Secret Stuff Inside

When I originally started this blog, I thought I would end up sharing frequently about two of my favorite passions…thrifting and crafting. In the beginning, I actually did, as Fern’s long sleeping hours afforded me time to sit and sew while she was latched on.

But it’s been quite a while since I did a major crafting project (a fact which is about to change as we are jumping into preparations for Fern’s 2nd birthday). And as far as showing off groundscores and thrift finds…I have to admit that I’ve been waiting until I…uh…return to my former shape. The past two years, as the baby weight has shown no sign of dropping off, (despite assurances that all the breastfeeding and babywearing would make it melt away) I have taken to avoiding mirrors and taking satisfaction if  I am not completely embarrassed after getting dressed. I am squeamish about sharing this, but there you have it.

The weight is only part of it, and I’m aware that I’m healthy and that I’m at risk of being screamed at by other gals who would say that they would love to be my size. More than the increase in dress size, is my perceived loss at Who I Was. Thin for my whole life, I look in the mirror now, or at photos and I’m like “Who IS that?”. I move throughout the day, feeling like someone took me out of my old self and put me in this different shell. I don’t recognize the new me and don”t really want to accept her, waiting instead for the day when I have time to do the 30 day shred and will suddenly return to my 35 year old self.

I used to disdain worrying about one’s weight or body image…which I realize now was much easier when I had the comfort of a body size that fit into the conventional standard of beauty propagated by mainstream media. I see my acquaintances, friends and even clients under the oppression of this standard and I feel angry. I have all these feelings about the way my body has drastically changed, but have had no real outlet for working them out. I have difficulty even validating myself, because I really don’t want to feel this way…I want to be uber body positive, and in fact, I AM…but only when it comes to other women’s bodies. I want to age gracefully, I want to cherish my expanded rib cage and super power hips. I want  to shout from the highest hills that I Love My New Body that Gave Me My Baby. And then I do something like post a picture of myself on my blog and spend the next week having multiple cringe moments. I have thought about taking it down, but I don’t want to give in to, or strengthen, that inner critic.

Don’t you worry now, I”m working it out. But I share this because

1. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only mom who has had a post-birth invasion of the body snatchers experience and I want to normalize it and

2. If I’m going to start sharing more fashion posts on this blog, I want to pop any bubble of “better than thou”…how many times have you looked at fashion on the internet, or in a magazine and walked away with a nagging sense of being inadequate? Rather than furthering a sense of mystique by projecting image, and image alone, I would like to show up as a real person who might inspire YOU to let your freak flag fly with your vintage dress or home-made earrings. Finally…

3. I have been endlessly inspired by Milla and other amazing blog friends, not only for the fun finds that they share, but for the attitude in which they do it. The first time I ever commented on Milla’s blog was on a post where she talked about how style, rather than being a weapon to use against ourselves or other women, can actually be a really important part of self expression…a form of every day art. This has always been the reason I dress as I do (which defies categorization but can be described with adjectives like funky and vintage)…the morning’s routine is sometimes the only dose of creativity I have during the day.

In the spirit of all this, and while I ease gradually into more self portraits, I thought I would start with sharing a piece of my personal style that those who know me will recognize, but I don’t think that anyone really knows the significance of.

Giddiness. All that’s left from the two bags I found at a junk sale…many of the beauts I used for art and gifts.

Years ago (sometime in the 20th century) a dear friend and I would talk about why we liked things like old boxes, trunks, keyholes and skeleton keys…it was the secret stuff that might be held within, and gained access to with the right unlocking. Think about it for a second, and you can run pretty far with this metaphor. As within, so without.


My current favorite to wear. The teeth at the bottom are set at an angle. Mystery!

I have been collecting keys for years, and have also seen the rise in the popularity of key jewelry, especially in steampunk culture. Even Macy’s jumped on the bandwagon with platinum “skeleton” keys, fashioned with diamonds. Maybe I’m lazy, maybe I’m boring, maybe I’m still too much of a tomboy, but I like my key adornments plain.

Unless it’s something like this, when I was looking at Etsy for pictures…Yes Please…

Available from dayslonggone.

On any given day I usually have some form of key on me…

On my belt…

I particularly love this key that says “Female” on the top. The key to a bathroom in a train station? The key to a dormitory? A jail cell? 

Hanging from my ears…I love the dragon faces.

If I have all these keys, I need something to unlock too. All of my keys were found at flea markets, but this little cutie I purchased at a craft fair.

Fern has her own set of keys that she carries around. I used rust removal, but some residual remained. Now where did I put that tetanus shot?

There is even a keyhole at the top of my 1/2 sleeve. The key is tatooed elsewhere. Where? I can’t tell you…it’s a secret! But not that hard to find.

