Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I wasn't going to go there.  It's awkward.  It's cliche.  But when I talked to a girlfriend this weekend and heard her woes about her body, and heard how similar they were to howls I have made in my life, I decided: it's time.

Therefore, I give you the story of my Big Hot Miserable Summer, and Lessons I Learned From Getting Fat.

This summer was a killer - hot as all get out, smoky in our Colorado hills (poor things all on fire), and apparently so crushing that other people are
referencing my misery.  I also nearly half-blinded myself in a freak lavender oil accident (see cataract glasses below), and I met hay fever - the big lout - for the first time in my life, and was stunned to meet him again and again every morning. 

The real kick in the pants was that somewhere between fresh spring and hotter n' Hades summer, a few cookies, pieces of cheese, and spoonfuls of almond butter lodged themselves in my cells and set up camp.  (Do you like how I'm blaming them?)  My clothes didn't fit.  My arms felt wobbly.  My belly sprouted inches of winter insulation, in July.

My personal hero, my grandmother, used to say, When things aren't going well, it's a sign that you're headed in the wrong direction.   

This is all to say: something had to change.  My relationship to my body was out of wack, because my body didn't feel like anything I could recognize or relate to.  I felt like a pregnant woman, with all of her anxiety and bemusement, without the benefit of being pregnant - or the excuse. 

So I did what any one in my position would do: I started thinking of myself as a buffalo. 

1. Who looks at a buffalo and thinks, You're so fat, buffalo?  Why don't you lose some weight, buffalo?  No.  If you have the privilege of seeing one of these guys up close, you think, Holy bananas!  You're so awesome, I wish I could touch you, but you could gore me, which makes me love you even more.  Buffalo, I love you, you are incredible!!! 

2. (Biologist friends, close your eyes right now.)  Every single one of us has an aura, like buffalo breath in snow.  We have mystique, power, and fearsome individuality.  In fact, I may have been the only one who could have answered my friend's call on Saturday and helped her feel better about her body.  Because I'm me, and she is herself, and our relationship is rich, and layered with conversations and ideas and moments that we have shared together.  And this is why we are here, as beings - and this is a woman's power, especially: the power of presence.  This is the gift of buffalo and huge animals, or tiny flitting hummingbirds: we are all connected, and when we are ourselves, we are a gift to others.

3. Sometimes my body will be closer to Buffalo than to Hummingbird, and while I can do things to help her stay closer to Hummingbird ways and weight, it is my job to accept her no matter how she looks.  Because she is my vessel for experiencing life. And I have things to do, like comfort my friends and laugh with my husband and write stories that make me happy.  I need to be friends with my vessel, so she's on board with my plans.  This means being on board with her plans, too - like walking in fields and eating leafy greens and drinking in fresh air.     

4. My body belongs to me.  Or, my body belongs to the Great Mother that gives it her light.  It is nice that my mother tells me I'm beautiful, and my husband loves my curves, but no one else is the judge of how I look.  Which is why, when I feel like crap, and someone else says, but you look great!, I think they are crazy.  But if I've gained ten pounds, and feel like a righteous, storming ballerina, I stand tall in my strong frame, and raise my chest and participate in conversations, a little amazed that life is so strange and mysterious, that our bodies are connected but do not define us.  Our spirits, our hearts, are what our loved ones see.  And this is what they love about us. 

5. Life is a process.  I sometimes would kill to have my 16 year old body, sweet and tan like a cinnamon-coated rabbit.  But I know so much about myself now, and feel more open toward others, and their mistakes, that I would never trade this expanded heart for the bright-eyed, hopping thing I used to be.  Perhaps this is how I can love who I was then - because in wisdom's gravity, we know the full spectrum of experience.

6. Here is the blog post that kicked off my healing.  It is true that partial-blindness, a summer of wildfires, and your own bewildered spirit can put you in a funny place.  But it is also true that, no matter who you think you are physically, you are completely whole at every moment.  Embracing that wholeness is the path back to radiance.

May we all slink our way along that path.
With love

1 comment:

  1. You went there! And I'm glad you did! It really is so strange when you think about your body as a vessel. How it doesn't define you, but it's impossible to disconnect from. And this idea reminds me of the amazing/beautiful movie The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (or vice versa). Have you seen it?! You would love it.

    Point being, we have lots of hummingbirds in our backyard. They look forward to meeting you!! xo