My face tenses with pain any time I trip. The pain moves from my spine to my jaw and then spreads across my face in a web. I have tried to re-direct this reaction by relaxing my face but it is hard to be cool about almost falling on it.
My body's memory contains more than the physical stimulus of a hundred cracked sidewalks and rocks in the wrong place, it holds every touch, and every touch longed for. It contains the memory of every rejection and every embrace. It contatins every disappointment and every success.
I became aware early on that my body was moving my emotional reactions to its outer layers when I felt emotional pain in my fingers after a particularly horrible fight with my boyfriend. Soon after, I noticed I was feeling my sexual desire in the soles of my feet. After that, I discovered my face thing.
Then, just two days ago, something entirely new happened. I was standing in line in Voodoo donuts in Eugene, OR, all set to get a big fat Bismark or something like it, and my body started shaking. My spine started tensing. I knew it was because I was smelling the sugar of the donuts and my body was rejecting it before I even got a chance to eat it.
My body is stepping in and making choices for me. I mean, I could have ignored it. I could have stayed in line, gotten my donut, and eaten every last crumb. But then my body would have said, "I told you so!" in the most inconvenient ways, I am sure, just to punish me for not listening.
While part of me is pissed that my body is now sending me new messages, I also know I have trained it up to this. My body knows I will listen. My body has confidence based on the experience of being respected. It feels like my body knows before my brain does, which is pretty spectacular.
The only problem is, I really love donuts.
At least my brain tells me that I do. What is in my head can be self-destructive, and that, I have also learned. All this time I have been told that my brain is the director, the engine in the machine of thought and process, but I have come to see that it is actually nothing of the kind. My brain is actually more of a monkey wrench. It is more of a instigator, a malcontent. My brain is the evil parrot that repeats back to me every mean thought and judgmental phrase it has ever heard or read.
So it is that I must get out of my body's way and allow it to run the show. It seems way smarter than my brain, which has had so much practice beating me up when I fail, telling me I am worthless when I attempt something, and telling me to eat everything in sight when I am anxious.
My body has proven to be a kinder, gentler and more wise ruler of All the Things I Do, and I am willing to step back and let her take over.
That is, until I am faced with my next donut.
A body positive post with a bit of a twist, I think. Let me know what you think, and share this with anyone who can benefit from it. Otherwise, keep your eyes on A Love Rebellion! I am making my way around the country, talking about love and compassion with anyone who will listen. My videos are posted on my website, and if you want to support the cause, there are many ways to do it including buying A Love Rebellion stickers from The Self Love Workshop!
"This is lopsided." I am standing next to a young girl, and she is telling me why she doesn't like one of her pots. Looking down, she carelessly turns the small blue jar over with her long, delicate fingers, disappointment filling her small frame.
I had given her and her classmates four hours to make pots, two hours to learn how and practice one day, then, the next day, they were to make and save whatever they could. Basically, they were asked to do what it takes most people exponentially longer to achieve, and for the most part, they did.
On Friday, after the pots came out of the glaze firing, everyone was standing around oohing and aahing over their own and each other's work. This girl, Mary, I will call her, made more good pots than any of the other kids in either of the classes I had the good fortune to teach. She was also the hardest on herself, and that is why she was standing there, putting down her sweet little pot.
There was really nothing I could say to disuade her from her perspective. This pot was no good, even though she had struggled to make it, even though she had carefully tested glazes in order to use just the right one for this particular pot. Even though what her teacher asked her to do was more than you could expect from people of any age let alone a group of 10 and 11 year olds.
She could not bring herself to like her lopsided little pot. I understand how easy it is to view the world in this way. I know a lot of people who do, but to watch a young girl so full of possibility be so full of crippling self-judgment was crushing. Crushing because it reminded me of every time I did this to myself.
She, like the rest of us, is a carrier of a disease. This communicable disease convinces us that no matter what we are, what we do, or what we hope to achieve, it will never be good enough. It keeps us all from discovering who we are. It keeps us from celebrating every horrible thing that has made us. It keeps us from realizing our miraculous potential.
