My skin fit like a glove today and I wore it with confidence.
Do you know what I mean? There are those days when clothes don't fit quite right or I'm feeling less than attractive, bloated, whatever and I'm tugging on my shirt and picking on my choice of clothes because I'm just not comfortable in my own body.
I have THOUGHTS to share on body image, but that isn't to say tomorrow I won't be a little bit upset about the stomach pouch I have leftover from pregnancy or SOMETHING.
But you guys, that pouch was inflated to the size of a beach ball. I have a little pouch (and some stretch marks) leftover as a reminder of an amazing thing I did. I can deal with that.
I can. Because here's the thing: our bodies are mostly vehicles for us to LIVE life. It took me a long time to get this; sometimes I still forget it.
I've been learning to appreciate my imperfect but kind of amazing body. I've been showing it some respect by fueling it with the stuff it needs to function well. I've gone back to yoga (just this week!) to help me out with some back issues.
All of that means more living and less sidelines. I've spent quite a chunk of my life pursuing lesser things (like numbers) at the expense of greater things . I've spent too much time taking the too many negative or useless comments I've received about my body to heart, like somehow they reflect on who I really am and whether or not I'm "okay."
"Skinny" shouldn't be a compliment and "fat" shouldn't be an insult. They are statements. Neither takes away or adds to the value of a life. Neither makes a person more or less beautiful.
The most beautiful women I know are so beautiful in spirit that it's hard to tell if it's their physical appearance I think is beautiful or if it's the inner beauty that's shining through. I don't try to hard to make the distinction.
I have a thing for "quality of life."
Years ago (maybe 10 of them?) I read, "the thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy, but I come that they may have life to the full" (my paraphrase) and I think my spirit leapt up and said Yes! That is what I want.
I've been fixated ever since.
I've made quite a few stops along the way, but it's where my real journey of physical health began (which turned into physical, mental, and spiritual because now I think they're all related).
(I emphasize "real" because prior my discovery, I was fixated on being skinny enough, pretty enough, all of that as a goal- no matter if it meant drinking Diet Coke and consuming packets of Equal and cutting calories with no care about what it was actually doing inside my body. Now,whenever I start thinking/or talking about "feeling fat," I know I need to re-calibrate. Although I do enjoy putting outfits together and a good hair day, I see my body more as a way to experience life than a mantle to be left perfectly decorated and untouched.)
I make many of the food choices I do in pursuit of quality of life (for myself and now for others). I workout (when I do) so I have the strength and stamina to at least try anything that comes my way.
I want a quality, full, slurp-up-the-last-drops life.
Quality of life for me lately has looked something like:
Less time on the internet.
More vegetables and less added sugar.
More shared meals and glasses of wine (spaced out because I cannot handle more than one at once)
Reading actual books
Giving myself time to just think and pray without any distractions (this might be just a few minutes at a time!)
30-minute workouts (not every day)
(You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body. -C.S. Lewis)
There are still nights when I take to food like some take to beer or books or cups of tea. I'm not really (physically) hungry, but I'm eating because there is a need to relax, to let go, to numb out a little (or a lot).
The next morning, I often feel inclined to stock up on doughnuts to drown out feelings of having "messed up." I want to numb out again...but I don't.
I don't because there's this boy with this face that melts me even on my tiredest, most difficult days. He is depending on me to live life with him. He needs me not to be numb so that we can play in the dirt and explore the yard and get our hands dirty and splash almost all of the water out of the tub while we both laugh about how much fun this is.
I like to try new things and explore places, but I think that everything is scary to me the first time I do it.
This boy? There is very little fear in him. I've seen him do a face plant in both his tub and his baby pool, and each time, he is right back to playing as soon as he gets over the shock of it. He loves the stairs and although we let him climb them (assisted), he's now interested in going down them. He loves to wrestle and wants to go everywhere and touch everything. He just go,go,goes, with no qualms about falling or whether he will succeed. (You might be getting a small taste of why I can't be "numbed out" during the day.)
I really do believe he is the most adventurous parts of his daddy and me combined, and I love that about him. And I know, I know, that life with him will have me swallowing my fears over and over because I don't want to crush that spirit. I don't want to miss out.
