The beautiful and talented Dana asked me to write a guest post for her. She promotes a love your body movement and features posts by other bloggers allowing them to share their experiences and promote self-love. I was honored, to say the least, to have been asked to contribute, but found it so difficult to construct a draft. There are so many messages I wish to portray to others on self- acceptance, self-love and self-care,-- where was I supposed to start?! As my fingers graced the keyboard, words started to 'spill out' until the following product was drafted and sent:
Close your eyes. Loosen any tension in your face—in fact, smile. Roll your shoulders back. Plant both feet on the ground. Take a deep breath. What physical sensations do you notice? Perhaps you recognize the rise of your stomach or chest. Perhaps you can’t keep up with the beats of your heart. Or maybe you feel butterflies in your stomach. Do you notice your hands sweating? Are your feet cold? Now ask yourself how you feel. If you experience such butterflies or sweaty palms, could it be associated with feelings of anxiety? If you feel tension in your face, could you be angry?
Bodily sensations help tell a story. Our physical state is often much easier to identify than our thoughts and emotions. In fact, often times I have no idea how I’m feeling until I check in with my physical state of being. Indeed, every body has its own story. Bronzed skin portrays memories of a summer vacation, big brown eyes exploit the tears that have been shed and smiles paint a picture of a memory. Blistered fingers tell the story of a sad man’s song, his fingers callused by strings of a guitar, and scars illustrate the crusades one has endeavored. Yes, our bodies narrate the lives lived—and the lives that have yet to prevail. Although we’re often reminded of the important functions our body parts serve, such as the gift of reproduction and giving birth and the importance of muscle growth for physical strength, it is the spiritual strength and individuality we are often deprived of. Physical strength is nothing without the strength of passion—Passion is, after all, the foundation to our being.
So why must we deprive ourselves of “TLC” (tender, love and care)? Why do we constantly scrutinize, judge, and try to change the body we’ve been given? Randy Pausch, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, learned that he had pancreatic cancer in September 2006, and in August 2007 he was given a terminal diagnosis: “3 to 6 months of good health left”. He gave an upbeat lecture entitled “The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” on September 18, 2007 at Carnegie Mellon, which became a popular YouTube video and led to other media appearances. He then co-authored a book called The Last Lecture on the same theme, which became a New York Times best-seller. Pausch died of complications from pancreatic cancer on July 25, 2008. His words forever changed my outlook on life, especially those that make up the following line:
“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand”.
It is a privilege and blessing to have been born, but unfortunately, the mere act of human creation has been lost from our values and appreciation of our selves. Growing up, I (like a majority of the population) suffered from low self-esteem. There was a period of time I thought I was too skinny, too pale and too ugly. Specifically, I hated my nose, which made for accessible jokes about the Jewish stereotype. In 9th grade I thought if I gained weight, my face would look more proportional, or maybe the right haircut would frame my face better. There was even a period of time I consulted with a plastic surgeon. Looking back, I am so glad I didn’t go through with any procedure. I’ve learned that there are physical aspects of my body that can’t be, or shouldn’t be, changed. I was born with the body I inhabit, for a reason, and rather than try to change it—or even tolerate it, I must learn to live with it. Then, perhaps, I will learn to love it. I am no longer ashamed of the nose on my face, for it helps tell my story. It narrates the life of a Jewish American girl with a spiritual and religious connection to Judaism and a culture of history and traditions.
I often write about passion, as I believe it guides us through each experience. Passion allows us to be who we want, without judgment and it helps tell a story, exemplified by the human body—that is unique and beautiful. When there is passion, there is love. And when love exists, judgment demolishes, as we strive to live (not just exist) to our full potential.
I encourage you to look in the mirror, and smile. Can you accept the body you’ve been given? Perhaps, you may be able to appreciate it for everything it does for you. Rather than focus on what you could change, remind yourself of what you have. Now, close your eyes and take another deep breath. What do you notice? How do you feel? And what’s your story?
Thank you Dana, for allowing me to explore my own perceptions and take one step closer towards a place of self-acceptance, and self-love.
and yes, I think I'm back.
and yes, I think I'm back.