Summer of Authenticity: Fully Alive! [Megan Rufael]

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Megan Rufael is one of my favorite people on the planet. Seriously. Read on and you’ll understand why.

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On a gloomy November afternoon, shortly after I put my boys down to nap I decided it was time to take inventory. It was just after my 38th birthday and I was feeling reflective. But I didn’t sit and ponder my accomplishments or ponder lovely memories. I stood in the mirror and evaluated each line and imperfection. I figured, the plane of my life was buzzing Tower 40 and this was as good a time as any to assess the damage.

One by one I took punishing stock:

  1. Eyebrow Dent: the scar-ish looking fender bender above my right eyebrow. A result of years of raising my brow in consternation. Wow. They were right… your face really does “freeze that way.”
  2. Lip Lines: Like the inch markers of a ruler hijacking my already non-existent upper lip. Thank you, Father Time. Since I’m unwilling to line my lips like a clown I guess I’ll just look forward to being all teeth and gums in my 80s.
  3. Laugh Lines: Life making a parenthetical reference of my mouth? I’m not amused.
  4. Stretch Marks: This cruel joke of motherhood that let me slide into my 8th month of pregnancy without a single mark and then suddenly the beams of my ship started snapping like the Titanic.
  5. 10 Extra Lbs: Can you still claim the freshman 10 at 38? I will go BACK to college just to make it so. How on earth did this body run a marathon?

And so I pondered for weeks. My poor husband becoming an affirmation-a-day calendar just to keep me sane. And then suddenly I realized I was becoming something I have always hoped I wouldn’t. A woman who doesn’t age gracefully. A woman who focuses not on the beautiful life she has and the lessons she has learned but the meaningless somewhat unchangeable shell she was given by genetics. And right then, changing my perspective became paramount.

I decided to take inventory again. Only this time I insisted on approaching myself compassionately.

  1. Eyebrow Dent: I usually raise my eyebrow when someone is doing something silly or I am trying to be funny. (or if I’m taking a selfie of me in a fedora. In that case, everyone knows, you got to) My friends tease me about my facial expressions endearingly. I have recently started to see some of them appear on my son’s face. (it was my patented stink eye but still).. aint genetics grand?!
  2. Laugh Lines: I love a person who laughs easily. I am one of those people and I love that about myself. These lines are fated to get worse because of my husband. And spending my life with someone who makes me laugh deep down was something I always dreamed of. Sometimes the physical evidence of age is a bi-product of a beautiful life.
  3. Stretch Marks: I wasn’t sure I would ever have a baby and I longed to be a mother. We got a little help and it REALLY worked! POOF, twins!! I have those stretch marks because I was huge with two very healthy babies. And the older the boys get the harder it is to believe I actually carried those giants. Now I just look down and I have the proof :).
  4. 10 Extra Lbs: I ran a marathon in October of 2011 and in February of 2012 one of my sons was diagnosed with Autism. My baby was sliding away from me and into his own world and I was blatantly ignorant of how to help him. I was frightened. I spent more than my share of evenings for a while with a glass of wine and way too many goldfish crackers. Instead of drowning in the intricacies of my feelings I got down to the business of my kid. But like a splinter, untended feelings rise up to the surface again and again. And sometimes I shelter them in goldfish. Human.

I am closing in on 39 now and undoubtedly some more facial topography. My running shoes are back on and I’m focused on what I can control. With the help of some really beautiful people my son is doing phenomenally well. The lines and marks are here to stay. But they are evidence of a life I am living by the length and the width. I know I will only be collecting more and I hope to continue the inventory process, I know is inevitable ….. with grace. To all the ladies in my life, whom I love with all my heart. I encourage you to give this a try. Your stories will be different than mine. But you deserve to give yourself the compassion that those who love you, would give you.

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meganThe luckiest woman on earth, I get to spend my days with two beautiful little 3-year-old boys. I spend the rest of my time trying to be domestically acceptable to my family (I think they love me for other reasons). I can be found counting the days between February and August until football starts again. I love to read non-fiction but sadly, the main subject of my literary attention is currently potties and pull-ups. (sigh)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Part of the Summer of Authenticity: Fully Alive! series, now available as a free eBook!

 

  • kellyg1137

    Megan – Thank you for sharing this. Just a few days ago I had the wonderful experience of really looking at myself in the mirror. I didn’t plan that “inventory check”. It just happened. What I discovered is that for the first time I didn’t mind the crow’s feet around my eyes. I smiled at myself and saw where they came from — joy and laughter. I’ll take that! I also saw my warm, brown eyes and knew that that’s how I convey my compassion to others. I’ll take that too! Also when I smiled, I saw my crooked grin, which has caused one or two more laugh lines on the left side of my face than on the right. I’m ok with that as well. You have an extra 10lbs, I have an extra 20 lbs, but my running shoes are on too. Change is a comin’! Overall, for the first time I didn’t mind spending a few minutes just looking at me. And I too had the thought, “I really should do this more often.”

  • SquarePegKaren

    Megan (and Kelly), you’ve inspired me! Since I’m 58 (canNOT believe that! Unless I’m looking in a mirror I *know* I’m 18. But I wouldn’t want to go back – and am glad for all I’ve lived – and laughed through).

    The lines and the pounds, well – I’ve never been good at math; let’s just say LOTS. A number of body parts aren’t staying where they used to – and I’m not donning running shoes, because I have big time problems with my feet, but I AM grabbing weights – and becoming more consistent with my yoga practice – and I am *trying* to be that woman who ages gracefully, sort of…

    I’m actually becoming louder, bolder, freer with laughing LOUD in pubic (and crying too) – and while I’m more aware, more in relationship with, and more respectful of my” unchangeable shell she{I} was given by genetics” than ever before, I too want to “focus on the beautiful life…and the lessons” I’ve learned – and be more concerned with my inner state, on whether my heart is growing bigger or putting itself behind bars (things that can’t be seen so easily) – and right now, I am bowing: thank you for this thought provoking post!

  • As I step into my own thirty-eight-ness, this post, these words are so relevant to me right now. Especially with my inability to be my usual active self at the moment (really, for the past year), it’s so important to reframe and exercise a little grace with myself. I’ll have to do some work with that and let you know … for now I can say that I’m working on being happy with the space I’m in, as well as myself in this space.

    Big love to you, my friend. You rocked the Summer of Authenticity!

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