Being his mama is like seeing my heart beat outside of my chest. It's an invitation to a wild and precious life.
As many would when honored with an invitation from a very special person, I accept.
I originally called The Social Eater my "courage project." Because stepping out and actually acting on something that really lights me up inside felt scary. Who knows what will happen, if I fail, if anything will come of it? Who knows if I can make a positive, measurable difference in a world FULL of broken spots?
But now, my project feels normal. I mean, yes, it does take effort and planning, but it's what I do now, this chasing my passion thing. It's not scary at all (anymore); it's just a part of my life right now.
It's a part that I'm still so excited to share and live; that magic hasn't worn off. The magic of encouraging words hasn't worn off, either. (Encourage: to give courage. Thank you to every one of you who have done that for me.) They still propel me forward, so I hope I haven't given the impression that those words aren't still so meaningful to me.
I'm just saying that the part of trying new big and little things that is scariest for me is the first part.
This weekend, I made bread from scratch. I've baked bread before, but usually the quick bread kind (like banana bread or chocolate chip pumpkin) or the kind I can leave in my bread maker and move on. But this kind was all me and no sugar for the yeast to grow on. I was nervous, but I did it. It was good, in fact. So good that it's almost gone.
My husband and I also cooked beans from scratch. It's easy, and I'm not sure why I haven't done it before other than trying new things, even little new things, is scary for me. Oh, and it takes some effort.
Almost every single new Nolan thing is a little scary. The first time I took him in the car by myself. The first time I was alone with him for an extended period of time. The first long outing. The first non-pureed food. The first time I told somebody "no" because it was best for him.
Choices that seem so big turn out to be not so scary, but they're still big. They still add up.
Thank you so much for the questions and comments on fair trade! Those I've received so far have given me some great food for thought. Now I'm pretty sure I have enough material for several articles. Please keep your questions/criticisms/overall thoughts on fair trade coming!
Monday has, once again, arrived a little too quickly. We just love weekends around here!
One way to combat the Monday blues? Think of, list out, plan more things I have to look forward to this week.
Hello, walking with my mom and Nolan to hash out plans for Katie's bridal shower. (I love everything about this- the people in it, the walking, the planning...)
Hello, ordering (lots of!) chocolate for my first big fair trade- centric event.
Hello, Bob Harper Inside Out Method workouts (I'm feeling pretty "tough" lately, and I love it.)
Hello, hair cut! I need one, pretty badly.
Hello, meeting up with a dear friend who I feel like I just can't get enough time with. (She's the kind that is "like a breath of fresh air." )
Hello, extra day off for my hubby, my BROTHER coming home, and Easter egg dying with some pretty fantastic kids.
Your turn! What are you looking forward to this week?
...felt prettiest right before heading to bed. You know, when no one was going to see me. Which leads to the question, "what does it mean to feel pretty?" But I'm too tired for that right now.
...talked on the phone with my brother for two hours. You know, I DO NOT LIKE that my brother lives so far away from me (and so does my sister; I don't like that either), but I DO like that growing up allows for better conversations and deeper connections.
... burned dinner. I thought I had cook time while feeding and playing with Nolan figured out...nope. Instead of getting upset about it, I celebrated the fact that I was able to substitute my weight in peanut butter for a normal dinner. (<--Not really, but if I were able to eat that much peanut butter without getting too full, I would consider it. Pb is probably among my top 5 favorite foods.)
...thought about how to word a public thank you to my mom friends. Have you heard of mommy wars?(You know, dissension between moms of differing opinions or moms who work vs. moms who stay home...) I feel lucky that despite having a mix of mom friends with differing approaches to mothering, I really haven't experienced any of that. I know about mommy wars only by reading about them.
...didn't workout but have the feeling that I still got some weight training in. I squatted down to jump and surprise Nolan (he loves this!), carried him around, lifted him up, danced with him...
...realized I've read little else besides blogs and children's books recently. I've also been slacking on my Spanish lessons this week. It's time to get some intellectual stimulation back in my life!
...think that I should have one more thing to write here, and I know I do, but my brain is turned to mush. So that is my "one more thing," I suppose. I am maxed out, and although I came to bed at least a half an hour ago, now it's time to sleep and get recharged for the next day.
