Stretch Marks & Calluses

I received an acoustic bass guitar from my family for my birthday last month. Since receiving my new guitar, I have truly enjoyed playing music again. I’ve learned several new songs, polished up old ones; I feel like my love of music has reached a deeper level of appreciation. 


Because I have been playing bass more often, I have developed quite the calluses on my bass-playing fingers (no pick for this chic!) Calluses may not look very “lady-like” or “attractive” however… I earned these calluses. When I realize what I have accomplished creating these scratchy, hard fingertips, a tiny butterfly takes flight within my body. My fingers are stronger every time I play my guitar… and it becomes easier to play & sing every day. 

Thing is, I haven’t only developed calluses on my fingers over the last several months. I believe I have toughened up in other ways. 

I have experienced so much loss over the last couple of years: illness, friendships, death… there are days when it really hits me hard just how much loss I have had to fight through & tolerate. 

At first, I saw these losses as the equivilant of stretch marks. I didn’t get stretch marks until the last 8 weeks of my first pregnancy. Almost immediately after losing my job, go figure. But, giving birth to a nearly 10lb baby didn’t help the stretch mark issue either. 

Stretch marks are ugly, permanent reminders of a different time & place. I tried to prevent them, but cocca butter only made me smell like, and therefore want to EAT chocolate, so I failed. My perfectionistic former-self didn’t like that… because that was when I wasted my energy focusing on my failures & the negative bullshit in life. 

When I look at my stretch marks today, I don’t hate the scars like I used to. 

I think about the joy of getting my babies to smile for the first time. 

I think about how far I’ve come. 

Maybe my skin failed to keep up with my growing belly once-upon a time, but like the calluses, stretch marks are reminders. While I have to work to make my calluses strong, the stretch marks took no effort at all. 

Or did they? 

To some, stretch marks are ugly reminders of the past that need to be surgically removed to reveal softer, subtle skin. Do I sound like a commercial or what? But to this Momma, my stretch marks did take effort I should be proud of. The effort to have simply survived that former life, and I refuse to let my past or my stretch marks define me, or hold me prisoner in a swim-dress! My stretch marks are a visual pathway to the person I have become. Failure? Hell no! Survivor. 

To some, calluses are ugly and must be filed away to reveal softer, subtle skin. But this rockstar Momma worked hard for her calluses! They have helped me tolerate playing faster songs, longer songs, tougher & more challenging songs, with unexpected bass-lines. 

Kind of like life. 

Life can be very challenging & unexpected. But the calluses you develop over time may help you not only tolerate the unexpected challenges, but gift you the ability to play music through the storm. 

All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I’ve been
And how I got to where I am
But these stories don’t mean anything
When you’ve got no one to tell them to
It’s true… I was made for you.
The Story, Brandi Carlile 

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7 Comments

  1. Posted September 11, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    I feel that way about my grey hairs – more of them every day… each one represents a trial, task or hardship lived through.

  2. Posted September 11, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    Nice song reference… you know Alix would love it! 🙂 And my stretch marks… holy cow, let’s just say that they were definitely earned. Lot of memories of what I made it through… but… I still don’t like them though. haha

    • Posted October 3, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

      I hear ya, sister. It took me a looooooooong time to get to the point of embracing them. I won’t be showcasing them anytime soon, but I can’t hate them.

  3. Posted September 12, 2012 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    I got ’em too (callouses not stretch marks)… I hardly ever use a pick on my guitars. Good song to build those puppies into layers: “Blister in the Sun”!

  4. Posted September 12, 2012 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    PS: I just checked and by golly I DO have stretch marks.

    • Posted October 3, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      Dave… you crack me up. EMBRACE those stretch-marks, my friend!!! ;D And… now I’m going to break out my guitar for a little Violent Femmes. Thanks for the suggestion. Can’t believe I haven’t learned that one yet.

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    Kelli Williams

    Kelli Williams

    Keeping up with 2 little girls, writing assignments, music gigs, the house, laundry, ETC, backwards, wearing ass kicking boots and a smile, without spilling my beer. Ok, ok, so I spill my beer, but my floors have never been more germ-free since I started putting a little alcohol on them. Who needs ammonia...

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