Random Thoughts Vol. 2- Plastic Surgery

I often… (every day) come across random thoughts and discussions as possible topics for sharing on this platform. They range from the mundane and truly trivial, to the BIG life questions… So instead of keeping them to myself, I am creating a series and sharing them with a wider audience.

This morning,  I was battling with yet another day of crappy MTA subway service, and while running late for work, I caught my reflection in the subway doors, and pondered if I would ever try Botox. Yes that bacterial toxin that thousands of women (and men?) across the globe use as regularly as a deluxe pedicure to “erase” signs of aging. A few hours later, I was asked this very question by a yoga friend in Greece.

Have you tried or would ever try Botox or other non invasive plastic surgery?

No I haven’t. (yet)

Despite my very strong feelings against plastic surgery; I get why women (and some men)  give in, and pluck, tuck, pull, fill, remove and add stuff to their bodies. I find that any kind of massive change and manipulation of what’s been given to us by nature; (let me make clear that I’m only talking about elective procedures) is quite destructive, emotionally and physically in the long run. (not to mention expensive), however I can’t judge a woman who wants to “remove” a few visible signs of aging that might be a damper to her confidence. 

I would however give it a try.

I find the possibility of trying something like this, brings up a mixture of skepticism and distrust in this massive industry fully dedicated to making us (women) feel old. Yet… I find that I am curious. Mind you I’m not fanatical or obsessed with the idea of trying Botox or any plastic surgery. The closest I’ve come to anything resembling a aesthetic procedure is a glycolic peel. If pressed to make a choice between minor plastic surgery procedures and something more enriching for my health and well being, I would pick the latter. I’ve practiced yoga for 20 years, have made peace with most of my flaws (and there are many) and I truly  don’t mind my “fine lines”. This however has not stopped me from looking in the mirror from time to time and wondering if my face is “aging” me. 

Is it better to never start, and let the body age gracefully?

Aging gracefully at our day is ironically considered a choice. The scrutiny and the critical eye most women endure to their ever changing looks does not escape me; I’m not “above it all”. I still refuse to let my grey hair show or my body go, but I am slightly shocked, and not at all surprised that many (too many) women in Greece, start “minor” procedures like Botox from their early 30’s and an increasing number in their late 20’s. Greece is not a wealthy country like the U.S, yet women of ALL financial means put whatever money they can afford to a myriad of beauty treatments. After the mid 90’s “beauty centers” kept popping up like mushrooms in Athens and other major cities,  and now plastic surgery in all its forms is all too common.  

Do I know women who have had elective plastic surgery?

Yes I do. Each one chose for their own reasons, and in all honesty the results were spectacular. What was more apparent than the physical results, was a noticeable improvement in self confidence. In the grand scheme of things, these types of procedures are not as important as our overall health, but if a small change however trivial; makes such a big difference, more power to you ladies (and gents) for doing something to boost your looks, and confidence. My only concern again has to do with the overall psychological and emotional impact of elective plastic surgery. Like any kind of body modification, it can be addictive, (I have 4 tattoos on my body and plan to get more)  so entering this world If I ever do, I want to do it for the right reasons. 

Till then… a little extra night cream.

If you want to read more of my previous posts check below :

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Day 14. Be your own super-hero

Let’s stop relying on or waiting for others to save us.

Super Heroes have played a vital role in how we see those who are meant to protect us from harm. They were largely created to be seen as crime fighters, ultimate saviors, crusaders against evil and bad forces. In the early 20th century, the first comic book heroes were created, as a way to fend off fear of war (WW 1), and present its audiences with the illusion of a super human capable of problem solving, saving and restoring peace to the world. That is only reserved for the pages of Marvel and DC comic books. What the comic books don’t tell you is that we are all perfectly capable of being your own superheroes.

Don’t wait for others to protect you, put your life together, absolve you of your responsibilities and save the day. We are the only ones who can do that, our saving starts from us. We are the only ones who can fend off the baddies from our lives, and protect ourselves from the evil forces that come our way. Instinct, survival, self preservation, self reliance. It all comes down to knowing that when the shit hits the fan, you can pick up the sword and fight your own battles, and win.

The battles will come, as they always do. The difficulties are never far away. The hardships will come and go. We may have sidekicks who help us, or villains who set traps for us, but the saving is all about our own self worth. A saviour is not out there dawning a cape and spandex, they are right here staring right back at you in your bathroom mirror. Heroism isn’t about super abilities, it’s about doing what’s necessary to keep going, and keep living.

saviour

/ˈseɪvjə/

a person who saves someone or something from danger or difficulty.

