21 Day Body Love Challenge – The Whole Enchilada

Free Happy Woman Enjoying Nature. Beauty Girl Outdoor. Freedom c

“Know then that the body is merely a garment. Go seek the wearer, not the cloak.” – Rumi

It’s time to put it all together. The whole body. It’s all connected. Loving your feet and eyes but not the rest of you is like taking only your feet and eyes on vacation, leaving the rest behind, to what? Fend for itself? Rot? No, it’s a package and not absolutely loving every internal and external inch is no longer acceptable. You can still improve on areas, eat healthy, exercise, but without attaching to the outcome.

Without attaching to the outcome. A healthy lifestyle has more to do with how you FEEL than how you look. How you look is a by-product of the lifestyle.

I was at a farmers’ market recently. I waited at a local honey booth for the person manning it to return. She was a woman about my age – somewhere north of 30, okay 40, whatever – she had no make-up on, her hair was a wild mass of various shades of gray and her skin was glowing. Her cheeks were flushed and her eyes sparkled. She exuded health. In that moment I thought, I want that. None of the packaging, but what was radiating out from the inside. Life force.

Your body is your vehicle for this journey and it was assigned specifically to you. It is yours to use and maintain. How well you do that will most likely determine the length of its service.

I like to think about new parents and how they are so careful and loving with the new life now entrusted to them. How they attend to her every need, caress her skin, feed her only the best food, use just the safest, most gentle products.  They wouldn’t dream of every harming her or uttering a harsh word in her direction.

Then I like to think about the Buddhist monks who help people die. There are homes staffed by renunciates whose sole (soul?) purpose is to care for those transitioning, who have no one else to care for them. They bathe and feed these patients, listen to them compassionately, rub their backs and tuck them in at night.

What of the intervening years? Scolding, belittling, berating, abusive. To ourselves. We treat ourselves and our bodies worse than we would ever treat another. Maybe it’s because we know they’re scolding, belittling, berating and abusing themselves. So we each act as the other’s support.

It has to stop. You’ve probably seen or heard of Dr. Emoto by now. If not, he is the Japanese doctor who conducted experiments on water. He yelled at it, called it names. He spoke lovingly and positively to it. The results were phenomenal. Mean = disorganized, sharp, ugly water. Love = soft, beautiful, clear water that looked like various snowflakes. His energy directly affected the response of the water. We are mostly water.

Be a snowflake. Speak kindly to yourself. Caress your skin with nourishing lotions and oils. Feed your body with food that’s alive and water that you have spoken sweet nothings to. Tell yourself how worthy and beautiful you are. How unique.

A friend of mine likes to say, “Two the same, one is not necessary.” Why would you want to be like anyone else? Better than and less than only exists in math, not in people. You are perfect. Every single cell is a divine gift. Accept it.

“The moment I have realized God sitting in the temple of every human body, the moment I stand in reverence before every human being and see God in him – that moment I am free from bondage, everything that binds vanishes, and I am free. – Swami Vivekananda

 

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!

 

21 Day Body Love Challenge

Ganges IMG_1248

I love my body. Everything about it. When was the last time you said, thought or heard another WOMAN say that about themselves? To be fair, self-loathing isn’t exclusively a female sport, but we certainly hold all the ribbons.

In recent months I have seen many responses to the model thin body. There are documentaries coming out and seeking funding that celebrate the female form, whatever shape that form has taken. There are rebuttals to perfection in blogs, rants on Twitter and even infomercials on the beauty of “regular” women.

The director/producer of the documentary on women’s bodies, seeking funding, went out on the streets and queried over 100 women in all shapes and sizes and when asked how they would describe their bodies the most common response was, “disgusting.”

This makes me very sad.

My body is flawed, much of it my own doing or not doing. I have scars, stretch marks, cellulite, wrinkles and sagging in new places every day. I have hated various parts of my body but that didn’t make things any easier. I have loved parts of my body to firmness and thinness, but that was fleeting when my love of Christmas cookies trumped my affection for thin thighs.

