There’s an awful mantra that occasionally plays in my head and it goes like this: I used to be…thin. I used to have…thick long hair. I used to be…

It’s silly, I know. Lamenting time gone by and not accepting the right-now. But it’s what we do in western society.

When I was in India, I marveled at young women, plump from motherhood and enjoying life, who wore saris that exposed skin – belly skin, pudgy belly skin. They didn’t care, and their husbands proclaimed them beautiful.

Of course, in India the accepted mode of dress is a long dress-like top with baggy leggings underneath. Nothing fitted. Nothing form-fitting.GirlsTextingIndiaEDIT

Our society puts a heavy cloak around women. And we take it on. Why is that? Why don’t we throw it off defiantly, insisting that we stand in our own power all our lives, regardless of body shape or size or hair thickness or length or color? And those are but a few of the imperfections we ruminate over.

Goshen, Virginia
Goshen, Virginia

This morning in the shower, I heard that inner voice whispering, remember when you spent summer weekends in Goshen, Virginia, with your poet friends and posed for photos on boulders in the middle of the cold current? And your hair was thick and lustrous and uncontrollable and always you wished you had straight, sleek hair? Remember how gorgeous and unadulterated you were then?

And I didn’t even know it.

My friend Peg, whose farm was my weekend refuge so many years ago
My friend Peg, whose farm was my weekend refuge so many years ago

I’m not sure why I let that voice live in my head. It’s really not nice. Back when I spent those summers in the small towns of Virginia, writing and hiking and loving life, I was lonely. The voice doesn’t remind me of that.

I yearned for true love and a life building with someone and babies of my own. There was so much I wanted to do!

I drove south from my apartment in Washington, D.C., without a care in the world except to get there safely and jammed the Cowboy Junkies loud as I criss-crossed winding mountain roads in the dusk.

When I arrived, my friends were there with glasses of wine and home-cooked goodness and the enriching air of the countryside to bask in. I loved life. I didn’t worry. I didn’t earn that much money, but life was good.

Fast-forward to middle-age and it seems like worry moves in with a capital W and a very loud megaphone.

Again, why do we let it? So what? To be that carefree again…it’s within reach.

So that’s my goal for summer. Banish the inner bad voice and reclaim the good one. Take to the road. Spend time with friends. Be home. Notice the warm fragrant air. Bask in the glow of moments noticed.

I used to be…imperfect even when I was perfect. Hopefully I can remember that.

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