That person is you.

Day 12 Verses: Light in the clouds.

Look closely.

Make it count.

That sliver of light reflected in a dark moment.

With the sounds of the Smiths in my ears, I’m thinking about truthful, honest, compassionate, emotional, beautiful ways in which we can connect with ourselves and others.

This is not a trial run. It’s the main course, the only life we are given. I am smitten. We owe it to ourselves to be a beam of light cutting through the clouds. Take notice. What works, what doesn’t. Holding on to shit you don’t need may seem comfortable, familiar, safe.

Safety is an illusion.

Our time on this earth is minimal, I’m not being subliminal. These are the facts. We act out the parts we thought we could play. We stray away from what we really want instead of plunging into the unknown and trusting what we know to be true. Think about the impact you want to have, the thing that will stay long after you’re gone. That is the sliver of light. Who you are in the cloudy sky.

I know it’s not fair, years may go by and all you focus on is the misery the monotony in your heart. Stand apart from the crowd, dare to wear red in an all gray life.

Fuck them. War isn’t the answer. See above the clouds.

Make love.

Day 10. Self Love First

Loving, respecting, knowing yourself is key to every aspect of your life. It’s not selfish, it’s essential.

Self Love, is much maligned, misunderstood and mismanaged. I’ve battled with this for as long as I can remember. Self loathing has led me towards poor choices in partners, in jobs, in career paths. Rooting for myself has never been easy. There are countless times I can remember needlessly comparing myself, doubting my abilities, choosing abusive and toxic relationships because I had no love to give back to myself.

I never thought I deserved it. It’s what I knew best. Self criticism, my first line of defense. Self doubt, was the kicker at the end of a long road to not believing in my abilities, or my strengths . Self love has come with great effort. Knowing that I have to look at myself and ignore the asshole who tells me I’m not worthy, I am not deserving, I’m ugly, I won’t amount to anything, who at times has a megaphone and I can’t shut her up. I never said it makes any sense, it doesn’t. For anyone who deals with this asshole, it’s like the addiction you can’t kick.

Now, after years of doing the work, falling off the wagon and getting back on, she’s still there, but I’ve placed her in her corner, in the back seat with a snack and some boxed juice so she doesn’t bother me so often. I recently spoke to a friend who gave me this visual to think about when referring to my self made demons. Mine mumbles from time to time about not good enough and I tell her to be quiet. She’s lucky I still let her sit in the room with me, far away and out of view. I don’t know if I can get rid of her completely but I know that she is part of me, and I’ve outgrown her power over me.

How Self Love Begins with Us.

It took a very long time and a lot of false starts to unwind the tightly wound idea in my head that I don’t deserve the best life has in store. The asshole still comes around strong from time to time. I know how to deal with her, despite the familiarity of it all. Self love has taken forms that I had never thought possible and it has always started with understanding, accepting, allowing and being ok with who I am and have become. The rituals have changed, the narrative has been altered, to allow for stronger boundaries, wiser choices and deeper forgiveness. Love is always rooted and built upon honesty. Being honest with myself about my accomplishments and my flaws has allowed me the space to grow. The darkness never quite goes away. Those who suffer know this all too well, but in the end, LOVE WINS.

Start with Self Love. It may be hard at times, you may relapse and go back to your self loathing ways. But like any recovering self loather. It about loving yourself one day at a time.

Day 6 & 7 LENT

It’s not just about the food.

The cultural and religious references defining lent have been engrained since my early upbringing. Greek culture like countless others, defines the period of lent as a way to “cleanse” the body, and ultimately the mind by abstaining from any meat, eggs, cheese or animal bi-products for 40 days before the coming of Easter, Pascha, Pasqua, Πἀσχα. All organized religions practice some sort of cleanse, renewal, in order to prepare for spiritual and mental advancement, not many follow what traditions ask of us.

For the 20 plus years I’ve lived outside of Greece, this tradition has taken a new meaning for me. Although the mark of Kathara Deytera (the official beginning of lent) as a jumping off point is lovely to partake in, I left behind the idea of eating Taramosalata and boiled Octopus, and focused more on what behaviors, thought processes, ideas and babits I needed to abstain from and ultimately do away with. It’s not just about quitting animal meat, or losing weight, but revisiting what truly unhealthy habits, we must let go of.

If we are to honestly connect with our bodies and minds in a healthier way, we have to make a concerted effort to let go of habits, behaviors, though processes that cause damage, hold us back, and keep us from our highest potential. It may be hard or easy, but ultimately rewarding to remove personal obstacles to our growth.

