amaze plus size magazine

by barbara brickner

Love Is...

Every time we try to confine the word love into a small little box, we are always surprised to learn that it won’t fit!  Love is so many things.  It’s big, it’s small, it is round and it is square.  It isn’t just for children and it isn’t just for adults.  It isn’t for fanciness and it isn’t only for those who have.  It is for all of us.  It surrounds us in every day life.  I have observed so much in my life.  I feel fortunate to have felt every corner of love and the pain that sometimes comes with it.  I would like to share some stories of love with you as we celebrate Valentines Day…

She came to us as a gift.  She wasn’t on the to-do list and she wasn’t exactly not on the to-do list either.  She just was.  She has said that she chose us up in heaven.  That she wanted us.  I believe her.  She has been the hugest expression of love in my life.  She probably always will be.  But to know her, you have to know my hubby.  He loves her with all of his being.  He loves me the same way and isn’t trying to hide that fact.  He is a manly-man.  Yet, he is an open book with his emotions and quite simply, that is a gift to his daughter and to me.  His face and eyes said it all when she was born…

Love is looking at your husband when he first sees your daughter’s face.  It is full of love, excitement and tears.  Love is when he says,  “She is so beautiful…”

Today, as I write this column, I remember it is one-year anniversary of my friend Shannon’s passing. She died of breast cancer at age 33.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to do on that day.  But I did know that calling Tim, her husband, was on the list.  I called him not expecting what to say or what I would hear on the other end of the line.  I wanted him to know that he was loved, and on this day especially.  I wanted him to know that she loved him.  That he was a good husband and that she mentioned that every time we talked.  He is a man.  He is someone who loved being married.  The taking care of someone and the return you get from that.  The unspoken words of encouragement.  Knowing that you were making decisions together even if you were the one to make the final move on that decision.  He misses her and he misses being married to her.  I miss her too.  Toward the end of our conversation he tells me that he’ll be listening to the audio recording of her service.  I am choked up and can’t talk.  He says it is one year later and that this is part of the ‘keep on keeping on.’  (A favorite saying of theirs.)  I love this man for loving her so fully.  I am in awe of his power and strength on a day like today. 

Love is letting go so that life can keep on keeping you on… 

My grandpa isn’t well.  He is not quite himself these days.  He has had heart surgeries in his life and his system is feeling the effects.  He is a wonderful man.  He is strong and beautiful.  I have seen him in his glory years.  Pulling all of the cousins up the snowy hill in Oregon on the sled.  Over and over and over again.  He is relentless and never gives out until we are ready to go home with frost bitten noses and tummies wanting of cocoa.  He isn’t that man today.  He might be giving up.  I am not sure though.  I think about my mom and her sister and her brother.  They are all paralyzed with sadness and fear of his decline.  No one seems to talk about what to do really, but they are all seeing their king for what he is and was.  A man.  It was Christmas at our house.  His legs are swollen with water weight and it is hard for him to walk.  My aunt bends down and starts to roll up her sleeves.  My mom is there with her and they begin to rub his legs, for a long time.  It is their turn to humbly take care of their father.  He feels better and he smiles to say thank you. 

Love is seeing your mom wash and cleanse the feet and soul of her father…



We moved several months ago to a place that is a foreign land to me.  I am a northwest girl.  Rivers, big mountains, green evergreen trees and fields of friends.  It is where I grew up.  It is where I felt I belonged.  When you are married for a while you realize that sacrifice comes in a lot of different ways.  My sacrifice would be this move.  I owed it to my husband, Jeff, for his years of loyal duty to my career, which more often than I like to admit, interfered with our routines and life in general.  But, my village was in Seattle, not anywhere else.  So I fought it and I quietly resented it.  (Not my proudest moment!)  What I didn’t know, fully, was that this foreign land was full of his ‘belonging.’  The desert sand of childhood, lizards, barbecues. His aunts, uncles, huge southwest skies full of cousins and friends were in this land.  His coming home in a sense was a wonderful gift to me.  It brought me a new village of family and friends.  It brought me closer to my grandparents.  It brought me a simpler life.  It brought me the hugest stinking crickets I have ever seen!  It brought me joy.

Love is giving in to the ‘un-comforts of life’ long enough to see that the new village is a finely-cushioned one…

I always wonder how much my daughter takes in during the day.  She seems to be floating along in our adult world a bit oblivious to the stresses and routines, the ugliness that sometimes life and the world can be.  I am grateful that she doesn’t always know the paths of hunger or homelessness or even death.  I want her to be little forever so she doesn’t carry the weight of hardship on her very little shoulders.   One day after picking her up from school, we are at a stop light where the notoriousness of homeless begging has become part of our daily routine.  This man is hungry and begging.  He looks sad and helpless.  My heart breaks as I am rummaging through my car for any scrap of food or hope I can find.  I find my almonds…. roll the window down and hand them to his dirty outreached hand.  We touch and I feel instant sadness.  It all happened in a matter of maybe one minute.  I look back and see that Becca has missed it all.  The whole exchange.  About two weeks later, as we are at this same intersection, she asks where the man is.  I have forgotten the entire thing by this point.  She has not.  She says that she is glad that we gave him the almonds because he needed it.  She was proud of me.  She smiled that heartwarming, other world, old soul, understanding smile.  What I think she misses, she understands with all of her being.  She gets it.  I hope that I will always see the world through her child-like eyes.

Love is seeing your daughter’s shoulders for what they really are – very large and capable of seeing and living life, no matter her age…
about barbara brickner

Barbara has been a working plus size model for over 10 years. She made her start in Seattle and has moved to the NY and European markets. She holds a degree in communications from Washington State University. She is a frequent speaker to students about body image and her role as a model in breaking unhealthy thinking about the ultra-thin images in our society today.

Inspired by her pregnancy, Barbara created BB Maternity, a collection of pieces that take the curvy Mom from the beginning to the end of her pregnancy and beyond!

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