Beauty Carved In Flesh and Blood

Piper Bayard

Each year, the beautiful August McLaughlin orchestrates a celebration of women and beauty. Drop by her site this week at the Beauty of a Woman Blogfest V for prizes and tributes to the Beauty of a Woman.

 

Waterolor beautiful girl. Vector illustration of woman beauty salon

Waterolor beautiful girl. Vector illustration of woman beauty salon

 

Beauty Carved In Flesh and Blood

I am the body that learned to walk, that ran in the sunshine and kicked off shoes to dance in the rain – the body that thirsted for life.

I am the body that was “too tall,” “too fat,” “too feminine” for boys to let join in their games – the body so embarrassed that it had to hide.

I am the body the men whistled at, honked at, and devoured with their eyes – the body that strutted with sexual pride.

I am the body that was violated, shamed, and silenced – the body that wanted to die.

I am the body that choked on its anger, was strangled by cancer, and fought back with faith and laughter – the body that was no longer whole.

I am the body that thrilled to a lover’s caress, rejoiced at the quickening of my womb, and writhed in the primal screams of childbirth – the body that gave life and by it was made whole once more.

I am the body that cooked dinner, nursed wounds, taught letters, and did not sleep for a decade – the body that fed its children on its flesh and bones.

I am the body that grew crooked and crippled before its time, suffered surgeries and rehab, and contorted with agony – the body that learned to walk again.

I am the body that looks in the mirror and sees wisdom etched by laughter into its face and beauty carved by blood into its scars – the body at peace with itself.

I am old.

I am beautiful.

I am the body of a woman.

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Mom’s Dating Tips — First Be Happy Alone

Bayard & Holmes

~ Piper Bayard

I’ve often posted dating tips on FB. This post is in response to friends there who have asked me to elaborate . . .

“Seducing someone is almost as difficult as watching ice melt, but not quite. You can do better.” ~ Mom

 

Canstock 2015 Aug Melting Ice

 

It’s easy to find sex.

Almost all of the population wants it at any given moment of any given day, and regardless of your sexual orientation, half the horny people on the planet are potential sex partners.

But finding a life partner? That’s another matter altogether.

The most important step to finding a life partner is to learn to be happy alone. Yes, that’s right. Learn to be happy alone. That way, you won’t settle for a toxic relationship just because you’re afraid of the sound of your own head rattling around in an empty house.

But wait a minute, you say. If I were happy alone, why would I bother dating at all?

Because when you’re happy alone, you end up with more of yourself than you need. You develop an abundance of spirit that makes you want to share yourself with someone else. You are an overflowing cup that seeks another vessel to fill. That “other vessel” is the “We” of a relationship.

Relationships have an “I,” a “You,” and a “We.”

People who aren’t happy alone are half full cups. They find other half full cups and empty themselves into a third cup – the “We” cup. Since the “I” and “You” are now empty cups, they draw from the “We” without having anything left to nurture it, and the “We” runs dry.

People who are full cups attract other full cups, and together, they make a “We” cup that holds their overflow. The relationship is about giving to the “We,” and not about taking from it. The “We” is a creation born from abundance and not from want, so it doesn’t run dry.

 

Full "I" + Full "You" = Full "We"

Full “I” + Full “You” = Full “We”

 

Great, you say. So how do I start being happy alone?

  • First, clean your room. Seriously. Clean your room. Messy surroundings sap the spirit, and you’re going for abundance here.
  • Treat yourself with class. You matter.
  • Ask yourself what it is that you want someone else to give you, and find ways to give those things to yourself.
  • Figure out if you have unresolved pain. That’s the restlessness that keeps you overscheduling your life and seeking out social media in lieu of quiet time alone with your head.
  • Get help to resolve that pain. Find a competent professional or a good friend who can guide you to a better place, so that time alone with yourself doesn’t scare you anymore.
  • Make a list of twenty things you want to do in the next five years.
  • Turn off the computer, pick something off of the list, and go do it.
  • Get rid of the people in your life who don’t respect you. Likewise, get rid of the ones you don’t respect. You and your time are too precious to share with anyone who doesn’t feed your dreams and nurture your soul.
  • Cook good meals for yourself. Feeding yourself well is the most nurturing thing you can do for both your body and your soul.
  • Actively seek out laughter and beauty. Both fill the spirit and lead to happiness.