For the next 40 days make a choice, stick to it. A new goal, a new habit can replace an old damaging one. Removing sugar is not effective if you’re drinking 4 cups of coffee a day and smoking. A short run or a long walk can replace a cab ride, aiming for a meaningful conversation instead of pointless chatter. Abstaining from meat can be coupled with a holistic approach to food and how you prepare it, healthier food choices overall, healthier body and mind choices in the long run. My 40 day cleanse short list I’ll share with you here.

  1. remove all alcohol, spirits & coffee
  2. short run 3 times a week and weight training
  3. writing every day for this challenge
  4. spend quality time with friends and family
  5. schedule a self care session once a week.
  6. Shorten my time online that’s not work related.

write down your short list for lent. Share this experience with your loved ones, ask them to keep you accountable to your journey. See you on the other side.

DAY 4-5 First be a woman

Paying homage to the women who have shaped, fed, loved and nurtured me over the years.

“If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world
upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it
back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it. The
men better let them.” Ain’t I a woman – Sojourner Truth

The kind of woman I always wanted to be didn’t come into view until my late 30’s. I was not aware of my strengths, I didn’t know how to harness my femininity, my passions and my voice. There were and still are many aspects of the woman I want to become that have yet to reveal themselves. I have since found there are a lot of women who are and have similar experiences finding their true identity. Although I have amazing, friends, guides, and teachers in my life, up until recently I didn’t know how to embody the woman I could be proud of. Who was that woman to me? How did she reflect herself to the outside world?

The woman I have now come to love, I owe to the countless women who have given me the thread to continue to honor my ancestors, my guides and my mentors along the way. Everything I have I owe to the women in my life. Sharing who I am openly here and in my poetry comes from the continuous support of my mothers (biological and adopted), grandmothers, friends, sisters, aunts, mentors, witches. Powerful, loving women, held me up when I was collapsing, held me accountable when I was being an asshole, trusted me with their hearts and helped my connect with mine. Loving and being loved has been shown to me by the careful guidance, of countless women over the years.

The strength I gather from the women around me, our common and no so common experiences, started at a very young age. At 5 I observed my grandmother in her infinite wisdom and strength give me life lessons I was only to understand later in life. My voice teacher in grade school ignited my passions for writing and singing, encouraging me to unabashedly find my voice. My wild artistic and uncompromising side was encouraged and celebrated by my close friends who knew that an untamed heart was better than a closed one.

These amazing accomplished, courageous women, saw me for my potential, raised me to be strong and independent and taught me to think for myself. I was drawn to their wisdom and their complexity. Women defined me and shaped me as an artist in school, a writer in college and a performer in my late 30’s. My sisters have encouraged me to be myself, speak my truth, show my vulnerability, share my experience, in ways that will always humble and astound me.

To celebrate the women in our lives is to celebrate life itself. To honor the women who have given before us, we honor our place in her-story. In the next few posts I’ll be sharing small stories from the women who have and continue to be my backbone.

Happy Womens HER-Story month.

27 Day writing Challenge Revived

Two years after a global pandemic – The new normal is anything but.

After taking an extended hiatus from my daily posts during this pandemic, I’ve slowly come back to establishing a forum for reflecting and discussing the issues, thoughts and ideas that have stuck with me for the past two years. I don’t think I’m alone in the creative conundrum that was born out of these times we are all living in. I’ve made small efforts to ignite thoughts that mattered, ideas that stuck, words that felt right. Now, it’s time. Of course the events that have unfolded since March 2020 are so life changing; they significantly impacted every single part of our lives. The world has been turned upside down and inside out, and I’m grateful to be alive at a time like this.

The past two years have been an immense opportunity for self reflection, global awareness, re-evaluation and re-calibration. In other ways a revelation in grasping a renewed sense of purpose. Dealing with the fear of the unknown, trusting our instincts, understanding what works and what doesn’t in our lives; is a lifelong experiment. The images, feelings and thoughts of the events that shaped those first two weeks of March 2020, felt like tectonic plates were shifting under our feet. My then daily posts felt trivial, and unnecessary in the grand scheme of the survival mode we were globally thrust into. My world became my Brooklyn neighborhood. The mental exhaustion of times we are all living through, had stigmatized any real creative juices from flowing. Growing, moving, changing cities (again), packing up my life in New York, and experimenting with a life that’s new, different and strangely familiar; are some of the things that I will be sharing with you all during the next 27 days.

now, the time has come.

There are too many things that have sparked my attention in the past two years that it seems ripe for the picking.

