I hate to judge.  I really do.  I try to daily define myself as that girl who tries to always remember that it's bad to judge a person unless you've either a) walked that same, virtually identical journey or b) have watched the other person walk it from a very close vantage point in a position of support and/or love.  Even then, judging is bad.  Don't do it.  I'll try not to, too.  Howevva, I walk to and from our local elementary school several times each day and am frankly staggered by some of the decorations I see displayed.  I love Halloween.  I'm in full support.  Watching my kids delight in the myriad preparations brings me great joy.  Let's be honest.  My own preparations bring me great joy.  I'm being Mrs. Roper from 'Three's Company' lore this year.  Last year it was a self-satisfied jelly fish.  My porch is all decked out in dorky pumpkins and singularly non-spooky 'Spooky' signs.  All of this to say, I'm no nay-sayer when it comes to this holiday.  But when my Littlest's wavering voice rises in a fearful crescendo, asking, "Mommy, that's just fiction, right?" I start to feel the indignant questions begin to flow.  My children's grandmother died two years ago and they fully get the fact that her earthly remains are now buried underground.  This feels disconcerting to them as they gaze upon the faux graveyards with boney remains reaching up out of the ground, grasping toward goodness-knows-what.  What about the two and three-year-olds in our trick-or-treating community?  Who gets to get up with them two weeks after the fact with the residual nightmares brought on by these ghastly scenes?  It seems to me (and maybe I'm just being naievely forgetful) that people didn't adorn their yards in such ways in the days of my youth.
 
 
A little group of some friends of mine were gracious to me and held a  mini-birthday party last night in my honor.  As I looked at them, laughing and competing aggressively to talk, I  felt the value of adult friendship.  It's so different from the days of old, where the catty girlfriends skulked in eager anticipation for opportunities to triumph over you, ideally hurting you in the process.  But doing so, of course, in such a way that you'd never have anything tangible to point at in confrontation.  They'd feign ignorance if you ever were so bold, and somehow manage to imply that you were thin-skinned and emotional.  I'm so relieved to not be fifteen anymore.  These new Lovelies in my life are whole, secure, eager to celebrate the successes of others and so, so pretty.  I'm a lucky girl.
 
 
I'm 37 now and I've loved the process of getting here far more than I ever thought I might.  I love the relinquishment of a following of society's standards that I didn't have a voice in creating to begin with.  I love the fact that I'm no longer in the 'hottie contest'  and that in this singular disregarding, I can truly be myself.  There's no longer all-consuming pressure to conform to stringent physical standards.  The only Beauty choice I feel buttressed up against is the question of 'should I pursue greater physical health or not.'  My four little Watchers provide me my immediate answer, but otherwise, I'm free to chase the wind and be the best Me I can be.  I find that that usually entails serving others and trying to best love them in a way that feels meaningful to them.  Now when I go for runs, no car full of desperate eighteen-year-olds hoot out the window.  Nor do they holler.  They simply leave me in the peace of my small bubble of contentment that doesn't find me preoccupied with wondering how my bum looks in these running pants.