Full Moon: Reflections on Turning Fifty

Fat Chance

When I was twenty I was a slender woman. At five feet six and one-half inches tall, I weighed one-thirty, give or take five pounds. When I was about thirty, I took some of my clothes to a rummage sale. A friend and I were straightening the tables and she picked up a mini-dress, a slim hank of white cloth with spaghetti straps. "Who do you suppose wore this tiny thing?" she mused. I looked at it. It was tiny. Straight lined, no flares, no pleats, no elastic waist.

"I did," I said. She looked at me, and we both looked at the gown she had draped admiringly over her arm. I weighed one fifty or sixty by then and had given up dresses in favor of slacks, and waistlines in favor of flowing tops.

"You were thin," she said.

"Oh, I don't think so," I answered. "I've never been thin."

"Look at it," she said, holding it up. I looked at it, then she put the dress back on the table. We continued silently at our task, but I kept thinking about that wisp of a garment. I really was thin once, and I didn't know it. I weighed a scant one hundred and thirty pounds, and I thought I was fat. I worried about eating my eating. I felt guilty when I ate jelly donuts. I once ate half a dozen so I could throw away the package and no one would know I had eaten three.

As I sorted through other people's clothes, I tried to blame my self-deception on everyone, anyone else. Twiggy. Family who said "You're having another?" My parents' friends who said "You're just large boned" when I weighed one-thirty but was not yet five-six and a half feet tall. But I was the one who listened, and didn't listen. I remembered store clerks who said "You look wonderful," and my obstetrician who tried to tell me I was not fat.

I had an epiphany at that rummage sale: I had been thin once, and I missed it. I began to wonder what else I had missed, and then to wonder what I was currently missing. I could hear myself saying, in response to a compliment, "Oh, you're just saying that," or thinking to myself, "Oh, yea, fat chance."

Fat chance. I decided then to not miss another minute of my own life. Gradually I learned to say "thank you" when someone complimented me and, when I doubted them, to stop and consider that they might be right.

And this year I am offering myself a special challenge: to enjoy my body the way it is; to let go of the way it could be, or should be, and to revel in this ship that carries my soul so ably about the earth.

I weigh one hundred and seventy-eight pounds. I work out, and have discovered classy clothes catalogs for "large boned women," so some people don't believe it. "You don't look it," they say, the way they say "You don't look fifty years old." And they mean it. But I want to say to them and to myself, "Yes, I do look it. This is what one-seventy-eight looks like. And this is what fifty years old looks like."

Recently I have taken to standing nude in front of the mirror. "Look at that belly," I say to myself. "That is the belly of a woman who has borne two children and who loves good bread. Look at the curves of those hips, and the heft of those breasts. That is the flesh of a woman who has lived for half of a century."

The woman in the mirror straightens her shoulders, not missing a thing.

Selected Works

Field Guides
Prevention and Treatment of Lyme Disease and Other Ailments Caused by Ticks, Scorpions, Spiders, and Mites; a Falcon Guide.
Prevention and Remedies; A Falcon Guide
Trail Guide
• Accurate and useful information for accessing the trail with ease and enjoying it safely. * Maps and mileages * Trailhead and parking information * Mile-by-Mile descriptions * Campsites * Trail service towns * Loop trails for easy-access, shorter hikes * Geology, animals, plants and seasons on the trail * Itasca State Park & Maplewood State Park * Using the trail * Safety on the trail
Natural History
This comprehensive guide to Zizania palustris tells the story of North America’s only native grain, from its emergence in the western Great Lakes area to its use in today’s kitchens. The book demystifies the purchasing of wild rice—Black, brown? Long grain, short grain? Lake rice, river rice? US rice, Canadian rice?— clarifies cooking options, and proposes wild rice as a fast food (cook a full pound and freeze in small packets). The recipes range from simple soups to gourmet entrees and food for a crowd. Skyhorse Publishing 2014
Spring time is sugaring time in northern Minnesota where author Susan Carol Hauser and her husband tapped maple trees and made maple syrup for many years. In this affectionate memoir, Hauser evokes the feelings of being in the woods and out of time, living to the rhythm of sap dripping into buckets and snow melting in the warm air. She grounds her personal experience in stories of Native American traditions, provides instruction for backyard sugaring, and offers recipes for today’s kitchen, including microwave maple candy and maple syrup pie. The warmth and promise of the sugaring fire are carried in the story and in Hauser’s memorable prose, that illuminates like sunlight piercing a jar of amber maple syrup. Skyhorse Publishing 2014
New Nonfiction
A creative nonfiction narrative about the nature of water in motion and the transformative influence of rivers in our lives, based on a trip down the Mississippi River.
"Words and images gleaned from ... the heart of the poet...."
--Helen Bonner
"We turn to poems for solace, wisdom, comfort, joy.... "
Transform your personal history into a compelling and meaningful narrative.
Graceful meditations dotted with humor, complemented by the delicate art of Californian Barbara Van Arnam.

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