Join me, and welcome to my stories from the Edge (again)

Stay safe, aware, and grateful.

BETWEEn a rock and a hard place

A tale of two cities. in Verse

Street Art by INO – Athens, GR

Metal gods loomed over the skyline, reminding me to be free instead of locked in up in my head. I didn’t know any better. Letting the isolation sink in, it cut to the bone, sapping my very existence. I learned quickly. Pretence isn’t looked upon kindly here. Here you make it because you ate shit for breakfast and it really doesn’t matter what anybody thinks.

“What the FUCK are you looking at!”, she shouts as you quickly avert your gaze, as she hits you with daggers of anger and fear. Imagine how hard you have to become in order to survive this grind and still plant trees of love and understanding, but now they’re rebranding Gotham City into a Monopoly Game. Property moguls eating up land faster than pacman ever could.

You once stood tall, but now.

Game Over. Move over lady this isn’t for you any more. Dark alleyways, dimly lit, covered in the wheat paste dreams of momentary and permanent art gods. The grunting sounds of kitchens working to feed a city that never slept. But now silence. As you hear the footsteps in front of you disappear.

Kindness comes from places you hardly expect. Even though they say no one cares, you get the stare of recognition of common pain. She knows what you’re dealing with as you fight back tears on a Brooklyn bound F train. Get off a stop early to collect yourself and, put on your dark glasses so others don’t see you strain. Suck it up, pull it together. There will be good days and bad days but this place makes a Human out of you with a capital H.

You walk up second avenue, conjuring up images in your head about how you got here in the first place. Will you triumph over your fears, or cower in self defence? Condensed dreams in a flash, sweep by you, bringing you to an intense euphoria as you realize it’s all about to end.

Walk a block up.

Freeman’s Alley – LES

Those moments of quaint rarity and clarity bubble up into the Manhattan Skyline. Right across the way, under the PepsiCo Sign, sublime afternoons overlooking the Hudson, moments of chaotic oneness, undone through the blaring sirens of cop cars. Bars overflowing with lonely boys trying to get your attention. “Hey pretty, wanna grab a drink with me?”

Nah I’m good.

LIC- Queens

I remember how I once stood, alone wondering how this would all turn out.

Fade to black.

Sirens, lure me onto ancient lands that are far more about fiction than fact. The dream is intact even though we are packed in like rats. 5 Million souls and counting, and everyone is in your damn business.

Monastiraki, Athens by night

A village, A rock, An ancient ideal now lost in the cement crevices of the mind. We are strangers here. Nomads. Others. Coming and going and finding our way out of the darkness. Slowly trying to prove to every passerby to look up at the skies, instead we limit ourselves to what’s available, attainable and nothing more.

That isn’t my game.

I came here to create change. No matter what. Lingering in the dimly lit passageways of my fatherland now lost in its ugliness and disrepair. People here stare at you as if trying to find the answer to their own insecurities and grief. Knee deep in regrets they never knew they had, they stand tall against the creeping fear mongering and laundering of hope.

I smile gently urging you to invite me to your ceremony. My tears shed in apotheosis of a dream long deferred, but no more. The allure of Athenian mysteries becomes clear, a litany of a city long demolished & rebuild on repeat.

I stand still for a moment to take it all in. The clouds of doubt have dispersed once again, to reveal the softness within.

Welcome.

Bedtime Stories

Photo by Robert Valenzuela

Nestled in the crevices of my mind, Behind all that is real and sublime.

Time slows down in the fading embraces, chances lost and found in between the sheets, in glimpses of past dreams.

Passion, Obsessions, Connections open to interpretation.

Lessons learned, hearts burned, bodies yearn for touch earned. Fingers learn to feel again, lost on the cacophony of explosions at dawn.

Night time stories told on the inches of skin, revealing the softness and harshness within, and giving me an internal battle I won’t ever win.

Liquid courage and sin. Loving the skin I’m in.

Letting your touch take my shape in between these sips of gin, like poison.

You grin hiding the pain and longing for something real, I (we) steal these folds of fabric to cover the passion within.

And then quiet again.

And this feeling of loss again.

while the blue skies & pink shades cascade through my mind again.

This time is just for fun. I tell myself.

again.

Nestled in the crevices of my mind,

Stands time.

Unchanged

Sublime caresses, as I undress my soul one orgasm at a time.

Cheap wine running through my veins coveting time.

Switching my brain off to the past pains, and enjoying long embraces as I untangle my mind.

Talking in tongues, letting you in my garden where sacred spaces take shape, as you have decided to mold me, hold me close to the fire within.

I’m in.

This time it’s for real.