Today I went to the chiropractor, like I always do on Thursdays.
Afterwards (like I always do on Thursdays) I stopped at the cupcake shop.
I got my usual – hot chocolate (with whip) and a cupcake.
I love going in the cupcake shop.
The people are always so happy in there.
The counter staff, the customers, even the “frosters” – visible through a glass wall as they work hard to frost and decorate cupcake after cupcake – everyone is smiling.
And why not – we are all there for a sweet treat, whether for ourselves, for others, or both. No one is there to have a root canal or pay their taxes.
We are all happy, anticipating something tasty we don’t get every day.
But today for some reason, as I left I remembered a time (actually a whole decade or two) when a visit to a cupcake shop wouldn’t have made me happy at all.
I would have been anxious, miserable, stressed out.
I would have felt like all eyes were on me (instead of on the delicious colorful cupcakes in their little display cases).
I would have been oh-so-conscious of my body as it carried me into the cupcake shop, moved around, looked at everything, stressed some more.
And this would have been because, during these years, I didn’t know there was any other path to happiness than through changing my body shape and size.
I didn’t know I could be happy – ridiculously happy, actually – without being smaller too.
I had no idea I could live a totally happy, totally fulfilling life at a healthy weight, shape, and size for me.
If I had known this – had known that “happy” and “thinner” had nothing to do with each other – I don’t think I would have tried so hard to change the way my body looked.
But I didn’t know.
I was growing up just when the “thin craze” was really gathering steam, and I was pursuing a stage and music career, and it just seemed like everyone I talked to and everywhere I looked, “happy” and “thinner” only occurred in each other’s presence.
If someone had stopped me – had said, “Shannon, sit for just a moment and let me tell you something – you can be so happy, so successful, so in love with your life – without changing one single thing about yourself.”
But they didn’t.
I don’t think they knew this either.
I don’t think any of us knew.
I am happier today than I have ever been. I am also heavier than I have ever been.
I enjoy my body more than I ever have before – marvel at it, appreciate it, even fight with it (every close relationship has a good tiff once in awhile) – and feel grateful for every day we have together, because these days won’t last forever.
I enjoy myself more than I ever have before – my sense of humor, my sharp mind, my creative ideas, my compassion – all of these things have come to me only in the company of “healthy” (not “thinner.”)
I enjoy my relationships more than I ever have before – my family, my friends, my boyfriend, my mentor (who is now more like a big sister and mentor combined), even connections with strangers can be deeply fulfilling – because I am awake, aware, and present for myself, my life, and others.
I enjoy my pets more than I ever have before – my 14-year-old parrot, Pearl, and my 1-year-old tortoise, Malti – they are such wise, brave mentors and such good company.
If someone – a mentor – a roving guardian angel – a total stranger – had ever once stopped me and said, “Shannon, here is a picture of how your life can be – happy, full of loving relationships, self-loving, creative, fulfilling – but you must choose whether you want this life or a life spent pursuing “thinner.”
I don’t think I would have hesitated. I would have chosen healthy.
I just didn’t know.
I didn’t know then what I know now – that choosing healthy IS choosing life, and love, and all good things.
Today’s Takeaway: Is there an area in your life where perhaps you are living in a way that is harmful to you because you believe that is the only path that can lead you to happiness in life? If so, would you change course if you knew – knew beyond any doubt at all – that you could be healthy AND happy too?