Heather L. Barmore
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    Change In Action at Babble Voices


    This is 30

    "There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." ~Anaïs Nin

    (Read this post while enjoying my 30th birthday playlist. I think it speaks truth to adulthood and memories and that you’re never too old to dance around your living room.)

    This past October, with very little fanfare, I turned 30. I wish I could say that I entered into 30 gracefully, head held high, ready to take on this new decade. Instead I went in kicking and screaming and grabbing onto 29 for dear life. There was a relentless feeling of all of the things I *should* have done by getting to this point in life often based on what was ‘average’ by societal norms as opposed to the life I have had the pleasure of living. That “pleasure of living” line? That’s totally something a 30 year old would say because I turned 30 and suddenly I was all, would you like some life advice? I have plenty to spare. 30 makes you wise.

    I suppose I can blame much of my anxiety on the aspirational nature of sharing on Facebook. There were and continue to be all of these friends with their engagement photo shoots, creative baby announcements and weddings plucked straight from Pinterest. Of course I cannot help but compare myself to others though relatively speaking, I am successful. Relative success did not and has not stopped me from thinking that despite the things I have done, there are many, MANY more things that I’d still like to do. Plans started to form and I have since accepted and been open to the idea of change.

    Anyway, despite my internal grumblings about 30 a party was held. A small gathering of friends near and far who are very dear to me who came together for a full bar, delicious cheeses and cured meats. Surprisingly there are no photos, which I have heard is the sign of a good time. It was exactly what I wanted: togetherness. Laughter. Introducing friends who attended my 5th birthday party to my yoga teacher to other bloggers to my coworkers all while the perfect soundtrack led us into midnight. Midnight on my actual birthday where I was treated to a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday. Even Peg was there. I spent the following day watching Mob Wives and eating leftover spinach and artichoke dip. I could not have asked for a better day.

    Now that I am six months into my 30’s I can tell you that it’s fine. I don’t feel any different physically but - and this might sound crazy - I am more in tune with myself, my wants and, my needs. The struggle that kept me up at nights leading to 30 because why didn’t I have a house/husband/baby? That struggle was not real. So, here’s what I’ve learned:  

    1. Just because everyone has a baby/husband/house does not mean that I want a baby/husband/house. I do not want a house. Not at all.

    2. It is entirely possible for your baby making parts to freak out when you see a newborn.

    3. Men still suck but I feel like I’m on the cusp of finding a good one. There are currently no prospects but if you know of one, you know where to find me.

    4. Say I love you and mean it.

    5. It’s OK to go against the grain.

    6. Never go anywhere without red lipstick.

    7. Gray/Black/Navy business suits? No thank you. Bring on the fantastic brightly colored dress with the pockets.

    8. Enjoy karaoke. Enjoy it so much that you find a song to make your own. (Lauryn Hill’s ‘Killing Me Softly’). Rock it out.

    9. It’s OK to discuss mental illness. Encourage it. Put a name and a face to the struggle of millions.

    10. Don’t always expect the worst but do expect the unexpected.

    11. Loyalty is a funny thing both in act and in perception.

    12. It’s OK to cry and then cry again.

    13. Make time for yourself.

    14. Parents are human beings. Amazing, wonderful, generous, thoughtful human beings.

    15. How do you get a bikini body? Put a bikini on it.

    16. Don’t react first and think later. Think first, react later.

    17. You don’t have to like everyone and not everyone is going to like you.

    18. Watch C-SPAN during the day. Watch Marriage Bootcamp: Bridezillas by night.

    19. Know what you want. Think about how to get there.

    20. Patience really is a virtue.

    21. Time really does move faster as we age.

    22. Perspective is a wonderful thing but remember that it’s all relative.

    23. Don’t be afraid to flirt.

    24. It’s best to observe without speaking. It’s better than speaking without observing.

    25. Never regret doing the right thing.

    26. Saying goodbye will always ache but channel that energy into making those who have left proud.

    27. Take wisdom, advice and guidance from others. Even if it’s not used right away store it and don’t be afraid to share when the time is right.

