Here’s how I know: because if you really needed to lose weight, you’d be doing it already.
In the same way that you always feel like you need more money, but it’s when the rent is due (or those shoes go on sale) that you actually find the money.
So if you’ve been torturing yourself about how you look and you are letting your mind be filled up with an endless swirl of thoughts like, “Why is my belly like that? And my hips. I used to be so much thinner. I should go to the gym. That girl over there is so skinny. I wish I looked like that. I wonder if I should try hula-hooping or pole dancing? Silly. I wish I could just snap my fingers and change my body. Maybe a juice fast? I don’t really like juice….”
Then I am here to tell you right now: CUT IT OUT.
(Now, clearly, if your weight is a medical issue and you still aren’t doing anything about it, then you must just rally all of your internal strength and get a bunch of people to help you right now. Seriously. I don’t care if you are thin or not, but I do care that you stay alive.)
I have a little story for you.
Here’s what happened:
I was meditating the other day (and, as usual, half-running my list of complaints about myself) when I suddenly felt a BOLT of energy – like a wrecking ball of energy had just hit me square in the chest – and I suddenly saw the complete absurdity of my endless self-criticizing.
1) I have a BEAUTIFUL life.
2) Life is very, very short.
Therefore, for me to spend ONE MINUTE obsessing about something as trivial as my weight is not just ridiculous, it’s a bit obscene. In the way that having a bowling alley in a private home is a bit obscene.
I was suddenly shocked at myself. That I would spend even one minute of this glorious life beating myself up seemed, at the very, very least, pitifully ungrateful.
I seized a pen and wrote:
My Poor, Ever-Lovin’ Body…
My precious, delightful, ungainly, grace-filled body
That has lived through
So much neglect
So much disdain
…and you have only ever loved me
Breathing for me even when I forget
Patient so patiently waiting for me to love you
Or even like you a little bit.
You always do your best
Even with me disapproving all the time
Oh the things I have said about you
Still you helped me as best you could.
Tell me what I’ve done
Show me every scar
Each tender spot
I’m noticing how soft your skin is
And this light I see in your eyes
Having Trouble Communicating With An Overworked Partner?
This totally made me puddle up. I think Audrey sets a fine example for us all 🙂
I am on your email list and receive your beautiful poems and ideas.
I just wanted to thank you cause those emails have been inspiring for me.
I recently wrote something for my boyfriend that I titled: In Praise of The Stressed Worker inspired by your poems and that was the only way I could reach his heart. Everything else didn’t work but that poem that I did – more for me in honor of him – really spoke to him.
So thank you for the inspiration and also for all the love and understanding of others.
A scarf from India
A top that’s Loose around the Middle
Very, very, very Sensible Shoes
And an Unceasingly Kind expression
(The uniform of individuality).
You, the Bright-Eyed.
You, the Generous volunteer.
You, still working out That Stuff with your dad.
In hotel ballrooms and
Church basements and
Yoga studios and
Korean spas and
Montana ranches, Bahamian Beaches and the
You are becoming.
It’s so becoming.
And you’ve learned to
Bring a sweater and a
Thermos of hot water and
Lots of extra tissues.
You have stood in a circle
You have lain prostrate
Your bookshelf groans with
Helping Insightful Books and
Your Journals burst with line
You are becoming.
With your Full-Moon Necklace and your
Chakra-Balancing Necklace and the
Beautiful Gold Ring that you
Hand-forged in that Post-Divorce Workshop
Out of the engagement ring from your First Marriage and the
Wedding band from your Second
Now you marry only yourself.
Standing before your Altar
You promise to
From this day forward.
You recognize that some might call it an
To spend time and money on
The Issues That Challenge You.
But those people can screw off (compassionately)
Because the Rush of
Self-realization when you finally put That Betrayal behind you
The poem you wrote about your daughter that
Still makes you cry
(And OK, fine – that delirious eight-day affair with that Yoga Guy –
Sweet Heaven he was gorgeous – and so bendy – )
Cannot be matched by anything that can be
Found inside your own condo.
You have found freedom.
You have healed your Inner Child and
Embraced your Inner Queen.
You are even developing a side-long glance
Relationship with the word “Crone.”
You are curious – becoming – laughing – becoming – stretching –
Because as the wise woman said If You Stop Stretching You Die – sharing –
Because that’s what Heaven’s Children do –
Rejoicing in your growing awareness that no Workshop Intensive
In the world is better than your own becoming
Coming to be.
People are saying nice things to you all the time.
But I’m guessing you let most of them slide right past you. And some of you even deflect them (“Oh, no, it’s not that great…”) or immediately turn them around (“No, no, YOU are the genius…”)
I’d like you to consider the possibility that you’re being a little rude whenever you refuse a compliment.
First of all, the person is stating a truth. It may not be true for you, but it’s true for them. If they think your story is the best one they’ve ever read or that your church solo moved them or that you look nice in that sweater, that’s their business, and they get to be right.
So acknowledge that they are right. And don’t go around inflicting your opinion on them.
Just because you know you were a bit flat on the last chorus or that this sweater isn’t quite what it used to be doesn’t mean you need to tell them all about it.
Retain your empathy: remember the last time someone did that to you? You tried to say something nice and the person just wafted it away? Felt kind of icky, huh?
Here’s the other reason to take compliments seriously: they offer you valuable market research.
If someone says they find you fun or thought-provoking or nice or smart as a whip or inspiring, then use that language in your next brochure/email/elevator speech.
Imagine you’re at a holiday punch bowl standing next to someone you’d really like to impress and they ask you the oft-dreaded question, “So, what do you do?”
You may answer, “How kind of you to ask.
I’m a singer. I sing at weddings and other church events, and I also sing with a group that visits retirement communities. Someone recently said my work was ‘uplifting’ – which made me feel great, because that’s really what I want to do – lift people’s spirits.”
Nice, huh? You not only described your work but also conveyed the flavor and tone of your work and some of the truth about who you are.
It’s not bragging if it’s true.
P.S. This same strategy applies to criticism. If someone says your work is overwrought or shallow or kinda pitchy, dawg, then thank them for sharing their thoughts with you and DO NOT argue with them. Yes, your ego will flare up a bit. So go punch a pillow. But then remember to incorporate the information into your spiel.
So your next email might say something like, “I’m teaching a new class that teaches sign language to 9-18 month-old children. Some people might find this work superfluous or overly precious, but research shows that offering young children additional means of communication increases SAT scores by over 30%.”
(I completely made up that last part, by the way.)
See how acknowledging the truth clarifies your message?
Keep a running list of all the compliments you get and see what the trends are. Use those words to communicate the truth of you.
Here’s a compliment to start your list: you are good and brave.
You’re not going to get everything done today anyway, so you might as well:
– spend some time on a thing that matters to you – spend some time resting & restoring your soul – spend maybe a minute or two communicating with someone you love
Make a part of today about spending your valuable time on that which is truly important to you because that is the highest and best use of your time and your talents, and doing so will enrich you and your community.