Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I Heart My Body 2012 -- Gamechanger

Once upon a time, my world was beautiful on the outside, if you stood and looked at it from a distance. It wasn't perfect, it wasn't particularly satisfying, but what it lacked in satisfaction it made up for with its presentable, keeping-up-with-the-Jones' veneer. Marriage, children, an attractive home and a job with an impressive title. My respectable half-life.

All that changed overnight, of course. My world disintegrated, quite suddenly and quite dramatically. My life was now discussed in whispered voices, tinged with concern.

When the dust began to settle, I realized I'd entered a strange new terrain, a no-man's land where the old rules no longer applied. The future I'd previously envisioned was gone, and in its place a tabula rasa that was both terrifying and exhilarating. It was an opportunity to do things differently. An invitation to build a new and more authentic life.

I began a long, slow process of unraveling myself. Of poking around on the inside and finding all the tender bits – the doubts and fears and I'm-not-enough feelings, dredging them up one by and one and sitting with them quietly until they dissipated. Doing it again and again, if necessary.

I didn't enjoy it at all, but I persisted, because it was the only way I knew to get from where I was to where I wanted to be.

And then one day, something quite remarkable happened.

One morning, I woke up and I felt an overriding sense of peace. A quiet joy. I walked around the house, taking in my surroundings in a completely new way. Watching the leaves fall from the trees in the backyard, savoring the warmth of my coffee mug in my hands. Even just breathing in and out felt like an act of grace. I'd never felt so deeply at peace before, ever. It felt like a gift. I wanted to bottle the feeling. Even as I basked in it, I was afraid it would slip away.

That evening, the kids and I drove to a local drugstore on an errand. As we were leaving the store, I noticed a middle-aged man approaching. He looked so unhappy. He was overweight and carried his body like a burden, wincing with each step. As I passed him, I felt an almost visceral understanding of his pain. It was as if a window opened up and I could see inside him. I understood that all the physical challenges that this man bore were intrinsically connected to past emotional experiences. I literally saw this web of cause and effect, his emotional history projected out around him like some kind of holographic theater. It stopped me in my tracks.

In that moment, I felt a wave of absolute compassion for this man. I realized that this man, this fellow soul traveling through his own no-man's land, was each of us. He was me and you, and we were him. We are all both wounded and infinitely beautiful. We move through life carrying with us the echoes of our complicated histories, feeling our way towards a fuller, richer version of ourselves.

It was such a profound experience. I stood there, in the parking lot of a Walgreens on a fall evening in Kansas, moved to tears by an unexpected and pure sense of love for a complete stranger.

* * *

That feeling of bliss and peace, it didn't last. The next day I felt anxious and my mind cycled through it's usual list of concerns. But that didn't last long either. And if I step back and look at the trajectory of this past year, I can see that I have fewer anxious days and more and more peaceful days.

My life still lacks much external definition. I'm still building it, slowly. But my inner world is becoming a refuge. All the tight places are unwinding.

Today is I Heart My Body day, an annual campaign aimed at loving and accepting our bodies. Women across the web are participating by posting pictures of themselves and talking about body acceptance.

We live in a world that defines beauty in very narrow terms. At times, it can be a hard place to live.

One day, I was given the gift of seeing the most incredible beauty in a man whose body would never fit those definitions. I wish for each of us the ability to see ourselves through that same lens.

Life is beautiful. And each of us, as participants in life, is beautiful.

Some days, I know this as an abstract concept. Some days, I feel it in my soul.





You can read more posts about body acceptance here at We Heart Life:


weheartlife.com





61 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Carly, thanks for spearheading this initiative!

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  2. Oh my goodness, you have such a beautiful way with words. I devoured each sentence. Thank you.
    I hope you can continue to wake up each morning with a sense of peace and bliss.
    x

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    1. Thank you so much, Beth. What a beautiful comment. x

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  3. what is it about Walgreens?? I found myself losing my shite in the parking lot about six years ago. I was just moved by a woman and her children, going about their day. I realised that life is simple, it just isn't easy.

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    1. Hmmm, perhaps the giant W in their sign creates an energetic vortex. Watch, it will become the next great pilgrimage site!

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  4. You, as well as your post, are beautiful. I hope you get enough strength to live less in your internal world and more in the external. I know that that's a hard thing to achieve, as I live it every day, but I keep telling myself to keep trying. It's reading posts such as this that give me the hope that I'll be able to achieve my goals some day. Thanks and the best of luck to you!
    Irene xx

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  5. Thank you Kristin, for taking the time to visit my blog and comment on my corner of the world. Wow, what you have been through - but in your photo - the beauty is in those eyes wide open and seeing others in the same light just because.
    Cheers
    Liz N

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Liz. It's been quite a journey. x

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  6. The incident in the Walgreens parking lot? I know that feeling. I actually thought no one else was able to feel it and it is truly a beautiful thing. One day at a time. Look for the joy.

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    1. It's amazing, isn't it? To feel that depth of pure love...is incredible, overwhelming. I wish I could feel that everyday. x

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  7. You are so brave to go poking around in the scary stuff hidden deep in your baggage. *hugs*

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    1. I put on my supersuit before I go into the dark places. ;)

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  8. Such a beautiful post, it demonstrates how the emotions we go through as humans, despite the specifics of our experiences, are just so relatable. Thank you :)

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    1. So true, and I also find that blogging is a nice way to connect with others over those shared experiences.

