This is how I feel these days. Not all the time. But often. When I’m made up and when my face is bare. When I’m in a tank top and when I’m wearing my one and only legitimate designer dress. When I’m out on the town sipping bourbon, and when I’m at home eating hummus with the kids.
I didn’t always feel this way. In fact, I never have. Not when I weighed 105 pounds and bought size 3 prom dresses. Not when I could do a step aerobics class without stopping to catch my breath. Not when my neck was smooth, and my hands were unspotted. Never.
But lately when I Â post a selfie, the comment I often get is, “sexy!”Â Like most of us I snap a selfie when I’m feeling good. ButÂ looking like aÂ sex kitten isÂ not the intention. It’s more like a happy by-product.
So what changed?
I’ve been asking myself a lot lately, as I see evidence of this shift in the mirror. I’ve come through a long bout of chronic illness, so I feel better, yes. But it’s more than just the remission. OrÂ rather, the remission is theÂ resultÂ of the feel-good sexy shift, not the cause. No, it’s not just because I’m feeling better. Â It’s a collection ofÂ decisions and ah-ha moments. Most learned with a helper. Most stumbled upon with a friend. Here are a few which were key:
I learnedÂ to feed myself the right food.
For me this means mostly paleo with more than a few potatoes and the occasional sugary, gluten free treat. Not because it’s on trend. Or because I was pressured into it by a doctor, or a zealous Facebook friend. But because it’s what works for my body. For my particular set of bruises and strengths. For the bits the work well, and the bits that can’t quite function. And I didn’t find it by reading cookbooks, or surfing the internet. I discovered my right-fit food by slowing down. By accepting that learning takes time, and experimentation.Â I figured it out by noticing whenÂ I felt bad and what I ate the previous meal. AndÂ then, rather than engagingÂ willpower of steel and forcing myself to “give up” things, IÂ took a different tact. I didn’t force my body, I trusted my body. I took it as truth that what my body was telling me was real, and that the changes required were necessary and life giving. And then I wasÂ compassionate enough towardsÂ my bodyÂ to follow her lead.
I stop apologizing for what I need.
Rest. Walks. Quiet. Time in the house without people. Space between appointments. Friends who call back. Fewer things on my to-do list. A lot ofÂ “yes, this.” but even moreÂ “hell no!”* For a long time I felt too wimpy, too needy, too high maintenance — so I denied myself these things. And then I realized what Rachel Cole says so eloquently,Â “you’re not needy, you’re starving.” Starving for rest. Starving forÂ connection. Starving for space. SoÂ I started feeding my energetic self as well as I fed my physical self. By honoring my body’s rhythm of work and rest. By not dismissing the power of play.* By honoring how I move, and live, and have my being in this world. It was hard at first. That voice about “high maintenance” was loud, strong, and deeply entrenched. I still, at times, waffle. But once I started napping, and walking, and saying no, I felt stronger, more self-assured, at home in my own skin.Â I stopped apologizing. I started honoring.Â And my life quite literally, changed.
I denied the lie that our bodies are not meant to change.Â
You are not meant to be the sizeÂ you were in high school, or to get back into your pre-pregnancy jeans, nor to never wrinkle.Â Some of us may be. Some of us did. Some of us don’t. But being the size you were in high school it’s not a moral requirement for goodness. Our bodies do not stop changing after we stop adding height. We don’t get frozen after puberty. Our bra size does not remain the same. We accept that we are evolving be-ings in mind and spirit — but we get caught up in the lie that our bodies are meant to mature to a certain point (16? 20?) and then STOP!Â Take a minute right now, and feel the ridiculousness of this demand. Feel where it is in your bones, and then notice what’s resting beside it. (Self loathing. Critique. Disappointment.)
Now is the time to deny the lie that our bodies are not meant to change. Now is the time to accept the beautifulÂ truth that our bodies, like our spirits and our minds, are meant to grow. Â We are supposed to change forward. Don’t set your sights on going back.
As I go back and read through these key shifting points that helped me reconnect with my powerful, sensual self, I’m a little bit gobsmacked. How can any of us be proud of our bodies when we aren’t listening to it’s cues? How can you feel strong when youÂ aren’t eating whatÂ you need? Or energetic when you aren’t restingÂ as requested?Â Or be content in your own skin whenÂ you internalize the lie about how that skin “should” be? It’s impossible really, to live well under a constant barrage of deceit.
Here is the thing, friends.
We don’t have to continue to live under these lies — that we can’t be well fed, that we are too needy, thatÂ our bodies aren’t meant to change. We don’t have to keep pushing that boulder up the endless hill. We can step out of the struggle.
By treating our body not with distain, but with compassion.
By asking one another to bear witness.
By trusting our flesh to show us the way.
What about you,Â my magpie?
Are you ready to feed yourself well?
Can you stop apologizing for what you need?
Will you learn to deny the lie?
I think you are.
I know you can.
I hope you will.
Gathering together is not the only way toÂ get back to yourself and find your sexy. But it sureÂ doesÂ reduce the learning curve! Join usÂ MayÂ 10th forÂ Gather: Body Compassion. An all day, small group workshop with Rachel Cole, Andrea Rae and more around learning to trustÂ our very selves. Click hereÂ for info and early bird prices throughÂ March 31st.Â Â