I exist through my living not because of some label. Descriptions enhance mind pictures but do not define the essence of my spirit. I am living. I am being. I am not a noun. I am a verb.
Gene McParland from “I Am a Verb”
I have a really big problem. At least to me it is.
I am mean to myself.
I constantly obsess about how I look, how much I weigh, how I could look better, how I need to be thinner, how I need to look fitter…it’s ridiculous and crazy.
I’ve got to stop.
What if…I did just that. I stopped.
But I’m scared.
I’ve been doing this since I was 11. Talking to myself in a mean voice, obsessing over my body. I’ve always been afraid that if I stopped, I’d…get fat and look even worse. That if I stopped berating myself over every morsel that went in my mouth and every minute of exercise I didn’t do in a day, I’d just let myself go.
What if…I just stopped.
But little by little / as you left their voices behind / the stars began to burn / through the sheets of clouds / and there was a new voice / which you slowly / recognized as your own / that kept you company / as you strode deeper and deeper / into the world / determined to do / the only thing you could do— / determined to save / the only life you could save.
— Mary Oliver, from “The Journey”
What if…I changed my mean voice to a nice voice? What if…I just didn’t have my body on my radar at all? What if… I just worked out because it makes me feel good and I like to? What if…I just eat to nourish myself and because I enjoy it instead of because of its calorie or protein content?
What if…I just stopped?
It’s the fire in my eyes / And the flash of my teeth / The swing in my waist / And the joy in my feet. / I’m a woman / Phenomenally. / Phenomenal woman / That’s me.
— Maya Angelou, from “Phenomenal Woman”
I have spent so much time worrying about this…utter nonsense…that it makes me ill. I could have created world peace by now with all the time I’ve spent worrying about the way my body looks. It’s disgusting and sad that I’ve wasted that much time and energy…and I’m not going to do it anymore. I am way more than how I look. I am a mother and a wife and a friend…not just a body.
What if…I just stopped?
“What makes us truly beautiful is born well below the surface: a gleam in our eye, an ear-to-ear grin, a bounce in our step. But sometimes a little powder doesn’t hurt.”
When I stop to think about the real-life women I know that I think are beautiful, it’s not because they have the perfect face, clothes, body or haircut. It’s truly because of WHO they are…not what they look like.
What if…I judged myself in the same way?
“Exuberance is beauty.”
— William Blake
I am happy. I love my life. I am deeply in love with my husband. My kids make me cry with joy every single day. I am exuberant.
What if…that makes me beautiful?
“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
I think I do deserve my love and affection. I’m scared to do it, I really am, but I can’t take it anymore.
What if…I just stopped being mean to myself and instead was…nice?
“We can learn to use makeup to emphasize our eyes or downplay a feature. But self-assurance involves learning to live with (and treasure) those fundamental things we can’t change: the very features that make each of us beautiful and unlike anyone else.”
— Bobbi Brown
I really need to stop comparing myself to others and just be me. I’m sure there are things about me, physical or otherwise, that others admire. I need to treasure those things and not worry about the rest.
“Welcoming imperfection is the way to accomplish what perfectionism promises but never delivers. It gives us our best performance, and genuine acceptance in the family of human—and by that I mean imperfect—beings.”
— Martha Beck
My favorite people in the world are flawed. Isn’t everyone? It’s ridiculous to try to be perfect.
What if…I stopped trying to be perfect?
“I don’t have to be perfect. All I have to do is show up and enjoy the messy, imperfect and beautiful journey of my life. It’s a trip more wonderful than I could have imagined.”
— Kerry Washington
What if…I just stopped all this and just enjoyed each and every day for all of its beauty?
“The relentless attempts to be thin take you further and further away from what could actually end your suffering: getting back in touch with who you really are. Your true nature. Your essence.”
— Geneen Roth
“Real beauty isn’t about symmetry or weight or makeup; it’s about looking life right in the face and seeing all its magnificence reflected in your own.”
— Valerie Monroe
What if…this is who I am and I just need to enjoy it?