Loving Your Vessel
I'm not sure at what point in my life my brain switched gears, but I have found my entire perception of my body has completely evolved.
Perhaps it's simply from aging. Starting with high school, then post-secondary and treating my body like sh*t, to now caring for myself in ways I once couldn't afford to, care to, or knew how to.
It could have started after experiencing an insanely terrifying car accident when I was seventeen. Rolling my car several times mid-August 2011, left a demolished car and a shooken up girl (with minor injuries all things considered). Experiencing recovery and learning to be patient with myself as I regained strength and confidence, overcame new fears (such as getting back behind a wheel.. or into any car for that matter) and practicing loving my new and forever scarred body. Being confronted with the overwhelming love and support of my family and friends was difficult to process when at a young age you're still learning to love yourself. Learning to receive help and set your ego and pride aside (thank you Mom for bathing me, shaving my armpits and washing my hair.... and helping that not be humiliating at seventeen). Leaning on amazing friends who encouraged me and reminded me to take little steps, and that I would eventually regain my stamina and strength. My high schools friends, you were so incredibly impactful...especially during that year.... ugh that was a hard year- one of those "when it rains it pours" kind of year. Thank you.
It likely changed again once I met Brandon and knew quite quickly this was the man I'd marry. Wanting to have a body that would carry me into forever with him.
Maybe when I began investing in my body with activities that brought me joy did my opinion of my vessel evolve again. Fuelling it with clean, whole foods, and hydrating my body, nourishing it well, and feeling it thank me in return.
Entering into a career in health care as a personal support worker absolutely challenged my appreciation for my body. Working in a highly demanding job (both physically and mentally) encouraged me to continue with the sustainable and balanced lifestyle I worked towards. It provided opportunities for me to bear witness to the privilege it is to age. To see first hand what happens when you love your body and thank it for all it's given you. To see beauty in all ages, shapes and paths of life. And to admire the smile and laugh lines earned and worn with pride.
Again my perspective was challenged when Brandon and I decided to start a family. Looking at my body as an agent of change. As the tool and amazing vessel it really is.
It grew some more when we lost our first baby. Confronting the experience head-on physically and what issues arose with that. Allowing my body (and mind) the space and time to process. Giving it grace as it navigated through unknown territory. Respecting the boundaries it placed as it experienced such a cruel loss.
Again, my idea of my body was reframed as I grew and nurtured a second baby. Trusting in my body to do what it needed to, to create a home for our son. Stretch where it needed to. Grow where it needed to. Set limits around movement and rest. Ultimately preparing for bringing our son to earth-side (you can read about that here).
Watching as my body lead with conviction even when my mind was racing to keep up. Breastfeeding, organs moving back into place, postpartum recovery, periods returning and regulating. This time I trustingly followed my bodys lead.
My concept of my body is growing every day. It surprises me with its strength, its ability to set and keep boundaries when my mind wants to overload and burn itself out (although sometimes my mind wins the battle and I'm left feeling drained and regretful). Now, I'm mindful with how my body feels, learning the foods that nourish me the best, movement that I enjoy and challenges me. It keeps me grounded. Speaks to me in ways I need to hear. I think it's always spoken to me. The difference now is I want to listen.
Your body may not always look the way you want. You may not always feel beautiful. You may have seasons (read about the seasons of life here) of doubt, anger, exhaustion and neglect. You will know for certain when those seasons are upon you. And although throughout the years my opinion of my body has changed, one thing has remained the same. When I treat my body well, I feel good in it.
May I offer a shift of perspective?
Your body is your home.
It's your home.
There will be times when your home is messy, disorganized and lost its feng shui. That happens to us all. And when it does it's your job to create the best home for you. Tidy your space or embrace the mess, fuel it well, dress it in ways that feel good to you. Find rest and comfort. Participate in things that bring you joy. Practice gratitude for your body as it shows up for you every day the best it can. Treat it well. Your body is your home. And your home is beautiful.
If you open yourself up and welcome a flowing relationship with your body, you allow yourself to be forgiving as your body takes you through this life. You allow your body to age with grace, to grow with encouragement, to heal with patience and to navigate unknown territory with love and empathy. To me, loving your body has to be a daily choice. It can't be a final destination, because your body is ever-changing, and so your love needs to change with it.
I encourage you to take each new change, new wrinkle, uneven breasts, hairy big toes, and stretch marks...
and welcome them home.
All my love,