Summer may have officially kicked off a few weeks ago, but my bathing suit remained in my dresser drawer — exactly where I left it one year earlier. I dreaded putting it on again.
Until my granddaughter changed my mind.
I’ve struggled with my weight for many years and summertime always brings my insecurities from a simmer to a boil, no different from many other women I know. I’ve tried many diets and had some great successes and quite a few failures. This particular summer, I wasn’t where I wanted to be with my weight.
Fortunately, I have a wonderful husband, Ron, who sees me as an eighteen year-old, 110 pound girl who hasn’t aged a day since high school. He doesn’t see what I see when I look in the mirror. Ron says I look great and it just doesn’t matter to him. Most women would die to hear this from their husbands. Yet, in a way, it ends up being more destructive, because I kind of feel like he’s right, so I don’t worry about it and continue to eat what I’ve been eating and not feel comfortable in my own skin. As I got older I let my weight control me instead of me controlling it, and eventually I had to give up so many of the things I loved to do.
One hot and humid afternoon, I was sitting on our dock staring at the beautiful lake in front of me, dipping my toes in the cool water, but feeling sorry for myself. I had my bathing suit on under a few layers of clothes but made the decision not to let anyone see me in it. Despite having loved the water since I was a young girl, I convinced myself that getting my legs wet was adequate enough. It was at that moment my granddaughter sat down next to me.
We stared at the water and she asked why I wasn’t swimming. I tried to come up with a few excuses, but even at her young age, she wasn’t buying it.
She said, “YOLO, grandma.”
“Are you speaking English?” I asked.
“You only live once, grandma,” she explained.
“What? Say that again please,” I asked.
“You only live once,” she repeated.
I immediately loved the phrase. “YOLO,” I said quietly with a smile.
She said it back to me, “YOLO!” She jumped into the lake and out of nowhere my dog followed her in.
“YOLO,” I said again, my smile growing bigger.
With that, I took off my cover up as if I were a size 2 and jumped into the lake shouting “YOLO!” We swam for the next hour and I’ve put on my bathing suit everyday since.
My point to all of this is, just live your life, enjoy it and try something new. I am just an average-size person who has decided there’s still time to change the road she’s on. I try something new all the time. I gave my kids new things to experience when they were younger and now it is time for me. I went white-water rafting at 50 with my daughter and loved it, and then later that week biked down a mountain – something to this day I think I was out of my mind to do. All the way down I kept thinking, this is stupid, you’re going to fall off. But guess what?
I made it!
I’m learning as I get older that some things just don’t matter. You don’t know what is around the corner. I don’t want to miss life; I want to live it. So after all that debate with myself and the dreaded swimsuit; I realize I got carried away.
Enjoy your summer and do something new! And remember girls, YOLO!
Jane Rave is the author of Conversations and Cosmopolitans: Awkward Moments, Mixed Drinks and How a Mother and Son Finally Shared Who They Really Are.
Main image via Shutterstock