When I told my dad I wanted to be an artist, he told me to make a living and be an artist on the side. I listened. I spent many years in jobs I ultimately hated because I believed this was The Way. I changed plans to get approval, to get love, and to get what I believed to be security. I got an MBA that I only realized later would put me in the perfect position to do any number of jobs...I would hate.
All of the ways I have changed in order to be palatable. All the things I didn't do or did do out of fear of not being enough, or not being right, or not being loved. This girl who didn't like her pot really crushed me because she is me, and her pain is my own, and we are all connected in this broken culture that teaches self-doubt.
We each have the opportunity to learn all through our lives what we love to do and do that. We have the opportunity to fail, to succeed, to hurt people and be hurt, and all of it is useful. We have the opportunity to love and be loved, to spread joy and hope and inspire compassion. All of it helps us become.
There is no right way. There is only your way, and you have the opportunity to choose it in every moment.
So before you put yourself down because unrealistic expectations have been thrust upon you by a broken and diseased culture, take a moment to breathe. Take a moment to feel the blood in your body, the pulse in your veins, and the rhythm of your particular variety of freak. Understand that you are a fucking miracle, and that might just mean that today, you struggle, Today, you cry, Today, you suffer. Because that's part of it.
Allow yourself to be you in the moment you find yourself in, in each moment you can.
The best thing you could ever hope to be is you. The second best thing is to inspire someone else to do the same. It is time for a new disease. It is time to communicate acceptance, love, and compassion. It is time for us all to see what we can do.
Short but sweet, just like me. Share this if you feel there is value, and keep your eye on A Love Rebellion. The Rebellion continues next week. There is no way to predict what could happen, so follow along if you can, and send me a shout out if I happen to come to your town. I would love to meet you.
A Right to Anger
Within the joy of the punch, the kick, the exhausted and sweaty physical husk, I have found some peace. Anger has never been safe for me. It is in fact, not really safe for anyone. At least, that's what I have been told.
The explosions that erupt after I have held my tongue for too long, endured too much, or suffered under oppressive conditions with a forced plastic smile is not a source of pride for me.
As a child, my mother's screams scared me out of fighting back. At first, my anger showed itself in the form of acne. After that, stomach and lung problems. After that, it was drinking and smoking at the age of 13. I searched and searched for ways to handle existing within the confines of "manageable", but it was just too constricting. I kept damaging myself in order to stay calm.
Therapy for decades. Food allergies. Relationships that exploded in drama. Jobs that ended with my middle finger on my way out the door. All of this because I was trained by my parents, teachers, bosses, and those I chose to call friends and partners, that my anger was not acceptable. That my reaction to pain was inappropriate. That I was scary. That I am scary.
When I was in my twenties, my dad told me that you only get angry around the people you trust. That being angry is a risk. Now that I am in my forties, I see that this is true. I also see that I don't have to be afraid of getting angry. I have been carrying around the fear that my anger will prove to the world that I am unlovable.
But its not real. I have been trained to believe that an angry woman is an ugly woman; a sublime irony in a world full of angry men. When I am irrationally angry, it means I really haven't been taking care of myself. I have allowed myself to shrink so that someone else can be more comfortable in my presence.
Shrinking is awful and small, but somehow I have managed to do horrible things from that position. My muscles pull at the bone, my knees scream from holding a bend for too long, and my back curls in on itself...it is the fetal shrink of fear and loathing and self-doubt, and I have chosen it.
But this choice has grown sour in my mouth.
I will choose differently. I have decided to be okay with my pain, my anger, my hurt, to be real about it. I am going to be ALL of me, because I need to stand up straight, stretch my back and see what this old body can do. I want to see what using everything I have might look like.
I caught a glimpse of this when I first laid my ears on heavy metal, and now, with kickboxing, (thirty years later) I see what I have been hoping to believe but never dared to. That it is not that I am scary. It is that the people who would paint me as such will not listen. They will not sit with me and accept all of who I am. I realize this is huge. Very few people in the world are capable. Very few people in the world are able to accept all of themselves. We are trained not to.
But it is vital. I will stop fighting against anything and start fighting for everything.
Oh...anger. It is healthy in small doses I think.
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