21 Day Body Love Challenge – This Nose Knows

nose

I have the Palmer nose from my mother’s side of the family. Not so much the shape and size, although there are a few that share the same dimensions, but its uncanny ability to smell absolutely everything. Possibly I was supposed to be born a dog.

Of all the five senses, smell is the most evocative of memories. I can walk past an innocent looking person wearing patchouli and it will take me right back to art school, sitting in the apartment of friends and drinking beer while they tripped on my shiny silver earrings.

Just the hint of honeysuckle will transport me to the top of the hill, close to a busy street in Maryland when I was about 8 years old. A fence thick with honeysuckle vine pulled me toward every time I was near. I would pull a couple flowers off, pinch the end and suck the tiny drops of nectar from the center that the bees were so quick to consume.

If I happen to walk down the aisle with pool supplies, a whiff of chlorine takes me to a rubber strappy lounge chair at my public swimming pool with my best friends giggling about cute boys. We’re soaking wet, wrapped in towels, hair plastered to our wet heads. We pretend we’re older, like 16 and spread our towels out, positioning ourselves, not get the best view of the boys, but to present ourselves at the best angle.

Today, I will slow my car down with the windows open and drive drunk on the scent of orange blossoms. One crumb left in the bottom of the toaster oven will capture my full attention at the back of my house, wondering if I’m going to need the fire extinguisher. I can smell rain before it’s in my zip code.

The ability smell strongly impacts our capacity to taste. Many individuals who have lost their sense of smell because of an accident or freak medication mix up, find themselves thinking suicidal thoughts. It’s that important to our well-being and happiness.

I used think my nose was big. It’s not petite, but it seems to fit may face, or maybe I grew into it. After seeing the science experiments coming out of plastic surgeon’s offices these days, I am quite content with the nose I was given.

I have this little plateau close the bridge of my nose that I was scarcely aware of until a biker told me his ex-girlfriend had “that same cute little flat part at the top of her nose.” Such an odd observation from an unlikely admirer has stayed with me for over 20 years.

My nose is a genetic compilation that resembles a little bit of the Palmer lineage and a lot of my dad’s side of the family. It’s a good sturdy Scandinavian nose with a hint of Euromutt. It’s functional, it’s unadorned – tried piercing once, it would have none of it – and it works like a champ. I love everything about my nose, its size, its shape and, of course, its super powers. Plus, it’s a great place to keep my collection of fabulous sunglasses.

“A nose which varies from the ideal of straightness to a hook or snub may still be of good shape and agreeable to the eye.” – Aristotle

21 Day Body Love Challenge – Loose Lips

sexy lips

La bouche. The mouth.

Think about all the gifts of the mouth. It can be a mating call without uttering a word. It is an important part of the respiratory system. It is the front end of the digestive system. Try not to think too hard about that one. It breathes. It speaks. It eats. It kisses. It yells. It lies. It is brutally truthful. It is incredibly versatile.

I have full lips and like most body parts, they have been in and out of style. I wasn’t sure what to do with them when I was younger. I used to curl my top lip under when I smiled because it did this weird flat thing that made it look unlike anyone else’s in say, Seventeen Magazine. But then Julia Roberts came along and when she smiled her top lip flattened out the same way, and no one seemed to mind. So I stopped the sneer/smile and went natural. A whole lot less to think about.

Over the years many utterances have passed through my lips. I can be pretty witty, but as a younger me I emulated my hilarious father and let fly sarcasm sharp enough to cut the jugular on anyone’s self-esteem. I’m not sure if I was trying to elevate myself, this is typically why people are mean, or if I truly thought I was funny. Somewhere along the line I realized it was unbecoming at the very least and very lonely at its worse, so I aimed to change.

My teeth have had more of a traumatic history. Born with a space between my front teeth that was a few years too early to be cool like Madonna’s, I was always a little self-conscious about it. The Universe heard my pleas for “normal” teeth and on an autumn weekend as my best friend Lauren and I were playing air hockey at the mall I slammed my face into the table with such force that half of my front tooth flew into space never to be seen again. It was a serious game.

