tan lines

Today I was the first day back to work, and as I was pulling on my khakis I noticed something.
Tan lines.
On my backside. My much lower backside.
And I’m used to tan lines.
Tank top, bathing suit back, and even the horrible knee sock soccer referee lines I sported back in college.
But these particular lines haven’t shown themselves since I was a teenager.  And for good reason.

I have never been too into my body or appearance. I work out regularly, but I rarely try the new fad diet. I spend more cash on coffee than I do clothes. The seasons change more often than I get my hair cut and a single tube of mascara can last me years.

Ignoring something is not the same as embracing it. The truth is I could lose a good 20 lbs. I wish I knew how to put on eye liner the right way. I’d get a massage weekly if I could afford it. And I’d rather have a pelvic exam than go bathing suit shopping.  Or wear one in front of people. And if I have to, I am covering up my pasty white thighs that are too big. And the hail damage in back and those huge painful varicose veins complimentary of a few pregnancies.

And speaking of bathing suits. I have the typical solid black one piece mom bathing suit that is supposed to hide the fact that I’ve had 2 c-sections and about 200 too many cheeseburgers. But it doesn’t hide my backside, for that I usually leave on a pair of shorts.

But July changed that.
My knees were killing me so I decided to give them a break and swim laps between runs. You can’t swim laps in shorts. And besides no one is going to notice my thighs while I’m wearing a swim cap and goggles. I had no idea that a mile in the pool is the equivalent of about 70 laps. So by the time I was done more than just my muscles were sore. And secondly, I spent most July weekends at the lake with old friends. Friends from high school, from college and camp. And the conversation and the company was easy and comfortable and the rest of me started to feel that way too.  And I peeled off my shorts before hopping in the water. They were getting in the way anyways. Filling up with water and slowing me down.

These parts of me that I am less than proud of and usually keep hidden away burned a little their first time in the sun. They were not used to being seen and were more sensitive. But eventually they tanned and freckled like the rest of me.
The imperfections are still there. Despite all the miles I’ve both run and swam this summer.  But they are tanner.

And I learned in the right company. With people that know me and love me, I can expose parts of me that I usually keep covered up. My thighs. And my heart.
And sure, sometimes we get burned. But sometimes we get a tan.


I like to have friends with skills I don’t have.
How to change a tire.
Brew a really good cup of coffee.
Those things come in handy.

I also have quite a number of friends who are amazing photographers.
And since I have ridiculously cute kids, they keep me and my house in studio quality prints. Usually for the cost of dinner or a bottle of wine. Sometimes even less.
I am spoiled. Completely. I know.

So when one of these super photographer friends asked me to “model” for her I agreed to whatever she wanted. As long as I got to keep my clothes on.
She talked about this shoot for months.
Her “vision”. Hair. Makeup. Accessories. A dress. Lighting. Location.
All very artsy. And over my head and I was pretty sure she had pegged the wrong model for this shoot. I am more of a baseball cap kind of girl than what she was describing.
I just told her to tell me where and when to show up. And to expect me to be a bit awkward behind the camera but that I’d try my best.

She has shot my family dozens of times and it always feels weird to be smiling and posing, but she never fails to get great shots and is usually done in 15 or so minutes. Which is good because my kids are done in 10. And my husband is done before she even starts.
I was chatting with a friend who had done it a few weeks before hand, and she was telling me that she shot for almost 2 hours.
In the sweltering heat.
And I think this is when I started to worry.
Two hours of sweat and fake smiling and I could already see the makeup running down my face. But I owe this girl for more than just pictures, but for things like picking up my kids, flea bombing my house and having pizza sent to my house when I’m sick. So I can sweat and smile and stand on my head if she asked. Plus I’d already gotten a new dress out of the deal.

I am also into doing things that are outside my comfort zone. Because they usually teach me something or at least give me a good story to tell. And trust me wearing someone else’s spanx were totally out of my comfort zone.

So we started the morning early. In hair and make up. Now my routine takes me somewhere around 20 minutes. And that includes blow drying my hair. I figure, that routine could use some improvement. And that things like eyeliner might add a smidge more time to the routine.
I was so wrong.
2 hours, 2 cups of coffee, one set of fake eyelashes and about 2 million bobby pins later, I got out of the chair and got my dress on.  I suddenly wished that I remembered to do things like wax my eyebrows or paint my toenails. And that maybe I should start some kind of skin care routine, like every other girl over the age of 12...and wondered if they even sell Noxema any more.

Then we headed off to her location. And it is August. In Texas. Which means well over 100 degrees. But it was surprisingly less sweltering than I expected in the shade. Now I read magazines and occasionally watch TMZ….and I have seen photo shoots on TV. And they always look glamourous. Like they are just bouncing around posing, smiling, turning their heads with loud music in the back ground and some hot photographer guy telling them which way to bounce and smile.

Again I was wrong.

I needed lots of specific instructions. And she had to tell me where to put every finger.
(and by the way I still don’t know what the heck dancer hands are!) She told me how to put my feet, legs, chin, eyes, nose, arms….all to bring out the best lines and sides and make me look less fat.

But those pictures in magazines all look so natural and easy. And maybe for the sticks posing it is. But in real life, I was leaning and jutting and folding hands and lips in the most unnatural ways. I’d lean and prop and stick things out and suck things in and pray that she’d get her shot before I fell over or was blinded from the reflector shining light directly into my eyes. All while trying to look natural. And relaxed. And praying that I wasn’t getting sweat stains on my dress so I could wear it to school next week.

