grateful amazement

finding wonder…everywhere.

A Birthday Letter to My Body (Reclaiming Me :: Mind/Body)

dear bodyHey Body –

Can we have a little chat?

It’s your birthday today. Your forty-eighth birthday. (It feels much more gentle to spell it rather than use the numbers.) If I’m honest, this Birthday Thing has been hard for me since somewhere around the thirtieth one. I’m hoping maybe you and I starting this dialogue can make it easier to add candles to the cake from now on.

I’ve been pretty scared to talk to you these last several decades.
You’ve always seemed pretty on edge.
Pretty fickle and unpredictable.
Pretty rebellious and untrustworthy.
And acknowledging you never appeared to end well for me.

For years and years, I thought you were the enemy.
I’ve felt more-than-betrayed by you more times than I can count.
On so many levels.
In the interest of full disclosure, let’s list the parts of you that have ceased to work, exist, or just cause problems…

Knees. Appendix. Thyroid. Esophagus. Uterus. Ovaries. Breasts. Hair. Fat cells.

The fact that I need to use the back of the page to list the 15+ surgeries you’ve undergone when I fill out standard forms at the doctor’s office staggers me. It’s given me the ammo I’ve felt I needed to keep firing at you. So that I could imagine some sense of control when you chose to act so out-of-control.

Imperfections. Infections. Autoimmunity. Cancer. Loss. Scars.

I always thought it was you who couldn’t be trusted.
Turns out that wasn’t true.
It was the messages I listened to about you that weren’t trustworthy.
And that led to believing lies about you.

So, I’ve decided that I want to find a way that we can beautifully and peacefully coexist.
I want to honor you for all you’ve done.
All you’ve been through.

It’s occurred to me that if you and I can get on the same page, play on the same team, we can affect some positive changes. Not just for us, but as a witness to wholeness. A testimony to what can happen when gentleness and gratitude take the place of contempt and condemnation.

Those four girls you gave birth to could really use a roadmap to Body Love.
To Radical Self-Acceptance.
And who’s to say how much farther than their precious hearts the ripples can extend.

Speaking of those babies-turned-beautiful-young-women, they’re evidence of all the good you’ve done.
All the things I am thankful for about you.

Athleticism. Successful pregnancies. Breastfeeding. Resilience after surgery. Surviving a year of chemo.
I have deep gratitude for all of it.

In living out that gratitude, I’ve sketched out a bit of a preliminary game plan…
I’m going to continue feeding you clean, healthy, delicious whole food, trusting that you’ll take what you need from it.
I’m going to nurture you with regular sleep, believing that you’ll regain the energy necessary to heal.
I’m going to be mindful of the way I speak – and think – about you, knowing that you’ll respond positively to kindness.
I’m going to fill your ears with music and your eyes with beauty, hoping that you’ll find deep rest in God’s endless creativity.
I’m going to put away the scale and all the other measuring sticks, having faith that you’ll intrinsically find your set point.
I’m going to actively honor the gifts and talents God’s seeded in you, realizing that you’ll blossom as He intended when I give you the freedom to shine.
I’m going to practice renewing my mind and erasing all the Not Enoughs I’ve lived under by focusing on Whose I am, understanding that we’re divinely connected, you and I.

I think we can do this.
Even though it feels like I’m a bit out on a limb in putting all this out there.
After all, you could keep rebelling.
Betraying.

But I’m hoping maybe you’ll settle in.
And find rest.

In that hope, Happy Birthday.
Let’s make Forty Eight the Best. Year. Ever.

 

 

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Reclaiming Me :: Mind/Body

{Throughout 2015, one of the ways I’m going to overcome my Writing Laryngitis is to post about ways I’m Reclaiming Me :: Body, Mind, and Soul. Here’s a bit more of that Reclamation.}
maam
<< Livestrong @ the Y // Week Five >>

Um.
Someone called me ma’am today.

At the gym.
AFTER I’d kicked butt on the elliptical and unleashed my inner Amazon Queen on four Leg Day stations.
Ma’am?
Seriously??

After how hard I worked the previous hour, it was a little disorienting.

I was feeling like I’d just rocked it with my inner athlete.
The one who is frozen in time in my mind.
At around age 20.

So being called ma’am knocked me out of my self-congratulatory reverie.
Hard.

Do I look so old that the default is ‘ma’am’?

I drove home in a bit of a stupor.
Deflated.
Dazed.
Discombobulated.

Ma’am?
That hurt.
More than I’d like to admit.

I thought about it all morning.
Trying to pull apart why I felt so dejected.
Attempting to find a way to healthfully frame it.

And then I recognized that something else entirely was impacting the processing of that exchange.
Another layer to my reaction?
My birthday is coming up really quickly.
And I haven’t yet arrived at the place where each additional year is embraced with glee and gratitude.
(Is that a real place even? I’ll let you know…if and when I ever arrive there. *wink)

I mean, I love my birthday.
And thriving through a battle with cancer does afford one a deeper level of tender thanks with each passing year.
But c’mon, man…Ma’am??

The way I see it, I’m facing a tough, but clear, choice.
I can rage against the dying of the light.
Let that four letter word (ma’am) penetrate my heart and mind and lodge deep in a way that could potentially make everything – not just gym workouts – harder and more of a challenge.
Or I could smile at the passing of time and do my best to make friends with it.
Maybe acquaintance-level friends at first, but friends nonetheless.

Don’t we all have that choice?
Whether we’re excitedly grabbing hold of the fresh, new beginning stages of adulthood…
or realizing that we’ve reached the top of the proverbial hill and are falling…oops! I mean heading over it…
or gratefully acknowledging a long, fruitful life while desiring to live each moment to its fullest…

Do we rage or make friends?
Do we fight and fear or embrace and esteem?
(And does it cause anyone besides me a bit of a stomach ache to admit that the better choice – the one that holds the most potential peace and joy – is the hardest? It’s just you and me here — you can be honest.)

Because in theory, it doesn’t seem like much of a contest…rage and fight or make friends?
Who in their right mind would choose rage? fight? fear?
No one I know.
At least not in theory.

But I propose that we choose those darker views by default when we get tripped up by being called ma’am or…wait…what even IS the male equivalent of ‘ma’am’? Sir? I don’t know. But you get the point, right?

And I, for one, don’t want to live by default.
Let’s choose well and embrace the days.

Even if someone calls you ma’am.

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