Category Archives: Guest Post

look good in swimsuit near age 50

The Weight of Weight: Women and Body Image

Humorist Shannon Bradley Colleary is the total package — brainy, beautiful, bold and bodacious. She has a fantastic sense of humor and a healthy body image (wait ’til you see just how healthy). She treads regularly where Not-So-Feisty Lori only dreams of treading.

Shannon and I share a few things in common, though. We are both tail-end baby boomers, still in the throes of child-raising while many of our peers are facing empty nests. We aim to live more mindfully (an advantage that often comes with of aging), even as we watch our youthful appearance retreat in the rear-view mirror (a disadvantage that always comes with aging). We both would like to heal body image issues and love our bodies just as they are.

To that end, Shannon started her #LoveYourBodyNow project. Today I turn over my space to her for this guest post I’m sure you’ll enjoy.

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The Woman Formerly Known as BeautifulAt 48 my weight creeps up quickly. Two years ago I wrote the article Am I Really Fat? which went viral because I discovered, despite my intense self-criticism, that I was a completely healthy weight for a woman my age.

It’s been a cosmic shift for me to feel that 140 lbs at 5′ 6″ is not just a healthy weight but an attractive weight. I spent my young adult life weighing about 120 lbs. I could eat whatever I wanted and that weight just felt normal to me. So shifting to 20 lbs. up felt sinful. But writing the post and taking the subsequent TASTEFUL nude photos at age 46 helped me accept my now mature woman’s body.

I was at peace. Until I stepped on a doctor’s scale a few weeks ago and was told I weighed 147 lbs. What the what? Okay, I was wearing my clothes, but my shoes were off. What did this weight MEAN? Did it mean I was now on an ever-upward spiral that would end on The Biggest Loser?

I stood naked in my bathroom and perused my body from every angle. Maybe I was crazy, but it looked pretty much the same as it had for the last five years. I couldn’t really locate the extra 7 pounds. I could find them when I tried to button my pants, but naked, well, I still looked pretty good to myself.

Then I stood in front of Henry naked. “I’ve gained 7 pounds,” I said in a funereal tone.

Recognizing he was not in sensual, but rather dangerous waters he replied, “I don’t see them” with the flat affect of a person who recognizes the hitchhiker he just picked up is deranged and carrying a shiv.

“I don’t see the seven pounds either,” I said, “but apparently they’re there.”

“How dare they?”

“They’re sneaky little sh!ts.”

“Maybe I do see them. They’ve gone to your breasts. And maybe your inner thighs, which is good because you were too bony there and I was always getting bruises when we had relations.”

“When you say ‘relations’ it makes me never want to have sex with you again.”

“I’m a recovering Catholic. The seven pounds is hot.”

“I love you even if you almost have no hair.”

“I love you even if you have too much hair. And a slight mustache.”

look good in swimsuit near age 50

Shannon with 7 extra seven pounds. Totally beautiful.

Even with my husband’s approval and my own favorable impression of my naked body I decided to lose those 7 pounds. I had to close the floodgates somewhere and 140 was my Little Big Horn.

I began logging everything I ate through a free app. I was startled to discover that I eat enough food to fuel the entire USC defensive line. Part of the problem is the wine. Not that it’s so many calories, but after a glass I feel impervious to weight gain so I eat brownies followed by kugel, which, if you haven’t had it because you’re a shiksa, you should think again.

My daughters noticed me documenting all of my food which worried me because I don’t want them doing the same thing and becoming anorexic and dying from starvation. Yes. I go right there into the deep dark pit of hell. It’s the Irish in me.

MyFitnessPal told me I needed to eat only 1290 calories in order to drop the weight. 1290 calories is basically a stick of cheese, a spoonful of peanut butter and air. I didn’t meet my calorie goal for EVEN ONE DAY since I started my quest to reclaim 140. Not. One. Day.

So I cheated and decided to try to eat less than 2000 calories a day. That just seemed like a more sane approach. And then I ran across the most amazing article in HuffPo. Iris Higgins’ An Open Apology To My Weight Loss Clients.

In it Higgins specifically apologizes for putting women who were a perfectly healthy weight on a 1200-calories-a day-meal plan. Her conclusion was that anything between 1200-1500 calories a day is potentially damaging to a woman’s health!

