The beauty of a life lived

My body carries the adornment of its experiences.

The permanent crease of my brow as it has furrowed, years of squinting because of eyesight less than perfect and a forgetfulness for wearing my glasses.Leaving behind a deep wrinkle that tells that story, silently like all the other marks and notes in my flesh.

The lines around my mouth and eyes , the deeper ones on my forehead all speak,if you know how to listen. They tell of a life full of rambunctious laughter and giggles as well as simple smiles and kisses that have puckered my lips more times that my mind can remember.

A love of lifting my face to the sun to feel its warmth and embrace has left its kiss on my skin.

My belly sings with a gentle softness and shines with the shimmer of marks from the story of people who were conceived and grown there. Four wonderfully miraculous souls who shared my body for a while before they embarked on their own journeys.

My scars each have their own moments to share. The loudest voice that they speak with though is the one that whispers that I survived and am still here to wear them.

I am all of this on the outside.

The vessel that I live in gives a glimpse of where I’ve been.

As the years come and go, my life leaves more impressions on my body.

I see it, far from imperfect or flawed… I see the beauty and expression of a life lived.

From the inside, out.

It must be something in the air… maybe an internal clock that strikes the cuckoo at this time or something.

I’ve been spending the last few weeks feeling physically worse and worse. Sleep has been getting more challenging, weight creeping up, sluggish feeling. Needing to force myself through every workout and run; still doing it all but doing with a feeling like I’m piggybacking an elephant during it. Looking in the mirror and seeing bags under my eyes, looking like I’ve aged 5 years in a couple of months.

I know from past experiences that when I slip on my eating and taking care to drink water and nourish myself that I feel “sick”. Run down, unwell, toxic almost. Like what I imagine a car would feel like if you’re giving it dirty fuel. I can keep going but I feel far less than optimal doing it. So, I tell myself a couple of weeks ago, time to clean up the intake and get everything running smoothly again. I’m so tired of feeling like I’m less than great. When my food is regularly ingested and of good quality, I know what a difference it makes to me. Some people can exist on junk food and highly processed anything and everything and still be optimal; I can’t. It takes its toll on me in a nasty way. The physical is tied so closely to the mental and emotional in me and it all is swirling along at “less than” right now.

This is a cyclical thing for me. Being a person who struggles daily with eating disorder hangover and body image dysmorphia I feel the spin of this all the time. I know that my biggest issue to deal with is putting food in my body. My default is to not eat. So imagine my surprise when I got to my spreadsheets (oh, how I love thee, let me count the ways!) to get some inspiration as I get back on track and I see the dates on my previous tracking. 2013 and 2014 both have dates that start mid March. Must be spring cleaning for the mind and body time!

So another reset begins. A cleanse of sorts to get me back on track. I do not hold to the idea of juice or liquid fasts or other extreme restrictions of diet but rather a simplification and awareness. For me, that equates to actually increasing my food intake to a “normal” level. Along with that for the next three weeks is no alcohol, lots of water (again, I know where I falter and water is a big one for me), fruits, veggies, lean protein, unprocessed foods (ie: either I make it from scratch or it comes from a provider that makes it like it comes from a home kitchen… with ingredients that are recognizable… there are tons of bakeries and deli’s and cafes that provide wholesome foods from real ingredients nowadays). Simple really. Our bodies were designed to move food through and take what we need to be healthy. It’s time for me to start giving to my body and not withholding. Time to start feeling good again.

Happy spring cleaning, from the inside out 🙂

Lessons learned

Son 4 to me (watching a person paddle board on the lake): “That looks neat”
My reply: “It does, I want to learn that. This summer, definitely”
Son 4: “But what if you fall?”
My reply: “Then I fall…and I’ll get back up”

It was a one minute conversation about a water activity yet when those last words left my lips, the tears started and the simple truth of them hit me hard. How that phrase “and I’ll get back up” captures a lesson that I needed to hear, from my own lips, more than I knew. My kids have a knack for this… showing me things that I need to see. They are my muses and my inspiration…

I spent some time this past week just hanging out and enjoying time with my youngest. He’s eleven now and I am still caught unawares with how he shows me things that seem so simple for him but that hit me like a brick upside the head. So here, in no particular order, are my “Damn! That’s brilliant!” moments from this past week…

