And now I know
And now I see
That I’m my own worst enemy
Well it’s all right, even if they say you’re wrong
Well it’s all right, sometimes you gotta be strong
In 2014, I picked the word fierce as my word for the year and it was a damn fine word.
I wanted to be fierce about the decisions in my life. To stand up for my needs more and compromise my happiness less. To live my life fully and not let my fear of not being liked (or loved) stop me from doing what I really want to do. To be visible and courageous and unflinching in my authenticity.
Did I succeed? For the most part …hell yes I did! Not always, of course. And I’m sure I had my clumsy and inelegant moments in which I inadvertently hurt others. But mostly, I loved being fierce. I made some really hard decisions and then hoped my friends would understand. Some did and our friendship is strengthened and more deeply valued by me. Some didn’t and the loss of that connection brings sadness but few regrets.
I tackled some big physical challenges and made it over the damn mountain. Twice. I spoke some hard truths and I tried to do it with love, compassion and thoughtfulness. And I walked into the darkness to poke at what hurts in the hopes of healing the wounds.
Now that it’s 2015, I’m not sure I want to let my fierce word companion go. I think I might keep that fierceness tucked in my back pocket and just keep on keeping on.
But as 2014 came to a close and I began thinking about a word for 2015 one thing became increasingly clear. The most troubled area for me in living fully is still my physical relationship with my body. I’ve put on weight (again). I never feel like I eat healthy or get enough exercise. But July’s experience hiking the Quiraing planted the seed that I needed to get along with my body more. I couldn’t force it to do what I wanted; I needed to support it.
And then, at the end of 2014, I had the incredible experience of being with a dear friend in the last days of his life as he passed away from cancer and his spirit was released from this world. As I watched his body break down and stop working, I realized that I have spent a lot of my life at war with my body. Hating it for being too fat, blaming it for the things that haven’t gone the way I wanted them to (hello rejection and heartbreak), yelling at it to be in better shape like some kind of abusive coach. Faster! Stronger! Not Good Enough!
The fact is, though, that my body is working pretty damn well. There are a whole lot of things going right each day that mean I am mobile, not in pain and able to do the things I want to. It has done its best and stuck with me even with the negative self-talk and the crap I sometimes feed it.
Perhaps instead of being at war with my body, I could instead be at peace with it. Maybe instead of yelling I could celebrate my body and all the amazing things we can do together. Perhaps if I loved my body more then this idea of self-care would become less of a battle and more of a partnership. If I could take the fierceness with which I have tackled the outside world in 2014 and turn it inwards into celebration and partnership then I might be much happier and waste less of this precious life.
And so I have chosen the word stretch for 2015. To stretch my body fully and gloriously and revel in all it can do. To expand my body and my spirit together in partnership to explore the potential of my life. To physically stretch my muscles to allow for free movement.
If fierce was the word that acted as a backstop to keep me from eroding myself away in compromise and people-pleasing then I hope stretch is a word that helps me join hands with my body and reach forward towards my goals and dreams and desires.
It’s time to make peace with the enemy.
The war is over.
Let the parade begin.
‘Cause every inch of you is perfect
From the bottom to the top
You don’t have to try so hard
You don’t have to give it all away
You just have to get up,
You don’t have to change a single thing
Last week I marked my 45th birthday and I discovered something neat. I actually really like me.
I have always found birthdays slightly stressy. On the one hand, all the birthday greetings and love from friends and family are wonderful. They remind me how blessed I am. I have been whisked away on surprise trips, had birthday parties and I usually treat myself to an extra long massage session. I mean, pretty blessed, right?!
But then there is that niggly feeling, that “still not good enough” gremlin. Still not married. Still not thin. Ungrateful for what I have. And, somehow the “middle of the decade” birthdays seem worse. Somehow, 35 felt closer to 40 than 30. Time slipping away into another year of failure. And, 45 has brought 50 into view for the first time.
So, while I love celebrating my birthday and being reminded of all the great things about my life and especially all the wonderful people in my life, I find myself unconsciously bracing myself for the emotional blow of “not good enough”.
When that didn’t fall this year I was left a little like a stranger in a strange land. It was a new place, a new landscape. I felt my shoulders gradually begin to loosen from their tenseness of the anticipated blow and I realized – I am so okay with where I’m at this year. Life is full of wonderful things which I am ever grateful for. And, yes, it still has the struggles that I still keep chipping away at. That’s what exploring is. Enjoying the journey, the view and the scenery while facing the unknown and doing my best to change directions when I need to, with honesty, gentleness, compassion and fierce loyalty to myself and my path.
On the day of my birthday I took myself off to the glass studio for some creative time. And, I made myself a heart. This was only my second try at making this kind of pendant and I absolutely love how it turned out. I’ve been working on pieces for other people over the past while but I decided on my birthday I would make something just for me.
Only later did it occur to me that I had made myself a heart. A manifestation of love for myself.
Self-love is a pretty awesome gift at any age.