A Stroke Of Love: Dealing With An Aging Loved One

 

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His eyes fight the strong urge to stay open as I stroke his hair.  He wants to stay awake but the power and comfort of the human touch is too much to bear.  When I stop, he opens them again as if to ensure that I am not leaving his side.  I continue.  

The love I feel for this man is beyond comprehension yet so familiar to a love I once felt for another wonderful man, my father.  I wasn’t there the day my father died but I was there on many other days by his side, giving him all the love I had in me and more.  I left his side on a Sunday to go back to my family and he died the next day.  Thankfully, he did not die alone.

This man whose hair I stroke is my father-in-law; a man I’ve known since my teen years.  The man who raised my husband and who along with his wife, produced six of the most caring, compassionate, and hard-working men I know.   A legend in his community  known for his devotion to the town he loves and to the thousands of children whose lives he touched, while presiding over the town’s baseball leagues. Beloved by many, respected by all.

Watching this larger than life figure succumb to the inevitable and unforgiving force that is aging, is heartbreaking, to say the least.  A sight too familiar to me and one no one can truly prepare for.  

His mind and memory sharply in tact serving more as a burden than a blessing making him fully aware of his daily weakening and decline. A once fiercely active and independent man who now depends on others for all of his needs.  His dignity constantly threatened as he watches his grandchildren treat him differently in their struggle to recognize familiarity and comfort in the grandpa they once knew. 

I find my body shaking sometimes with fear and sadness for what is to come.  Intellectually, I know it is part of the cycle of life, a stage which is often celebrated and thought of as a journey to another bigger and better life.  But right now I can’t find that belief, I only have deep sadness for what was and what is to be.

He is a feisty fighter and stubborn as a mule, having survived recent major surgery to treat his cancer as well as heart surgery years back.  They don’t make them like him anymore.  He lived through the Depression, never complained about his life, hardly took a vacation and was ahead of his time in his ability to accept other’s differences with integrity and respect.  A model citizen and human being.

I cannot help but reflect on two particular memories I have with him.  While my husband and I were dating, true to his farmer background, he informed my husband that I was a good catch because I had good “onions”.  Little did I know that farming references would be a constant part of his repertoire throughout his life.  The other memory is of the time I had to host my first Thanksgiving, as a newlywed.  We are a big family but I did not think we were as big as he thought we were until (after offering to buy the turkey for me), he showed up at our door with a 30 pound bird.  Needless to say, I cried and called my mother for help as I tried to handle the beast.

The weeks ahead will be extremely difficult as we all navigate the ups and downs we continue to face.  I have got to gain the strength to accept what is and to support my husband and his family.  I will do anything I can to be there for him.  I will continue to offer my love and compassion to a man who I feel blessed to have known for so long.  He has loved me unconditionally and opened his arms to me from the day we met. And as long as he allows it, I will continue to stroke the full glorious head of silver hair he has, until he falls peacefully asleep. 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes! I would like my breasts flattened by a panini press, please!

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amazon.com

First and foremost, I could not agree more with the fact that early detection is critical in saving lives of those with cancer.  Like most of you, I have loved ones (including fellow blogging loved ones) who have been cursed with the “C” word and some of them have lost the battle while others continue to fight to survive.   It is scary and sad to think of the amount of people and their families who have been affected by Breast Cancer.  I pray for a cure in the very near future, and admire all the warriors out there that continue to fight.

Simply put: Mammograms save lives.

I have been dutifully getting checked annually since the age of 40 (has it really been 10 years)?  I often dread the appointment and delay it as much as I can before the feeling of guilt takes over for acting like a such foolish baby.  

I mean, how bad can it be to subject yourself to 15 minutes of uncomfortable pain which could save your life??  It has to be NOTHING compared to the pain and anguish of getting a diagnosis and going through the many treatments and surgeries.  NOTHING.

We don’t like to talk about how uncomfortable the scanning really is because we don’t want to be seen as weak or ungrateful for such a life saving procedure.

But for those who don’t know what it feels like to have your tender breasts brutally flattened by a heavy metal and cold machine, allow me tell you. 

OUCHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Does not even begin to describe it.

