I Am Not My Body

Women are trained to see their bodies with a critical eye. They see their friends and their mothers and their friends' mothers and even their grandmothers do it. They see it in the magazine headlines that promise "quick fixes" and a "better bootie" and "flatter abs" and "toned thighs." They see it in the reality television shows that push people to exercise until they vomit or the beauty pageants that parade women around in a bikini for a prize. In these instances, the body ceases to be a vehicle for living and experiencing and loving, but rather something that requires a full-time job to maintain. I have succumbed to the pressures. I have weighed and dieted and binged and ran and pinched and obsessed and hated my body. I have shed tears over stubborn flesh. Finally, I have come to realize that these nonsensical beauty standards do not serve me. The less I focus on my body's appearance, the more I love it.

In my twenties, I slowly learned how to take good care of my body. I was not always kind to it, but for the most part, I exercised in healthy amounts and I ate fresh vegetables and fruits and I allowed my body time to repair. I rooted into the earth in a profound way as I experienced the miracle of feeling a child grow inside of me. I released residual guilt for consuming animal products. Instead, I gave gratitude to the animals for their lives and their sacrifice so that I may be nourished with adequate levels of protein and iron, both of which I was deficient in while avoiding animal products.

And of course, I finally eschewed my old friend, the scale.

Now, at age 30, I have reached a new frontier with my body. Recently I saw a photo of myself, and my ego self, who would have once criticized the beautiful curve of my hip, fell into the shadow of my true self who saw a happy healthy woman, well-fed and strong, using her body to hike with her family and carry her children and commune with the California redwoods.

When I saw the picture and I heard the angel and the devil juxtaposed on my shoulders, I received a third distinct message: you are not your body. It was not a passing experimental thought, but a truth I knew in the center of my belly. Peace overcame me. For a brief moment, my own image became unfamiliar. If I am not my body, then what am I?

I am a being of light. I am vibrating matter. I am an expression of source. I am that which beats my heart and opens my eyes, but I am not my heart nor my eyes. I am not my body. I am the spirit that encompasses my body.

I will not attach my worth to its shape. I will not feel entitled to disparage it. I will not deprive it from what it wants. I will not stuff it nor poison it nor neglect it.

I am not my body, but my body is me. My body is here for me to live in and because I love to live, I love my body. So I will treat my body like I treat anything I love. With care, devotion and gratitude.

This is day 8 of 30 consecutive days of blogging. I’m glad you’re along for the ride. If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. If you have something to add, feel free to comment openly or anonymously.

To read more of my thoughts on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow the blog or subscribe via feedburner.

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My New Years wishes for you

I welcomed 2015 with The Flaming Lips and pounds of confetti and giant balloons including a monstrous mylar sculpture of the words "FUCK YEAH 2015." Maybe you think that's vulgar, but I did not. I thought it irreverent and appropriate and empowering.

Because I had just one glass of Sofia Coppola sparkling wine, my mind stayed sharp. All of my senses in tact. The music vibrated with alarming intensity. Layers of pot smoke drifted in and around the bodies. My husband's sturdy arms held me close. Primary lights flashed and popped. Psychedelic characters graced the stage. Polka-dotted mushrooms and caterpillars with butterfly wings and a sun with spikey rays and a rainbow with no clouds attached. A large mirrored ball descended from the rafters and the lead singer held his arms open to it as it spun, reflecting fractals of light onto thousands of people. I saw the ball as a metaphor for the earth. And every hand that rose into the charged air belonged to a human communing with the spirit.

Some people have church, some people have concerts, and some people see God everywhere. In the beat of a drum and the rhythm of a poem and the snow on a mountaintop.

I hope you see God this year. Anywhere, everywhere.

Minutes before midnight they played a banging cover of a song that's been special to me for a long time. If you're a Beatles fan like me, you already know I named my blog after this song, even if I myself wasn't named after the song at all. As a child I sat upon my dad's knee while he played it on the piano, his voice hitting all the right notes.

Picture yourself on a boat in a river. With tangerine trees and marmalade skies...