Now give yourself a hug and enjoy the feel of your own embrace. Stop waiting for someone to come along make you happy. Love yourself, and the happy will come, and with it, a fellow full cup.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Bayard & Holmes Official Photo

When it comes to dating, Piper Bayard did it wrong, and then she did it right. She’s now been happily married for over two decades and is passing on the tips that helped her find a solid partner in building a life and a family.

Piper Bayard is also an author and a recovering attorney. Her writing partner, Jay Holmes, is an anonymous senior member of the intelligence community and a field veteran from the Cold War through the current Global War on Terror. Together, they are the bestselling authors of the international spy thriller, THE SPY BRIDE, available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

THE SPY BRIDE Final Cover 3 inch

 

Keep in touch through updates at Bayard & Holmes Covert Briefing.

You can contact Bayard & Holmes in comments below, at their site, Bayard & Holmes, on Twitter at @piperbayard, on Facebook at Bayard & Holmes, or at their email, BH@BayardandHolmes.com.

Life, Death, and the Sex License

By Piper Bayard

Themes of death and birth, that cycle of apocalypse and renewal, surrounded me this week. A dear friend’s father died, a good soul who made the planet better by his presence. Another friend hit the magic 28 weeks and breathed a sigh of relief that her unborn child now has the odds in his favor. And in our house? My 9th grade son, who I could swear just started walking yesterday, applied for his Sex License.

 

Canstock photo -- Not my son.

Canstock photo — Not my son.

 

“So Mom. How old is old enough to have sex?”

I’m well aware that almost any religion on the planet would offer a moral answer to that question. I’m also aware that the guiding light of morals tends to dim in the dashboard lights. I mean, think about it. How many “good kids” did you know in high school who lost “it” at church camp or spawned prom babies because THEY would never do THAT? I needed to give him something real. Something tangible. So I said what I think most parents would say in my shoes.

“Uuuuhhh . . .”

“I get my Learner’s Permit at 15.”

“Not fifteen!”

“Well, I get my Driver’s License at 16, and driving a car is a serious responsibility.”

“A car doesn’t get pregnant when you drive it. And you don’t get hepatitis or AIDS from a car.”

“So Mom, how old is old enough?”

“Well, you know you can have a baby every time you have sex, even with birth control. I mean, have you noticed your little sister running around here? Latex loophole baby.”

“Eeewww! Maaahm!”

“Hey. You opened the door for that one.”

So we talked about sex. We noted how young men are most biologically suited for killing bears and starting families. I commiserated with him about how the modern economics of supporting families are out of sync with natural urges and the sight of teen girls in mini-skirts. We pondered the fact that the most important decision he will make in life is choosing the mother of his children. And I can hear some of you dear readers now . . .

“He asked his mother? He needs to talk to his dad. His dad will set him straight.”

I’m sure his dad WOULD give him a different answer. And my writing partner, Jay Holmes? Let’s just say he’s been a student of sex, C4, and hollow points for a very long time, so it’s safe to assume he won’t be backing me up on this one.

But as I studied my man-child and tried to give him real world answers to his real life questions, at least from a mother’s perspective, I realized something. Life so loves Itself that no amount of death can discourage it for long. At least not while there are teenage boys, and girls in mini-skirts.

Success Lessons from Parker the Drama Dog

By Piper Bayard

Meet Parker.

 

MyPhotos Parker Standing

 

 

We got Parker from the Humane Society when I had a feeling there was a dog waiting there that would be a perfect fit for our family. Parker had been taken back twice because he doesn’t play well with others. He almost completely ignored us during our initial visit, and he was about twenty pounds overweight. Perfect, right? Yes. We saw it that way, too.

