You know what people love? Weight loss updates. On TV, on the internet, while sitting around the brunch table engaging in “fat chat” with your best friends. Well, consider this an un-weight loss update, as I’m checking in not with how many inches I lost around my waist line, but how I am doing with Radical Body Acceptance, since laying down the gauntlet with my last post. I’m calling it Operation RAD BOD. Doesn’t that sound better than “Jenny Craig”?
I struck a chord with my Radical Body Acceptance post, and I have been overwhelmed by all of the interesting comments and heartwarming responses that have rolled in — women sharing their stories, voicing their discontent with the state of the messages we hear about our bodies, and trying to make sense of how we got to the point that it is such a struggle to love the home of our souls. There has also been a lot of encouragement from people who have already committed themselves to living a bold, beautiful life, regardless of how much the beauty industry tries to make us feel like shit about ourselves. I got some tremendous referrals, finding out about Project Enough (I mean really, could that be any more perfect for me, in my Year of Enough?!), and several link backs to my post led me to other pieces folks had wrote on this topic (you can see these by going to the comments section of my last post).
When I saw Jennifer in dance class that week, she held her arms out to me, like she was welcoming me into the folds of a comforting religion. Like any new convert, I felt excited, accepted, and a little worried that I wasn’t going to be able to live up to the demands of the faith. However, I’ve been doing well so far. Whenever someone on the playground starts to denigrate their post-baby body, I have been able to say, “It’s funny you’re bringing this topic up, because I just wrote a post about Radical Body Acceptance…” and we go from there.
It’s also been leeching into other parts of my life — I don’t know if it’s Operation Rad Bod, or following The Artist’s Way, but I’ve stopped publicly shying away from my artist self, as well. Outside of another dance class, my friend Michele introduced me to a fellow dancer, Anne, who saw me in the video Rhythm & Motion did that was at the end of my last post. She loved the video, but was worried that not enough people were seeing it, so I shared with her that I posted it on my blog, and the piece got over 500 hits. She said, “Oh, what do you do, that you have a blog?” Without missing a beat, I proclaimed, “I’m just amazing.” All three of us burst into laughter so loud that we startled our children, listening on in their strollers below. Anne commented that she loved my reply because so many people would shrug their shoulders, and say, “Oh, well, it’s nothing, I’m nothing, blah blah self-loathing” but here I was, just claiming my worth. I said, “Yeah, that was me last week! I would have been like, ‘I write about my life, it’s really not that interesting, parenting, spirituality, pop culture, you know, it’s just some little site, no ad revenue or anything like that.’” But there has been in a change in me. I’m learning to accept my body AND my creative output. It’s something I have to practice every day, over and over, not to slip into old patterns of self debasement.
In fact, that’s the sneaky thing about acceptance. It spreads like a leak in the basement, slowly but surely flooding the whole house, until you’re swimming so fluidly that you don’t care your house is underwater. Speaking of houses, Operation Rad Bod is making me rethink my ever-consuming desire to find a bigger place for my family. I actually don’t have much jealousy and comparison of other people’s bodies, but other people’s homes? Damn. Guilty as charged. Anyone who has been so blessed, lucky, and saavy to buy a house in the Bay Area, I commend you. And, I am so uncomfortably jealous of your good fortune that I can hardly bear to step foot in your home. We are still in a tiny one-bedroom, with three people, and since the Second Wave Tech Boom, we have no hope of finding a larger place in our area. For over a year, we have been going through all the options, searching constantly for a place, praying, considering drastic choices as well as simple ones. But finally, due to the radical acceptance I’ve been bringing to my body, I am just coming to terms with the constraints of our income and our ability to spread out. And guess what? Looking at another year (at least) in this tiny aerie apartment does not feel soul-stifling. It’s actually a little freeing, as I was in full-fledged grief mode about having to leave all the self-care practices and community we had set up for ourselves here. So, I’m radically accepting my tiny living space.
What do you need to bring radical acceptance to, along with your body? Perhaps it’s that your parents are never going to change into the mom and dad you always wished for. Maybe it’s that your child is not as much of a star athelete as you hoped, or not the most popular kid in class. Or it could be that there are more parts of you, other than just your limbs, that you need to bring love to. I said to Jennifer this week, “I realized that I don’t need to change my body. I need to change my thinking.” Little did I know where that would take me. I’m plugging in, going deeper, wondering what dark corner of myself that I’ve abandoned will arise next as the area that love wants to conquer.