The pineal gland in the brain, a tiny part responsible for some of the phenomena experienced in near death experiences, spiritual visions and even sight of “other beings” is unlocked by the DMT molecule. DMT is found in many plant species, and there is speculation that it is also released by the pineal gland at the time of death or during ecstatic spiritual states. Guess what the molecule of Dimethyltryptamine looks like?

A key!

I would like to unlock the mysteries of the universe. I would like to live in a house that could only be unlocked with an old key. I love the clinkety clank mechanism of an old key and lock. I yearn for simpler times, simpler industry. I have an old fashioned heart that can only be opened with the most unique of keys. Sometimes children ask me what my keys are for, and I often say that I carry them around just in case I need to unlock something special. This is always seen as a perfectly adequate explanation and no further questions are asked.

You just never know when it might come in handy. Mystery abounds!


29 thoughts on “Secret Stuff Inside

  1. That keyhole necklace is really cool. I need something like that (to go with my chest piece – skeleton keys!). Do you know who made it or where to find something similar?
    I can definitely relate to this post…beginning to end.
    As far as keys, I actually really dislike telling people why I got my key tattoos when they ask…after years of answering the question, I still feel like it’s something I can’t communicate properly, so people aren’t usually satisfied with my answer. Plus, the ‘what does your tattoo mean’ question is often asked by people who don’t actually have the patience for a real answer anyway.

  2. I can’t figure out why you are cringing about the last photo you posted. But I did the sane thing with the last full body shot I posted of be in the little red cape. I saw later tray I wasn’t in my pilates core and so the belly pooch was all happy and out. I cringed. And I’m so small, when I let my belly relax sometimes when it’s particularly full, you might question, is she pregnant? I can’t stand that. How tall are you? I feel so lucky I have some of mary’s special keys. That have helped me unlock some tricky finicky locks. That owl key is magic. Yikes.

  3. oh, i know…really know what you mean. Before my babies my stomach was flat, washboard flat…even when i gained weight my stomach stayed flat and i had great boobs. Two breastfed babies later, my boobs are GONE, i have a little potbelly and i have hips where once there were none. It was quite an adjustment for me, i had to rethink how i could wear clothes, and my own personal style. The things that used to look good on me no longer did! I figured that for me personally I needed to work on physically feeling good, and I’ve always walked or jogged, so i started that again. At least i feel like my body is healthy…you know! But that doesn’t always translate to healthy body image. I still occasionally struggle with maintaining a happy self image, and when i have those doubting times i really think long and hard about what the heck is wrong with me that i can’t just be happy with how i look…and how silly and shallow am i to even be concerned about it! I found that by being deliberatly encouraging and complimentary to myself when looking in the mirror – i could trick my brain …i think alot of us look in the mirror and are quite critical – i know i used to stand there cringeing at my thighs and miniscule love handles. I started to tell myself that i had beautiful thighs and looked gorgeous – i think it helped! I did notice after a little while that i wasn’t even thinking of what was wrong with my body anymore. Telling ourselves that we are ugly or gross or repulsive affects us the same as if it were another mean person saying those things. And yet, I also think being self critical is a very human thing to do. As long as we dont talk ourselves into believing it too much. Sorry if i blahhhhed on too much there. You just got me thinking. Keys hold history don’t you think, i like to think that they are memory keepers.
    you’re beautiful, believe it lady!

    1. yes, i love that idea of telling ourselves a different story. goodness knows i gave myself approval when i thought i was close enough to some standard, and surely that reinforced that standard. i too had a flat stomach, and as well i have to rethink my personal style…exactly…i can’t wear the same things i once did!

      yet i don’t think you are so much to blame for self criticism, and i don’t think it’s silly or shallow. these ideas are instilled in us at a very deep level, at a very young age. then, we continue to be baraged with images of what is acceptable everywhere we go, especially in media and advertising. the person who doesn’t absorb these messages must be super human.

      and you didn’t blah too long…i loved reading every word! xo

  4. Two things:

    1) you’re a hot mama–not only that, but you have awesome style. time to throw down with your very own fashion revolution, show the world how beautiful and interesting it is to NOT look like you’re anorexic. Really, the inner critic is the only one that gives a damn when nobody should or does.

    2) lovely, lovely writing 🙂

    1. yes, the inner critic is really the only one, and if anyone else should happen to collude with that inner voice, i suppose that’s a pretty good sign of what they struggle with themselves. thanks ilana. xoxo

  5. I find that pictures flatter me much much more when taken from above. So only aerial shots puh-leez (hand in front if my face as if paparazzi are snapping away)… Did you see my post about getting back into excersizing? …I totally feel you on the mom body. Really, we just need to do what makes us feel good because even if it seems vain or ridiculous to some, we actually deserve to be sexy hot mamas.

