Today, I have vulnerability on the brain. That’s because yesterday I sent off my contribution to Susannah for the April Love challenge (sign up here; like everything Susannah does, it’s going to be wonderful).
And it’s vulnerable. Bare bones honest.
It’s scary to be that honest with others (especially people you don’t know). But it also feels right (and, did I mention scary?). It feels right to embrace our truth, thereby embracing ourselves.
When we dislike our bodies, when we feel uncomfortable in our own skin, we may start silencing our voices.
Because we haven’t lost weight, can’t adhere to a diet, can’t fit into a certain size or don’t fit into a certain standard, we become convinced that our voices don’t matter. That we haven’t earned the right to speak, to matter.
We dismiss our thoughts and opinions. We dismiss our needs. We neglect our feelings.
Barbara Abercrombie wrote one of my favorite books called A Year of Writing Dangerously: 365 Days of Inspiration & Encouragement. In it she includes a powerful quote from Richard Rhodes which actually makes the perfect reminder for learning to love our bodies and ourselves.
Sometimes, assumptions can get us into trouble. We become so convinced something is a fact that we act on behaviors that aren’t good for us, that shatter our sense of self, that stall our self-care.
For years I had many assumptions that didn’t serve me very well. I assumed that in order to be worthy I had to be thin. In order to be happy, I had to lose weight. In order to lose weight I had to put myself on ridiculous diets. In order to have someone love me, I had to earn it.
This week Rachel penned this excellent post encouraging us to make ourselves comfortable. Because many of us make ourselves needlessly uncomfortable every day.
This discomfort isn’t about challenging ourselves and exploring our courage. It isn’t about learning big lessons. It isn’t about nudging ourselves toward our dreams, and navigating uncharted but exciting territory.
Today is International Women’s Day, so how about celebrating yourself and the women in your life?
Here are some ideas, which of course you can do any day and every day:
I subscribe to Anna Guest-Jelley’s newsletter (and you should, too; it’s filled with excellent and practical insights). Recently, she wrote something really powerful, which I knew, as soon as I read the words, that I had to share with you.
It’s a beautiful way of thinking about body acceptance. And it’s something I think so many of us forget. I forget.
Because body acceptance can feel tough. It can feel unnatural. But even though it feels uncomfortable, or awkward, or itchy or really hard, that doesn’t mean we’re doomed to hate our bodies or to feel disconnected from them.
The beautiful and intimidating thing about yoga is that it’s a time to stop and be still. It’s a time to be quiet with ourselves. Which many of us don’t do very often.
The other types of exercises I do are mostly high intensity (which I also love). Go. Go. Go. We sprint from one exercise to another, from running the stairs to doing push-ups to doing burpees.
And even though I work from home, my thoughts are usually focused on articles and ideas and errands and to-dos.
Even when I’m relaxing, it’s not the same as whatever happens when I’m practicing yoga.
Many days I feel disappointed in myself. I’m disappointed I didn’t wake up early. I’m disappointed I missed the morning yoga class. I’m disappointed I didn’t work hard enough. I’m disappointed I’m easily distracted. I’m disappointed I didn’t do the laundry or make the bed or organize that thing I was going to organize but haven’t. In months. I’m disappointed I wasn’t brave.
I feel this disappointment in the pit of my stomach. Churning. It’s a guilt that turns into regret that stays there all day. Almost like a mass. Eventually, it shrinks.
I’ve noticed that lately, my picture-taking has been sparse, even though there’s a camera (a great camera) in my smartphone, even though images make me happy.
Part of the problem is that I feel like I can’t live up to the stream of pretty, put-together pictures on sites like Instagram. (Why does it even matter? I’m not sure.)
But I’m going to change that.