Once we got him home, we also discovered he was terrified of everything from the vacuum sweeper to the guinea pig to the staircase. But after three days and two pounds of ham to coax him up the stairs, he relaxed into a self-contained, happy pup that blended well with the family. And the best part? He didn’t seem to shed much at all.

Then came the bait and switch. We got back from Vancouver Island to find Parker had started to shed while we were away. In fact, it seemed to be his new mission in life.

In a heartbeat, I had dog brush in hand and was calling our little fluff factory to the back door. But he would have none of it. Every time I stroked him gently with the dog brush, he yelped and snapped. I couldn’t even pluck away the loose tufts of hair without him acting like I was ripping off appendages.

So I had a bit of a dilemma on my hands. Traumatize the dog, or allow him to coat us and all of our belongings in his tresses?

DD and I decided to take Parker for a walk and contemplate the situation. While I glared at the dog and DD laughed about the matter, she started flipping the rope leash up and down along his hind end, coaxing off chunks of fluff and leaving his tuchus looking like a topographical map of the Rocky Mountains. Parker was so distracted by all of the sights and smells around him that he didn’t notice.

That made me bold. Every time he stopped to sniff some marvelous delight, I ran forward and started grabbing out handfuls of hair. By the time we finished the walk, it looked like we’d shaved a bear on the path, and Parker didn’t notice or object once. Clearly, when it came to helping him shed, Parker was a drama queen.

 

MyPhotos Parker's fluff

 

 

The next day, I took the brush with me on our walk and encouraged Parker to sniff every rock, plant, or animal trace we crossed as I left a trail of dog hair tumbleweeds to mystify joggers through the day.

I decided to push it and took him out on the porch at home and continued my work. Without a walk to distract him, he began yelping and snapping again, but this time, I knew I wasn’t hurting him so I gave him a firm ‘no’ and ignored his fussing. He soon settled down.

 

MyPhotos Parker sitting by fluff

 

Now, Parker still hates brushing, but he tolerates it, and I don’t have to feel like a tribble every time I lie down on the couch. And the best part? After I took charge and told him to knock off the drama, he trusts me more than ever, and the new problem is not tripping as he  walks on my heels all day.

 

Success lessons? Some fears are nothing but bad habits, and discipline will save the day when indulgence fails.

What does your pet teach you about success?

All the best to all of you for knowing when to take charge.

The Pool Walker’s Creed

By Piper Bayard

Long ago, Holmes and I discussed the fact that we’re no good to each other dead. As we age, we have to work a little harder at that not getting dead thing than we used to. So we agreed that our bare minimum fitness requirements demand that we walk at least one mile every day. For Holmes, that translates into a 12-mile vertical hike. For me, that translates into . . . walking at least one mile a day.

I don’t talk much about my health issues. Hell, they bore me. I can’t imagine that they would interest you. But as it’s relevant, I will share that I have moderate arthritis in my hip and back. “Moderate” means enough to hurt all the time, but not enough to take any permanent surgical measures. It also means that I am genuinely in the “move it or lose it” stage of life, and sometimes, walking my mile is an agony. As a result, I have become that which I used to dread. A pool walker.

 

Pool Walker. Not me. She would kick my butt.

Pool Walker. Not me. She would kick my butt.

 

The gyms I go to always seem to have those windows in the workout room that look out over the pool. I can’t pretend to know what everyone thinks when they’re climbing their mountains on their stair steppers and ellipticals, but I was once guilty of gazing out at that pool and thinking, “I’m working hard to put off the day when I, too, will be a heavy-set blue hair who can do no more than walk around the lazy river.” Ah, the vanity of ignorant youth!

Then came injuries and age, and I found out first hand that deterioration comes to us all. We can only hope that we live in such a way that character and wisdom balance us when we lose the ability to Salsa all night in high heels.

Fancying myself to be someone who always does what she must, I swallowed my pride, put on my mom-style swimsuit, and went to a pool walker class. What I found was that it stretched muscles I never knew I had. It left me sore in a good way, and nothing genuinely hurt the way it had for so long.  I also found that those heavy set blue hairs kicked my butt. They have to have some serious balance and poise to do all of their calisthenics against the current. Shame on me for ever thinking pool walking was somehow a lesser fate.

