Twenty Push Ups

Black Sand Cove, Nevis, West Indies


There is a modern-day fairytale that begins like this:

Once upon a time in the midst of raising children, a lovely lady who had grown a bit complacent was surprised one day when her mate of many years said I don’t love you anymore.

She, being the stronger of the two, continued as the primary parent. She, being the person that she is, thought first of the children while he thought first of the fantastical things that seemed important to him in mid-life.

Time passed and as she sent the last child off to college, he was on a beach with someone who made him feel younger than he was. And while he and the other were lying under the sun, her life alone began.

It was the first time she had lived alone and she decided to enjoy it. She chose to eat cereal for dinner on occasion. She chose to let the house get a bit messy now and then. She chose to play music with the light on when she woke at night and could not get back to sleep. She chose when and where and why and how without consulting anyone.

In the quiet of that empty nest she remembered being 22 and young and in love. She did not remember exactly how it was she chose her mate. She could recall only that when college ended and careers began, others started to marry. Marriage, it seemed, was the next logical step in life.

There came a night when she woke in the middle of her king-sized bed and asked herself, out loud, why had she thought she was ready? Could she have possibly known herself well enough and loved herself completely at that long ago time?

She recalled living blindly, caught up in the moment and in a gale of love that had swept in on the wind of fear. In hindsight, it was like grade school. Everyone was being selected, one by one. She feared she might be the person nobody picked. She would remain standing, all alone and by herself, if she did not marry soon.

As it happened, she was not chosen and she was left standing alone, these many years later. And it was scary. This was not the future she envisioned when she married. This is not what she expected would come to pass when she was young and raising her family and being supportive and loving while all the while thinking the days ahead would be spent with the person to whom she vowed her forever.

In the days of scary quiet that followed after the kids moved out, she made herself do something new and a couple of push ups each day. Before terribly long, she could do twenty push ups and she had traveled by herself to a place a thousand miles away that she had always wanted to visit. She did things she had not done before. Like asking for help and not minding if she caused others to wonder and worry. Like not bothering to make the king-sized bed if she did not feel like it and to undo another button on her blouse.

One day this strong, amazing woman decided it was okay if she slept horizontally but alone in a king-sized bed. She looked in the mirror more often. She was told that she had a beautiful smile and that her eyes were very bright. People asked if she had lost weight. She spent her time exactly as she wished and she chose people to share time with that made the far-off future seem less scary, and even a bit nice.

The amazingly strong woman said to herself that in a manner of speaking she would be spending the rest of her life with a new person she had recently come to know and love.


And she felt happy, content, and at peace with that prospect.

One day after she decided how she felt about herself could be called love, a handsome man rode in and tried to “woo” her. He tried and tried but she wondered if there was space in her self to love another now that she so loved herself. She had come so far from where she had been when her husband first left. She did not want to go back to that place.

In addition to being handsome, he was patient. He treated her with kindness and consideration unlike anything she had known before which caused her to consider him differently. She could see in him quality and value. And she noticed that she smiled more and that her eyes seemed even brighter when they were together.

One day as they danced, the amazingly strong woman told him she loved him. The words popped from her mouth before she had time to think of their meaning. And she knew there was, in fact, space in her self to love another. And she knew more that she so loved herself that whatever way the wind blew and whatever moment of the far-off future she was in, she would not be afraid. And she vowed that from this day forward she would be true and loving and faithful.

To herself.

And she felt happy, content, and at peace with that prospect

To Sea: Nevis, West Indies

105 thoughts on “Twenty Push Ups

  1. What a beautiful fairy tale about a beautiful woman. I do not believe in envy, but there are times when I find myself very close to that place when I read what you’ve written. Your photos are beautiful, your prose are beautiful and most improtantly you are beautiful, inside and out!

  2. “And she vowed that from this day forward she would be true and loving and faithful. To herself.”
    EXACTLY !!!!! I am going to paint those words across my “happily ever after obsessed” step-daughters room !

