Making Peace…

Few women would admit to being at peace with their bodies when they are dwelling in a moment constructed of vulnerability. We pretend, sometimes. We curl the hair, cake on the mascara and do all of the things we can to make it seem like we’re so happy within our skin.

Essentially, I guess you could say we are pretty well versed at living the life of an Instagram Filter. Beneath that well manicured surface, (or maybe it isn’t well manicured at all, perhaps it is frumpy and careless because we’ve given up. Few people continue chasing something once the reality sets in that it is far more fantasy than truth.)

I have a beautiful friend who lost over 200 pounds. She was absolutely stunning before this transformation, and she is absolutely stunning now. While she has been fairly open about this journey, the most fascinating thing about sitting in her sideline is the way her self perception has shifted. She did not magically love herself and feel beautiful as soon as she reached a certain size. Isn’t this exactly how we imagine it would be? It has been a process for her, a journey… A daily walk, and she admits there are days when she still sees herself as unchanged.

Several years ago I lost 130 pounds. I’d had a medical procedure despite most of the medical professionals involved thinking it was a long shot. I felt desperate for change. Prior to the procedure I was not a soda drinker, I was not addicted to sugar. I lived on salads and smoothies, worked out regularly and did all of the things, but remained over weight. I was unhappy. I felt restricted, unattractive and sick over my patheticness with every breath. A few years before the procedure I had nearly died from Pneumonia and the biggest concern I had with bed rest was that I would put on more weight. My weight had ballooned up within the first 23 months of a hysterectomy. I was 24 years old and the whole thing was a shock to my system. (Additionally, I also had super crappy genes, so I guess maybe I was screwed either way.) Every time we relocated, a new doctor would take one look at me and decide I needed to go on a severely restrictive diet and take the weight off immediately. He/She would deliver this information clinically, making no effort to hide how deeply the disapproved of my lazy, sloth-like lifestyle. Then, as our visit would begin to develop, and the layers of my health history would unfold, their tune would change. Due to hormonal complications, there would be no weight loss, their words would be delivered with such compassion woven finality. Psychologically the best I could do would be embrace my body/self and love me for who I was. (The irony was lost on them that those very impassioned reassurances were trailing their emergent warnings about how terrible it was that I was overweight, mere minutes before…)

The surgeon wasn’t convinced my hormonal situation would allow longterm change after the procedure. I had been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia earlier that year and I knew that I needed to take some sort of action. I wasn’t in bad health otherwise. Perfect blood work, great heart. My (favorite) doctor would constantly reassure me of my perfect health.

All of this is important only because, as I said, I lost 130 pounds. I was 45 pounds away from the target weight I needed to be able to have surgery to repair the sagging skin. I was well on my way to everything I had ever wanted, and then my marriage fell apart. Smaller, (and if you aren’t familiar with WLS let me clarify- it is NOT an easy way out. It is the HARDER way out, but sometimes it is the only way out.) I did not love myself any more than I had before, I only liked the clothes I wore better. I still kept my eye on something that wasn’t where I was. My husband didn’t want me, and all of the years that I’d spent believing (to my CORE) that life would be so great if my jean size were smaller, had been wasted. If you’re wondering how this story ends- Well, the medical professional’s speculations were all right. The results of the procedure had tricked my body into a 30 lb weight loss almost immediately. Being 30 lbs lighter meant that I could be more active with significantly less chronic pain. I hit the gym 2 hours a day, 6 days a week. When I wasn’t at the gym I was either behind my laptop working, or being constantly active. It was so freeing to move without the pain I had grown accustomed to. The weight continued to fall off, though at a much slower pace. And then, it stopped. I plateaud for around eleven months, and then slowly the scale started to go the other way. Hormonally, they say, I regulated and well… Some days a walk around the block is excruciating.

This time, though I’m not happy about the weight gain, and I do wish I could even be back to the plateau size that I didn’t appreciate, I also don’t allow myself to refuse to truly live my life because of my weight. I think I am still holding in far more frustration than peace, for my body, but I am far better than I was. We’ve all got our thing, that justifiable (to us) thing which holds us back… and this truth is the same in all areas of our lives- physically, mentally, spiritually, relationally… We all have that thing that we use to excuse why we can’t simply accept ourselves, love ourselves, make peace and move forward.

In this week’s NEW episode, of the Collective Podcast, my cohost Nikki and I sit down to talk with author Lyndsey Medford about her book Making Friends with My Body and God, and the journey she took to get to that space of peace and friendship. She’s a lovely, brilliant woman with such a motivating way of facing what can be difficult things. Episode 52 is a great episode, and I can’t wait for you to get to meet Lyndsey. Hopefully you’ve read something here, or you’ll hear something there, that helps you take a step towards love for your journey.

Be still & know…

sea

On Fridays I meditate…

I’m trying to center the chaos of my mind by finding times to do this on other days of the week as well, but for now I’ll be honest and say I only manage Fridays, and even that I’m not super successful at.

A counselor I had, a couple of years ago, recommended that I take on the daily practice of guided meditation. My mind was against the idea and so my inner cynic found her guidance redundant and distracting. Instead I would tune her out and meditate on things like my grocery list, my meal plan and what load of laundry needed to dry vs. hang…

While I certainly have not changed in the last two years, I am a different person in many ways and so when a friend invited me to a meditation meeting, I figured I’d give it a chance. About a month, or so, into it- I’ve mastered the art of quieting my mind and sitting on the shore for about ten of the twenty-minute time allotment. After the (what I estimate is) halfway point, all of the self resentments, doubts and fears that I navigate through daily, finally break through and I can’t quite get back to my seashore. Even with that, I find myself overcome with gratitude for those moments when I was there, feet sinking in sunkissed sand, warm and comforting. There at my beach I talk to God, I surrender pieces of myself, particle by particle, and accept the honest truths that remain.

Last week was an emotionally difficult one, but I made it through the hard parts fairly unscathed. A half a dozen times I felt myself grasping for air and wishing someone would step over, take my hand and pull me from the chaos I couldn’t actually drown in. It’s amazing what another person can do. There is such a peace, and such a terrifying truth of power in that reality.

Life is relational. Whether that relationship, in any particular moment, is with God or other people with varying degrees of real estate in our life- it’s relational. When you cut out the relationship, or worse- when they do, you are left gaping and that never ends well.

These are the things I’m sorting out when I walk the beach on Fridays. These are the things that creep into my quiet moments when I’m outside in the crisp, cool air taking in the star scattered sky or driving in to school as the cotton candy sunrise bursts into the sky. My quiet moments are slowly becoming decipherable, and if this is something that being still can do for me then I’m grateful.