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  9. You really are a gifted and talented writer. Amazing. Gorgeous lady, thanks for sharing.

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  10. Oh yes, you are beautiful. As is your writing and your blog. You walk through life sprinkling fairy dust on everyone you meet.
    Your honesty, compassion, and the gift you have of looking life in the eye unflinchingly - seeing rightness even in the ugly bits - is an inspiration. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you, Bina. What a lovely thing to say. I loved your post as well. x

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  11. What a lovely thoughtful post. Thank you for sharing. Rachel x

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  12. Beautiful post,

    Thank you for sharing. I think the best thing about this campaign is that it encourages us to remember that we are beautiful, even if we don't live up to a media pumped ideal.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I think we need to toss that media ideal overboard. It's getting tiresome!

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    2. Very tiresome and harmful to our health.

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  13. Kristin, you story made me cry. Such a beautiful and moving post. I need to remind myself of that. That what's beautiful isn't what the media shows us it's what we feel inside. x

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  14. You have such a beautiful way with words, Kristin and I can certainly understand the need to poke the tender bits in order to move on. Somewhere in there is the answer to healing xx

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    1. Amen. I think that's exactly where it is. x

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  15. Thank you. That was amazing. You are amazing.
    Jac @Common Chaos Chronicle xox

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  16. Those beautiful words you have written hun can only come from a truly beautiful person. not just on the outside as you are but from the glow of true beauty that radiates from the inside. It never ceases to astound me how we can live so deeply in our pain that we cannot see our own beauty. Those moments of clarity like the one you had, they are such a gift as they allow you a glimpse of the beauty that exists everywhere and in all of us. xx

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    1. Oh, Sonia, I love what you have written, especially this: "It never ceases to astound me how we can live so deeply in our pain that we cannot see our own beauty." It's like the Hafiz quote I have at the top of my blog. Same sentiment. I wish we could all be that mirror for each other. xo

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  17. Looking so very beautiful and elegant. Your words are so deep too, really beautiful post

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  18. You know I love you, right? I love your words and I love your soul.

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    1. Thank you dear Melissa. I feel the same way about you. x

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  19. You are so eloquent, I get caught up and swept away in the magic of your words. Very moving. You are beautiful x

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    1. Thank you, Kelly. What a beautiful thing to say. xo

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    2. Wow. You are beautiful ... and you really are a beautiful writer!

      X

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  20. Your words move me to tears. Thank you.

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  21. Love this post so much. I'm an incredibly sensitive person and I find myself getting emotionally affected by strangers all the time. I remember sitting in the cafe at the Air & Space Museum in DC and seeing an overweight man in a wheelchair and he had the saddest look on his face and it made me so sad. I kept trying to catch his eye so he could see me smile at him to hopefully cheer him up, but I never did. This was over 4 years ago and I still think about it. I love the way you described your experience, such beautiful writing. Thanks so much for posting.

    val
    www.daily-distraction.com

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    1. Isn't that amazing? How a stranger can have such an affect on us? We have this illusion that we're all so separate, existing in our own private universes. We're not. x

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  22. This post knocked my socks off! I had one of those moments too once. You are such an inspiring, beautiful lady. Do you know the song 'loving and free' by kiki dee? it kind of started playing in my head while I read your beautiful words xx

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    1. Hi Catherine, I hadn't heard that song before but I listened to it after reading your comment. It is really beautiful. Thank you. x

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  23. I just want to say thank you. At 25, I've weathered a physical disability, a marriage that erupted in alcohol-induced psychosis and physical and emotional abuse, and tens of thousands of dolls of debt. Some days I feel like I can't do it another day with a smile on my face.

    Long story short? Your blog gives me hope.

    Thank you... from the bottom of my heart.

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    1. Wow, Sarah. I'm so sorry. And yet, I understand all too well many of those very struggles. Hang in there. I will get better. I really will. x

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  24. A beuatiful post by a very beautiful blogger. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you Steve-o, I think you're beuatiful too.

      **Sorry, couldn't resist** ;)

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  25. You can always bring me to tears... in a good way. xxx

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  26. Awesome work as usual =) Your story and some others have inspired me to have a go at this myself. Love the pic!

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  27. I'm glad you're seeing yourself in the way that we see you, lovely x

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  28. As usual an absolutely beautifully written, moving story of growth and moving forward, topped off by that stunningly beautiful photo of you. The beauty that is you, shines always as a beacon of hope. xxx

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    1. Oh, thank you Kakka. You make me feel all warm inside. x

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  29. Wow, Kristin! Your compassion for this man has moved me so much. I can understand his pain too. I understand how pain can be so wrapped up in this vessel we live in. All my life my body has been a reflection of my pain. I'm trying to have compassion for me. So hard. Thank you for the powerful reminder that we are all participants. I love your beautiful soul. xx

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    1. Deb, I often have trouble feeling that same compassion for myself as well. It comes and goes. We are all so hard on ourselves. Since that day, I haven't been able to get back in that place of peace and joy. I miss it. I hope it comes back again soon. x

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