Picture of Janet


A Woman’s Shoulders

Reading Time: 5 minutes

I binge watch TV. I am not sure that ten years ago as many people would have even admitted to that activity.  But here we are. 


Its not just 2020. We were all headed this way before COVID. Silent Bob and I would lay in bed and watch episode after episode of ‘Longmire’, saying with bleary eyes and afraid to see how early in the morning it was, ‘Just one more?”

I really have to be careful though, even if I only watch an episode or two, especially before bed.  

Remember when you were little and scared that some monster was going to come out of the closet and I guess kill you or maybe eat you, and you’d put your head under the cover wondering how you were going to make it till morning before you suffocated? I am talking about the adult ones of those. Where its not pretend monsters that makes the cold sweat run down your back and that hard pit in your stomach gives you pause. Is this a premonition or your gut microbiota is outta whack or you need to take a moment to google the symptoms of a nervous breakdown.  (Never done that, just saying). With my Dad’s constant refrain that TV rotted your brain, (it probably does) pricking my conscious, I still do what we all do. I escape.  

In my attempt to at least keep the TV ‘lite’, I ran across “Upload“. 

Without giving too much away, it’s a story about a newly discovered, commercially lucrative, and highly technically savvy but not fully proven way to get around dying. Not a new desire among humanity, but this one hones in on some of the technology that the 21st century affords us. Specifically our desire to remain youthful. Knowing there is only so far one can push this desire to fruition, the various tools to do so are implemented at earlier and easier ages. And to the writer of the show, these future humans push it to places where youthful beauty takes on a weird context. 

The scene is this.

The young and beautiful ‘Ingrid’ who had paid for her ‘fiancé’ to be eternally uploaded, has readied herself for a TV interview. She’s an influencer. Or she’s influenced. The lines are increasingly blurred on whose doing what to who in social media. 

Peering over her shoulder, craning her neck, she says with admiration, “I just had my shoulder blades sharpened. I hope not too much.”  The camera pans to her collar bone, over her back, and for eyes not colored through Ingrid’s cultural lens, she’s definitely went too far. 

You don’t even have enough time to consider what this would mean to a human body in terms of procedures when she leans back in satisfaction. And just as she settles herself, like a beautiful, thin robin fluffing her feathers in her soft nest, her sharpened right blade slices into the sofa cushion.

It’s hysterical. 

(I am going to connect this in a minute. It’s all going to come full circle once I explain the next binge.)

 I am still giggling over the scene and I get a text from my Josh. 

“Jan, have you seen the ‘Chef’s Table BBQ” series.”


“Especially the one with Tootsie.”

I’ve got nothing better to do, I think to myself. 

Chef’s Table BBQ is easy to find and so is the episode of Tootsie. Where ‘Upload’ borders on a Dr. Seuss-esque reality in its cinematography, Chef’s Table is the exact opposite. 

You just wish you had enough art in you to capture fire and smoke the way these people do.  

Go here if you’d prefer to read about Tootsie and why she was chosen for this episode and escape the rotten brain syndrome…or binge for an hour on Netflix, but while you decide let me tell you what I saw.

There is no attempt to make Tootsie look younger. She wears the tragedies of her life and the hard work she has done for decades on every inch of her hefty frame. Her heat toughened, meaty hands, aged for 85 years, are strong and confident and yet patient as she mops the meat she has on her pit. She tells her story, without complaint, that work was what she did, and faith was what she counted on, and love was what she got and as I watched, it was the thought of her shoulders and what they have born over her 8 plus decades. She still totes half a hog. She crumbled only for a short time under the weight of loss of a son and husband. It’s clear to me she knows something I know. She makes sense out of life the same way I do. 

Even in the sad parts, she didn’t shed a tear. I did. 

Like me, she finds the ultimate answer in our Creator.

That night I laid in bed and thought about the women I know and what they have suffered. I’ve seen a whole lot of women shoulder a whole lot of hell.  A woman’s shoulders look soft, rarely muscular, the skin usually hidden from aging UV so its youthful and smooth.  Whether metaphor or reality, the shoulders of women are able to carry the weight of the world in the lives of their children, mates, family, and friends. 

So here’s the full circle. 

Whether we women are Ingrid’s or Tootsies, life doles out the same levels of heartache. And it matter where you invest the most of your efforts. I am amazed at the women I know, who have shoulders like Tootsies. It is a unique and beyond-value kind of beauty. It’s those who find joy, and giving, and purpose in work. Because that’s the best way this world works. Its the way we were made. And the ones that I know that survive the travails with a peace that passes understanding. They have more in common with Tootsie than they do with Ingrid (spoiler alert Ingrid won’t always be the blade sharpening disciple.)

Towards the end of the show, it is revealed that Tootsie changed a bit when she lost her family. Generally somewhat taciturn in dealing with her BBQ fame, she became more open to the visitors who came to enjoy her food. 

I wish for anyone reading this that you find the comfort of friendship and give love every opportunity you have. Because along with all those other things God made us to be, we need others. God made your heart with unlimited capacity when it comes to love. And our hearts are uniquely made to shoulder on with the Ingrids, and Tootsies, and all in between. 

I salute you, admire you women, where the strength of your shoulders is measured in the learned and proven wisdom that God will show you joy, despite what comes your way, because he is willing and able to shoulders your burdens. And you ask Him to. And you and He do. 

Pass it on.

Tomanetz on working the pits with her son Hershey, which acted essentially as family therapy: “Me and Hershey, we really didn’t see eye to eye […] It was just the two of us together doing the cooking, so we would kind of have it out at the barbecue pit when no one else was around. You know you have to sometimes just talk to get it off your chest, and barbecuing together, we were able to understand each other better. We got all our bad things ironed out. It’s just something that we both needed.”

Tomanetz on the support of the community after the deaths of her husband and son, despite her independent tendencies: “I feel a lot of support when I’m down and out. I feel a connection. I really do. It’s the close-knit barbecue family. They’re holding me up, they’re walking with me.”

4 Responses

  1. I used to be a little of both. In my 30’s I used to be pretty. Not beautiful, (but very pretty and a nice figure).
    I also used to work on a horse farm. I could put up hay bales in the fields, and muck out stalls (I was also the farm secretary with a very laid-back cat sleeping on my desk as I sent out bills to boarders). Now that I’m much older, you wouldn’t think I was either of those, but I look back fondly on those days.

    I have admiring/loving thoughts of you, Janet, as I picture a little of both in you, plus you are “smart as a whip” as the saying goes.

    Thanks for this month’s post, which makes us think, as they always do, of the special people in our lives.

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