    28. Even at my worst I am loved.

    29. It will always be easier to let go and let God.

    30. 30 is not the end of anything. It’s another beginning.

    and 31. Everything is better with your friends but don’t be afraid to spend a few moments alone.



    Bikini Madness

    "It took me a long time not to judge myself through someone else's eyes." ~Sally Field

    Do you watch Girls? If so, do you remember the episode where the girls of Girls head to the North Fork for some R&R and Hannah spends the entire day in that green bikini? I have watched that episode from start to finish 19 times and it was around the 11th viewing when my friend Ali posted to Facebook: “I cannot stop thinking of Hannah’s green bikini” and I popped up out of my constant recline (what? Whenever I’m home I lose all ability to sit up straight) and said “YES” which deserved all caps because I realized that I had to watch that episode over and over not because of the writing or the storyline or empathy on the progression/regression of friendship as an adult but because homegirl wore a green bikini for an entire episode. Never mind my questions on comfort and chafing but a woman who is not a size two rocked that bikini all over Long Island and I wanted to give her a high five through my TV screen.

    Obviously, I’ve seen a woman in a bikini before. I’ve even seen a larger woman in a bikini before and you know what my thought is? Get it, girl. Will I be putting my ample ass into a bikini? NO. Because AMPLE. I tell myself that I shouldn’t be in a two piece bathing suit. I don’t have the body for it. I can do yoga every day for the rest of my life and while I will always be able to bend over and place two palms on the floor I will never be lithe and graceful. I look at photos of myself or take a peek in a full-length mirror and say that perhaps I should do all a favor and stay away from anything that shows my mid-section. My body is very apple shaped, everything goes straight to my stomach; no one needs to see all of that.  So, when Ali mentioned Lena Dunham in a green bikini my natural response was this: I AM BUYING ONE.

    And then I had an outer body moment where I was like, um, what? Who said that? And then I add exclamation points and went directly to the Forever 21 website and PURCHASED A BIKINI. And then it arrived and I was still like, this is not happening but we know F21’s return policy, or lack thereof, so I found myself the not-so-proud owner of the bombshell top in neon coral and the retro glam bottoms in black. And then I put that sucker in my bag and brought it to Miami because why waste a perfectly good bathing suit even when you are going to a place known for it’s supremely beautiful people. I don’t know what they put in the water there but no one’s thighs touch in Miami and all the men have muscles and a six pack. As I said; exactly as advertised.

    When you are a woman of plus size the idea of putting your body in a bikini is less than appealing. I had to take a klonopin before putting on my bathing suit because what would the others think. I, a woman who normally doesn’t give a damn as to the opinions of others suddenly found myself reverting to my 11 year old self. The 11 year old who deemed herself fat so she swam in a giant t-shirt. Always with the t-shirts in the pool and on the beach. People ask if I ever wore a two piece as a child and I honestly have no idea because every photo is of me in a giant tee but no pants. That’s how I spent my summers. Then there is the natural comparison to one’s stunning and hot friends. Somewhere, my traveling partner Jumana is reading this and she’s going to be embarrassed that I referred to her as hot but let’s all be real here: She’s like a size 2 and I am like a size 2X and there would be no way on God’s green earth that I would be wearing a bikini next to her.

    I’m sure you’re now wondering what I did with that bikini and all of my pent up fear and anxiety and the body issues that I thought I had long gotten over:

    I wore a bikini. That’s what I did.


    SPOILER ALERT: I survived the ordeal. Though it wasn’t the profound, liberating experience with other women admiring me from afar and giving me a thumb’s up while I strutted my stuff on the beach. I was a woman in a bathing suit on a beach with other women and men in their bathing suits on the beach and we were all trying to forget our daily lives and remember what the sun feels like. I had read and heard about all of these other plus size women - including dear friends - who put on a bikini and have this grand epiphany about their own body image and women and the human experience and so, I thought I’d put on a bikini and discover the meaning of life. Instead I discovered sun burns and that it’s far easier to go to the bathroom when wearing two separate pieces as opposed to a one piece.  I’ve had Tuesday afternoon’s more exciting than wearing a bikini. I wore it, it looked cute, I took it off, the end. And then I purchased another one.

