You’ve Always Been There

Dear Body of Mine,

It’s been up and down with you through the years, hasn’t it? Always, there have been parts of you that I have treasured, like my loving heart and the way this brain provides the ability to laugh and think and learn and BE among all the other amazing things you do (you’ve helped me through a lot of adventures). It’s true, I love all kinds of people well and need to love some better. This includes you.

My green eyes, a child-like explanation for feeling as if I didn’t belong with family members who circled around me, were a quality I came to love–because they were different than everyone else’s blue.

Freckles that sprinkled my face and arms and seemed to multiply each summer after long hours of playing outside. My mom singing, “She has freckles on her butt she’s pretty (rather than but, as if freckles cancel out beauty) helped me see how in this way, I am also like her. Her father sang those same words to her when she was a kid.

IMG_0595Hair that would not grow to be as long and straight as that of my friends. Oh, the prayers for long hair…starting when I was five. It’s sad that I wasn’t okay with my hair then.

Short, fat, all-the-same-length toes that have been a source of laughter (I’ve been called Surfer Toes since the nails on my big toes curve upward like an ocean wave).

IMG_0587A smile so big that my eyes seem to close simultaneously to contain it. I used to complain about these sometimes–slits, but now, I realize just how happy and sleepy content I always looked.

Crinkly eyes and a line-y forehead from all that smiling and crying and laughing and searching and studying and wondering and hard-fought battles.

Oh, green sequins, who cares what people say. You were a good idea for prom at one time.
Oh, green sequins, who cares what people say. You were a good idea for prom at one time.

Stretch marks (how does that happen without having kids and always being small?)?! I’m human; I pretty sure that’s all that means.

I have put a lot of pressure on you to be what I thought you should be OR what I thought others wanted you to be, thinking that straighter hair or bigger breasts or more defined muscles, longer eyelashes, less freckles, smaller thighs, smoother skin, and on and on, would make me happy and/ or keep people around. I didn’t make physical changes I deeply wanted to because I didn’t think I would be accepted by those who loved me most. Because of my looks.

Just wow.

Choosing oh-so carefully how to nourish you after cursing you for all the pain and puzzling mind-fogginess and months of rashes and adult acne (who came up with that idea?). And yet, through all of this, you have shown me how strong and resilient you are, many long prayers answered like a single, twinkling star on a stretch of dark, cloudy nights.

Ever evolving into me (inside and out) and taking care of you in all the ways I am learning to is a challenge everyday, but I am REAL in that challenge. And I mess up. A lot. And more and more, I succeed.

And I remind myself that we are beautiful the way we are and comparing myself to others truly steals every ounce of my joy. I know it. I believe it. I feel it.

So, I am grateful for all you do for me. And I am especially thankful to God who has always been there through every bit of me as long as I have been me. Thanks for helping me to see the beauty in being who I am–loving, curly hair, pale Scotch-Irish skin with freckles, Vienna sausage-toed, smart, green-eyed, adventurous and brave ME.

IMG_0569P.S. Don’t forget to tell me when I can have gluten again. Just a thought. Oh, and ice cream would be nice, too. 

I recently came across this series over at SheLovesMagazine and was inspired by the touching stories I read. Who cares that the deadline already passed! It’s never too late for some healthy positivity.

Pony Lessons

“Make an obstacle course for the pony.” These are the directions we were given. Nothing more. The last time I might have been near a pony was when I was little and too timid to touch it (or maybe I saw one on TV, who knows). Regardless, I felt like I was in way over my head.

I know this is a donkey picture, but it's mine and I like it.
I know this is a donkey picture, but it’s mine and I like it.

After picking through the pile of barrels, a bucket and PVC pipes of various sizes, we slowly began to work, arranging everything the best we knew how.

“Have the pony go through your course, using anything in the arena.” Um, just MOVE a PONY?

Puzzled, I wondered if these animals are at all like my dogs, who come barreling around the corner when I call them, ears flopping and tail wagging.

We mumbled and stumbled and urged and pushed and begged. “Come on, little pony, let’s go!” (this makes me laugh, since my horse-owning dad would shake his head).

Glancing over at the beginning of our carefully-placed course and resting his eyes there, the pony seemed curious, almost longing to try it. Still, he refused to move, even with our calm but urgent pleading (I was a nervous, sweaty mess). We tried walking away, hoping he would be interested enough to follow. Instead, he went back to his comfort, his owner.

And then! I got the leash bridle that was over on the fence, and we gently wrestled it on him.

Feeling more comfortable (I guess) with our control, the pony slowly began to move. Relieved, we wove him around the maze of barrels. This won’t take long! But then, we came to a place where he stopped, refusing to jump or even step over the PVC pipe we set between two short plastic tables.  Rubbing his velvety-soft nose, we told him he was doing a fine job.

But he wasn’t going anywhere.

After a long several minutes, we decided to lower the pipe to a more manageable height, and that did the trick. Ah-ha! Soon, he we would be finished! This was possible!

We moved toward the last obstacle, a plastic crate about the size of a cement block, placed lower to the ground than most of the others. He planted his feet and became a rigid pony statue. Was he tired? Unsure? Worried about something? I talked to him, encouraging him to keep going. “I know this sucks, but you’re almost finished!” I said. He stood still, while I thought about how far we had come and understood we still would not accomplish our goal until we got past this thing that was holding us back.

It’s been three days since this experience, and I can’t stop thinking about it. I am a lot like that pony.

Have you ever yearned to do something or live an adventure but then chose to go back to your comfortable place? Maybe it’s a goal or a dream that’s been carefully placed in your heart but money, situations, people or YOU get in your way? Maybe you’ve already gotten started and are so close to the finish but are stuck, wrestling with yourself or something that seems or is really big, wondering if quitting and turning back to that comfortable place is better.

The pony? Well, he eventually (finally!) took one step and then another one until we made it to the big finish.

img_2079.jpgSometimes, simply going forward is just the thing that moves us closer to where we want to be.