In this “day and age” (pardon the cliche) of advanced technology and medicine, how have they not figured out a better way to scan breasts that does not involve painful crushing and compressing (and near deflation) and popping of blood vessels and mammary glands, of such tender loving parts?

HOW?

I was fortunate last week to get scanned by a modern state of the art 3D mammogram machine.  I thought to myself, “Well, this new machine most definitely would have addressed the painful crushing factor and must be a much-anticipated improved version of the old squasher clunkers”.

Or so I thought.  As I stood there bracing for the ultimate PRESS on side #1, I had hopes of experiencing a lesser assault.  The technician had positioned me as close to the machine as possible (so much so that I was one with the machine).  She did the necessary pulling, adjusting, angling and positioning to get the image just right.  “I am going to press down now, don’t move and stop breathing”.

Really?  I stopped breathing and patiently waited for her to tell me to breathe.  Just when I thought the machine could FLATTEN ME NO MORE, it inched further down pressing harder and harder.  

How I ask,  is one supposed to stay still, and not breathe while your breasts are being ironed flat and etched on to the lower cold metal plate of the machine? Did I miss the memo?

Usually tears roll down my eyes and I feel faint from the lack of oxygen, while this is happening. This time the technician was done before this occurred. YES!

Then there is side #2.  You know what is coming and you dread it more.  DON’T BREATHE!  

You walk out not wanting to put your bra back on because your once round perky breasts are now book shelves and they are SORE!

In spite of this, I will continue to get scanned year after year because I love life and my family.  I urge all of you women out there to make the appointment to get checked!   

One can’t help to wonder though, if there would already be a new painless alternative were this to be done to men.

Men, I love you all but picture this: (I don’t wish this on any of you)

You are asked to take off all clothing from the waist down (you can keep your socks on, yay you.).  Then, you are positioned in front of a huge intimidating loud monster-like machine and asked to stand still (oh, and you are asked NOT to wear deodorant before the procedure, so you are forced smell your own sweat).

Then, the friendly technician takes your most precious jewels and begins to pull, place, yank, straighten, lift and manipulate them (no, there is no sexual feeling whatsoever) and you are asked NOT TO BREATHE as the powerful upper plate of the machine begins to move down with the goal of meeting up with the lower plate, at all costs.

You feel the cold metal against your now shrinking jewels as it presses and presses and plasters and planes and spreads out and squashes and crushes and flattens your manhood until you can’t take it anymore.  And then, to make sure it captured all the right angles, it does it again.

Panini, anyone?

*I dedicate this post to my loving aunt, my beautiful cousin, my brave sister-in-law and to my dear blogging friend Susie at:

http://susielindau.com/

I’m 50 and I know it…

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TODAY is D day!!

Thank Goodness because I was getting exhausted from all that swimming! After much rest and partying, I will continue my swim THROUGH my 50s rather than TO my 50s.

I better get the day started because I have to:

*Figure out 50 ways to leave my lover

*Unleash the “inner goddess”
in me and set my “hard limits” thanks to 
50 Shades of Grey.

*I’ve got to figure out WHO the 50th president of the United States is.

*  Watch my 50-5 inch TV

* Remember the 50th episode of Seinfeld

* Listen to Fiddy Cent

* Look through the 50th best asses in the world by, Elite Daily  

http://elitedaily.com/envision/girls/asses-world/

* Say my ABCs, including the 50th letter

* Go 50/50 with you on any lottery winnings today

* Watch the 50  40 Year Old Virgin

* Dream about vacationing in the 50th State

*Not climb the 50th highest mountain in the world, Ismoil Somoni Peak

*Share 50 Scorpion Bowls with my fellow bday buddies like Mark Harmon, Keanu Reeves and… I guess I’ll invite  my husband’s and Andy’s from

http://ourlifein3d.com/

REAL LOVE

Salma Hayek  (a beatch beauty)

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*Dance to Brick House 50 times

And last but not least,

I think I will thank the heavens above for the wonderful life I have and the amazing friends and family I am so blessed with. For my beautiful and loving kids, my ok health and for the opportunity to spend the rest of my life with the man I so adore, who is my everything.

Thank you all for being in my life and for reading my silly words week after week.