Good night! When you read this, it is likely FRIDAY! Woohoo!
Working...on putting together a bridal shower and bachelorette party for my sister (I like to plan when I'm excited). Always working on fair trade-centric projects + my dad's coming up on a big birthday this year, I want to celebrate Tim's first real father's day as a dad, my birthday is coming up (and so is Tim's!), the list goes on. Lots to celebrate, just the way I like it.
Wearing...usually jeans, a long layering tank, and some kind of sweater or pull-over hoodie +slippers (I love my slippers.)
Eating...a few new things here and there, but mostly variations of my own standby's: eggs, tofu, beans, oats, chocolate, and peanut butter. Oh, and pancakes. And coconut (butter, flour, flakes).
Thinking...about how I am going to pull off a chocolate tasting for 3000+ people on Earth Day. Even with help. Mostly, what is it going to look like and what will it cost?
Anticipating...So much! My next workouts (I've been feeling great lately!), my birthday (not for several weeks), more work time, Earth Day, World Fair Trade Day, a local tulip festival, my sister's next trip into town...(I'm sure there's more.)
Feeling...Excited. Tired (most of the time- and definitely felt that way when I wrote this. But at the time of publishing, I'm actually feeling pretty good energy-wise). Privileged.
Enjoying...cups of coffee in the early morning when no one else is awake (even if I'm feeling like I could use more sleep), a little time to write, my son's giggles, feeling fitter (no concrete goal here; I just want to feel good in my own body), meeting "new" people as a result of my current projects
Y'all (yes, I say this. Mostly in my head. Yes, I am born and raised in Pennsylvania. Moving on.), parenting is hard. And it's wonderful.
I happen to be awake before Nolan(as I start this post...only time will tell if he stays asleep until I publish it), so I thought I'd go for a little online interaction while he's still sleeping peacefully.
I know that my writing hasn't been high-quality lately. Actually, most of my would-be posts are crafted in my head...when I can't sit down to write them. But I still need to be here, you know? I still love the catharsis of seeing words spill out onto the screen. I still love the interaction.
I still read what you're writing. Sometimes on my phone via my Google Reader while trying to stay awake in the middle of the night as I rock Nolan to sleep.
But I read.
There are a few thoughts I'd like to share with you (and get your feedback if you want to share it!) today...on this FRIDAY.
Hooray for Friday. For me, it means I get to go to a studio yoga class tomorrow, work on my most recent fair-trade-centric projects, and then home to my boys refreshed and ready for family time. It means 2 days of life as the 3 of us, of laying in bed til noon on Sunday if we want to. It means meeting with friends and trying new things together.
So. Just a few thoughts before we get on with the beauty that is Friday:
1) Right now, my stomach feels like it's going to eat itself. This is of note because it's 7:45, and I last ate at 3:30 this morning. Both Nolan and I are eating so much, and I'm almost not quite sure how we're going to keep up with the grocery bills. I'm not complaining. I like eating, and I'm actually going to miss my huge appetite when it's gone.
2) One of my favorite posts this week was this one. It's all about making the ordinary things into the extraordinary. I love, love, love it.
Also? I'm just really glad Kelle blogs. Her perspective is just so refreshing- invigorating, even.
3) I'm thinking about doing Tina's Best Body Bootcamp.
Pluses: accountability, possible prizes, it ends right around the time I'll be finishing 30 Day Shred and looking for the next fitness challenge
Minuses: It costs (just) $25. That's really a great price for 8 weeks of workouts (so this could go under the pluses category, too), but as a stay-at-home mom, I really have to weigh and measure where I spend any money. Also, my Shred videos have fun music and visuals to keep Nolan entertained while I work out. I'm concerned I will have a hard time fitting in the boot camp workouts at home.
What would you do?
Just a couple of things- I'm linking up with Just Write today. I think I am most proud of this particular free writing entry because I really just let the words pour out of me this morning. So often, when they pour, I'm somewhere where I can't sit down and write.
Also, if you haven't already, check out my giveaway here. I'm not receiving any tangible compensation for it; I'm just really excited to introduce one of my favorite companies to you.