I felt for my tooth with my tongue and realized something was amiss. When I asked Lauren if it was bad she had a really hard time lying. Her mom wasn’t due to pick us up for an hour or so and being 13 I just didn’t see the point of alarming anyone when there was no blood, it was Saturday and there were boys to stalk. And we were  AT THE MALL.

Her mother was not at all happy with me so you can imagine my own parent’s reaction. But nothing was done until Monday, so I rest my case.

I am now the proud owner of lovely veneers that have closed the gap and created the illusion of beautiful natural teeth that my upper lip can spread flat against when I smile like Julia Roberts. Just like Julia Roberts.

“How did it happen that their lips came together? How does it happen that birds sing, that snow melts, that the rose unfolds, that the dawn whitens behind the stark shapes of trees on the quivering summit of the hill? A kiss, and all was said.” – Victor Hugo

 

21 Day Body Love Challenge – Sticking My Neck Out

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Audrey Hepburn. She had the perfect neck according to my father. Before you get the wrong idea about dear old dad and his preferences for certain body parts, I should disclose that he was a pretty amazing artist. Trained at the Philadelphia Museum School before graduating from Penn, he took his talent and created a business out of art. We know it now as graphic design, but back in the day he would do actual oil painting portraits of sports figures and business professionals to be used in marketing materials that he would also create. So his interest in anatomy was based on his love of the human form. Mostly.

The neck. Before I had heard my father wax poetically about Audrey Hepburn’s swanlike neck, I had never given my own a second thought. It was the bridge between my head and all that other stuff. It helped me look up and down and side to side. After I understood what he was talking about I became obsessed with comparing everyone’s neck to my own. My mother had a nice long neck, no doubt what attracted my father to her, so I assumed my chances of neck approval were pretty high. Ultimately I ended up just shy of long and graceful and got something more like good enough and sturdy.

As I age I appreciate my neck more and more. It’s very flexible, even if it’s a little stiff upon waking. Years of yoga have created a great deal of mobility and space. I love that I can easily look over my shoulder, something I took for granted until I saw my own mother contort her entire upper body to look behind her.

However, like my mother, my face seems to be slipping into my neck. Hers went fast, mudslide fast. One day she had a beautiful long neck, the next, there was skin draping from her chin to her throat. I was horrified that this fate would befall me as well. I have watched my own face very carefully. It’s happening but the descent seems to be much more gradual allowing me time to adjust along the way.

What I do have are these little tabs (I refuse to call them jowls) that dip down a little on my jaw line. I’m going to blame my great grandparents for over-pinching my cheeks as a child. They were pretty irresistible. I have found that if I smile, they go away, they get pulled back up into my cheeks. So smiling has become my anti-aging salve. I do it as often as I can, mostly it’s not too creepy.

No matter how long or short or loose or firm the neck is, it holds a tantalizing secret. Located at the nape of the neck is a magical little erogenous zone. When activated by something as simple as the breath of a lover, goose bumps shoot to the surface and knees buckle. To quote a friend, “Never underestimate the power of a kiss on the back of the neck.” Swoon.

We can’t talk about the neck without talking about the throat, because we can’t talk at all without the throat. The neck and the throat together make up the throat chakra. This would also include the thyroid gland. For many women this is a problem area, all of it. When the throat chakra is blocked, which happens mostly because we feel we cannot speak our truth, issues arise.

It’s been difficult for our species – goddess – to own our voices and reclaim our power. We have been riding a roller coaster for centuries, secretly harnessing our own power but never fully understanding how to express it. It can be a precarious line to cross. Fear of being misunderstood or worse, of not being heard at all, often stops us from even exploring the edges of our personal power.

Sing, chant, hum, begin to flex the goddess muscles so that your truth can emerge. So that you can speak from your heart about all that matters to you. So that you can liberate yourself from your own fears. It’s a practice and it’s not always easy, but once developed, you will know no other way of being.

There is no part of the body that is non-essential, but the throat has the ability to change entire worlds with a single sentence. If you find yourself locked in a world that does not resonate with you, the voice is often the key.