    So there.

    Oh! Do you have the key to my secret door? I seem to have misplaced it.

    1. i cracked up so hard at the “aerial shots”. seriously! i look at pictures and i instantly wonder if another angle….maybe taken from far far away, would help. i did see your post on exercising, i could relate to it a lot and i also laughed at the “cap and trade” approach….one hour of workout makes up for the previous day’s cupcake. we do deserve to be sexy hot mamas…to FEEL like sexy hot mamas.

      and you’ll have to ask igor about your secret key.

  6. Those keys, so pretty!
    I look forward to your fashion posts.
    I had a similar/completely different experience with my full ‘o baby body. When I was pregnant, well, towards the end, I felt giant and uncoordinated and un-me. For the majority of my life I have battled almost eating disorders and unsatisfactory mirror images. After I had Jude I was thrilled with my body. It was bigger and more curvier than it had ever been, but I felt more me than I did in my boobless skinny torso. Unfortunately, I got caught up by the Celiac disease monster, and lost a ton of weight and my boobs and my butt. And I miss them a lot.
    But I guess that’s the lesson. No matter what body we are in we have to love it, accept it, and treat it kindly 🙂

    1. from your blog i know that you have been going through your own process re: image, and i admire you a lot for it. that is so frustrating about the attainment of a nice bod, only to lose it in a different way. i feel like i had a great bod, and then pregnancy stretched me out of shape like a stuffed sack…and i thought i would bounce back, but alas. yet, every time i see a pic of you, i comment to myself how beautiful and unique you are. in terms of the “lesson”, you nailed it. xo

  7. Dear Mary,

    There is a reason why I simply cannot comment on all your posts. It’s because each one requires my full attention, each one lays out a number of points I want to discus in length, each teaches me something I did not know, each is suffused with light and beauty I want to savour. I am in awe and somewhat embarrassingly envious of how measured your sentences, how beautiful your images. Your writing is a book I can’t put down and it makes me cringe at my own ramblings, I feel my casual posts shrink in shame.

    I truly hope that some day, you will write an actual book, I think you’ve got the gift.

    And at the same time, each of your posts also makes me squeal like 15-year-old fashion blogger: “OMG! I have always loved keys too! I just thought of the same thing today! My feelings exactly! Oh I LOVE LOVE LOVE all your posts!”

    No, literally, they do. I find in each something so recognizable, something I really have thought myself, yet you expressed these ideas more eloquently than I ever could.

    Each post, which by the way, arrive at an alarming frequency, another thing I can’t help but marvel at, makes me happy that we have “met”, makes that comment you left in blog seem so serendipitous as to be…well…fate. I feel as though we met at a time when it was crucial that all these ideas converge and all of us in this informal little circle need someone expand them and appreciate them with equal fervor.

    It seems strange too that our “meeting”, that all of our meetings, could have come through such a “trivial” tangent as style, yet so appropriate in its feminine guise. Which it why it makes me dizzy with joy that you will be sharing more of your style here. I swear, already every time you post a self-portrait of any kind I try to suss out what you’re wearing. So bring out your beautiful, altered, ever-changing self and the clothes you carry. I can’t wait.

    Thank you for everything you do.

    1. dearest milla, pleasepleaseplease don’t cringe or shrink about your posts. my sweet friend, your own radiance is so obvious that even your posts about how “really, my life isn’t always all fairytale sometimes it is mundane too and sometimes i wear shorts and do gardening” end up having the opposite meaning…you couldn’t be mundane if you tried. pure magic girl, you’ve got it. i am so thrilled, so honored that we have made the connection we have, and the admiration goes both ways, i really hope you know that. indeed, your post about style in a way proves my point about your own depth… took something seemingly trivial or vain and turned it into a celebration of art, spirit, myth and love. that was so liberating for me, and was the key that opened the door for me to step back into myself as changed in form but eager to find expression in image.

      how about missa’s comment up there? did she just sum it all up, or what? maybe we should all send each other keys to wear, as a token of connection, kinship, magic. as a matter of fact, that is exactly what imma gonna do. yay!

      thank you for everything YOU do, queen of hearts. thank you for your loving kindness, your loving spirit, just….your love. xo

  8. i thank you also for bringing this topic to light here! i can count on one hand the number of photos of myself since i had my first little guy 6 years ago. luckily, i am usually in charge of uploading to the computer, so i can delete to my heart’s content. cringe cringe cringe! i have seriously struggled my whole life with body image….i know that i have missed out on many things because i couldn’t bring myself to get out the door in what i was wearing or make peace with how i was feeling. self-consciousness has always been a huge enemy. i would love some encouragement here to let my freak flag fly! i feel i haven’t even let a real style of my own develop because i stick to dark and plain clothes. if you haven’t already, you should check out this site: ….some brave ladies have posted there!

