I love my body. I do. I haven’t always felt so warmly towards myself, in fact there were substantial periods of self loathing and body shaming angst that I tortured myself through. I battled my share of demons for far too long before realizing that maybe my demons just needed someone to talk to. Maybe even a friend or two (hello, therapy, so nice of you to exist! Won’t you come in and stay a while? Tea?). What my demons and I needed was a cease fire, and a good, long snuggle. I had originally hoped they’d graduate and move out. Maybe rent some space in someone else’s head, stay in touch with an occasional “postcard from the edge” just to say “hi”. They didn’t of course. They stayed where they were, but have mostly respected the boundaries and ground rules that my therapist and I agreeded were essential for living together. My demons and me. Not my therapist and me, because that’s just icky.
It’s amazing. I decided to stop fighting myself, and to start nurturing the woman now staring back in the mirror. I stopped worrying about what I wasn’t, and started kicking serious ass at what I AM. I am real. My body is real. It has had a pretty fantastic life, and accomplished some unimaginable (to me) fetes of strength, grace, hilarity, and yes, MAGIC. It looks completely different than the way it did when I was issued my model almost 47 years ago. It changes constantly. It has adapted to every situation and challenge in the most unexpected ways. It EVOLVES. It feels nice and soft around the middle, with a core of steel beneath that applies to both my muscles and my heart. I am both pliable, and unbreakable. I am passionate, I am human, I am a touch unstable, and I endure.
I am also resolute. It’s the start of another brand spanking new year full of potential and fresh starts. The chance to look inside ourselves and do some spring cleaning, get some feng shui going in our physical and mental surroundings.
(Feng Shui (pinyin: fēng shuǐ, pronounced [fɤ́ŋ ʂwèi] ( listen) FUNG shway) is a Chinese philosophical system of harmonizing everyone with the surrounding environment. It is closely linked to Taoism. The term feng shui literally translates as “wind-water” in English.)
It is, in truth, the sort of chance we actually get every moment we take a breath. No need to wait for the calendar to flip, just take a deep breath and dive in.
The problem is that most people look inside themselves and see flaws. Not just some flaws, often we see ONLY flaws. We look at our bodies, whatever shape, size and hue, and we immediately stamp that picture with a huge, red FAILURE. We see our various shapes and reject them as distasteful, repulsive, undesirable. As we age, encounter illnesses, or experiences (positive or negative ones) that leave their marks and silent stories behind to be seen by others, we try to camouflage them, feeling shameful and embarrassed because that’s the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the lies we have been fed and raised on since birth by a culture of makebelieve and photoshop.
The REALITY is that we are AWESOME. We have the ability to look with complete love and celebration at our friends and family and even strangers we see, admiring each one for their gifts, and their unique beauty. We don’t screw up our faces and think “WTF?!? What on earth led that person to look at themselves and say “I am fit to walk amid the rest of humanity”? For the love of god and all that is holy, drag that poor bastard back to their rock!”
HELL no, we look at people around us and we think “what a warm smile he has”, “what a hilarious sense of humor on that one!”, and “wow. Just WOW. That person is beautiful. Inside and out.” And they are. YOU are.
When I look at my own body I see every stretch mark and dimple and line. They tell stories. Stories of many meals, lustily enjoyed with cheap wine and priceless friends. They are a road map of every baby I carried. I marveled at how my skin could stretch to hold another entire human being inside. My kids think my stretch marks and scars are cool, and have declared them to be my “kick-ass lightening bolt tattoos”. How brilliant is that? Why should I hide them? Why should I feel like they are a sign that the best of me is behind me, when my kids look at my body and recognize what I couldn’t see myself for so long: that my body, like me, is perfect.
So my resolution this year, as it is every day, is to do everything I can to pass on the message to as many people as I can, that you are already beautifully and wonderfully made. Don’t spread self shame. Take excellent care of your body, your mind and your soul and be proud of what you and your body have done, and will do.
Stained glass windows are made up of fragmented pieces of different colored, broken glass. When light pours through them….breath taking. That’s us. All those fragments and pieces of you, all the colors and the shapes, the sharp edges and dull curves. That’s what comes together in the masterpiece that is you. And when you stop trying to cover your own window, when you let the light shine through all of your pieces, well, there just are no words to describe how miraculous you are.