I hate swimming. I hate swimming pools. I hate what swimming pools do to my skin and my hair. . . . No one sets out in life to be a pool walker. No one. We are all there because it is what we have to do to stay active, alive, and useful to ourselves, our families, and our communities.

So for myself, my family, and my writing partner, I take the Pool Walker’s Creed:

I will never quit. I will brave every child-ridden kiddie pool, every rude teen queen in a bikini, and every derisive glance from the young studs who are trying to impress the teen queens in bikinis. I will forge every toppling current in every lazy river if that is what it takes to avoid unnecessary pill-popping, surgeries, and deterioration, so that I will stay as strong as possible for my family, my friends, my partner, and myself. Because the only thing worse than working out, is not being able to.

What have you done to survive that you never thought you would do?

Looking Back at Fifty — You Can’t Fix Stupid

By Piper Bayard

I turned fifty in 2013, and in my life, I’ve learned that growing old sucks. Small strains take months to heal, old wounds are new aches and pains, and where the young woman I was had the world for a smile, the woman I am now knows the treasures only won with my labor. But as far as I can tell, growing old still beats the alternative, so I’m still doing it. At least for today.

While turning fifty is a traumatic event for so many people, I find it a release and a relief—an opportunity to embrace my inner curmudgeon. I’ve now earned the right to regale young people with my cautions and advice. If I had to narrow it down to ten gems, here’s what they are . . .

Canstock Treasure

  1. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’re going to keep getting what you’re getting.
  2. If you change yourself, you will change your world.
  3. Embrace your deepest fears, and they will guide you to fulfillment and purpose—unless it’s a fear of bungee jumping. It’s probably okay to pass on that one.
  4. The best exercise is the one you will do.
  5. Be the person you want to meet, and you will meet the person you want.
  6. If your head is full of what you think you know, you have no room left to learn anything.
  7. It’s no skin off your butt to be kind.
  8. Everyone’s a head case. The only real question is if they are a head case you can live with.
  9. You can’t fix stupid.
  10. Intelligence is the ability to learn from your mistakes, and it has nothing to do with IQ.
  11. If you didn’t give birth to them or marry them, you’ve got no business criticizing them.
  12. Donuts are the world’s most powerful social grease, particularly at your kids’ school office.
  13. Never sweat the count. 🙂

What are the gems you’re willing to share from your experience? Come by our new site, Bayard & Holmes, and leave a comment. 

Looking Back at Fifty

Wishing you all a 2014 full of wonder, grace, and helpful life lessons. Happy New Year!

Which One Are You?

By Piper Bayard

Do you ever get ticked off at the strangers around you for doing things you think are thoughtless, rude, or stupid? Yep, I do it, too.

So today I’m going to fess up.

  • I’m the one who spends three minutes balancing the grocery cart in just the right crack so that it won’t roll into a parking space or hit another car, when I could actually take 30 seconds and return it to the cart corral. In my own defense, I do that on purpose. People with infants in car seats or old people who need to lean on those carts and can’t get into stores if they don’t find one in the parking lot that’s closer to the door than the cart corral.
image by Stilfehler, wikimedia commons

image by Stilfehler, wikimedia commons

  • I’m the one who does not keep an answering machine, but leaves a five minute message on yours. I have no defense for that.
  • I’m the one who orders the California bacon avocado burger, “But could you please leave off the lettuce and tomato, and sauté that onion? Oh, yes, and could you please make it with chicken instead of beef? And can you put it on a gluten free bun? . . . No, wait. I’ll have the crispy chicken salad, instead. Ranch on the side.” I tip very well if the waitress is polite about it.
  • I’m the one who slows down when you tailgate me. Hey, if you’re going to crash into me, I would prefer it be at a lower speed, thank you.
  • I’m the one who will be late to her own funeral.

So now it’s your turn. Which one are you?

Please tell me so that the next time I see someone doing what you confess to, I will remember you, and I will be patient. Thank you for making me a better person.

All the best to all of you for surviving your own pet peeves.