Scott and I were told recently that we were very positive people, that our outlook on life was refreshing. I can't speak for Scott, although I have an inkling that a large part of him has always been pretty positive. I do, however, know that I have not always been this way. The kernel was always there, as it is in everyone. But for many years it struggled to survive under the weight of my negative, dark, and extremely abusive thoughts. Recently, two things have been bouncing around in my community of people, as well as in my own mind. Those things are body image, and living in gratitude. For me, the pain of one led me to the joy of the other.
Several friends of mine with girls Zoe's age (5-ish) have been bouncing around stories of our daughters not only using the word "fat," but using it in reference to their own sweet, beautiful five year-old bodies. Ugh. And so it begins. My own journey through body image trials has been a long one, and one that is not even close to being finished. It is an issue that I will likely turn over and over again in my psyche until the day I die... although I do hold out hope that I will be rid of it before then. Already, approaching forty, I feel relief from some of the psychic weight of my own weight. I just don't think about it so much. My clothes look good, I know I'm beautiful, and - most importantly - the warrior inside me, the mama bear that protects myself as well as my children, fights a valiant fight against those negative thoughts that were so all-encompassing through my teens and twenties in order to allow me to be a better mom to my children. When I bargained with the powers that be that I wanted to have a baby girl, I promised that I would teach her that she is perfect and beautiful just they way she is. Any way she is. At any given moment. And how could I do that if I didn't believe it about myself?
I began that spiritual work many years ago. And believe me, this is very much spiritual work. How arrogant of me to think that I am a fat piece of shit? (Oooh, those words sting, don't they? They make me cringe now, but I used to say those words to myself just about every minute, of every day, for many years.) In the face of the Creator that made me, in spite of the Divine that lives inside me, how can I believe that? After a bout with clinical depression in my late teens / early twenties, I worked with a wonderful therapist in San Francisco for five years. I learned so much about myself, but continued to be mired in the self-hatred that has become so common for full-figured women in our culture. I took a few years off from therapy, and then began working with my beloved life coach in San Francisco. It was finally through her that I identified that Warrior Woman inside me. For the first time that I could remember, after about two years of working with her, the negative voices were gone. I had banished them, because in no way did they serve me. I still struggle with those voices from time to time (Why, hello, hormones of pregnancy!), but generally I am rid of them. Hallelujah!
Once that tremendous feat was accomplished, my next challenge was to get a grip on my other thoughts and prayers. Have you ever heard the sayings, "Worry is a negative prayer," or, "Worrying is misuse of the imagination?" Well, it is absolutely true. I started reigning in my negative thoughts and worries, focusing instead on the positive. Instead of thinking, "I really don't want my job to suck," I started thinking, "I'd love to enjoy my job!" This shift has been pivotal, and I believe it is what has allowed me the great fortune of getting on the correct path. And what is that correct path like? How do I know I'm on the correct path?
I know because things are a lot easier when I'm "in the flow," or "on the path," or whatever you want to call it. Life is pretty peaceful here. This is not at all to say that we don't have our hardships. We certainly have been faced with some really scary shit in the last several years. But we haven't allowed ourselves to be mired in worry. We have done our best to see these bumps in the road as just that. We lost a job because we are supposed to be somewhere else. We had that fight because it forced us to come together again after we had been drifting apart. But above all else, we know we will be okay. This is really important.
Somehow, I have always been able to touch into this belief that everything happens for a reason, and it always happens for the best. Great discoveries and transformations can come from situations that seem, at the time, like they are horrible and scary. Perhaps this is because my mom always instilled in me the unwavering belief that we would be okay. I used to worry about intruders when I was a little girl, but my mom just said to me, "Well, has that ever happeend to us before?" My answer: "No." "Well, it's not going to happen tonight, either." She had such a strong belief in God, and specifically in those special angels assigned to us kiddoes. I think it rubbed off a little. Even as early as my teen years, I was shown over and over again that, even though I might not be able to see the reasons why in the moment, even the crappy things that came my way had a higher purpose.
The undercurrent of everything in my life is a constant stream of trust in the wisdom of the Universe. I trust that the right path will be made apparent to me. I trust that God is conspiring with me to help me fulfill my higher purpose in this world. I can't always see what that is, but that is not worrisome to me. I *know* that great things are in store for me, and for Scott. And I am incredibly grateful for the blessings of the wonderful life that I have been afforded. Right now, in this moment, I am overflowing with gratitude. I cannot express to you in words how amazing that is. Although I don't feel entirely comfortable disclosing to the world the hardships we have encountered recently, suffice it to say that God's grace is good. I had prayed for some acceptance about six months ago, during a time when that felt impossible to attain. In very timely fashion, that acceptance came right before it was called upon and put into action. And this hardship no longer felt so overwhelming. Instead it felt like an opportunity for great expansion.
I have not always been able to speak so positively about the course of my life. A few years ago, I attended a 'life class' of sorts with my coach and about 10 other people. As we did that work together, as we dreamed together, I was skeptical. I could not see how this was going to make any difference for me. Even as I was putting together my dream book I was thinking, "Oh please. If this really works I'll be amazed." Well... I've been amazed. Over and over and over again in the years since then. I did the work — starting with gratitude lists, meditations, dream books, and moving on to the more challenging task of trusting in God and the Divine with me in the day-to-day — and the shift in my life has been tremendous.
So now, even in the hardest of times, I am mostly able to live in a blissful state of gratitude. I do not claim to be perfect. I can complain and bemoan with the best of them, and usually with quite the snarky, colorful, and sarcastic flair! But the undercurrent of trust is always there now. I do tend to it, and I still have to work at it. But generally, I am so grateful for my life. I am grateful for the strong body I have that has birthed two 10 pounders. I am grateful for my supportive, sweet, and forgiving husband. I am grateful for my wonderful neighbors who add so much richness to our home life. I am grateful for the opportunities I've been given here to serve and support other mamas. I could go on and on. But above all, I am grateful to be able to access such a deep well of gratitude. It's a good place to be.