This was a relief to me. I’m glad I’ve started tracking my food intake. I’ve been eating somewhat mindlessly. And also simply out of boredom in the late hours of the evening after spending a day working, picking up and driving children hither and yon and loading and unloading the dishwasher 5,623 times.

I will continue keeping track for a few more months so I can know what it feels like to be satiated and not overly full. So I will be aware of food before I’ve already put it in my mouth, chewed and swallowed. I want to eat mindfully, healthfully and in a way where I respect my body.

But my ultimate, and elusive final goal is to simply love and appreciate my body in all its incarnations. I’m a work in progress, but in writing about it I’ve found I’m not alone. That many of us grapple with loving our bodies and living in them fully regardless of their form.

What are some ways you love your body just as it is?

Shannon Bradley-Colleary blogs at The Woman Formerly Known As Beautiful. She’s also a contributing blogger on The Huffington Post; her favorite subjects being beauty, body, babies and larceny. You can Follow her on Twitter of Like her on Facebook. She’s also slightly mustachioed.

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Still trying to spot that mustache…

Visit Shannon to read my love letter to my body on her blog.

Have you signed up yet to read and discuss the new novel Apart at the Seams? Deadline to join this virtual book club is August 1.

Finally, to those who arrive here by googling “blogs that accept guest posts,” please see the second paragraph here first.

2013 Adoption Blogger Interview Project

Adoption Blogger Interview Project 2013In conjunction with National Adoption Awareness Month, today is part 2 of the Ad0ption Blogger Interview Project for dozens of pairs of adoption bloggers. Please allow me to introduce to you to my partner this year: Dana from Simple Hoosier Girl.

Dana is a newlywed who recently graduated from college. I suspect that her favorite color is sunny yellow. In 2010, Dana had the opportunity to travel to Russia, a place she’d always felt an affinity for. She feels called to help people who would like to adopt, people who intend to provide a home for children who need one.

Here is my interview with Dana (and hers with me).

When did you start blogging and why?
I started blogging in October 2012. At the time, I wanted a way to remember my senior year and planning my wedding. By January, I realized that I was blogging for selfish reasons and wanted to have more purpose to my blog. I have been really passionate about adoption for a while. I knew that I needed to tell the stories of families who have adopted or who are adopting.

Dana of Simple Hoosier GirlWhat is your favorite post and why?
My favorite post about adopting is the Brainerd family. They were so open and receptive and were so much fun. I left meeting with them feeling totally energized and ready to take on the world. My favorite non adoption post would have to be “my seester…the one that is a tidbit older than i am.” Spending time thinking about my sister and the fun times we’ve had in life was so much fun.

What calls you to adoption? How did your trip to Russia form your opinions about adoption?
I’m so passionate about adoption because of my trip to Russia. I saw women in Russia being very responsive to God and opening up their hearts and families to adoption. I thought it was amazing, and I was moved forever. I knew from then on, I couldn’t be silent.

What does openness in adoption mean to you? What do you envision as being an ideal adoption situation, regarding openness?
Openness in adoption means being totally honest to both the child and birth parents. There will always be a bond between child and birth parents. In adoption, there will also be a special bond between child and adopted parents. I think all channels need to be open between child to adopted parent, adopted parents to child, child to birth parents, birth parents to child, birth parents to adopted parents and adopted parents to birth parents.

Besides adoption, what are you all about? What are your interests, hobbies, passions?
I love spending time with family and friends. My weekends and many weeks will consist of time spent with family and friends. We could be doing crafts or baking, but always talking and laughing and crying. Food is usually involved, also coffee, lots and lots of coffee. I love conversations and am such a people person. So most of my free time is spent with other people.

How do you intend to use your blog in the coming year?
I hope to use the blog as a way to fundraise for families. I hope to not only post the stories of families, but to also actively help them with fundraising. I also hope to do more follow-ups with families on the blog. I want to take a more active role in advocacy on the blog and in my actual life.

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To read interviews from other pairs of adoption bloggers, visit The Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2013.

If you are new to the Open Adoption Blogger community, I urge you to poke around. You’ll find a wealth of perspectives, thought-provoking columns, helpful resources and more get-to-know-something-new-about-adoption events throughout the year.

Laura Dennis: what adoption reunion can teach us about openness

One of the best things to come from the Adoption Blogger Interview Project is that each year I run across new-to-me bloggers who help me see adoption from a new perspective, who make me ponder yet another facet of it.

