Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Happiness in Liberating Self-Image

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Happiness in Liberating Self-Image

Article excerpt

I've just returned from a family vacation. A week in a condo with my husband, three kids and parents on Florida's Gulf Coast. That's right. The seven of us drove six hours to vacation on another beach. This may sound crazy, but as I explained to my husband many times when we first moved to Florida, living at the beach is not the same as vacationing at the beach.

For two years after we moved here, my husband would call me from his office and ask the same inane question: "So, did you go to the beach today?" To me, this was as bad as saying: "So, how many bonbons did you enjoy today while watching the soaps and neglecting the house and our three young children?"

Of course, I would always be in the middle of some distasteful chore at the time he called, such as washing out a toddler's soiled training pants or cleaning the kitty litter. If he were really lucky, he'd ask me this question while I was in the middle of doing his laundry. He stopped asking that question years ago, and I stopped blowing a whistle into the phone.

Vacationing at a beach hundreds of miles away from home not only allowed me to bask in the joy of knowing it was not my house we were tracking sand into, it also enabled me to discover one of life's most important truisms: The amount of fun you have, especially at the beach, is directly proportional to how ridiculous you look.

Of course, it's no accident that I've discovered this at a time in my life when it's becoming harder and harder to feel good about myself in spandex swimwear. But for whatever reason, this vacation was my opportunity to leave the primping and body obsessing to younger women and have a blast.

Finally reaching the stage where I no longer worry about holding my stomach in at the beach has been amazingly liberating. I've decided to accept myself for who I've become, and in the process discovered I was the only person who cared or was watching all of these years anyway. What this knowledge has allowed me is the freedom to wear modest bathing suits that are comfortable and stay put when I body surf, regardless of whether they minimize my wide waist or enhance my small bust. …

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