“A short neck denotes a good mind. You see, the messages go quicker to the brain because they’ve shorter to go.” Dame Muriel Sarah

[The photo is not Audrey Hepburn (obviously), but my own mother circa 1968.]

21 Day Body Love Challenge – Give That Girl a Hand

photo (9)“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of person’s character lies in their own hands. ” – Anne Frank

Hands are fantastic. They are expressive, flexible bags of 27 bones each, including the magical thumb.

I am quite enamored of my own hands. They help organize the creative debris in my head into an actual something; a piece of art or jewelry or a story.

As a child I was forced at gun point to take piano lessons – sort of. I wanted to know how to play the piano and maybe be in a famous rock band, but that business of lessons and practicing really ate into my tree climbing time. But sitting for an hour on a piano bench in the home of an ancient woman, probably 40, who had plastic on her furniture had its rewards.

I easily picked up the flute, which I fake-played all the way through the whole seventh grade. I stopped trying when I realized my future would probably involve more moving from chair to chair, playing to the polite applause of old people and not the cover of Tiger Beat magazine and the screaming adulation of girls who wished they were me. And cute boys. I was pretty good at archery which seemed to take some dexterity. AND my typing skills nearly set the typewriter on fire.

I still type fast and I can still type without looking at the keyboard or the screen. To freak my husband out, I’ll type a whole paragraph straight from my imagination onto the screen while staring at him the whole time. He hates that.

A knuckle-cracker since kindergarten or before – I can seriously remember cracking my knuckles when I was six, sitting next to Donna Wilcox on her living room couch – I have developed a little arthritis. In my right ring finger top knuckle. Just there. Curious.

Hands grip and hug and slap and punch and pet and caress and point and flip off and beckon. Hands can hold on and let go. They can give. They can receive. There’s almost nothing hands can’t do.

In 100 years hands will probably evolve into something like a mitten claw with super speedy, hyper flexible thumbs. The other four fingers will be webbed together just to hold devices. I’m glad I still have 5 fingers on each hand. More rings.

There’s a lot of symbolism around fingers and hands.  In Ayurveda, each finger represents an element. Lines of the palm are read to predict the future. Areas of the palm and fingers correspond to different organs and areas of the body in reflexology. Indians decorate their palms with henna to awaken their inner light and whole languages are spoken with the hands – and not just Italian. Hands are powerful.

My hands are beginning to show their age. The skin is a little less smooth, the veins a little more pronounced, but I still recognize them as my own.They have taken a beating, playing hard when I was younger, typing for hours on end, flipping off drivers – although I hardly do that anymore – holding tight to tools as I manipulate wire to make jewelry. They’ve been scraped and dragged on gravel roads, hit with more than one baseball and nearly frozen. Smashed in car doors, run over by big wheels, cut with knives, and worse, paper. And they’ve caught me a million times as I fell from bikes, steps, a stage and trees.

My favorite thing I’ve done with my hands lately? I put a ring on the left one, or rather, he did. There is no other body part as busy or as involved in my life as my hands. For that I thank them. Let’s give them a hand!

“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” – Audrey Hepburn 

 

21 Day Body Love Challenge – Armed and Fabulous

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I really, really want to say I love my arms, but I started shaming them into ¾ length and long sleeve shirts so long ago I don’t even know what they look like.

At some point in the recent past I realized my upper arms were not going back to where I found them in high school. They were not rock hard and sculpted. They were thicker than the business end of a baseball bat, and they had somehow acquired an apron.

So no, I don’t love what my arms LOOK like. From the elbow to the wrist they’re not too shabby. It’s the armpit to the elbow that is most troubling.

I do, however, love the capabilities of my arms. They are masters at holding stuff. Often too much stuff. I cannot leave a single bag of groceries in my trunk for a second trip, they must be stacked and strung on either arm, to the extent that my shoulders have threatened to break up with them over and over again. They pick up more than the rest of me can handle, because sometimes they like to show off. What they lack in beauty, they make up for in attitude.

But they have a softer side too. They have held many wonderful things: babies, puppies, kittens, loved ones, books, camera equipment, a yoga mat and my laptop. They have hugged the hump of a camel, the trunk of an elephant and the neck of a horse. They have do-si-doed, walked arm-in-arm and escorted a friend or two to a safe place to “sleep it off.”

