Wednesday, April 24, 2013

My Cross: Body Image

                I love the beach and ocean more than all other landscapes that I have been fortunate enough to gaze upon.  What amazes me about this is how my self-esteem about my body image is changed.  I have hated my body since I entered the second grade.  Yes, second grade.  It is the biggest part of my cross that I bear.    In those younger years, I wore extra clothing to cover myself.  After many years of struggling with my weight with the military and gaining weight dealing with medical issues, I still hate my body.  While in Cancun, my image began to change.

                The motel we stayed in for a week displayed an art form I have never seen except in photos of medieval artwork and prior.  Of course, I am not an expert in art.  But the images celebrated real women.  In the restaurants, hallways, lounge, and even our room, the artwork displayed older women; mothers and grandmothers.  Not one woman in the artwork displayed anything less than voluptuous curves.  Being surrounded with wall hangings like me added layers of new self-esteem to my psyche.

                On the beach and around the pool, real women celebrated life.  They wore swimsuits and didn’t try to blend into trees.  Of course, model like women also cluttered the area, but they didn’t intimidate me as much.  I swam in the ocean and the pool not worrying how bad I looked.  My body carried three beautiful babies and now battles aches and pains I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy or the two skinny bikini women in the elevator.

                Once back in the states, I didn’t think much of body image.  Traveling all day left me tired.  The first day home, I became very sick and lay in bed for about 24 hours.  We drove to a local resort that caters to downhill skiers and water people for a conference.  There are two huge pools and two hot tubs.  All the self-esteem I gained through the culture of Mexico melted away in the swimming pool.  The rest of the weekend I tried melting into the wallpaper. 

                All of us have crosses to bear.  Mine is body image.  Lately, I find wrinkles and grey hair is adding to the problems.  Getting older in the American Society is hard.  I do pray and work at remembering God loves me.  He molded me.  However, I am ready to move to Mexico next to the beach!

In the Hallway
In the Lounge
In Our Room

                Blessings to you all.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Catholicism In Mexico

                I love attending Mass at new churches.  Many years ago, I felt like country mouse visiting the big city of Atlanta.  I almost wrecked the rental car on the freeway and after two hours of driving around in circles, I finally found my motel.  (In my defense, the motel changed names after I made reservations, so I was looking for a different sign.)  Across from my accommodations, an old Catholic Church stood inviting weary travelers to daily Mass.  My last morning in the city, I crossed the street to attend church.  As I was greeted by those around my pew, I finally felt comfortable.  I even felt at home.  Since then, I try to stop by a church even if it is just to say a prayer.

                Our second full day in Mexico, we loaded into a bus to drive a couple of hours away to see the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza.  The arrangements were made months in advance, so I was pleasantly surprised when the bus pulled over in a little town next to a Catholic church.  The guild only gave us fifteen minutes to see the structure.  I took the time to pray and take pictures.  I loved the statue of Joseph with all of his tools.  We also stumbled upon a little alcove where the locals participated in Adoration.  Again, I said another quick prayer.


                After this short stop, I noticed this roadside cross.  I loved being in a country where Catholicism dominates the landscape.  At our stop for lunch, a statue of Mary watched over us at the dining hall and another statue of her greeted us at the Tequila shop.


                 On Sunday, we walked about half a mile down the road to a beautiful open air church.  Earlier in the week when we visited the church, my husband checked out the Mass times.  We were surprised to see Mass halfway done.  He asked and they have an English Mass in between the two Spanish masses that they don’t show on the board.  Opps.  We opted to wait instead of joining late.  I am so glad we did.

                I know absolutely no Spanish.  I followed along as well as possible with the English program and readings.  Within the first ten minutes, I felt the Holy Spirit descend upon me.  I felt God’s arms wrap around me.  My eyes became misty when a young family prepared their baby boy for baptism.  I hummed along to the music.  I loved the experience.  My husband turned to me and whispered that just weeks prior this was the type of Mass Pope Francis I performed in Argentina.  My experience couldn’t have been any better unless I were at the Vatican. 


               At this church, I loved the Stations of the Cross and the picture of Mary shown here to the left of the alter.  We have one of those at my church.  I felt very much at home here even with the language barrier.
                  Blessings to you all.

Monday, April 15, 2013

God's Art

                Our journey through life includes vacations.  My husband and I took our children to Cancun, Mexico to celebrate our middle child’s high school graduation.  I wanted to share some of our experiences with my readers.  I delight in finding the beauty of God’s creations when I travel.  Today’s blog is sharing some of the unique plant life I found on the trip.  I hope you enjoy.

                                This reminded me of an onion bulb and had to take a photo.
      I enjoyed the tangled up branches.  It reminds me of how our journey can become tangled.

                                             The trees captured my imagination this time. 

                                                   My favorite tropical flower.

                                                    A unique view of a fun plant.

Blessings to you all.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Death of the Easter Bunny

                Happy Easter!  My favorite holiday arrived with little fanfare this year.  All of last week, I suffered with my autoimmune diseases.  I hate to be dramatic about the situation, but my body ached, my energy drained, and my mood steadily declined.  I prayed and then I asked others to pray for me.  I am still sore and pain shoots through me periodically.  I am happy to say my energy is better which the main factor for my moods is the level.  If I have energy my brain is awake; life is good.  I get grumpy when I live in a constant state of fog.  Unfortunately, my daughter ended up growing up a little through this time.

                As Easter closed in, I only went shopping once.  I bought eggs and chocolate at the grocery store.  I failed to shop anywhere else.  I logically reasoned that we needed to cut back this year because of finances.  I failed to pick up any Easter Bunny gifts.  I failed to realize Madelle who loves holidays and tradition would be upset by the change.  Yesterday morning she complained about everything.  “There isn’t much in the basket.  I didn’t get a gift.  The eggs aren’t hid very well.  The chocolate bunny is hollow.”  I was thinking I had a very ungrateful daughter.  I complained with my husband and he pointed out that she thought she did something wrong. 

                After Mass, he took her for a walk.  I watched in sadness as they drifted down the road.  He told her the truth about the Easter Bunny.  He also let her know that because I had been sick and he had been crazy busy at work we didn’t put in the normal time to get the holiday ready.  We didn’t decorate or shop properly.  Tears stained her eyes as she came in the door.  Later in the day, the boy (her nickname for her older brother) drove her to the movie store.  With the Easter Bunny’s money (Dad’s), she bought the movie Rise of the Guardians.  Watching the movie, I know she mourned the rabbit’s existence.  I must confess; I did as well.  She wants to do something special next year.  Hum, I think I will put her in charge of that!

                At Mass, Father talked about the reality of death and suffering.  Both my daughter and I lived in that reality this season.  I suffered in pain and she suffered the death of a beloved make believe friend.  I also became misty eyed as I realized this was the last Easter with my son living in our home as a child.  As I watched parishioners go through the communion line, a friend passed by with tears streaming down her face.  Instantly my tears flowed as well.  She is battling cancer.  Her suffering is so real, deep and she may be facing the tomb.  Yet, as I look out my window at the sun streaming down, we are so very blessed.  Jesus came back for us.  No, the Easter Bunny won’t live, but we will live after we face the tomb.  And as we face death, Jesus will walk every step of the way with us.

                We will suffer.  We will die.  But that is only half the story. 

                Blessings to you all.