And I’m exaggerating a tad. But my point is this.  Everyone knows all those magazines are photoshopped. That hair and makeup and good editing can go a long ways.
But my perception about the rest of the  process and the end product were still way off.

She got some good shots. I learned a little more about the process. And I mean less about photography and more about life.
My friend will take a 100+ shots, just hoping for 4-5 good ones.
20 bad shots for maybe one good one. And she is a professional. She is really good at this. And 5 out of 100 is really what she hopes for.  A 5% success rate. And that is a good day.
I wish I could give my self that kind of grace in other areas of my life. Allowing, even expecting to do it wrong over and over again, before eventually getting something I am proud of.  And that what often looks easy and natural, is really the equivalent of holding a yoga pose for a long count. Things are not what they seem.  Easy and natural, usually comes from effort and sweat.
And to never underestimate the power of spanx.


I hate lines. Sometimes I will leave a store without what I want because the lines are too long. I will often go eat else where than wait the 20 minutes to be seated.
Patience is not one of my virtues. The thought of spending hours in line at six flags to ride a 30 second roller coaster is not even a little bit my idea of a fun afternoon. And just thinking about going to Walmart gives me a rash.

Even less than I like waiting in line, is making them. Drawing them.
I am not the best disciplinarian in my house. Or my classroom. And I do think discipline is good and necessary and usually out of love. However, I always struggle with my role in it. I struggle to be the one doling it out.

I live my life more in a continuum than on a particular side. I hate picking sides.

So yesterday. When everyone was posting away on facebook about chick fil a, I went to a zumba class (go ahead laugh, everyone in the same room did!) and ate leftovers for dinner.

And was relieved to wake up this morning where surely all this political stuff would over. Surely people are not going to wait in line for 2 hours for waffle fries and back up traffic. Again.  And surely I won't have to see picture after picture of delicious sandwiches when I am trying to count calories. I am so ready to just read more about the olympics and see pictures of people's thermometers in their car.

Political crisis averted. I can go back to not picking sides. Not stating my opinion and eating at whatever fast food establishment that I want.

 But I can’t.

 Something about yesterday doesn’t sit right with me. Kind of like when I eat lots of fried food.

 I read a book once ( Blue Like Jazz), where Christians set up a confessional booth right in the middle of their liberal college campus, and when people came into confess. The people running the booth confessed instead.

 In addition to all the posts I saw of people taking stands and supporting chick fil a, for their Christian values and freedom of speech, I also read posts form gay friends about how all this made them feel.  And what it spoke of the church the them. And I wanted to set up my own confession booth for any hurt that they might feel or have felt in the past. For the literally dozen friends that deleted them on facebook.
From their eyes, it was a big giant push away. Rather than an invation towards this Jesus that we were supposedly lining up for. I also read a little more on where their money and support actually goes to and it left me wondering if people standing in line had any idea.

Please don’t barrage me with comments about freedom of speech and values. Those things absolutely never need to be apologized for. Unless of course you are Natalie Maines, or want to build a mosque. (I am being sarcastic here if you can’t tell). But seriously, this whole post makes me so uncomfortable to type. I am not pretending to be more right than anyone else. I'm just trying to expose a different view.

I am glad to live in a country where we are free to choose. What we believe. How to spend our money. What to say. What to support and even where to buy our chicken sandwiches.  I am always impressed when I see people take tough stands for things they believe in. Because more than often I don't.

See this marriage thing doesn’t seem so black and white to me. People have been pressing me in the last weeks to make some kind of stand. To say which side of the line I am on.  And I have hesitated to do that. And it has hurt people that I love.
A lot of what we call Christian values, is really just Christian culture. Because in the bible I have read. More than once. Men have multiple wives, harems, women are promised after 7 years of labor and all kinds of other crazy stuff. And one of my favorite marriages in the bible is Hosea who married a prostitute. Not exactly the kind of thing you’d see at a Focus on the Family conference (but says so much about the redeeming and relentless love of our Father). And some of you might tell me, oh that is all OLD testament stuff. The new testament clearly talks about one man one woman. To which I’d reply. Sort of. It doesn't exactly use those words.

But it does say it is better not to marry.
And that God hates divorce.
It also says women should not speak in church.
And to keep our heads covered.
And to pluck our eyes out if they cause us to sin.
And multiple times not to judge.

 But it also speaks peace and hope to me. It encourages me to serve and seek justice.
And tells me to love.
Everyone no matter what side of the line they are standing on or in.
Which is why I think that, despite what I learned in youth group….the Bible is mostly meant to be a love story. Not an instruction book.
Freedom and context and culture are hard things to figure out.
A whole lot harder than ordering some nuggets.

And the things in the bible that I do think Jesus is really clear about....
My heart hurts that people don’t line up to support that. I posted something yesterday on facebook about needing help with an event at a homeless shelter. I got 2 suggestions, 0 likes and I struggled to find just a few donations.
I guess everyone was busy waiting in line.

(And this topic has been overdone in the blogoshpere.....and here are some links to some posts that made me think.)

from Jen Hatmaker: in the basement and the basement manifesto
from Rachel Held Evans: on both sides
from the Huffington Post: open letter and   it isn't what you think and Dixie chick appreciation day