They have allowed me to console and congratulate. They have surrendered blood when needed and endured the weight of my body in handstand or plank.

They’re a great place for sparkly, dangly and shiny bracelets and once upon a time they adored interesting watches. Today, they are mostly bare, teaching yoga has removed the desire to adorn them all the time, but on occasion a meaningful mala may find its way there. In India they were blessed twice and wrapped with string by a Hindu priest.

At the end of my left arm, at the wrist, I have permanently inscribed my Sanskrit name – Damini. It means lightning and when I’m feeling less than powerful it’s a reminder that I am a force of nature.

Other than that, there’s very little visible history located on my arms. A polio vaccine scar the size of nickel I received as a young child and less than a handful of tiny thin white lines here and there indicating some run in with something sharp. Overall they are mostly plain and useful.

On an energetic level, the arms are connected to the heart chakra, so any issues in the arms may be related to the inability to receive or give unconditional love. To others, as well as the self. Especially the self. Yourself.

So give yourself a big hug. Wrap those suckers around your beautiful body and squeeze. And when you’re done with that find someone else or something else to hug. It’s good for the soul. It’s good for humanity.

“A mother’s arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them.” – Victor Hugo

 

 

 

 

21 Day Body Love Challenge – Watch Your Back

woman back

I don’t have a lot to say about my back. It’s strong, lightly decorated and it likes to stretch and twist. Just for fun we’ll throw shoulders into the mix. They’re more talkative than the back.

When I was in high school I was on the drill team. As such, I was required to go to band camp – yes it’s true. It was a blast! I can still recall the overwhelming minty scent of Ben Gay. As dancers and flag wavers our part in camp was extremely physical. We worked out, stretched and held positions a long time.

Part of our training was standing still. Easy now, not so much at 16 and 17, there was just so much to gossip about, who had time to stand still? I vividly recall taking the position of a statue with a flag in a long line of girls doing the same. I was holding a rather large, but not too heavy, flag, right in front of my nose, looking past it. My hands were neatly stacked, elbows out. I looked like a Marine, in cute white cowboy boots.

Heat began to build in my shoulders, then my back. I couldn’t move. It felt like hours, but I’m sure was just a few moments. My back was telling me all sorts of stories, hatching escape plans, getting more and more pissed off. Finally it broke me. Internally shaking with an unfamiliar rage, a single tear slid from eyes, down my cheek. I would not crack.

Another tear followed. I was in excruciating pain and had no idea why. I was just standing. I couldn’t take it anymore. I telepathically begged one of the drill sergeants to either let us out of this pose or notice my obvious distress and offer me his kind words. For the record, drill sergeants cannot be reached telepathically.

We were finally released. Once I let go of the flag or even moved it, the stress was gone. And along with it the pain, but I was worried I would have to endure this again and surely that would not be fair. I spoke to someone who was very sympathetic and told me that if I didn’t think I could handle being a Colonialette, there were other girls who could.

I soldiered on and made it through with just a tear or two more and a seething distaste for authority.

Back home, I suggested to my mother that I might be dying and she should take me to the doctor for extensive tests. She complied. There was nothing. Nothing visible on an x-ray or through a thorough examination. But my doctor was clever, he knew not all ailments, real or perceived, had their origins in the body. He asked a few questions about my life. Everything was fine, I said. No worries at school or with friends, I said. Parents are a mess and maybe splitting up, but that’s normal, I said. Now he had something to work with.

Whatever stress I was feeling because of my crumbling home life was showing up in my body. It could have popped up anywhere, it just happened to have the opportunity to build in my shoulders and back.

To this day, I have a spot in the center of my back, right behind my heart that holds emotional tension. It presents itself as a muscle spasm or a shortness of breath. Sometimes when I’m talking I can barely finish a sentence because I have run out of air. When I twist and stretch it releases. When I twist and stretch everyday it’s gone. For the time being.