Where do you picture yourself this year?

I hope you live outside of your comfort zone.

I hope you aren't afraid to fail.

I hope you don't dwell on your mistakes.

I hope you do something every day that makes you feel alive.

If you have dreams, I hope you chase them.

If you don't have dreams, I hope you find one or many. I hope you dig deep and come up with diamonds.

I like to think that, by definition, our truest dreams exist to make this broken world a better place. The body is a microcosmic representation of the universe. Our neuron connections look like constellations. If the body can heal itself given the proper conditions, so can the earth. One person at a time. And because life longs for itself, the earth wants to heal, the universe wants us to make our differences. Our passions have purpose. These flames did not start from nothing.

I hope you tend your flame.

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To read more of my thoughts on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

Be the Light (+ 28 other pearls)

Today, I am 29 years-old! I have never been this old before and I will never be this young again.

As I grow older I look forward to cultivating greater self-love, traveling to foreign lands, meeting like-minded people, making deep connections and friendships, reading more books, writing and publishing more words, watching my children grow up, acquiring more wisdom and experience.

It is a privilege to be 29. I am young but I am not so young.  I have lived, learned and loved well but I have more living, learning and loving to do.

I celebrate today by sharing 29 of my favorite pearls of wisdom, lessons and quotes.

If you feel moved to, please share one of your favorites in the comments section or on Facebook/Twitter.

 

1. Life is what you make it.

2. This, too, shall pass.

3. The only person you should try to be better than is the person you were yesterday.

4. Don't take it personally.

5. "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou

6. Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

7. Love is all you need.

8. You can't save people you can only love them. - Anais Nin

9. Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage - Anais Nin

10. Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. - Eleanor Roosevelt

11. The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. - Eleanor Roosevelt

12. All good things are wild and free. - Henry David Thoreau

13. Stars can't shine without darkness.

14. Be the light.

15. Always believe that something wonderful is about to happen.

16. Count your blessings.

17. Fear does not stop death. It stops life.

18. Make time for yourself.

19. You are what you eat, so don't be cheap, easy or fake.

20. “My suggestion is that you start with the love and then work very hard and try to let go of the results.” - Elizabeth Gilbert

21. "Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working." - Pablo Picasso

22. Live simply, love deeply.

23. Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning. - Albert Einstein

24. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. - Samuel Beckett

25. Reality is merely an illusion. Albeit a persistent one. - Albert Einstein

26. The best things and the worst things in life are tangled together, making regret impossible.

27. Never give up. - The Dalai Lama

28. There is nothing more artistic than to love people. - Vincent Van Gogh

29. Dreams come a size too big so that we can grow into them.

EDIT:

When I picked up my phone this morning, I headed straight for Instagram for some reason. The first post I saw was a quote from Maya Angelou and the words RIP. I scrolled down to see my feed filled with tributes.

A great woman passed on the morning of my 29th birthday, a woman whose wisdom I have long admired. It only makes sense that I would add an extra quote (you know, one to grow on)--a quote that has been a part of my Facebook profile for years though now somewhat buried, the information too static to be considered interesting.

And I'll resist recalling every other quote of hers that I love. (But google her name if you're a quote junkie.)

30. "Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends." - Maya Angelou

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To read more of my musings on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

We Are All Babies

We think we're so grown up, don't we? We understand so very little about the vastness of the universe, about the force that makes the sun shine and the flowers grow and the rain fall and our hearts beat. It's not our fault. We are only human. We can only see ahead of us so far as the earth curves. Just like our babies can only focus on objects 8-15 inches in front of their eyes.

And yet we think we know what's best for us. We think we know what makes us happy. We think we know what's important. We think we know how to live.

Because how else could we function if we didn't pretend to know what we're doing and where we're headed?

(Fake it 'til you make it.)

Like my 7 year-old stepson, Emile, says: "I know all the facts about life." If we listen to children and consider deeply their feelings and motivations and opinions, we can learn quite a lot from them. How often do we think we know "all the facts" about something, only to find out (seconds or days or years later) that we were missing vital pieces of information? How often do we think to ourselves, if only I knew then what I know now?

