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There is a fictitious woman who is real.  The fiction lies in the fact that she is a puzzle comprised of the pieces of many real women I've encountered over the years.  Beautiful women I've been blessed to call friends.  This is the part that is real.  See if you can't find that aspect of her that owes itself to you, because there's no doubt that you are beautiful in many ways.

The first thing you notice about her is her open, generous smile.  She isn't one who furtively pretends she can't see you, though you know full well that she can.  Instead, she has a smile for everyone and the wealth in her heart overflows to lightly touch the lives of those she encounters that day, even peripherally.  She wishes the whole world well and though flawlessness isn't hers to claim, she smiles at you with both her eyes and her mouth.  She's generous that way and to be withholding doesn't give her a nasty little kick.

She doesn't hold to the (faltering) allusion that her children are perfect, despite the evidence they consistently present to the rest of the world.  She loves them unconditionally though and doesn't feel the compulsion to try to live her own disappointed life over again through their newer, less damaged ones, vicariously and viciously.  Her joy is to see them rise above her in every way, exceeding and surpassing.  There is no scarcity mentality with her.  She likes to think of herself as the wind beneath their wings, a la Bette Midler.

She is clean and subtly sweet-smelling.  Even working out alongside  her, you catch only the occasional whiff of a beautiful shampoo.  She likes to look her best, though she isn't bound by the need to. 

She is intelligent, but doesn't feel compelled to prove it to anyone.  She rests contentedly inside herself and just is.  Her brain is active and interesting and she always has something to contribute conversationally.  She makes you think, long after having left her, because the things she says are insightful and stretching.  She would never try to make an intellectual point to the discomfiture of another, though.  Her kindness trumps her intellect, if it ever need come to that.

She is creative.  Her creativity manifests itself in many different ways.  She has sometimes been known to use the very clothes on her body as her palette.  She builds furniture even - when the whim strikes - she's so undaunted by societal gender limits wishing to foist themselves upon her.   When she takes photographs, they seem at times to divulge a brief glimpse of Heaven Itself, the unearthly clarity of them is so manifest.  Even the meals she cooks are beautiful works of something very akin to art.  Rather than content herself with serving the same rotation of seven or so things time over and over again, ad nauseum, she researches new and lovely things to make for her family.  Things like Lasagna-Chicken Florentine and Boka Dushi.  The prettier sounding their names, the more inclined she feels to recreate them in her own kitchen.  She's talented and strong and whole.  Her house is clean and welcoming.  You know you can relax there and that she makes strong, good coffee with cream. 

She knows that the best gifts she can give her children are a saving faith in Christ, a personal wholeness and a deep and growing love for their father.  She doesn't forget to take care of herself because she knows that whole people beget whole people.  She understands deep in her bones that respect in parenting runs in both directions and that you can't truly have one without the other.  She knows that her little flock watch her actions and her words intently and at all times - even and perhaps especially - when they seem to be doing so least.  She knows that the phrase do what I say and not what I do rings hollow and is in the best case scenario, meaningless.  In its ugliest incarnation, it is damaging and undermining and relationship destroying.

She has other healthy women in her life.  She is quick to laugh and competes with you to talk.  With her, you are constantly following one conversational rabbit trail or another because she's inadventently veered you off that way with all her effervescent enthusiasm.  She's frequently grabbing your arm in an animated way, saying don't let me forget to tell you about what happened to me in the bookstore later because she doesn't have time just yet to do so, your current talk is so gripping and so deliciously laughter-inducing.  Even when her laughing gets to be ridiculously loud, she doesn't stop.  Self-consciousness isn't something she beats her drum to and instead of annoying most of the people around her, many of them smile when they behold all her spilling-over tangible joy.  She is a marvel.  She likes to wear Vote For Pedro t-shirts to Zumba class.  Her wholeness spills out everywhere and she's my friend.
 