I knew it was true when I said that I'd try to write about Christmas spirit every day, but I probably won't make it.
I originally got that idea from someone giving workout advice. You know, if you want to start working out more, just aim to do it every day. You'll do more than you would have otherwise.
Make big plans, and if you don't accomplish them all, you'll get farther than you were when you started.
Shoot for the moon; even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.
That kind of thing.
I wouldn't say I'm "among the stars," but I would say that hardness I feel about this time of year is chipping away.
Yes, I still hate the commercialism.
Yes, I still feel annoyed when Christmas becomes about how much can be packed in, rushed in, pressured in before maybe we can all relax on December 25th.
But I get to make a choice, you know?
I get to decide how I'm going to react and from which angle I'm going to look at things.
I get to decide if I'm going to feel stressed or celebratory or whether I'm going to enjoy these quick and fleeting moments.
I write to-do lists most days, but honestly? They are never completed.
Making dinner takes twice as long because I stop to
change his diaper
look him in those beautiful eyes and talk until he doesn't want to talk anymore.
I can choose to enjoy, really enjoy, those times, or I can let stress weigh on me because I didn't get "everything" done.
When really, "everything" was in those moments I didn't have my to-do list.
I could gather a (probably long) list of posts I've written about living each moment as it happens and soaking up life.
I write about it so much because that kind of thing is really important to me, but it really doesn't come all that easy at all.
But he is already growing so fast, and I don't want to miss it. He makes those lessons a little easier.
So, this season, I'll be making some sweet treats, sending cards, putting presents together that I really put thought into. I really like doing that stuff when I don't let it come with unnecessary stress.
But if "everything" doesn't get done,
I'll rest in the thought that the important everything's have.
This post is part of the Just Write link-up, a weekly exercise in free writing ordinary and extra-ordinary moments. I am not so good at writing about single moments yet, but this is, indeed, a free write. In fact, I ended up writing about something entirely different than I was planning- a typical free-writing characteristic for me.
I am drinking hot chocolate made from the last of my Equal Exchange cocoa while I write this. Choosing fair trade chocolate has become a simple, non-negotiable way that I can support healthy families, economies, and communities. Anything that involves food and community easily pulls at my heart strings.
10 years ago, I made a decision to go to college for a degree in secondary education. I was not always in love with my decision, but I chugged along and achieved my goal. I worked as a substitute teacher while I transitioned to my new multifaceted role of youth pastors wife, then landed a job as a pre-GED teacher in Reading. It was a job that left me frustrated many days, wishing for something else, running back to my old numbing agent (stuffing my face).
Teaching is not something that pulls on my heart strings. I did it because I wanted another opportunity to get to know and speak hope into lives of teenagers. My number one goal was mentoring teenagers because I was a teenager when I started the whole process and I saw the need (including for myself).
I remember turning down the first opportunity to teach GED classes because it didn't fit with my goals.
I don't completely remember what had me going for the second one, but I think it had something to do with proving I could do more financially and professionally than substitute teach. It was more about my pride than anything else,I think.
Not my heart strings. Teaching didn't pull at my heart strings.
My pride led me to a job...with adults. Not teenagers. Adults who'd dropped out of school for one reason or another, who felt angry, discouraged, overwhelmed, unsure of what to make of the little white woman fumbling her way through how, exactly, to meet the widely varying needs of each student at the same time.
I fell in love. Still not with the teaching, but with the students. They opened up my world like no one else. Some of them let me into their worlds, shared their stories, taught me more about life...and I did the same. I coveted smaller-group times so I could see that light bulb moment. You know, that moment where something just "clicks" and becomes like second nature? I love that.
I discovered that I am not a great teacher, but I am a really good tutor.
I discovered that many people living here now have the same heart-strings-pulling effect as food and community.
I came home many days feeling so drained, but I just knew I was gathering all this experience for a reason. (Sound familiar, Katie?)
This morning, The New York Times posted that Reading is at the top of the U.S. poverty list. You know, the city full of people I fell in love with.
My head is spinning because that kind of news feels like an insurmountable wall. But I will find a crack, a hole, a ladder...because I'm kind of bent on staying here. This is my city now so I am responsible for being a part of it's restoration.