Excerpt from: Lose the Baggage, Lose the Weight a woman-to-womon recipe for life
“It was Indian summer; the school ground was covered in colors of fall. It was the beginning of a new school year. I was in the fourth grade, and we were living with foster parents. Change was inescapable. Flexibility was essential. Believing in a higher power was necessary.
Karen and Al were our foster parents. Their home was located on a hill that overlooked the school grounds. They were good people. They provided us with shelter and food. They also made sure we did our chores and practiced scripture. On weekends, we would visit the colony and attend the Mennonite church. We’d stay all day. I found it to be a very pleasurable experience. I did find it a bit strange, however, that Karen let us watch Dark Shadows. I can’t say with certainty she let us watch Dark Shadows because she was probably too busy canning and baking.
Nonetheless, our fascination with Dark Shadows extended to the school grounds where we would build castles out of leaves and pretended to be cast members from the television show. We’d play that silly game until dark. Besides my interest in vampires, I had an affinity for Barbie and Troll dolls. Though we never owned any, we were fortunate to be friends with the three Stevens girls that lived across the street. They were a beautiful family, and I treasure their kindness toward Dairene and me.
A huge family with seven kids lived up the block. Both parents were deaf, and all the kids spoke sign language. They shared their language with us, and I got pretty good at it. The adversity and love in this family was so profound that I carried it all the way to the stage of Miss Montana as I danced, mimed, and signed to the Christian song “Giggle” by Amy Grant.
With changing seasons came changing locations, and during my fourth-grade year, we were once again uprooted and transported to Belgrade, Montana, to live with new foster parents. Flexibility comes with change, and it’s just part of being a foster. You don’t get too close, and you don’t get too comfortable. You get use to change!
As we grow, we change. Our bodies change. Our noses might become bigger, our feet might become larger, we may develop strange bumps, and things just begin to change. So as time passed while living in Belgrade, Montana, with my aunt Mae and uncle Marvin, my body began to change. Not too quickly, but it began to change, and by the time I hit fifth grade, I needed a training bra because my breasts had started to bud. This disturbed me. One thing that bothered me, even more, was the fact that my feet were long and narrow. I was petite and scrawny, and my feet didn’t fit my body.
Lucky for me, my cousin Marvin Junior was a newlywed. His wife, Lois, was fascinating. I thought she was the smartest woman alive except for the beautiful girl at the swimming pool who reminded me of Ali MacGraw. Though I never saw the movie Love Story, I did catch glimpses of Ali’s beauty from Lois’s magazines. Lois was a great conversationalist and very wise about female development and hygiene. So when I was feeling insecure about my changing body, she assured me that I would someday grow into my feet. Can’t say as I really ever have liked my feet all that much, but I am glad to have grown into them.
It’s amazing how life comes full circle, and thirty years later you get an e-mail from a dear friend reminding you that you can start a wonderful new phase in your life. That change is an opportunity to do something challenging and positive that you’ve always wanted to do
My hope for you is that you change with the seasons, be more flexible, and look at yourself in a new and positive way. And just as I have had to learn over and over again change is evitable; it is the way in which we receive it that makes its journey memorable and accepting.”