In part I think my argument with my body is not the shape so much as the knowledge that I am not doing all I could to improve my shape. I eat chocolate, drink wine and don’t move nearly as much as I plan. But still I have to reconcile myself with this physical form that houses the me that thinks, talks and sees things uniquely. So much emphasis is placed on being different, why has none of that been applied to the female form?

Now I find myself in a place of the compassionate observer, mostly.  There is still much I’d like to change about this meat suit gifted to me, but maybe I’m not supposed to. Perhaps this body, just like this, is here to teach me and others something. What if this body is the vehicle that will take me to the super-consciousness highway and where along the way I can pick up a few hitchhikers?

If I am truly God in disguise, then perhaps it is my mission to love the wrapping, love the cover of the book so that it can be opened and what’s inside can be read.

You are God in disguise or Divine consciousness in disguise or the Universe made manifest, or a dog in human clothing. I don’t care how you choose to look at it, what words you use, what belief system you have, you must just know that you are perfect and a reflection of divinity.

For the next 21 days I am going to explore this gift that has allowed me to travel, make a baby, snuggle my kitties and puppies, do yoga, dance my ass off, swim competitively and stumble and get back up. I am going to call out the Divine cells, one at a time until we are all on the same page. I will work with one piece of the puzzle at a time starting with my foundation – my feet, and ending with my salvation – my heart.

Care to join me?

21 Day Challenge – Day 5 – Return of the Dragonflies

pink grass IMG_1600I am being stalked by dragonflies today. I’m not worried. It’s not the first time. At the post office there was one above my car. He looked me in the eye then sped away. I went to the vet to pick up flea medication, when I came out – yep. Maybe it was the same one. At the gas station they beckoned to me from the nearby landscaping. I followed; they flitted and played but would not pose for me. That’s not what this is about.

At the grocery store – all clear. Until I came back out. Another one above my car. As I pulled into my garage I wondered if one would follow me in. Nope. He just hovered over the driveway where he incorrectly suspected I’d be parking.

I would say it was the same one, but I recognize their difference readily now, soon I’ll be naming them.

Once inside my house I opened everything up and let the dogs out. I knew there would be no dragonfly on the dragonfly branch in the back yard. It’s too early in the day, too hot in the sun for stillness. But, as I was walking back inside the shadow of a huge butterfly glanced the slats of the fence leading my eye to…please tell me you know what I’m going to say here.

They are clearly my current animal totem. I used to think I could pick the animal that best fit me. I thought that about men too. Turns out I was wrong about both. For a few years snake medicine served me well, it kept me in line. If I strayed off the path a snake would show up to guide me or scare me back on. In my dreams, in my yard, in the clouds and once in my kitchen.

Dragonflies are illusion and I’ve been thinking an awful lot about magic lately. The word magic holds a charge for some people – they immediately go to the dark arts. I am talking about everyday magic created by nature, God, the Universe – whatever higher power you would like to credit.

It’s the way perfectly normal looking grass sprouts pinkish red feathers in the fall. It’s the scent of jasmine coming from the neighbor’s yard on a soft breeze after dark. It’s the hand of a loved one reaching for yours for no reason other than to be close. That’s magic.

It’s being followed by dragonflies. I get so immersed in my relationship with them that I actually speak out loud, asking them questions. “What are you trying to tell me?” “Where? Over there? Is that where you want me to go?” “Show me where you want your picture taken.” “Hold still.” “Thank you.” I’m sure I’ve been caught. With any luck at all I’ll develop an eccentric reputation and a cool name like the crazy dragonfly lady.

According to the Medicine Cards dragonfly is asking me to look at the habits I want to change. A bit ironic considering the 21 day challenge I just issued myself. It could be that I haven’t challenged myself enough, but I don’t think that’s it. I think I know exactly why they’re staring me down like a petulant child waiting for the correct answer – which is always permission to do the thing that makes them grow and you let go.

