A Breath of Fresh Air
A Merry Heart
A Woman's World
A Word in Season
Acting Up
As I Imitate Christ
Cyber Walk
Faith Seekers
Golden Apples
Heaven Bound
Just Between Men
Take it to Heart
Teen Truth
The Joy of Family
The Parents'
Survival Guide

The Rhythm of Life
The Treehouse
Through Their Eyes
'Tis the Season
We Are the Church
Well Read

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What Iíve Learned from Shedding My Skin
By Joanne Malley

Iím in my "happy place!"

Though nicely settled, Iím not always this comfortable. I know that a quick escape from the skin Iím in is sometimes essential. Fortunately, I can find a bit of hope in the "seven-year overhaul," courtesy of nature.

Renewed skin and minor physiological changes give us all another opportunity to embrace our uniqueness and make a fresh start. A slightly new person emerges from the process. Hopefully, itís minus a few new wrinkles.

With that in mind, about three people ago I stared down the expanse of a large runway. No, I wasnít about to enter the cabin of a 747 for a Tahitian getaway. Immersed in prayer, I petitioned God at the top of a fashion runway. In desperation, I waited for a miracle to ensure a smooth, graceful transport to the end.

My klutzy legs were present against their better judgment, but my promise of a Swedish salt scrub treatment convinced them to stay. Four-inch heels also created a serious obstacle for a girl with two left feet. They each had a mind of their own.

I was told my skinny five-foot, eight-inch body was perfect for modeling so I enrolled in training for reasons of personal improvement. The contents of my books were used for studies, but also served another purpose atop my head. After I successfully balanced five books with confidence and style, I was ready to strut my stuff.

My sore, red skull has yet to forgive me.

I was ill prepared when I entered a world where young women transformed into Persian, Burmese or Siamese felines. Envy and competitiveness were common traits no matter what the breed. It was often a challenge to dodge a mid-air pounce or laceration to the skin.

Flying fur balls and skin punctures werenít my only concerns. Hereditary klutziness and shyness taunted me each time I pranced on the catwalk in style. Dozens of razor-sharp claws posed an occupational hazard as well.

Many people wondered why I placed myself in that situation. I took it as a step toward gaining the confidence I desired as well as a way to conquer shyness and fear. Determination helped me focus on shedding those uncomfortable layers of skin; unfortunately, I had no idea I enrolled in a high-class kennel to do so.

I had high expectations for myself and set strict rules for my loved ones and friends. Rule Number One placed a ban on attending my fashion shows. I feared a familiar face would distract me and Iíd trip on my designer wedding gown. The thought of a skinny six-foot string bean fighting her way out of a gnarled eight-foot train made me wince. Worse yet, what if the veil strangled me?

As I stood at the top of the runway, the music ushered me down the catwalk.
Thankfully, the wedding gown was a hit and the crowd clapped, but the quiver of my lips reduced the value of my million-dollar smile to a mere two bucks. A wobble soon settled in my legs and transformed me into Gumbyís fashionable bride. I feared the announcerís words would soon be, "Model Down on the RunwayórepeatÖWe Have a Model Down!"

I recovered enough to carry on. I noticed that my husbandómy boyfriend at the timeóviolated one of my strict rules. l spotted him incognito behind a big, burly guy who broke Rule Number Two; No Staring. I was convinced eye contact of any sort would prove fatal. I sensed Steve knew he blew it from the look on his face, and I resolved to deal with burly bad boy later.

Next, I managed to prevail through the knocking knees and non-stop perspiration, but afterwards, the dress needed a whirl in the spin dry cycle. Iíll forever be remembered as the one who caused an unnecessary casualty in the fashion world.

Playtime with my feline foes soon ended. I needed to find a better way to change myself while I escaped the skin I was in.

In all my efforts to change, I learned that if I stop running from who I am, God will show me who Iím supposed to be. Itís now clear that my individual type of skin is wrapped around me for a reason and no escape is necessaryóunless, of course, the wedding gown designer comes after me for restitution.

Lifeís path is bound to produce a few stumbles and wipeouts, but I wonít be expected to get up on my own. When Iím flat on my face, God is to the rescue offering me sweet grapes for my troubles.

The past seven years are almost up and Iím about to turn into someone else again. Good griefówhat next? I can guarantee it has nothing to do with the fashion industry. I think Iíve been banned.

My modeling days assure me that I can fall with grace wearing the skin God gave me. If he notices a need to remove a few layers, Heíll find a better way.

Now, whereís that 747? I need to shed my fear of flying. This time Iím equipped with the right approach and Iíll plan for a smooth landing on the tarmac. If not, my Pilot will be there to wipe the dirt from my mouth and replace it with a handful of red, seedless grapesómy favorite!
Joanne is a wife and also a mother of two school-aged children living in New Jersey. Her love of writing ignites a desire to touch, inspire and sometimes offer a bit of humor to her readers. She has been published in several print publications as well as e-zines. She is a periodic contributing writer for "Sisters-in-the Lord" and is currently serving up articles in her column "Minestrone Soup" with Cross-Times Magazine. You can view more of her work at http://www.faithwriters.com/member-profile.php?id=6433 and can write to Joanne care of the Letters page of this magazine.

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