Hands-austin-banOur bodies hold so many stories. Difficult stories. Beautiful stories. Stories that are held in scars and stretch marks. Stories that are held in arms and feet. Stories etched inside smile lines and expressive eyes. Stories cupped in hands. Stories of strength. Perseverance. Love. Lust. Motherhood. Illness. Insecurity. Anxiety. Adventure.

In one of my favorite books* Writing Motherhood author Lisa Garrigues features a powerful exercise for writing about our bodies. She suggests setting aside 10 minutes when we’re home alone: “Stand naked in front of a mirror and inspect your body the way a dermatologist would. Take note of scars and moles, lines and wrinkles, freckles and age spots.”

Then Garrigues suggests reflecting on these questions: “Which parts of your body do you like? Which ones have you always regretted? What has changed over the years?” She also shares several prompts, such as: “Write about breasts, my stomach, footprints, holding hands, fingernails; Tell me a story about your teeth, a bad haircut; Write about your oldest or newest scar, broken bones, an accident, an illness, sore muscles.”

Here are other prompts I came up with that we can use to explore the many stories of our bodies:

  • My eyes have seen …
  • My lips have tasted …
  • This tattoo symbolizes …
  • This scar symbolizes …
  • This stretch mark symbolizes …
  • If my body were a metaphor …
  • My legs sustained me when …
  • My hands have held …
  • In my teen years, my body …
  • There is so much love inside my …
  • My wrists recall …
  • My smile lines are keeping these silly stories …
  • My nose recalls these smells …
  • My body holds this recent story …
  • This mole reveals this memory …
  • My hands have healed …
  • My body yearns to tell me …

When we write about our bodies, I believe that we are respecting them. Why? Because we are listening. We are letting our bodies speak and recording their truths. We are honoring them by closely hearing what they have to say. Instead of dismissing, instead of judging, instead of criticizing, instead of blaming and shaming, we listen. We pause, and we listen to whatever spills out.

What stories is your body telling?

*Seriously, I’ve already written about it several times on my creativity blog. See here and here.

Photo by Austin Ban.