  3. Stopped in my tracks with this one…what a poignant and perfect message for the times. Such beauty in the heartbreak, transformation in the letting go, and union of two solid souls when it was time. You are an exquisite, heart-opening writer and I thank you.

  4. As I read this, I kept asking myself, “Hmm, did I meet this woman and tell her my story?” But no; I know the reality is there are many, many women (and men) who have lived out this very same fairy tale and have come out on the other side with the same wonderful wisdom you have so eloquently written. It’s just part of us all living out life’s myths, all part of the journey. Beautifully written.

  5. The very best fairytales are the ones in which the Happy waits for no ever-after but is interspersed all through the present because it resides in the heart of the heroine. It fills me with light just to read this post! Thank you for another better-than-magical story.

  6. Ah, Bella, you’ve done it again. Somehow the beauty of your words matches the beauty of your photographs.

    Thanks for giving us all a reason to love ourselves just a bit more.

  7. We all tend to create an identity for ourselves based on the people, places and things our culture presents. Hopefully we grow to realize who we are is not contingent on an association with any of it.

  8. Like Coyotemoonwatch much of that story is mine as well…I’ve yet to fully realize that perfect love you’ve attained, though I’m getting there- day by day and your words inspire me.

    I love the format for the story and the beauty in how you tell your fairytale.

  9. Heartwarming and inspirational! I love that in this fairytale, the woman is strong and doesn’t behave as a damsel in distress. She heals herself.

  10. This brought tears to my eyes because I was so happy for the “character” in this fairy tale. When you’ve grown to really care about someone, even if you’ve never met them, all you want for them is happiness. Thanks for letting us share this story.

  11. Lovely writing, winsomebella. Sometimes when we are younger we are so busy fulfilling a role that we lose touch with who we are as a person. You’ve expressed so well the joy we find after we discover/uncover who we are.

  12. This needs to be Freshly Pressed… or printed across a billboard… or, better yet, turned into required reading for young girls afraid of not being picked. I am so, so glad you got your fairytale πŸ™‚

  13. What a gift it all turned out to be. Imagine life without the Indies, the love of self, the care of heart, the new found strength. Then encourage this woman to send a thank you to the man who released her.

  14. Every time I read one of your posts, I am stopped at the end for moments of reflection on how brave and stoic you are. You are an amazing woman and your story is so impressive and so inspirational. Getting to know yourself was your challenge and you did it, and now you have written about it in your usual beautiful and unique way. I truly love your blog.

  15. I read some time ago, a quote; your beautiful writing brought it to mind. ….I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.
    What an encouraging story of strength and courage.

  16. As I glanced over the many comments left for you on this post, I realized my thoughts have all been previously expressed.
    Wonderful post. I am so happy for YOU! And that you found LOVE: just icing on the cake! Thank goodness he was a patient man; I’m sure you were worth his wait!

  17. I am very pleased that this modern day Princess
    found the love of her dreams, I guess when life
    throws the dice it can often turn rather unpleasant
    but with the strength and true character the love
    that was within was discovered by another and
    as that love grew, so did the fairy tale, and life as
    she once knew it, turned out even better than she
    could imagine… It is so nice when that happens πŸ™‚


  18. I’ve never understood the meaning of “happily ever after.” But I sure can appreciate how much more alive this lovely lady is now. The push ups can be grueling, and that’s what makes us stronger. Beautiful story, Bella. And your photographs seem to be from another world.

  19. Oh my. You have outdone yourself, which is saying something. I love this. I am so happy for you. I am so inspired by you. I am looking for myself in your fairy tale and think I may see me, but I am not through the scary time yet. Thanks so much. I have so many friends I am going to share this with, so many people who still don’t know how to make their own happily ever after.

    • It did take a while to do it—I credit yoga, primarily. I am glad you will share it and hope it brings a helpful perspective. Thank you for stopping in Huffy Girl–always glad when you do!

  20. OMG, this is so, so, beautiful. I’m here, because like all the other commenters before me, I was touched by the beauty of your writing and the message of your soul. You go girl. T

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