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*I’m LMFAO (Laughing My Fifty Fat Ass Off
So Let’s Dance to I’m Fifty Sexy And I Know It
Wiggle WIggle Wiggle!

50 things I will NOT do on my 50th

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50 Things I will NOT do on my 50th:

1.  I will not – NOT cry 

2.  I will not clean

3.  I will not do laundry

4.  I will not make my bed

5.  I will not go running (on that day or ever)

6.  I will not diet

7.  I will not pick up the socks from the floor

8.  I will not – NOT be happy 

9.  I will not feed the children

10.  I will not feed the husband

11.  I will not feed anyone

12.  I will not – NOT embarrass my children 

13.  I will not fake a smile

14.  I will not wear deodorant 

15. I will not put the cap back on the toothpaste tube  

16.  I will most certainly not replace the toilet paper

17. I will not flush

18.  I will not stop humming

19.  I will not wear a bra

20.  I will not get dressed

21.  I will not pay the bills

22.  I will not paint my own nails

23.  I will not stop watching reality tv

24.  I will not cut my carbs –damn it

25.  I will not use PAM instead of butter

26.  I will not hold my gut in

27.  I will not let my vagus nerve control me

28.  I will not use tonic in my gin and tonic

29.  I will not delicately sip my wine

30.  I will not wipe the wet floor after my shower -(if I shower…)

31.  I will not get off the computer

32.  I will not fill the ice tray- again

33.  I will not floss

34.  I will not take my meds

35.  I will not stop dancing

36.  I will not sing in tune

37.  I will not give back rubs

38.  I will not water the dying plant

39.  I will not use a glass when drinking milk

40.  I will not have RA

41.  I will not stop shaking my leg uncontrollably because it annoys my husband.

42.  I will not share the covers

43.  I will not – NOT be first in everything

44.  I will not turn down my cell phone ring tone

45.  I will not flatten my hair

46.  I will not stop eating

47.  I will not stop drooling

48.  I will not stop saying, What?

49.  I will not twerk (on that day only)

50.  I will not feed Ron the fish 

 

Fiesta/Siesta – Do Not Molesta (Disturb)

Fiesta Time

I was completely oblivious to the rumpus going on around me last week while on vacation with my husband’s family. We were staying at my amazing brother-in-law’s (and his awesome husband) beautiful house at the Cape.  We had just spent the day at the beach, it was close to dinner time and I could not be dragged away from the challenging cupcake jigsaw puzzle in the other room.

Everyone else (there were 16 of us) was running around the house doing their thing as I sat hunched over, trying to identify the tiny pieces in front of me. Someone once described getting a piece of a puzzle done, being equivalent to a mini orgasm…this cupcake puzzle had a 1000 pieces (just saying).

ebay.com

ebay.com

One of my sister in-laws had delivered a glass of the peach Sangria she had made (YUM) to me at the puzzle room – so all was good with the world.  I had offered to help in the kitchen but was secretly hoping that I wasn’t needed and they in fact (thankfully) encouraged me to stay put.

Still completely clueless, I got up when I was summoned to the dining room for dinner.  When I arrived at the dining room…SURPRISE!!!!!!!

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It was like being back in the motherland!  We are talking a  Puerto Rican flag hanging on the window, balloons, salsa music playing in the background, more Sangria, rice with pigeon peas (trust me, they are yummy), my fave plantain dish, chimichurri sauce and more!!!

There were old pictures of me displayed on the buffet table as well as photo albums from the ‘ol days.

I had developed quite the buzz by then so I was completely overwhelmed with emotion and feeling the love.

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Shhhh. This is really me, but don’t tell anyone. 🙂 Here I am with not one, not two but three bday cakes. The middle one being gluten-free – I tried them all.

Needless to say, the meal was delicious. My Gringa family had gone all out cooking dishes they had never cooked before, buying $8 flags at flea markets, driving two towns over looking for gluten-free cakes, slaving over chimichurri sauce and not only enduring but also dancing to the salsa music with me!  Ok, the men wouldn’t dance with me, not even my son or nephew…but us gals were really getting down and shaking our hips which most definitely, did not lie!!!

