I knew her when she was still beautiful


It was exactly seven years ago today that I packed up what was left of my belongings into my car and headed out from Texas to start new in Florida. Life had definitely delivered some huge challenges to me, and I was recovering from an injury and ready to make a career transition (sound familiar?). About an hour outside of New Orleans, my sister and I got the call that we had to get to New York as soon as possible. Our grandfather had just been moved over to Hospice and didn’t have a lot of time left.

We drove straight to New Smyrna, unloaded a few things into my new home, packed some clothes and drove a rental car to Orlando, where we flew straight to New York. Two hours later, with our family by his side, my grandfather made his transition.

We had a special bond, because we are kindred spirits. Our life arc was similar, and it was a constant theme of finding strength to overcome the challenges that came our way. He was  simple, direct, and strict about manners, cleanliness, and respect.

After he passed, we went through family photos and in every one that he and I were in, we were side by side, always together. I never noticed this before. Also, when people pass, we hear all kinds of stories that we never heard before. We learned that he had a soft side we rarely ever saw, and I totally understand that now. Us tough guys have a hard exterior, but are hearts are soft. We’ve taken an ass-kicking on a regular basis and don’t like to show how vulnerable we really are. It’s taken a long time for me to not only see it in others, but to realize it about myself. I still have some averse, aloof tendencies, but hey, I’m still healing.

As I make my full transition into sustainable self-employment, I’m meeting all kinds of people, and I’m finding the best opportunities are the ones that are coming directly to me. A business associate and I had a meeting this week and he pitched a few ideas he’s interested in my partnership in. As we discussed who else would be a good addition to the team, he told me about a mutual friend that he’s known over half his life. He said, “I knew her when she was still beautiful. Before life fucked her up and kicked the shit out of her.”

Words only say so much, but scars say a lot without any words being uttered. She has scars. Hell, don’t we all? Hers are deep. Physically, some are obvious, and others are almost invisible. Emotionally, her scars run deep. She’s still beautiful, but she has the look of someone that had a soul-splitting, heart-smashing, devastating experience, and though she smiles and lives on, the physical impact and changes from the stress are evident.

I know her. She’s a friend and I love her; a huge part of that is because the pieces of my heart ache for the broken pieces of hers. She’s always been beautiful to me, but I’ve seen her go through more hardships, and the aftermath of the impact. I hurt for her, because I know that pain.

I struggle with stillness, because I am still working on accepting all those things that bug me about myself. Accepting them is one thing, but just acknowledging them, recognizing them, and letting them exist without the incessant need to change them is helping me find contentment. I still have difficult moments in my yoga practice, but it’s aided me when teaching.

This wouldn’t be an authentic blog post of mine unless I bring up roller derby 😛

Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak with an outstanding coach who trains brand-new athletes in roller derby. We spoke about training, and I learned a lot and got perspective on great training principles. It also helped me out and I feel encouraged, because I know going back to fundamentals will help me feel ready to transition back into playing, once I’m ready. I skated with the Jacksonville Rollergirls last night, and got more experience as a referee.

As far as playing goes, I’m so not ready. Not yet, anyway. Some days this is a joy to accept – I have only one body, so I’ll take care of it and will take as long as I need to heal. On other days…I just want to jam, dammit. Why is it always so hard? ALWAYS with derby. Fucking ALWAYS. It’s frustrating when we’re recovering, struggling, honing a skill, whatever. It’s also frustrating when we don’t see how GOOD we do something, because we’re always mind-fucking ourselves about what else we can do better.

Gratitude creates abundance, and this is a lesson I have to keep reminding myself of, wherever I am in my life and whatever my choices have been. This is where I am now. This doesn’t define where I’m going or where I’ll end up. This is just now, and I can do something about it. I can choose to like it or not like it.

What happens in the “after”? When we reach a goal, does it end there? No. The work continues. We can’t go back.

The scars, to me, are way more beautiful than the blank canvas. There’s a story there. Anyone who can see past a woman’s scars and physical imperfections deserves to have the opportunity to hear the story about how she overcame the hurt that caused them.

There is not one among us that is perfect, but can we accept the flaws of others that are really just projections of our own? Can we accept our own flaws and finally realize our own beauty, and that beauty in others?

It’s been gray and moody the past few days, and I think my grandfather would appreciate that. He loved the streaks of light that would shine through clouds, and whenever I see them (often here in Florida), I always think of him and smile 🙂

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