So this thing, this habit I have to change, might be more a belief and that takes some emotional surgery. A belief is an attachment. It is something so strongly identified with that any other way is hard to imagine. It has already been assimilated; it’s snuggled nicely into the DNA. Illusion.

The smoke and mirrors in my life surround money.

My entire adult life I have been in debt. Sometimes magnificently, other times just annoyingly and repetitively, just out of reach of solvency. I have lots of great reasons why. They have not helped me eradicate this “issue.” It is a weight. I play it off, “I’ll take care of it, but I’m not going to stop living just because I owe money on my credit cards.” There is so much truth in that last statement for me that I really can’t see my way around it.

Sitting still, denying myself experiences and working a job I hate feel like death to my spirit. I have done that. It feels completely unhealthy. Maybe being in debt isn’t a bad thing or a big deal. But if I am giving it this much energy and attention, it is a detrimental thing for me.

The option then, if I am truly genetically pre-disposed to indebtedness – and if my actual physical DNA is any indication, then yes, I am – is to make more money. The concept is so simple. I am of an age now where I can see how the income to debt ratio works. Got more money? Spend it. Stay stuck. No, just make more than you spend. Simple. In theory.

Why then am I still in debt? How is staying at this level of “almost there” serving me? Do I feel I owe the world something? Do I feel I don’t deserve to go where I want when I want? Or is it deeper than that? Am I afraid that I will no longer be tethered to this life? Owing money creates a line of energy between me and that entity. If I’m solvent, I’m cut free. If being in debt has been part of my identity for as long as it has, who am I without it?

Here’s the more interesting question. If I were to pay everything off tomorrow – everything, all of it, credit cards, student loan, car – would anyone else see a difference in who they know me to be? I suspect on the face of it the answer is no. But if this act of financial freedom opens me up, then the answer is decidedly a yes. Or is it? Perhaps I project to the world the free Allison. Perhaps you are holding that space for me to move into it and you don’t even know it.

It comes down to fear. Letting go of the illusion of who I am. You and I do not see me the same way. You and I do not see you the same way. We are more than likely much more forgiving of each other. We accept the other as they are; appreciate the differences and intersections in the relationship. So I can’t use you. You can’t fix it. You can’t hurt it. You have nothing to do with it. Never did.

My fear, and I suspect yours as well, is stepping into my own power. It scares the shit out of me. In my mind it’s this huge, big, scary thing. But I think it’s not as big of deal as I make it out to be. It’s the monster under the bed that’s just forgotten clothes. It’s illusion.

Does this resonate? Wherever you see the word “debt” insert your obstacle. The “thing” could just as easily be weight or relationships or a disability or pick an issue. Pick an excuse. This could just as easily be you. Illusion is about seeing beyond the smoke and mirrors. It is identifying that very specific roadblock on the road to the bigger self and healing it. It’s trusting the process and knowing that maybe what has been a solid truth is actually the block. The illusion.

It is stepping into your personal power, my personal power and wearing it like the cape and tiara I deserve. It is owning the essence of me that I believe is hidden. But that’s an illusion too. You can already see it. I can see yours too.

So let’s make an agreement. Let’s continue to recognize that we only see each other because our bigger selves, our powerful selves, recognize each other. It can be no other way. We are all mirrors for each other. My bigger self salutes yours. You are wise and powerful and so I must be too if I see it in you.

So dear dragonflies, thank you for the messages and persistence. Thank you for the reminder that beliefs can be illusions too. I promise to continue the work if you promise to keep following me.

[Photo: You were expecting a dragonfly maybe? Not today, they won’t sit still, so instead I present to you magic grass, also known as Muhly grass. It is native to Florida and grows quite easily and heartily sprouting these magical pink feathers in the fall.]