I have long come to terms with the fate of my parents. As the oldest of two, much older, nearly 9 years, I had to carry the weight of the situation. My mother, who had always been a little meek, beaten down I suspect by years of being the butt of sarcastic, biting humor from my father, wanted to leave but felt powerless to do so. I encouraged her. I was 16. This is not an ideal place for a teenager to find herself. So I stored anything I was unable to deal with at the time in my body.

We all do this. Emotions get stored.

As much as I sometimes fight my yoga practice, preferring instead to think about, and talk about, and write about yoga; it is the one thing that moves the cells around just enough so that one or two at a time can fall to the floor. It takes me out of my head and into my body so that I can clear the emotional debris, which, are you listening, clears the mental cobwebs, allowing me more quality playtime in my head! It’s a win-win for the whole package.

I guess I had more to say about my back than I thought. Funny thing, writing, sometimes just scribbling out a word or two opens doors that have been left ajar for a long time.

The moral of the story? Watch your back. And your hips. And your shoulders. Watch your body parts, some of that “pain” is emotional. Bank on it. Oh, yeah, and do some yoga!

“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.” – Maya Angelou

 

21 Day Body Love Challenge – Breast Friends

Ancient Statue Of A Nude Venus In The Middle Of Perspective Pill

Funny things, breasts. They are the ultimate feminine body part; sensual, utilitarian and sexual. Like most other parts they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, they point this way and that and are often just a tad off identical.

I’m pretty sure whole wars have been fought because one world leader looked at the other world leader’s daughter’s boobs. It can’t be helped. No one can turn away from a great rack.

My opinion of my own breasts has been that of indifference. They’re here, they’re typical and I’m glad I’ve got a matched set, although when I was younger and they were a might bit perkier, they did tend to go east west. Properly contained, they point the way forward.

I always thought I was average, probably a B cup. But all the B cup bras were a little too small. It just never occurred to me that I may actually be a C. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I just figured that’s how bras fit, uncomfortable and a little snug. I graduated to a C cup sometime after college, but that was ill-fitting as well. It wasn’t until much later, when I had a proper measurement taken – which I highly recommend – that I learned I was a D, bordering on DD. What?! Those were stripper boobs! People paid good money for boobs that size.

I wasn’t sure what to do with this new information, so I just bought a bigger bra and a hot pretzel. Nothing much changed.

Breasts are connected to the heart chakra. This has always given me pause, making me wonder if that whole epidemic of breast cancer starting 30+ years ago is somehow a kind of collective grief in women. Were enough of us saddened that we had to go to work instead of staying home to raise a family and keep house? Were we at odds, in a tough spot, unsure what we should do? Were we disregarding the supremely feminine aspects of ourselves so we could make it in a man’s world?

GMOs, pesticides, environmental toxins, genetic blips as well as heightened awareness, self-exams and advanced technologies have all contributed to elevating the number of cases. But wouldn’t an energetic or emotional cause be equally as viable? Isn’t it worth considering? Just food for thought.

In recent years our society has been divided over breasts. Or maybe it always has. It’s okay to show them in movies and in many TV shows, to sexualize them; but it’s considered poor taste and even forbidden in some places, to breast feed in public. We can bare them to get Mardi Gras beads, but we can’t blame the guy next to us if he grabs one. It’s as if they have a life outside of us, away from our core. Separate. As if they should somehow be legislated.

My breasts have been with me a long time, developing pretty early for my age and moving swiftly from undershirts to training bras to something with a little more shape – once they were properly trained, of course – and now I typically wear some sort of undershirt with a shelf bra. Curious. They are not as perky as they once were, but neither am I, so we match. Gravity has taken custody, along with other body parts, so my body is melting in unison. The same iridescent lightning bolts that adorn by belly reside on my breasts as well.

They’ve been through a lot. They’ve fed, nurtured, attracted, and aroused. They’ve been smashed, squished, full of milk, poked, considered, caressed, bound and freed.

And through it all I have loved them. They are my breast friends.

“Breasts are a scandal because they shatter the border between motherhood and sexuality.” – Iris Marion Young 

21 Day Body Love Challenge – Belly Laugh

belly

I love my belly.

