Wednesday, June 27, 2012

To go or not to go...that is the question (July's Bella)

           It’s approaching, it’s just around the corner.  As it gets closer I can hear the Jaws theme growing louder in my ears.  Ba-dum, ba-DUM, BA-DUM…the fear sets in as the ominous event nears.

My 20th high school reunion is this August. 

Many people look forward to their reunions.  They want to catch up on old times and laugh about all of the fun had during those four years.  I haven’t yet decided if I will attend or not.  I am not one of those adults that feels the need to relive their high school glory days.  There were no high school glory days for me.  I am not in contact with anyone I went to school with (besides Facebook, and that doesn’t count).  My fate in high school was sealed in junior high; I was overweight (or big-boned), I wore big plastic glasses, and my teeth were all crooked.  I was the classic definition of a geek.  I wasn’t popular, I wasn’t athletic, and I couldn’t even make up for those short-comings by being smart.  I mainly tried to blend into the concrete block walls. 
           Although I changed physically by high school (I lost the weight, I got smaller glasses, and I got braces); my social status remained the same.  I was teased, sometimes mercilessly.  Gym class was the worst.  I was always chosen last for any team.  Why do we force kids to choose teams anyway?  Why can’t teachers just assign teams so that no one feels subpar and unwanted?  Anyway, I was last.  Sometimes I lucked out and was next to last.  The best was when I got to be team captain and a collective groan went through the gym because nobody wanted to be on my team.  I hated games that involved running around bases.  As I would approach the base for my turn to hit, kick, or whatever other humiliation the PE teacher had in store for me, the other team would all yell “MOVE IN!!!!  CLOSER!!!!  WE NEED TO SEE THE HAIRS IN HER NOSE!”  Ok, that last one is a lie.  I don’t have sticky out nose hairs.  Some kids would try their hardest to kick that stupid ball over all of their heads.  My goal was to head back to the end of the line as quickly as possible so I would usually kick straight to first.  I barely made it two steps before the rolling ball was caught and I was out (or what I considered “safe”).

                As all of my classmates cried on graduation day, I was ecstatic.  I was done.  I never had to go back.  I moved on to college where I could start fresh.  People would get to know ME, not only see me as the nerdy seventh grader who just longed to get through the day without being the butt of any jokes.  So why would I want to go back and relive all of this?  

I used to dream of my high school reunion.  I would be model slim with long and silky hair.  I would have my doctorate and my husband would look like George Clooney.  Life didn’t turn out that way.  Life turned out normal.  I’m not skinny but I’m comfortable in my skin.  My hair is frizzy but I embrace my inner Medusa.  I have multiple degrees, but none high enough to put Ph.D. after my name.  And I am not married (much less to George Clooney…but we all know he will never get married so I’ll use that as my reason why).   I feel no need to go back two decades and catch up with people that never paid any attention to me before.  It has taken me a very long time to leave that girl behind, with all of her insecurities and dreams of invisibility.  I’m scared that if I go that girl will return and I’ll hide behind the potted plants.  

Yet there is part of me that wants to go, to prove to myself that I am no longer that person.  I want to believe that I am strong enough to be the person I am now.  I want to say goodbye to the insecurities and be proud of who I have become.  And I also want an excuse to buy a new dress.  Possibly a green one that will blend in with those plants….

Friday, June 15, 2012

June Bella

The Traveling Red Dress

If you are not familiar with Jenny Lawson (a.k.a. The Bloggess) and The Traveling Red Dress, take a moment and look her up online.  I’ll wait.

Are you done yet?  Are you as inspired as I was?

Jenny started the Traveling Red Dress after she fell in love with a red ball gown.  

“I want, just once, to wear a bright red, strapless ball gown with no apologies.  I want to be shocking, and vivid and wear a dress as intensely amazing as the person I so want to be.  And the more I thought about it the more I realized how often we deny ourselves that red dress and all the other capricious, ridiculous, overindulgent and silly things that we desperately want but never let ourselves have because they are simply “not sensible”.  Things like flying lessons, and ballet shoes, and breaking into spontaneous song, and building a train set, and crawling onto the roof just to see the stars better.  Things like cartwheels and learning how to box and painting encouraging words on your body to remind yourself that you’re worth it.” – from

I have never considered myself beautiful.  When I get dressed for work, my goal is presentable.  When I get dressed for errands on the weekend, my goal is to not be naked.  That is how much preparation goes into my daily appearance (not much, admittedly).