In fact, our hips were being brutally honest with us and wondering who we thought we were. I was giving hip shaking lessons to my other sister-in-law and teaching her how to pretend that her shorts were a long flowy flamenco skirt she could flap with her hands.

There was more Sangria served, wine bottles opened, muscles pulled, necks realigned, joints damaged, bodies showered in sweat, music played, grinding, laughing and collapsing – to be had.

****[Side note –  BREAKING NEWS:  I wore my new skirted bathing suit to the beach that day and lived to tell about it, people!!!]

Turning 50 is not so bad after all!!  Still 8 days to go and already the fiestas have begun!

I am scheduled to go on a two night stay with my sister and my hilarious two cousins for a girl’s getaway to celebrate more of this 50 thing, the second week in September.  There should be plenty of laughter (and peeing in our pants) at that one!

With all these fiestas, ill be stumbling to my 50’s rather than swimming.

Well, I better [Big Yawn] go take another siesta so I can rest before the next fiesta.

PLEASE, DO NOT MOLESTA.

leafandbeanstrip.com

leafandbeanstrip.com


There Once Was A Girl Turning 50…In A Few Weeks

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amazon.com

There once was a girl turning fifty

Who thought of herself pretty nifty

She had many friends

And some of them hens

Cackling and laughing all night

She had quite a past she was hiding (not really)

In case they came after her while dining

She acted real tough

Even though things got rough

Cuz that’s how her cookie crumbled

She was full of life

And such the sexy wife

Who kept her man always smiling

She sure did love food

Everything was so damn good

Eating became a real passion

What lay ahead

She scratched her balding head

In the next fifty years to come?

She had a choice

To use her wise voice

And drink herself to oblivion

Ignoring her sagging giant arms

Yet watching them go jiggle jiggle

Multiple chins for her comfort

Which most definitely should be illegal

Life would be fine

With a lot of good wine

So she didn’t really have to worry

Botox was easily accessible

Although transformation – not possible

She looked at her thighs

With an abundance of sighs

But smiled when she saw no cellulite

It was what it was

Que sera sera

She was just going to have to accept it

So she forged on ahead

And went back to bed

Since she could no longer avoid it

She thought about her fate

But then it got very late

And off to slumberland she went 

Excitement grew near

Or was it something in her rear?

And she knew she could no longer wait

Because soon my good friends, she would open

 the next half-century gate 

One Month From Today, I Could Drown or Be Eaten By A Shark

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I have been documenting the swim to my 50’s since March of this year.  So far so good.  A couple of leg cramps here and there and some swallowed salty water along the way but generally speaking, my strokes have been smooth.  I have stayed afloat (sort of) and continue to breathe rhythmically.  Phew!

 Exactly one month from today, the big day will come.  HOLY #%*@!!!  It’s almost here!  The big 5-0.  The day I could…drown or get eaten by a shark.  It’s true. 

The day that the swimming comes to a halt.  On that day, I will either drown and get swallowed up by the immense dark terrifying ocean of the 50’s, or get swallowed up by an immense terrifying Great White of the 50’s.  

There will be no escaping my fate.  If it is to be a shark, it will begin to circle around me a few days before planning its attack.  It might nudge me once or twice.  It will get bolder and take a chunk of my foot.  Then it will circle some more.  It will come back for my leg.  All of it.  Soon it will alert his friends and they will finish me up tugging and jerking me around like a rag doll.  Swallowed up.  The whole half century of my life, Gone.  Now, officially 50.

Or, I could just drown.  Let the ocean swallow me up alive drifting my body and soul towards the next half century of my life.  

But you know what?  I am thinking that I may ask for a life boat.  Even a small raft.  I may tread water, doggy paddle like crazy and stay above water.  Maybe I will take a break from my swim for a bit and party my ass off.  Yea.  That sounds better.  Maybe I will cheer and celebrate like crazy.  This brickhousechick is no quitter, damn it!  She never gives up and she will continue the long distance swim through her 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80′ and beyond.

I will reflect on the past 50 years.  I will remember the tidal waves, tsunamis and shark infested waters I have lived through.  Also the calm beautiful clear waters I encountered, that made my journey a joy.

