Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Here's a Thought

She's got nice abs. No denying this. In the not-all-that-distant-yet-most-assuredly-pre-preggo past, I pranced around the gym in similar getup. Before you start thinking I'm posting about this picture, which is making the rounds of Facebook and making me want to spork somebody's eyes out, because I gots mad envy...let me assure you that's not my problem with it.

Stop looking at the picture. Read the words. Once you're done with that, how about you take a minute to ponder a few ideas:

What was the first thing you thought when you saw the picture? Hmmmm. If you're like a lot of people (women) who've commented on FB, you're not feeling all that saucy about your own abs right now. This picture made you not like yourself - or at least the way you look - for a minute. You think you need to get back in the gym ASAP. You think this woman (who, if I may be so bold as to suggest it, may be a little *gasp* airbrushed) is the ideal to which you, normal non-freak-of-nature-or-photoshop woman, must immediately aspire.

Why is she ideal, and not you? Just because of her abs? Is there anything in this picture that confirms that the rest of her life isn't one big hot mess? But hey, she's got THOSE ABS so it can't be all bad. I've had the abs, as I've said, and let me offer the guarantee that abs do not a perfect life make. Granted, if you make your living as a fitness model, then you'll probably get more work with the abs...but I'm assuming that's not what's going on here so I digress.

Every second of every day? Really? EVERY? This is what I need to do to be somebody? Spend every second of every effing day to get me some brand-new abbadabbas? Been there, done that, got the sports bra. Taking that approach was pretty much my grand-scale fail at life. I'd gladly introduce you to several people I know who have had the same experience.

Going back and reading, it's sounding like Bitter, Party of One. Nah. Not really. Here's the thing, though: I've learned something. In my thirtysomethingsomething years, I've learned something, and while I occasionally have to work EXCEEDINGLY hard to remember it, it's stuck. Because it's important.

Here it is.
Right here.
Still here? Good.

It's this, and it's fairly simple: you may not like the way you look all the time, and you may spend inordinate amounts of time comparing yourself to people like the model in the picture, and you may think that if you could just get rid of those last 5 pounds/that gobbler/the end of the baby weight/your mommy flap (for those of us who have had c-sections that there ain't no crunches or pilates to help)/your what-the-hell-ever you don't like, your life would be shiny and glossy and sparkle like the mothereffing SUN.

Revisit this. It won't. Because changing those things won't change YOU. And why in the world aren't you enough for the people who love you, just as you are? My son couldn't care less that mommy's 6-pack is missing some cans. My husband hasn't left me because I don't look like that woman in the picture. I cry sometimes because I get sucked in, usually in times of stress, to thinking that "if I only had that body back"....yeah. The one I almost died to get. The one I never appreciated. The one that there is no end to the craziness to maintain. I mentioned death already.

I have this body. It's closer to 40 than I want it to be. It has been starved, and refed, lather rinse repeat ad nauseam. It has forgiven me. It carried my child. It nursed my child. It has run HUNDREDS and HUNDREDS of miles. It has folded itself into the corners of friends' hot tubs, sweated in pain and come back for more on a Spin bike, walked through vacation cities, and been stronger than I ever knew I'd need it to be. I have no right not to love it.

What has your body - your REAL, normal, unique body - done for YOU? I promise you, the life it's carried you through is worth more than just a mirror full of abs.

Go be beautiful.

Friday, June 10, 2011

You Can't Always Get What You Want

Wow. Hello, blog. Plenty of things going on, not sure where to begin. Hold nose tightly, jump right in.

We think we send our children off to adults to be taught. Occasionally, though, you have to wonder who's actually doing the teaching. I've learned more about life over the past two months than I have in a long time. Maybe it was a refresher course as much as anything, but still. I had the honor of being taught (or reminded) what it means to put faith into action, and my teacher was a terminally ill seventeen-month-old boy. We were given the opportunity, rather unexpectedly, to open our home to him and his family, who are our dear friends, for several days while he was hospitalized here (unexpectedly). At that point, in the middle of the night, driving a car filled with suitcases and the broken promises of a trip gone awry, there's nothing more to say. Seeing them, younger than we are and experiencing the end of their baby boy's life, hurting in a way we can't begin to understand...well, you don't talk anymore. You just DO. You stop asking, and start acting. I've heard it said that it's better to light a candle than to curse the darkness; well, given that cursing wasn't going to change a damn thing, we did our best to keep the candle lit. Supposedly this is something we were doing for them, because that's what friends do. I didn't realize until recently the depth of the blessing I received from being able to offer what I had to give. It will do me well to remember what I learned about friendship that week, and to show my son by example that friends give. You don't say pretty words, and pat people on the head. Get in there. Hurt with someone. Listen. Light your damn candle already. Shine a little light into a very, very dark night. You never know. Expect nothing - but do it anyway.

I'm sad to tell you that my sweet teacher's battle with cancer ended a few weeks ago. We look at the pictures from their stay often. Small boy loves them mightily. As do I. There is a beautiful orange gerbera daisy blooming, and it's a reminder to remember the beauty of his life, of all life. Because I know that's what he's asking us to do.

I want to tell you about the adventure run I'm doing a week from tonight. I want to tell you I'm running two half-marathons in the near future (November and February). I want to tell you about some crazy obstacle course nonsense I seem to be getting myself into. I want to tell you that suddenly I run a lot faster, and this bemuses and pleases me. But somehow it doesn't fit this post. This is why I haven't written for a while. Nothing seemed to flow.

*check out this segue! sometimes I am sofa king fantastic*

Amazingly, this post is coming full circle right now. Speaking of flow, today was the day of reckoning - the day I got around to doing something that's been on the to-do list for quite some time. I found myself in a yoga class today, for the first time in (just a guess here) 3 years. Let's do a quick Things I Have Learned:

1. I'm no spring chicken.
2. Which doesn't matter a hell of a lot when half the rest of the class isn't either.
3. Which matters less when the lights are turned WAAAAAAY down.
4. For someone who more or less is locked into cardio, I'm weirdly strong. Don't be thinking I'm Miss Yoga USA, though, keep reading.
5. My balance sucks. One minute I'm being told my Warrior 2 is "beautiful" and the next minute my Tree is toppling over like there's hurricane-force winds. Shit.
6. Running immediately before yoga isn't necessarily the greatest idea. One, I stunk to high heaven (sorry, yoga neighbors), and two, my cranky hip was CRANKY.

The thing that shocked me the most was that by the end of the class, my mind was actually mostly clear. We did our srivasana (Lord help, that's probably wrong, but I'm not opening another window to check) in the dark, and as we're lying there supine on our mats, the instructor said something that resonated very deeply with me:

The to-do list will be there. Just not now.

Suddenly, it was clear just how much time I do not spend in the moment. And just as clear how grateful I am for all the moments I've been given, even though as the mom of a preschooler I've developed multitasking to an art form and as such, miss half of them.

We sat up, slowly, and as I moved my hands into prayer position, a tear slid down my cheek. What matters most is here now. The to-do list can wait, you know? No one will care that I forgot to unload the dishwasher, or that the towels were all folded by 6pm. I will care, though, and deeply, if I let my life pass me by. Haven't I done enough of that? I've been given another chance to get this right, and the to-do list will be there. This two-and-a-half summer, this family time, this summer afternoon outside at the art museum, wine in hand, with a friend and our boys won't be. These moments are too beautiful not to soak up. So if it takes weekly reminders via yoga, so be it.

This morning, what I wanted was to stretch out my hammies and get Jennifer Aniston arms. What I got was a gentle push back into my life.

If you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.