Then I read about The Traveling Red Dress on Jenny’s blog.  I followed it over to Facebook and found women offering up dresses to share.  I posted that I was looking for a dress and within 30 minutes I had one promised to me.  I had no idea what the dress would look like, and I opened the box from Brooklyn with some trepidation.  What if it is ugly?  What if it doesn’t fit?  What if it shows my legs or my wobbly bits?!  And the dress was perfect in every way.  

You may think it is a little narcissistic to play dress up and pose for professional shots.  But it wasn’t that way at all.  For one afternoon, I felt beautiful.  I felt like anything was possible.  If I could take myself (with all of my self-consciousness and insecurities) and strut the streets of Lynchburg in order to pose for photos; I could do anything.  

I am my own worst enemy.  Nothing holds me back more than myself.  On the inside, I am creative and colorful.  But my outside is reserved and wants to blend in with the background.  For a couple of hours in March, I let my inside out.  It was difficult for me to let go.  But it is even more difficult to hide when outside in 50 degree weather in a shockingly red strapless dress. 

From this experience I learned that I need to let my outside show more often.  I need to take chances and do what I want.  I need to stop holding myself back.  I need to be me.

If you have the opportunity, get your own red dress.  Be true to yourself for one day.  Realize your potential and worth.  And maybe, just maybe, you might find yourself being a little more open and a little less afraid.

A big thank you to April Moore of April B Photography and Lindsay Benoit of Artistic Trendz in Lynchburg for a day of magic.  You can find more of April’s wonderful work at  

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Reason #256 of Why I am a Horrible Person

I went to go see "The Avengers" today with my sister.  This is a PG-13 movie that has blow 'em up scenes before the opening credits even begin.

Behind us sits a family of six...three boys all under the age of 7 and a baby girl.  May I remind you this is a PG-13 movie?  I am not one of those people who think parents need to stay shut up inside until their kids are able to behave in public.  If this were a Disney or Pixar movie, I would expect for it to be crawling with kids.  Maybe it's the way I was raised.  I remember when "Dirty Dancing" came out which was PG-13 and I was twelve.  My parents dug their heels in and I was not allowed to see it.  All of my friends went and I just got to hear about it.  My parents took their parental guidance seriously....

Back to the movie today.  If the kids had been quiet, I wouldn't have said anything.  If the baby had not talked or cried, or shrieked throughout the entire movie, I wouldn't have said anything.  If the kids had not dropped their nachos all over the floor and then not stepped all over the crinkly plastic containers every single time they got up, I wouldn't have said anything.  If the dad weren't on his cell phone checking email, I wouldn't have said anything.  If they hadn't repeatedly run up and down the stairs, I wouldn't have said anything.

Guess what?  I said something.

But, I waited until the end of the movie.  I informed them that they ruined my movie for me today.

Did anyone apologize for bringing in their kids who were way too young to be there?  Nope.  Did she ignore me and huff in exasperation?  Nope.  Did she tell me to mind my own business?  Nope. She yelled at me telling me that all of her kids had autism and that they had every right to be there.

First of all, I teach kids with autism.  I teach kids will all sorts of disabilities.  I have nothing but love for special needs kids and admiration for their parents.  I do have a problem with noisy kids (and babies) in a movie that is inappropriate for them.  I tell her that (calmly).

She yells at me again telling me that she hopes I am not in education and that I know nothing about her and her kids.  She kept yelling at me.  I just looked at her and calmly said,

"Maybe next time you should consider waiting on the DVD to come out."

Then we had to rush out of there in case she decided to come over the seats to attack because she was still yelling and waving her hands at me.  I had my sister so nervous she accidentally threw her keys away.

The issue wasn't that her kids had autism.  The issue was that they were too young to be in the movie.  They were too young to follow the plot, which is probably why they were up constantly.  The loud noises from all of the action scenes probably startled the baby which is why there was a high pitched shriek every time something blew up.  Her kids acted like kids.  And ruined the movie for everyone else.  Again, if it had been an animated kids movie or a family action movie, I would have expected kids to act like kids.

I guess that makes me a horrible person.  Yes, my final comment was rude.  And I feel badly about it now.  But based on her reaction, I have a feeling that she is still riled up about my actions and hasn't taken the chance to look at her own.

Which is why I will be waiting for the DVD to come out....