I think I will play my <a href=”http:/

“>favorite song throughout the whole month and dance like nobody is watching (cervical stenosis or not).

Won’t you join me?

 

The New Craze

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academicsins.wordpress.com

Ok, brickhousechick.  It’s time to get with the program.  Your husband who turned 50 last Fall is seeing a personal trainer (how can we forget Marit…) and is in the best shape of his life.  

He is not eating sugar and has cut out most carbs.  He’s cranky more often but that’s beside the point. 

When are you going to start doing something about your body?  You only have two months left.    Approaching  your 50’s is supposed to give you that motivating kick in the gouda to start taking better care of yourself.   Kind of like when you are asked to be in a wedding or going to a high school reunion. 

 No more excuses.  There is an abundance of information out there to help you become a more healthy you.  Let’s review the latest information you came across last night while eating Mint Milanos and googling the latest health craze.

1.  Prancercizing –  everyone is doing it.  It’s not that difficult and even John Mayer is endorsing it!  Get out there (preferably in your driveway) and prance away, girl!  

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2.  Lymphatic Brushing –  exfoliating is out, dry brushing is in! Get your circulation going and get rid of cellulite while you are at it!  

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3.  Camel’s Milk – no doubt you’ve heard of camel toe, but now it’s all about their milk!  It’s supposed to be better for you.   Camel’s milk has been used medicinally for centuries by nomadic people, and is the closest to human mother’s milk.  It contains 10 times more iron and three times more vitamin C than cow’s milk. Camels possess unique, powerful immune-system components.  Not sure if you’ll find it at Wal-Mart or Trader Joe’s, brickhouse.  It may require a visit to the desert.

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4.  Ballet Workouts – the latest low impact exercise that is putting a dent on the yoga craze.  Can you plié while prancercising?

5.  Eating dung from sacred cows – very popular in Asia…

6.  Alkaline Waterno real studies show, that it neutralizes the acid in your body,  boosts your metabolism and absorbs nutrients more effectively than regular H20 and can slow bone loss. But, don’t lick the batteries. images-50

6.  BB Detox Tea – apparently, BB stands for blemish balm and it comes from Korea.  It comes as a cream and has skin whitening components and is used for age spots, acne and wrinkles.  It also comes in form of a tea and it is a detoxifying cleanse.

freddyo.com – RIP Michael. 4 years, today.

freddyo.com – RIP Michael. 4 years, today.

7.  Train Track Therapy – this one will freak you out brickhouse, since you have developed a new fear of train tracks!  In Indonesia, after a paralyzed chinese man went to the tracks to commit suicide and was miraculously cured, people go lay across the tracks as a train is approaching, to benefit from the electric therapy, jump off before the train gets too close, only to lay back down once the train passes in order to benefit from the residual electricity.  Some will do this twice a day. ku-xlarge

Or… you could just simply eat better, brickhouse.

Re-touch Me, Baby! Harder!

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dreamstime.com

Oh…baby.  Please, I’m begging you… re-touch me, again and again.

 Ahhh….mooove me, shift me and rotate me, faster, faster, FASTER!

YES, YES!  Don’t stop!  Enhance me, Big Boy!  Right there, yes, right there!

CROP the @*& out of me, HARDER!!  Do it!  Do it!  DOOOO ITTTTTT!

Ahhh……………MMMmmmmm……

Ever notice how as we get older, the few pictures of ourselves (even the selfies) that we allow others to see, get smaller and smaller?  Body parts go missing, cut in quarters or halved?

My all time favorite words in the photo editing business by far are;  Retouch, Rotate, Enhance and Crop.

Just look at those words.  They are so, beautiful.  Definitely my bffs.  If you don’t know them yet, I suggest you introduce yourself to them, pronto!

But these besties were not always in my life.  Only since I have reluctantly been swimming to my f-*^@ 50’s, have they so gallantly walked into my exciting life.  

Before then, I was whole.  Complete.  A full person.

Now, I am only a collection of  broken pieces, scattered around like ashes.   

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don’t I wish…:)

Take my legs for instance.  They used to look like the picture above.

Now, I can only showcase this much of them:

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 My majestic hand, photo-150  can only be seen from afar ( masked by a glass of wine, of course).