Laura Dennis, authorI was happy, then, to “meet” Laura Dennis last month, despite the fact that she lives in Serbia. Laura is a mom to two small children, a trained dancer, an adoptee-in-reunion, and an author. She grew up in Maryland, went to graduate school in Southern California and expatriated to Belgrade, where she wrote her memoir, Adopted Reality.

I read it — in just three sittings. I gave it a bunch of stars. I’ll have a future Q&A post with Laura about her book, so pick it up yourself if you want to follow along at that time.

For today, though, Laura and I are swapping blog posts. She offers here a post about the lessons of reunion that can be applied to open adoption relationships.

For Openness as well as Reunions, Be Flexible But Tenacious

Reconnecting with my first mother was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Knowing her filled a hole in my sense-of-self that I hadn’t quite realized was there.

I have so much to say about my reunion, I could write a book about it. Oh wait, that’s right, I already did. Adopted Reality, A Memoir, is about my adoption and reunion, and brief bout with insanity. However, it doesn’t address the topic of maintaining a long-term first family relationship.

The Adoptee-First Family Reunion
As the Baby Scoop Era enters the Open Adoption Era, those participating in each can benefit from learning from the others’ experiences.

Each first family reunion is unique. It’s a family relationship like any other that needs work, time and nurturing to grow and develop.

I met my first mom when I was 23, and during the first few months, she and I constantly felt we were playing catch up. Truly we were … we had 23 years-worth of separate lives to rediscover!

loving hands

I missed the shared experiences of my first family — vacations, holidays, inside jokes. Not only that, but I’d had my own, in my adopted family.

Merging these families is something akin to what happens when a couple gets married. Who do you visit for Christmas? Who do you spend vacations with? The questions extend beyond logistics. … What happens when the shiny reunion glow begins to wear off? How is a “real” relationship built after the honeymoon period?

Creating a Lasting Relationship
I’m not exactly sure when this began to happen, but over time, my first mom became just another family member. I stopped trying to play catch up.

Just like my adoptive family, my first mom and my biological extended family are now just … my family.

When that happens, we should all be happy. It means those who felt such a deep loss over so many years are letting go of their hurt.

Figuring out what that connection is won’t be all fluffy kittens and prancing through the park. It may involve disagreements and misunderstandings. But that’s okay. In a family, we don’t reject one another. We may be hurt, but we get over it, we forgive, we let go.

Because that’s what family does.

Why should anyone care about adoptee reunions?
Here’s the thing about closed adoptions. First mothers and adult adoptees are coming out and saying, Maybe that wasn’t the best way to do things.

Maybe cutting off all contact between the birth mom and the baby isn’t for the best. Maybe the adoptive parents are open-minded enough to see the birth mom not as a source of emotional competition, but someone who also loves the baby.

Open adoptions are so new; we don’t have a “crop” of adult open-adoptees who can talk about their experiences … yet. One of the problems, though, is that many open adoptions are closing after a few years. Fewer letters and phone calls, eventually no more face-to-face meetings.

Worse, there is generally nothing in place that legally or contractually binds the families to remain in contact for the sake of the child. There are adoptive parents who mislead the agency, stating they wanted an open adoption … just to get the baby, intending to cut-off communication once the ink dries. There are also first moms drifting off with their contact, finding it too hard to watch someone else raise their child.

What can these open adoptions learn from closed adoptees in reunion? My advice would be:

  • Try to keep in mind: kids grow up. I, too, have this problem. My (biological) kids won’t always be two and four. No doubt, they will hold me accountable for the mothering I do now. Adopted children become adopted adults. Adoptedness doesn’t just “go away.”
  • Take your child’s interests and desires into account as he or she grows.
  • Be flexible. We’re all human, imperfect, with good days and bad days.
  • But be tenacious. Don’t give up. Please don’t let an open adoption become a closed one.

When the relationship settles into that normal, day-to-day phase? When the original mom to your child is “just” another family member, and vice versa? That’s a good thing.

Just keep at it.

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East Coast US native Laura Dennis lives with her husband and two crazy kids in Belgrade Serbia, where she blogs about expat (adopted) mommy life. Her memoir, Adopted Reality, is available on Amazon in paperback and ebook.

Photo credit: tungphoto via freedigitalphotos.net