*If you’re not sure if you can do something, try it anyways. Unless you’re really really sure. You just never know. This is a hard one for me. He scrambled up a cliff to get back to the top from the beach and as I began to climb, I said, loudly, “I don’t think I can make it up”. His simple yell back of “If you’re really SURE you can’t, go the other way, otherwise, TRY” got me moving. By the way, I made it no problem J
*Sometimes slow and steady is a recipe for disaster, momentum can work for you if you let go and just run with it. Going down a steep decline on gravel and twists and turns of a trail; I watch him take off and run… heels flying, arms pumping and he arrives safely at the bottom, grinning and panting. I slowly start to pick my way down, gravel starts slipping, I start thinking “this is going to hurt like hell when I slide down on my ass” and I stop. He yells “Just run!” Deep breath in and I let go and run…my legs feeling just on that edge of out of control, I let go and trusted my body to do what it knows how to do; move. And you know what? I flew down that hill and stopped right next to him, scared but fine. Not just fine even, feeling great! Somewhere in us, as we grow up and mature, we become afraid and that fear stops us… it doesn’t have to, and he showed me that.
*Take the path you don’t usually choose. So many times when I hike, I go past the smaller trails that branch off the main trail and wonder where they go. But I don’t take them. I stay on the trail I always do and have a great hike, but a usual one. We came to a fork in the trail and he suggested the other way and this time I said “sure”. What followed was a trek back and forth through dead ends and loops that eventually led us exactly back to where we started. But it was fun and left us now knowing that the other trail led nowhere 🙂 At least now we know. When you have the choice, take the one you haven’t chosen before.

The truth is that your comfort zone is small compared to how massive the rest of the world is! Watching my son always look for a new way to go or a different path that will lead him to where he wants to go reminds me that I need to remember to not box myself in. The only person who’s keeping me travelling the same routes is the person doing the choosing – and that’s me

“When is men’s day?”

It’s International Women’s Day today. There have been lots of posts on social media today about educating ourselves about the women in history who have helped to shape and create our lives and what we have, as a whole, in society and in our cultures. Great posts about celebrating women and their contributions. Lots of articles and blogs about potential realized…and much more about the plight of women throughout the world that still will live and die with their potential unrealized.

All great posts and insightful. I even mentioned one to my son. His remark… “When is International Men’s Day?”.

Now of course, the appropriate female response would be one that points out the many years, centuries even, of mistreatment and discrimination and maltreatment of women for nothing more than being women. The argument is that “everyday is men’s day” (overheard recently) and that men have never had to fight to be treated as respected as equals. That, even today, women earn less than men do for the exact same job – for no other reason than that they don’t have a penis. That, even today, female infants are less valued and that gender selection is still a booming industry in some areas of the world. So many reasons why we have a day to acknowledge and celebrate women.

I recently read a book that was about female empowerment and about owning our power and strength as women and taking back our right to be safe and about being more in touch with our feminine selves in order to achieve all this. Great I thought. Until about halfway through the book when I actually did something I haven’t done in a long time; I stopped reading it and got rid of it. Why? Simply because I couldn’t agree with the increasingly vehemently stated views that men – all men – were potential rapists and essentially one bad beard away from caveman like behaviour. So was I to believe that my sons are nothing more than misogynistic rape machines in the waiting?

I don’t buy it. I don’t believe that every man is inherently “bad” any more than I believe that a woman has a “right” to a faster queue or a different set of standards to achieve for no other reason than having been born with an innie instead of an outie.

Women have fought to be equal. Excellent. I can get behind that. But for us to be better than men…for us to say that a man can’t march with us at a rally for our equality…for us to say that men can’t support us by being there in an event for women-centered issues (or that they have to be “vouched for” to do so)…how is that right? Now seeing my “sisters” demand to be treated as “better than”… how does that make it any different that when men treated us as less than? How do I explain to my sons that they are not eligible for the special treatment that their female classmates are because they were born male? When my son asks why men don’t have a day and the only answer is that – essentially – they don’t deserve one because of the way society wronged women in the past…does that make us strong and empowered and equal? Sure doesn’t feel like it to me.