Scars track my left leg where doctors cut melanoma from the skin. I’ve gained a little weight since college and, well O.K., even since that football tailgate last month. I’ve added some wrinkles. Some gray hair. And this body can be stiff and sore with arthritis after sitting too long. Perhaps, I’m not the hottie that I once was. But to get through this life unscathed, is well, just plain boring.
When I look at this body machine that holds my hope and my smile and my heart – when I really think about what it’s done for me and where it’s gotten me and what all of us – my body and brain and soul – have done together, it’s hard to do anything but give thanks.
It’s held me up when I’ve weighed more than I wanted and then those muscles have fired me back into shape. These Ipod ears no longer hear every high pitch, but they heard My Man when he told me he loved me the first time, and they heard him say it this last time too, this morning before he left for work. (And a few times in between these ears heard when he suggested I might be overeacting, but we won’t go there.) These arms — the ones that don’t look so good in a tank top but look awesome in the three-quarter length sleeves on my black blouse — held my baby in her first moment as an individual, and these fingers now have gotten good at putting Dora Bandaids on her big-girl knees. My heart beats strong with happiness and health and gratitude. Sure, it’s been broken too, in loss and disappointment. And buried in transfatty acids and Haagen Dazs and still, it keeps beating and loving.
After years of thinking my body was not enough, of evaluating how it measured up to others, I spend more time now being grateful that somehow it gets me where I want to go. It is the vehicle for all that I am and offers enough room for me still to grow into all that I want to be. And by focusing on how well it works, instead of all that’s gone wrong, I have a new-found appreciation. I take better care of it. I nourish it with good food and positive energy. I exercise it on the treadmill and I energize it through meditation and friendships and smiles. I treat it to self compassion and occasionally a very good Cosmo.
Age and work and sun and life experience, love and hurt and passion have marked my body like age rings around a tree. Like a tree it still stands.
NOTICE WHAT’S WORKING
Many of us have put some serious thought into the ways our bodies have failed us. We’ve spent some real time trying to change them, hide them, ignore them, excuse the, heal them.
Today, in this moment put that same effort into feeling good for all that it offers you. For all it has done well and right. Celebrate the goodness it has given. Give thanks for all that you are.
Rosie Molinary, the author of “Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance” talks about our beauty and self concept and image in her book and in interviews posted here last week.
In Beautiful You Molinary writes: “A poor body image isn’t usually at the root of a woman’s negative feelings about herself. A poor self-concept and lack of confidence are often at the core of a negative body image.”
Good news is, you can change that image. You can change your self concept. You can gain confidence. You can grow into the beautiful body you already posess. It requires deliberate action and practice, but in the end this process restores you to yourself and empowers every aspect of your life.
It starts with a choice. Today, choose to see your body the way it is – a marvel.
“We can all grow, no matter our history,” Molinary writes. “We can all recognize our brilliance. Recognizing beauty as it turns out is a choice. You can see it the way the world hands it to you or you can see it the way you want to see it.”
Choose the vision then, that inspires you and supports you and empowers you. Do something every day to affirm that vision, because girl, you have got it going on. You need only to believe that.