Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Grateful Reflections at 53

I am happy.

I have a wonderful husband who is my best friend, whom I trust implicitly, and whose humor, wisdom, and good judgment I treasure. He is the kindest and most supportive person I have ever met. The fact that he's awesomely handsome doesn't hurt either.

I get to sing my heart out. And play the guitar. This is something I've been doing more lately. I'm delving into the work of some of the great treasures of folk music: Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Malvina Reynolds. I keep fantasizing about regularly having sing-alongs with my friends and community. I think maybe soon the fantasy will become a reality. With the economy and the country in the shape they are in, we need to sing. A lot. Singing together bolsters us and builds community as nothing else can.

I am so grateful for my awesome friends:
  • My family. You're crazy and whacked out sometimes, and fierce and loyal and loving too. I am one of you all the way.
  • My church family, which is the Hispanic ministry at Grace Episcopal Church in downtown Madison. Through these good people I have learned to see myself and my culture in a new light. I understand that I am rich -- materially as well as spiritually and socially. Through these friends I have learned that I am indeed privileged and that I can use my privilege for good, to build bridges to surmount the obstacles and fears that divide us. Through these friends I have learned much about my own experience of marginalization as a woman of size.
  • My gordita friends: large, glorious, gorgeous, raucous, unapologetic fat women who regularly hold a mirror up to my face and make me glad to be me. All of my life I have struggled with my relationship with food and with my body. These awesome women keep me grounded in the knowledge that my body is a beautiful treasure and nothing to be ashamed of or to struggle against. The struggle, rather, is against a myopic, weight-obsessed, profit-driven culture; and with these good women I am proud to engage in and even enjoy the struggle.
  • My online friends: I never dreamed that I would make real friends just by dinking around on Facebook, but I have made friends all over the world whose dreams and visions and experiences thrill and inspire me and whose presence in my life I treasure. I am in awe of their wisdom and humor, their outrage and their insight, and I'm grateful that we've found this powerful way to connect, not only with each other but with the larger world, to effect change and plant the seeds of progress.
So my most excellent husband, Tom, is still fighting, the union right alongside him, to get his job back. But oddly enough this has turned out to be a wonderful opportunity to spend more time together and to close ranks in the face of what for us is unprecedented hostility. We are, of course, being much more careful and frugal with our money, but with no reduction in the quality of our life. We are learning that we are strong, we are up to the challenge, and we are not bitter. We are more determined than ever.

I love my work. I get to muck about in the minutiae of language, one of my favorite playgrounds. My work is flexible and stimulating and varied, and I get to do it in the comfort of my home, on whatever schedule or nonschedule I choose, in the sunniest spot in the house.

I am making great progress in surmounting some physical challenges that have been very daunting to me over the last few years. I think my hormones are finally leveling out after several years of peri-menopausal upheaval. I have altered my schedule so that I get up earlier and get more daylight, and that has been the key to overcoming seasonal affective disorder. I have quit eating dairy products, which is reducing the inflammation in my joints and is making moving more comfortable for me (not to mention lessening my psoriasis and eliminating my acid reflux). I'm feeling better all the time. I hope soon to be able to hike in the woods again. This takes patience, because the progress is not quick, but the steady improvement over the last few months is giving me the kind of hope that bubbles up from my stomach and catches in my throat sometimes.

I am happy. I love my husband, my friends, my family, my community, my life. I love my computer, because it connects me with the wide world in a way that even an introvert like me can be comfortable with. I love my comfortable home and my always-eager feline companion, Smudgie. I love my kitchen, where more and more magical things are happening all the time.

I love my life. I am a very, very blessed woman. I am happy.


  1. I have two comments:
    1. Gorgeous, brilliant, passionate, inspired and inspirational woman that you are, Mary, you are also wise to see opportunity and beauty in events that might otherwise be daunting. Kudos and hugs.
    2. Damn, girl, you sure can write.

  2. Hoo baby, thanks, Les, on both counts! Your encouragement means the world to me!

  3. Happy birthday, Mary! I'm so glad to read this . . . you deserve the best.

    Now that you're 53, you may encounter yet another form of bias: ageism. I cut my hair a month ago (so I wouldn't have long hair in the hot summer (where is it?) with only one hand to put it up (shoulder surgery) and I can't believe the number of people who have told me it's so great because it makes me look younger. What's wrong with looking my age?? I like my age. I'm lucky to be my age. I've overcome a lot of trials and troubles while getting these wrinkles and grey hair. Why does everyone have to look thirty-five years old? Bah, humbug!

    How about coffee someday soon? Tuesdays after yoga at Main St. Yoga are usually best for me . . .


  4. I agree wholeheartedly, Susan! I earned every wrinkle and every gray hair. They're like life's little trophies.

    Coffee would be great. What time is yoga over on Tuesdays?

  5. A rhyme for Mary,53, from what Elizabeth and I call the "Badly Dadly" series

    short or tall
    large or small
    She loves us all

    these justice things
    of which you sing
    puts prayers on wings

    Tom's a guy'll
    make you smile
    enjoy him all the while

    friends forever
    tough as leather
    our lives our better
    because of you

    the chubbucks

  6. Badly Dadly totally rocks! Thank you so much, chubbs! I'm honored and humbled and tickled!

  7. Dear Mary,

    I love your birthday blog. You rock. You are a person with solid values and spiritual strength. I am not surprised that the current struggle that you and Tom are experiencing is making you stronger and more full of grace.
    Happy Birthday!

    Pat Size