This is a relatively recent development. I would like it to be smaller, flatter, but I do not love it less because it is not.

My belly button has always been a point of pride, shaped like the entrance to a cave, it seems to mark the intersection where my belly stops and my waist begins. I have a whole belly, butt, hip combo area, as if I put on granny panties and just stuffed them full.

This area is soft but strong, it’s where I store my secrets and insecurities until I’m ready to look at them. It keeps me grounded no matter how many stories my mind makes up. It grows a little for support when I’m going through a transition, allowing me to maintain my emotional footing and mental grace. When I reach the other side, my body naturally discards this life preserver.

When I behave nutritionally my belly rewards me with less real estate, it flattens out a bit – at least when I’m lying on my back, but it will never be smooth. It has seen too much in its lifetime.

There are iridescent lightning bolts that indicate where my belly surrendered to the life growing within me, branding me as a member of the maternal tribe. Just above the entrance to the cave are two tiny lightning bolts that shot through moments before new life was released from my body, yielding to the last bit of pressure. I especially love these. There is a single thin line, a barely perceptible crease that runs horizontally from hip to hip where the base of my belly rested at its fullest. An indelible reminder of my capacity.

I have never had a completely flat belly, alas, my DNA chose another path. My mom calls hers a pooch. She has been thin as a rail most of my life but she still has this little pooch. Her mom’s shape more closely resembled my own and she too had “the pooch.” As a teenager on the drill team, or worse, the swim team, it was my shame and needed to be hidden behind towels or crossed arms. Even as an adult I would inhale deeply, sucking in my abdomen in an effort to minimize its existence. To this day I have to consciously relax the muscles of my mid-section when I exhale – holding in my stomach became as natural as breathing itself.

When I was very young my favorite place to be when I was sleepy or scared or sick, was laying with my head on my mom’s or grandma’s laps. They were soft and reassuring, nurturing. Now I have this gift that I currently share with four little furry friends and sometimes my husband. It’s a soft landing place in a world with so many sharp objects and hard edges.

I will never make it into Shape magazine because of my abs, unless it’s just a lot of “before” pictures. The oceans of the world will probably never see me in a bikini again, but protected by clothing and covered in puppies, and having housed a little human, it knows its worth. It’s priceless.

I love my belly.

“I want to be a big, fleshy, voluptuous woman with curves. I want a big bum, but I don’t have one.” – Cameron Diaz

 

21 Day Body Love Challenge – Baby Got Back

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“Cultivate your curves – they may be dangerous but they won’t be avoided.” – Mae West

Today I celebrate my hips. And their abutment. Yes. A pun.

Butt, ass, rear-end, tail, hind-quarters, buttocks, junk in the trunk, badonkadonk and my grandmother’s favorite; boombacity. I’m quite sure she made that up, because when I searched it, even Google was stumped.

Hips and their two rounded friends provide a valuable service to all of humanity. As a key player in the mating dance they beckon would-be suitors, emitting a sonar meant only for a certain few. They work the middle ground, grinding, gyrating, providing cushion and handles during the process of procreation. On a woman they separate, hold steady, expand and contract to allow new life to emerge; then provide a perch for that very life through its first few years.

They are strong, forming the shared pedestal for the torso, for the reproductive organs, the heart.

Not only that, they’re fun. They swivel, sway and sashay. They jiggle and shimmy.

I have enjoyed my robust hips and their friends most of my life, they grow and contract with me, maintaining my curves, never losing my curves.  They have enjoyed all the dancing and walking and hijinx the rest of my lower body has been party to, but they have also softened, opened and relented more than the lower joints. They have succumbed to yoga, been enticed by the breath. They have let go when I thought I could surrender no more room.

They remind me I am strong. I am flexible. They let me know I still have the capacity to open even more.

 

21 Day Body Love Challenge – American Thighs

Colonialette

“I think the quality of sexiness comes from within. It is something that is in you or it isn’t and it really doesn’t have much to do with breasts or thighs or the pout of your lips.” – Sophia Loren

I love my thighs.