(Hindsight is 20/20.)

We have ideas about death but really we have no idea what happens to us after the life-force that lives behind our eyes goes away forever. Does forever exist or is time cyclical like the days and the seasons and the years? Whose to say we know any more about living than we do about dying?

And whose to say adults know any more about life than seven year-olds? In the grand scheme of creation, aren't we all babies?

I look at my baby and I can see that she is perfect.

According to certain spiritual teachings, this is how God sees us. We are perfect in all of perfection's shades of gray. Imperfectly perfect. Perfectly imperfect. Sinners with full redemption.

My baby scratched herself on the nose recently. I was sad that she accidentally hurt herself with those flailing little arms. She didn't mean to. But she's okay. Wounds heal.

Isn't it the same with us? God, the Universe, All That Is watches as we hurt ourselves. We undervalue, we doubt, we over promise ourselves. We flail about and we fall. God knows we don't mean to do it, but we are confused, we are disorganized, we don't always see what's right in front of us.

My baby gets very upset in the car. We never go anywhere until she has nursed. If she's fed and asleep, she usually wakes up when I strap her in. If she's fed and awake, she will last for an average of 15-20 minutes before losing her cool. And if she's fed and truly tired, she does not fall asleep peacefully in the carseat. Rather, she cries. If we're going longer than 5 minutes, I pull over and nurse her, but this doesn't usually help unless I can knock her out with milk while still strapped in her carseat, a feat of contortion and a test of patience and an investment of time, all of which are more often than not in short supply. She wails and she screams at the top of her lungs (have you ever heard the top of a newborn's lungs?) and she grows sweaty and those arms wave in the air like she's calling out to Jesus.

I hate it. Those cries scratch my heart like the keenest fingernails on the squeakiest chalkboard, like the anguish of the person you love most in the world. I want to save her. I want to wipe away her sadness. I don't want to go anywhere in the car, and when Giovanna was a baby (who did the same thing) I often didn't. But my life is a different life now. Mainly I have a 4 year-old who goes to preschool and likes to do things and if we stayed home all the time she and I might both go crazy. So I try to pretend it's not happening. Sometimes I cry along with her. And when she cries for so long that her cries slow to intermittent wails and the sweat on her head leaves wet shadows on the carseat, I think I must be the worst mother ever to let my tiny child feel such desperation.

Alas I also know she's okay. She may feel lonely or tired or bored, but she's being cared for, even strapped inside that loathed seat. It will be over soon and I will take her in my arms and make everything better. I can do that for her.

Don't you think it's the same for God? God watches us as we go through things. We become strapped to our burdens and burdened by our minds. We have bad days and depressive periods and new lows. We call for help and when no one answers we call louder. We think that maybe no one's listening, but really God is listening, waiting for the right moment. Waiting for us to arrive so we can be delivered from our pain. Because everything is temporary. And if we get out early, we won't ever get to where we're supposed to be going.

Have I told you that my baby is beautiful? I have never seen a human being more beautiful. She is beautiful because she is pure light. She shines with divinity. Her physical appearance does me in. The pocket of flesh beneath her chin and the rolls on her limbs and the rotundity of her belly. The dark brown in her eyes and the cradle cap in her eyebrows and the fuzzy hair on her ears that remind just how very new she is. The length and elegance of her fingers and the softness of her feet and the itsy bitsy milia on her face.

What if God see us the same way? Sweet and gentle creatures with cute noses and funny pimples and jiggly thighs and hair in weird places, every speck of us adorable and perfect. Could it be possible that there is nothing inherently wrong with any of us after all? Did God give us the gift of babies so we could know how much we are loved by source?

After all, we all come from God. Source. We are all God's babies.

I like to think of us this way. Smart, sophisticated and savvy humans doing complex and important things to help this planet evolve, but underneath it all we're just sweet little babes, looking for some love, wondering about this world and what's going to happen next.

"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing." - Albert Einstein

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Skyla & Cruz, soul-cousins born 9 days apart