 
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Zumba.  Zooooomba.  Doesn't that sound interesting?  Don't you wish you could get your hair to do that?  I've registered for some Zumba classes,  inspired by the classes my sisters and I took while in Maui.  The Maui ones were some of the very funnest exercise classes I've ever taken (and though I hate to say it, I'm a bit of an exercise class whore).  Though I can't yet speak for the Abbotsford version, I'd be tickled to have some Zumba buddies join me!  I would have to insist that your hair look like the girl's in the photo, otherwise you'll just be wasting my time (and yours, too, I think it goes without saying).  The classes run Thursday mornings from 10:30 - 11:30 starting January 13 until February 3 at the Abbotsford Rec Center and cost $40 for all four.  You do  have to pre-register, though.  If you're interested, the program registration number is 147334.  Just call ARC @ 604-853-4221.  I would love to shake my booty alongside yours. 
 
 
I hit 38 this month.  I'm finding that the latter half of the thirties mark the beginning of the time where you really don't care all that much what people think of you anymore.  JoyBoy calls it the inexorable march towards one's own grave.  But he's cheerful that way when it comes to the aging process. 

The other night, I was the ultimate geek and threw myself a "world's colliding" birthday party.  JoyBoy was out of town and I thought that rather than sit at home, feeling sorry for myself like a giant suckie baby, I'd take matters into my own hands and invite over the most beautiful women I know.  Though it was short notice, I was thrilled to find that almost twenty of them were able to make it.  Just look at some of my riches!

I tried to make a point of walking each of them to the door as it came to be their turn to leave and in doing so, was struck by how many of them commented on how lovely the rest of my friends were.  It was a tangible reminder to me of the caliber of woman congregating in my life.  I had to give my head a non-literal shake or two over the course of the evening, they were all so fab.  This has been my favorite birthday ever.  It seems that with each passing year, God gives me more and more beautiful people to surround myself with.  How did I get to be so lucky?
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love, love, love!
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you have to have a good self esteem to be around blondes of this caliber!
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the queens of king
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the queen of norway and friends
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this was the noisy crowd!
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my beautiful s-i-l who is really just a dear, dear friend
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see the tiny silver spider?
 
 
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Has it ever happened to you where you thought you were very settled in your friendship life - fulfilled even - only to discover a really fabulous new friend?  Well, dear Internet, it's very recently happened to me.  I find the elementary school line-ups to be extremely helpful in this department.  All we mommy-uniformed mothers chat endlessly there to one another.  My new friend surprised me the other day with these beauties.  Neither she nor I know what they're called, but aren't they pretty? 
 
 
Here's the brand-new blog of one of my very Fave's.  I love her.  Her animation spills out all over the place as she talks.  She's smart and she's vibrant.  She's creative and she loves Jesus.  She's always passionately describing some book or other to me that I invariably find myself checking out from the library.  And, what's more (no pressure at all, LP!), she and I are doing our first half-marathon  together next year!!  Check her out!  You can find her here:  http://passionateeclectic.blogspot.com/
 
 
To really know me, it helps terrifically to know my sisters.  There are three of us and we are of the corny 'name-each-of-your-offspring-beginning-with-the-same-letter-of-the-alphabet' genre.  When I'm with them - which sadly isn't all that often anymore - it feels like a comfortable slipping on of one's favorite slippers.  The ones that are worn to a perfect, familiar softness.  Their lives and characters are molded inimitably to my own, even though we live in separate provinces and lay actual eyes on one another very seldom.  We  talk often about favorite things and then delight in discovering that the others have the very same favorite, despite the fact that we've never known it about one another.  For example, I don't even have to ask to know that both of them love Willy Wonka candy and hotsauce and guacamole and capers.   It goes without saying that they will.  I know, too, that they'll both add more lime to their respective guacamoles than anyone else would ever consider doing.   I know they love antique enamelware and eclectic decor that doesn't cookie-cutter anyone else's tastes.   I knew before her visit that J would love the hall of  mirrors I'm in the process of creating.  And my neophyte collection of antique linen.  We're perpetually exclaiming, "Same-ers!" in our emails to one another as some new revelation or other surfaces.  I'm relieved to never have to explain myself in clarification of some misunderstanding or another with my sisters.  They understand what I'm saying even before all the words make their way out of my mouth.  They instinctively 'get' my motivations and my foundational beliefs about life and people.  They look at the world in the same way that I do.  They are free to laugh at me when I'm being ridiculous and their good-natured and accepting way of doing so spares my dignity and shows me that I sometimes value my dignity a little too highly.  These slippers are warm.
 
 
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.