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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I Love Rolls! (the dinner AND the belly kind)

~A Letter to All Women

This message is a huge warning to women of all ages, shapes and sizes. It is what I know for sure and what I have thoroughly learned the hard way.

Simply put: LOVE YOURSELVES JUST AS YOU ARE THIS MINUTE. Make it a point to drown your whole body in self adoration for always. Fall in love with yourself until you feel sick and conceited. Spoil yourself with kindness every single day. Look in the mirror each and every time you brush your teeth, put your contacts in, primp your quaff, check for spinach in your smile, look for wrinkles or when making sure the sleep is out of your beautiful eyes and dance within the beauty of your inner self, your spirit and your image. If you do not, who will? Do not wait for a man or partner, family or loved one to do this for you. That is empty.

I have recently come to realize, completely understand and fully absorb that we are FAR too hard on ourselves. This is a typical subject matter. I have been hearing for some years now on TV and in girly mags (that don’t really support what they say) that there is a self esteem issue in this country, among young women, that needs to be dealt with. I have always known this. And even still, I have been far, far too hard on myself. If you were to ask my best friends, they will tell you! I am my own worst critic. I insult myself all the time. And recently, I have seen photos of myself (pre-baby) that knock my socks off, yeah back when I had steadily hated my body, was constantly dieting and continually had a self image that was dumpy.

Another new mom-friend of mine said the same happened to her, being shocked when seeing pictures of herself from before baby, after the baby, wandering why she was so hard on herself. So post-baby many (not all, but many) of us have saggy boobs, stretchy belly skin, maybe some uber-sexy stretch marks on chest, belly, butt or thighs, pick your favorite flavor! And then, we look back at photos of ourselves in high school or college and think, “why the heck did I hate my thighs THEN?!” While both my friend and I would not ever change what we have now for those high school days, our ideas on image now and then still surprised us.

Many, who know me, know full well I have always had, most of my life, a mental and physical issue with my stomach. Yeah so I have a physically weak stomach no matter whether I am on a division 1 collegiate sports team, working out hard every day OR if I decide that I really just don’t feel like exercising or watching what I eat or drink for say a YEAR still, they are always there, haunting me. The belly rolls. Yes, the belly rolls that wrap around, via your side waist, and give birth to the back fat. You know the rolls I am talking about….mmmhhhmm, the ones right under the back of your bra strap that just totally complete any outfit you put on, yup, that one, going right along with the muffin top.

My issue with my belly peaked at a time in college long before the thought of having children came along. I had noticed a frumpy middle on my bod for sometime but never put much thought to it. I decided to love myself no matter what and put a bikini on for a water ride I went on with a bunch of friends. Like a lot of amusement parks will do, there was a picture taken right at the most pivotal moment of the ride, you know, right at that moment when everyone looks their most attractive!? So I was at the head of this lovely log-floom-type ride, in front of a line up all of my much skinnier, model-esque, no belly fat-having girlfriends behind me. No worries, I said to myself! “I loves my pretty self and my string bikini, I am having some water ride fun and feeling good.” Until……we all walked off the ride, met up with our guys in the group at the exit, only to find a humongous, multiple TV screen wall of our picture broadcasting for everyone in the entire park to see. On screen upon giant screen there I was, right up front, arms in the air and belly rolls on top of disgusting belly rolls displayed as we descended down a steep water slide hill, all in a still frame, frozen, never ending shot. The guys laughed and made fun of my belly fat. The girls shushed the guys, trying to protect my feelings and I just stood there, completely and utterly mortified, stiff with embarrassment and extremely sad. I laughed it off like I was a chubster and, “oh well, silly picture!” But it killed me inside. Did I really look THAT bad? “I guess I do,” I thought. I always knew I had a little bit of a tummy but never imagined it to be as huge, look as nasty and feel as obese as it looked up there, that day on all those huge TV screens. I was scared forever. It made me hate myself worse than I already had my whole life. No matter what I do I can never get rid of those belly rolls, the heart ache or the tears they bring.

I believe that outwardly, excess body weight is a representation of an inward imbalance, either mental or physical. I can tell you the exact time I started accumulating belly fat. It was just after a bad experience I had with a terminated pregnancy. Ever since, that horrific experience my body dramatically started changing. It was not quick though, it was a slow change, but dramatic all the same. I am now a woman who has that and many other things to heal and seek balance with. I do work on the healing regularly.