Below, is my frontal lower side with my – never leave home without it – fanny pack. 

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Here is my enhanced and re-touched Gravatar photo >: 305369_2084617269945_5541082_n 

Oh, alright.  I’ll reveal a bit more:

 305369_2084617269945_5541082_n_2 Who needs a whole face when you can have half!

Well, you get the picture.  

The fact is that as we get older, we feel the need to get retouched, enhanced, rotated and cropped (literally – wink, wink and figuratively) to pieces and show less of our beautiful whole bodies.  

Truthfully, if it wasn’t for the fact that my husband is a public official and I shouldn’t reveal much (even though I am blogging about my most private moments), I would let it all hang out! 

 

OH GOD, not the skirted bathing suit!!!

WARNING:  If you are a man, reading this post may elicit certain… excitement.  Read at your own risk.

thetimeisright.com

thetimeisright.com

Guess what?  It’s summer and I’m almost 50.  Translation:  Must I really get into a bathing suit?  This is the dreaded question we all ask as the days get warmer, the nights get longer, the grills are ‘a cooking and the water is glistening.  Damn, is it that time again?

It’s not like we don’t have 9 months to prepare for this inevitable event.  We know it’s coming.  We can mold and sculpt our bodies in preparation for the big reveal.  But, who the hell wants to do that?

After summer has passed, we welcome the fall with open arms.  We can cover up our skin more, eat apple pie, pumpkin pie, pumpkin ice cream (my fave) and all the other seasonal autumn (starchy) foods.  Then, we gorge during the holidays, to then fail at our new resolutions we set on January 1st and gorge some more to keep warm during the winter months (at least that’s my excuse).

At a blink of an eye, May rolls around and….SH@&*!!!  It’s here again.  Darn Summer.

Don’t get me wrong, I love summer.  Everything about it EXCEPT for the bathing suit part (oh and the mosquitos).

Well, I found myself bathing suit shopping this past weekend.  There were racks upon racks of vibrant shiny sexy wear, for all shapes and sizes.

41zPXTmA8DL._SL246_SX190_CR0,0,190,246_ cameron-diaz-bathing-suit < These two were my favorites.  Especially the patriotic monokini, just in time for July 4th!

You wouldn’t believe the ingenious marketing that takes place to sell these tiny pieces of lycra.  Slenderizing.  Miraclesuit.  Spanx-Slimming.  Contour.  Control Top.  Look 10 lbs slimmer.  Color contrast to give the illusion of slimness.

The sad thing is that I believed it and fell for it.  I marched right over to the fitting room, cart chock full of miracles, to be tried on.  Thank God for the fitting room’s special mirrors they have for our benefit – although my paleness blinded me as I looked to see how the suits looked.  Shoot, I forgot to shave!  I had to pretend that it wasn’t Chewbacca staring back at me.

Boy do I hate this process.  Time and time again you must look at your….flaws as you wiggle your way into the too small of a size suit – because you refuse to believe that you are truly, two sizes larger.  Fun times!

As I struggled with straps, belts, buckles and cups, I yearned for older days.  The days when this was the style:

missstan.com

missstan.com

C1939-SWIMSUITS

fashionera.com

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I was wishing I could find this suit below, so as to scare away any eyes that would decide to wander over to my less than perfect body.  Stay Away! 

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It was looking like this style was fitting me the best= Womens-Elderly-Onepiece-Swimwear_1038_570 After all, look at how happy and carefree and flowy the models look.

I frankly think, the bathing suit that has fit me the absolute BEST throughout  my whole bathing suit career, has been this baby below. Not too tight or loose.  The perfect colors for my skin type and quite flattering, wouldn’t you agree?DSCN4481 - Version 2

Well, I am now not so happy to report that I walked out of the store, the proud owner of not one, not two but three skirted suits. Yes, I said skirted20130617_120049 (God Have Mercy on Me).  Three, because I could not stand looking at myself in the small claustrophobic dressing room mirror any longer and could not decide which lucky suit would come home with me.  

I now get to have a fashion show in the privacy of my own messy room to decide which one, is the winner.  Sigh.