Ok, that’s a  little bit of a lie. Like my knees, I find them very useful but not appropriate for all audiences. We’ve sparred a lot throughout the years and they’ve never quite measured up to my expectations. Or dreams really, I don’t suppose I expected a whole lot out of them based on the DNA of the female thighs in my family.

They introduced themselves to me sometime in the fourth grade. I was wearing culottes and playing in the front yard with my best friend Maria, when I noticed her legs were way skinnier than mine. Mine were normal, so were hers, of course, but I was at an age where comparisons were how I was making sense of the world. Bigger, smaller, better, worse, prettier, uglier, nicer, meaner. At this time, Tiger Beat magazine started to make an appearance, informing my tastes and educating me on all things cool and correct. This was the same year I took the book “Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex, But Were Afraid to Ask” into school to share with my friends at recess. I was exploring, let’s say.

From that point on my thighs were never good enough. They were never normal or pretty. My knees touched, knock-kneed I believe was the term, which made my thighs touch if I stood with my feet together. Other girls had this great space between their thighs and knees that birds could fly through. A piece of paper would struggle to make its way from the front of my thighs to the back. If I ran in corduroys, the fire department would surely be called.

What I didn’t realize at a young age was that the structure of my legs was what it was and there were millions of girls with that same structure. They just didn’t show up in cool magazines, hanging off the arm of an up and coming rock star. Or maybe they did but their legs were crossed or positioned in such a way that their deformity didn’t show.

I continued to put on a brave face and wear normal clothes, even baring some thigh skin on occasion but I always checked the legs of those around me. As I got a little older I busied myself with extra-curricular activities in hopes I would find my thighs a safe home. Drama club, sports, keyettes, homecoming committee. When I was involved in a sport or otherwise occupied I didn’t give them much thought, but when I was lined up with other girls my age for a swim team photo or soccer composite, I always glanced from leg to leg to see if mine were thinner than at least one other person’s.

When I look back at photos of myself now, I see how ridiculous I was, but at the time it was all so true for me. Today my thighs continue to refuse to conform to the photoshopped, super model ideal I have set for them. And they’ve picked up a few bad habits; spider veins, a little extra cushion, skin that’s lost a bit of its elasticity and of course a few well-earned scars. So they remain mostly hidden.

Then I see women, whose thigh circumferences far surpass my own, with cellulite and all, wearing short shorts or cute little skirts. And I don’t judge. In fact, I’m a little jealous. And then I have a realization. It just doesn’t matter. The only person that cares about the shape of my thighs is me. I’m the only one who is keeping track of how big or small, firm or not they are or have been. Those who ARE judging my thighs are the ones who have the insecurities. I should know. I am them.

They wonder if their own thighs look better. Or could there’s end up like mine and what kind of life would that be? They wonder who could love a woman with thighs like mine and thank God they have a husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, wife, children or friends who would never judge. Yes, thank God.

Oh the irony. All over a body part gifted to the soul that inhabits it.

At some point in my young adult life I learned it was rude to refuse a gift from anyone. Yet daily I, and let’s be honest, you, refuse the gift of life in one way or another. This body, and even these thighs, are here and this way to help me do whatever work I am here to do, to help move humanity forward. And that’s really why we’re all here. On some level you already know that. You know that worrying about the size of any body part is distraction from your real work. In fact the size of whatever body part you’re consumed with may be the doorway into your soul’s work.

If a 300 pound woman wearing a bikini pushes a beached dolphin back into the ocean, does the dolphin notice her rolls of fat? If a 98 pound woman lifts a car off a pinned child, do the parents comment on her scrawny stature? If a 175 pound woman with big thighs loves even a small portion of humanity back to health, will there be an editorial about her weight?

It’s all subjective. My thighs will never look like a speed skaters or a ballerinas. Nor will they ever look like Heidi Klum’s. They look like mine. And my mom’s and my grandma’s. They’ve looked like this for most of my adult life and they’re not going anywhere, so I’ll just have to embrace them. Be extra kind to them while slathering nourishing exotic lotions on them. Take them on more walks; they really like walks, especially hills. Dip deep in Warrior postures.

And dance, oh how they love to dance!