So ladies my point is, the mental imbalance is all there before we have a little bundle of joyful perfection of a baby and before that skin is stretched. It is there before we sit on the couch for too long with the Frito-Lays. It is there if we are too thin and hate our bony-ness. It is there if we are enslaved and believe in some way we deserve this treatment from either ourselves or others. Either we find ways to torment our hearts and to keep ourselves hidden from something scary, or we let the torment of others break into our perfect shell and afflict us. It is the lack of self-esteem. How dare us? We are God’s children, created in His image! We are all Divine. How dare we ever for one milli-second ever not totally bathe in love and Light?

I told a friend this once: I believe it is our duty to seek and find the very hidden reasons for why we abuse ourselves. We all do it, in one way or another. I know girls who do not eat right; they either are bone thin or over weight. I know girls who drink too much alcohol. I know girls who use illegal drugs. I know girls who insult themselves far too often. I know girls who put cigarette smoke in their lungs all day long, week by week, year by year. I know girls who join more than one gym so as to not be seen too often at one and work themselves out to death in search of the "perfect" figure. I know girls who have let men hit them. I know girls who have starved themselves or thrown up to near death. I know girls who are reckless with their bodies and have sex with too many men. I know, very well, about all of this. I do not look down upon each person’s path. I believe there is a reason for each and every choice and experience we have. Life is not random. It is amazing. There are amazing experiences to be had. And if there is a word called amazing, then there is Divinity. Something beautiful exists and it is tying us all into our woven cloth of life and existence. I do not believe we are all floundering. I do not believe there are mistakes. I believe each moment of failure is a moment of grace. We will understand what it is all for. Either we get it all put together in understanding in this life, if we seek to, or in the next. And I think it still exists as an understanding energy within our Universe no matter when it happens, before death or after.

I had a Grandma who passed away in 2004. She lived a trying life. She celebrated life. She was feisty. She was the mother of eight. She was the wife of two. She left her first husband, my grandfather. Grandma told me all about her experiences with this, one day on a sunny porch when it was just her and me. It was not a normal thing to be Catholic and divorced in her world at the time, but she did what she felt was right for her and her children. She went on to work and raise her children alone. She lost a son who was only 18 years old, early on. My Grandmother was a strong, peaceful woman. Her self esteem came through in her image. I saw it. I talk with her regularly. I feel her around me. I feel connected to her. She teaches me still. I feel her in my hands, and in my belly. Life continues on, I do believe and lessons and gifts exist everywhere in time.

I know women who are talented and strong professors. I know women who are happy with the changes in their bodies and revel in the fact that they can nourish and develop another human life, no matter what they now weigh. I know women who do and teach Yoga regularly regardless of their pant size and change people's lives. I know women who see their body as a vessel for their precious soul and not as a mindless work out machine. I know women who write miraculous poetry. I know women who have studied alongside men in a time when most women did not even go to college. I know women who leave when a man does them harm. I know women who have healed themselves. I know women who are healers. I know women who love staying at home with their children and have no doubts about leaving a career. I know strong women who work over 40 hours in the corporate world and still are the nucleus to their husband, children and family. I know women who train for bicycle marathons so as to commune with nature and meditate on their life and inner strength. I know women who work in rehabilitation facilities. I know women who are nurses in stroke units of major hospitals. I know women who teach art to elementary students. I know these women well. It is women like these who I choose to surround myself with and strive to be like.

So if my belly is large, I am OK with that. I will always try to do my best at work outs, keeping fit for my strength and vitality. I do love to nourish my inner body with high quality foods and a balanced diet. So I allow myself a fine, warm, French dinner roll from time to time, not for one second thinking about the carbs. I work hard on not beating myself up all the time anymore. I go easier and easier on myself as time passes. I have to continually remind myself that I am equal to everyone else and I am beautiful, strong, talented and amazing. I am starting to believe it more and more, and as I do, more and more miraculous things occur in my life. It also might be that now I am choosing to see them. So the learning shift has been to not try and dig so hard to find the reasons for why I ever gave abuse to myself and my esteem, but rather, to totally focusing on the beauty within myself, and those other dark details of sadness, hurt and misery are just fading, fading, fading away.