    1. i can simultaneously relate to the “cringe and delete”, and i also feel really sad. what an awful thing we do to ourselves, that inner criticism. self consciousness i think comes from internalizing external standards, and yet those standards are so misguided…misguided in terms of what life is really about. which has a lot less to do with how we look and more to do with how we love. yet i fall prey to it so hard as well.

      i would love for your freak flag to fly, and that may be reason enough for me to get over my own self consciousness if it will help you do the same! maybe dark and plain clothes is part of your style, and the rest can be mixed in? please keep in touch re: your process around this. xo

  9. i think being “uber body positive” includes having a body you feel good about, meaning getting it into the shape you want/can. i think of the serenity prayer and i think changing the body is one of the things we can change (well, not all of us and not all the parts, but some of us and some of the parts). i think being concerned about the appearance of our bodies can be a sign of health and self-respect. Of course it can also be a sign of self-hatred, but you can feel the difference. I think aging gracefully can include keeping your body fit and your image intact. Unless you’re going for the “I’m just spirit and have no need for worldly, bodily concerns” enlightenment, which i’m pretty sure you aren’t. Yes, you are gorgeous already. we all can see that. but i think you can also allow a desire for more gorgeousness to be a part of a body-positive attitude. just fly to paradise a few times, and you’re set:

    1. ok, how is that video supposed to be helpful? although maybe if i do that head spinny thing, it will tone up my double chin. or give me whiplash.

      you’re right about the health and self respect thing, and rather than pushing myself to exercise as a sign of self hatred, it actually has manifested more in “giving up” or not caring so much what i look like, as if it’s “hopeless”. i’m trying to strike a balance between accepting and liking the “new me” and also getting back in shape to the point where my body feels good again.

      you knew me well pre-baby, so this feedback is especially insightful and helpful. oh you. love.

  10. I love your post Mary. I love your comment Milla. It is in no way surprising to me that Milla’s blog was the doorway through which you’ve entered our little circle. Ok, now I’m having this wonderful image of all of our blogs being like doorways to our souls and the comments that we leave here in these little boxes are like keys of a sort. We insert words that convey our thoughts and feelings, when the fit is just right, doorways open, connections are made, and it’s a beautiful thing 🙂

    Looking forward to those style posts, you beautiful mama you!

    1. you have left me speechless, oh lady of the golden thrift luck. look what you just did…you just summed it all up with a cherry on top. the metaphor is perfect!!!!! ❤

  11. Mary,
    Your posts are always timely for me. You seem to be dipping into the same river of thought/feeling. I’m eighteen months postpartum and while I’m back to pre-baby weight, pre-baby shape is a thing of the past. Things just seem to swing low an wide these days and its a bitter pill. Did I think I would somehow be spared what most, if not all, other mothers throughout time have experienced? Milla had a great repost a while back on post-baby breasts that helped a bit. But I still struggle when I stand in front of the mirror or in front of my closet. I gave a talk to my girls group this week about negative self talk. I sort of felt like a charlatan, not because I suggested that I don’t experience it, but because I don’t afford myself the grace that I hope that they will. Anyway, I admire how honest you are in your posts and I am looking forward to seeing your style!!!!

    1. yes, i thought i would “be spared” too. this is part of the reckoning, the coming to terms with how we’ve changed. bitter pill is right. for our children though, this is the main reason too that i want to work through all this, the negative self talk, the self consciousness. our daughters deserve better than that. i wonder so often too, about that emphasis on “pre-baby ____” this or that. as if our goal should be to erase any sign of change, aging, motherhood. yet we take it on as some kind of failure, or sign of bad luck. media is partly so responsible for this, with every report of how so and so looks so great post partum. i was beating myself up about gwyneth paltrow, who is my age, looking so great after two kids. jeff reminded me it’s a lot easier when you can afford a top notch nanny and a personal trainer. 😀

      1. Personal trainer, chef, pilates instuctor, plastic surgeon. I’m sure all of those effect the outcome. At least we don’t have careers where that seems to be a requirement. At the risk of meddling in your personal business or sounding stalkerish. I was thinking of your desire to leave SF and find a community within an hour of the city. We moved from the city to the coastside 6 years ago and love it here. From the dense Redwood Forest community of La Honda with all its funky cabins to the pastoral community of Pescadero or Montara with its pretty valley so closed to the sea, this is a place where a person has the opportunity for community on a smaller, more intimate scale. We have our share of healers, midwives mommies, surfers, yuppies, farmers and thinkers, mystics and so on. While it can be pricey, we’ve found that each time we put our home specifications out to the Universe-poof there it would appear. OK, I’ll stop the advertisement now. Hope you find the home that is best for you and your family!


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