* 

“What else do you see?” I asked myself.

With the second viewing, I saw a HAPPY, fun-loving, adventurous, athletic, bad ass, strong momma who can surf on a freaking Wyoming reservoir.

Can I get a hell ya?

Have you tried it? It ain’t for punks. The surfing—it’s not necessarily easy, but what I’m talking about is the being happy, having-fun, adventuring, athletic, bad ass, strong woman, DOING THE THINGS part. That’s the really not easy part. But boy howdy, is it better than the alternative? Shit, yes.

I’ve written about this before, and I’m saying it again…because, damn it, friends, there are too many of us out there who haven’t really received this message. Heard it? Yes. Accepted it…LIVING it? Nope. Not even close.

My husband recently turned forty. I dug through decades of photos of him to share with our friends on his big day. Which means, I sorted through piles of photos of the both of us, spanning more than two decades.

When I look at pictures of myself from twenty years ago I look vastly different. Hell, when I look at pictures of myself from five years ago, I notice a measurable difference.

I’ve aged. Duh.

I’ve also gained somewhere in the ball park of forty pounds—lost muscle and put on fat (to be clear). Add this to the standard new wrinkles, saggy bits, and stray gray hairs of my mid-thirties and…voilà. You’ve got your standard, yet tall version of the un-retouched average ‘mom-bod’. This isn’t a unique story. I’d venture there are a number of mid-thirties gals (and older) who can relate.

While I could allow shame and embarrassment to dictate how I feel about the changes to my physical body, I just flat-out will not concede my power to such useless emotions.

What have I lost because of the weight and age I’ve gained?

  • I’m not as fast as I used to be. Sometimes my body takes longer than I think it should to get from one place to another.
  • I question if my knees might feel a little better if I weighed less, but they were pretty crappy in 2002, so maybe not. Thank you collegiate sports. *Eye Roll Here*
  • Things like my resting heart rate, cholesterol, liver enzymes, etc. surely they’ve skyrocketed with fat and age gain? Nope. Blessed to report the only thing that’s gone up is my clothing size. I guess I’ve lost the ability to be comfortable in size 10 pants, and I’ve lost the ability to feel supported by the smaller letters in the alphabet, if you catch my meaning.
  • Oh…I suppose I should mention I arguably look “worse” in photos and videos. But let’s be honest, even at 20, when I was at the height of my physical fitness as a college volleyball player with tight everything, zero wrinkles, and natural blond highlights, I approved of about 1 in 100 photos of myself.

So…in conclusion, I can live with those losses.

Because…plays volleyball, tennis, golfs, hikes, jogs, skis, lifts, and in-general sports on the regular is still a strong YES. As is “gets physical” with the leading man her life (If anything, that gets better with age), tries new things, travels, plays with babies, children, friends, and dogs, wines, dines, laughs till she cries and cries till she laughs. ALL THE YESES.

What message do I want to send to my children with how I live my life? What lesson do I want them to learn in watching me?

I want them to know that I know what matters is DOING THE THINGS…not how I look when I’m doing them. And I want them to know it is most certainly not the point of life to not do things for fear of what I/you/he/she might look like while doing them.

I want them to understand and exemplify my corny mantra: God willing, there is time. But only God knows if that is the case, so embrace…and enjoy…and…do the things that make your heart sing.

Do the fucking things, friends. DO. THEM. NOW. before it’s too late and there is no chance to hear your children cheer on your sweet surf moves and belly laugh at your killer wipe outs. Do the things with abandon for the sake of the doing and the memory making. To hell with what it looks like.

Take the damn picture. Post it, print it, share it with the world. Some day that photo will spark a memory, inspire a smile, and be the beginning of a story about how the woman in the photo was a do-the-things kind of gal.

Isn’t that what we want?

I know how I would answer that question.

My “look” will continue to change through the years. I love change…changing my hair color and cut, my make up, whether or not I wear make up, the style of my clothes—to name a few of the obvious. My body will also change. If I’m lucky, I’ll wear the evidence of the gift of time on my skin in the form of wrinkles, age spots, slight droops and a few soft rolls, and gentle sags.

No matter what I look like—how my physical body changes, I pray I’m able to keep doing the things with the people who matter most to me. I pray there are millions of photos and videos of hard evidence of me doing the things, showing proof-positive…I lived, and I loved, and I learned to relish what really matters.