Autumn Leaf Table Quilt or, What My Husband Will Never Understand
A Different Sort of Thanksgiving Eve

Thoughts on Beautiful Bodies

I was waiting in line at Costco in my exercise clothes today—

and before you think “oh, hell, what is wrong with you? wearing your exercise clothes everywhere?” (and by “you” I mean, sure, whomever is reading this, but also the uptight voice in my head that says stuff like that to keep me in my place, to remind me that there are rules and wearing your exercise clothes everywhere is a clear violation of Modesty or Social Fashion Rules or just Plain Old Personal Pride in your Appearance), let me explain that sometimes I like to run to somewhere. So if Kendell and I are going to, say, Costco, I’ll leave 45 minutes or so before him, run there, stretch for a bit, and then go to Costco with him when he gets there in the car. Doing that helps keep running fresher for me because then it wasn’t my same old route around the park.

Before I got to Costco, I finished at Starbucks, because it has a railing that is the perfect height for stretching. It was chilly and when I stopped running and breathing hard, I could smell the cold, new snow on Timp, mixing with that coffee smell, and I stretched and I was smiling because I was thinking, again “I just really love running, I’m so glad I went.” I had an intrusive thought: all those coffee drinkers in Starbucks probably think you’re weird stretching out here but I shushed it because I was happy and grateful and just the right amount of hot from running and cooled by the wind and because sometimes that runner’s high is subtle but so delicious.


I wanted to run somewhere, so I ran to Starbucks where Kendell picked me up and then we went to Costco (which is on the far north side of the same parking lot). We gathered our stuff—milk, zucchini, a new bath towel just because there was a coupon and the soft minty green one was pretty, some chocolate caramels even though I’m not supposed to eat chocolate—and had a few samples, and then I was waiting in line.

An older woman (I learned during the course of our conversation that she is 68) got in line behind me. She said, “I hope this doesn’t sound strange, but I think you have a beautiful body. I mean, I love your cute outfit (I had on THIS rad plaid capri with a skirt), but really, your body is gorgeous.” And then she hugged me.

This could’ve been a weird experience. OK: it was slightly weird for a stranger to tell me I have a beautiful body. But, I confess I hugged her back.

Because life has been a little bit brutal lately. (When will life stop being a little bit brutal?)

Because perimenopause is a bitch. A bitch who’s added a layer of belly fat I can’t seem to shake. Well—that’s not entirely true. I can shake it, and that’s part of the problem. I don’t want it to shake. I want it go just go away.

Because I’m trying to deal with a medical issue that’s not lethal but is really annoying and sometimes painful enough to send me to the ER.

Because I spent the morning mourning.

Because I really don’t feel beautiful, or strong, or powerful these days. I feel like I am a wrinkled lady with greying hair who’s lost her way and maybe wasted her life. (Except the kids. The kids were never a waste. I love them.)

This woman in line behind me at Costco continued talking to me. She talked about how women should take care of their bodies so they are healthy until they die. She talked about how she didn’t learn that until she was 65, but in the past three years she’s turned it around and is taking care of her body. She told me that I need to take especial care to keep my glutes strong.

Then I paid for my stuff and she said “don’t forget your glutes!” and then I thanked her and told her to take care of her own glutes. Then I left Costco.

I’m still a chubby, middle-aged woman who can run but not very fast, with disproportionate thighs (or maybe my waist is the problem?) and a softening waistline. I’m still annoyed at myself to find that I am here, at 47, still trying to figure out my life.

I still don’t know how to believe her that I have a beautiful body.

But I felt like The Universe was paying attention to me today. Not because of beauty, strength, speed, strong abs, or a cute running skirt. But because The Universe knew I needed to feel loved.

And for a little while I did.



I want to be the woman in the queue who hugs someone and tells her that she is beautiful.

Janeal Smith

Loved this story so much. Every so often we all need a little wink from the universe to tell us we are not too far off. Thanks for sharing.


You are loved. I wish I lived closer to tell you in person how much your writing means to me. You put into words what is still a vapour in my brain and heart. Keep going. x

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