    TL; DR I am fat, I wore a bikini. I went about my day. How mundane this story is of a plus size woman wearing a bikini is possibly the greatest discovery of all.


    The end of a long, cold, lonely winter

    "We hit the sunny beaches where we occupy ourselves keeping the sun off our skin, the saltwater off our bodies, and the sand out of our belongings." ~Erma Bombeck

    This past weekend I turned into one of those obnoxious jackasses who I have spent all winter hating. You know the kind; the ones who post over 900 photos of ocean and palm trees and SUNLIGHT as if to say, "Look at me! I'm warm! You're not! BOOM!" Because hey, y'all, I went to Miami.

    I don’t know if you recall and/or had personal experience with the Polar Vortex but there were moments this winter when it was 27 degrees outside and I’d be walking around Albany in a t-shirt and flip flops because remember when it was -8? Yeah, the high-20's is what we started to refer to as a 'warm front'. When I landed in Miami on Thursday and saw that great big, bright, round ball in the sky I had an "once was lost, but now I'm found. Was blind but now I see" moment. Do you know what feels good after seven months of winter? Humidity. There was a brief moment where I stared out over the Atlantic and made mental note of what a body of water looks like when it's not frozen. 

    It’s been a long winter on many fronts and without getting into detail or a lengthy cliche-filled, vague post on the sadness of the last six months; I'll simply put all of that energy into making a real attempt at looking forward. One morning I made the mistake of rehashing a particularly difficult evening in the past. I contemplated the what-if's and the utter loss I felt and in the middle of my walk down memory lane I started to tear up which turned into suppressing my sobs between sips of a mimosa. This was about when I realized that my constant woulda, coulda, shoulda-ing is completely unhealthy and solves very little. And then I gave myself a pat on the back for my self-awareness about the situation and what really makes me happy. And then I was like, dude, 30 years old. What is up! Then I got a second mimosa and pulled myself together because there is no crying while beaching.


    So, Miami. It’s exactly as advertised. Like, you know that there will be bright lights and scantily clad women (and men) and then you leave thinking that you could totally become a gynecologist. By day I sat and spent time reflecting and wrote (more on that later) more than I had in the last two years. By night I allowed myself to be distracted by the glitz enough to propel me to that state of euphoria. Miami is the place to run to when you want to leave everything behind.


    It was perfection. Needed. Appreciated. Embraced with a warm hug and a nuzzle. Soon to be turned into an annual event with one of the best travel partners a woman could ask for. A travel partner who, after 25 years of friendship, still knows how to make me laugh myself into a fit of hiccups.

    Before I say this next part just know that this entire trip was paid for by me as evidenced by the look on my face when I took a gander at my checking account yesterday afternoon. Like, oh, I'm going to have to get a second job and there's absolutely nothing wrong with subsisting on Ramen and Bud Light for the next three weeks. We stayed at The Surfcomber, a Kimpton property located on Collins Avenue. It was everything you could want in a hotel during a vacation - and more - including staff who learned our names because there we were, always together, always with the drinks by the pool. I am known for doing a lot of complaining on Twitter but I did have to send out a tweet of love to Kimpton because good service should be recognized. As should the free, daily wine hour.

    I’d write more but I'll stop here for now because a) It's supposed to snow tonight so I just want to stare at some of these photos and remember how wonderful Friday was and b) I'm too busy experiencing my very first sunburn. Which, for the uninitiated, yes, black people get sunburned as well. I'm far too interested in singing THIS ARM IS ON FIRE! to anyone who will listen. 

    Anyway, onward because spring? I’m coming for ya.

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