"I long, as does every human being, to be home wherever I find myself."
-- Maya Angelou
These words long were the footer of my email. One days I didn't feel at home in myself, I saw them as a wish, a goal, an aspiration. On days I did, I celebrated the new trek I was on, and felt grounded, affirmed, and eager to share with others.
My path to feeling at home in my body has been bumpy.
When I think of my body, I often recall a photograph taken of me at age 13. I was running through a Michigan lake and laughing. At the time, I am sure it was genuine joy, but when the picture was printed, all I could see was cottage cheese for my belly.
I have never been overweight, but I spent a good 20 years of my life feeling large, out of place, too big, unfit.
Yes, I was a jock, a Varsity athlete. Yes, I had boyfriends and friends, and family who seemed to value my presence. Yes, I was second runner up for Miss Saline. I didn't feel beautiful. I didn't feel thin. I didn't love who I was.
Sure, there were glimpses of self-love, or were they simply moments I was swept up in everything but myself? The lake waves, the laughter of friends, a competitive sport?
I did know gratitude. And I felt grateful for parts of myself, but that wasn't the same as love.
I have always felt grateful for my legs--they are strong and have carried me through lakes, up mountains, around tracks, across a college campus. My awareness of my ability was heightened in college when I met a dear friend who has been in a wheelchair since age 5. This friend is one of the most brilliant and well-traveled people I know. She let's nothing stand in her way for being who she is, and she taught me to do the same.
I am much more aware now, on a regular basis, what it means to me to move with my legs. I am also much more aware of what my ability affords me, privilege.
In addition to having strong legs that can carry me in just about any form of transportation, I have a body type that near fits what Americans consider normal, though is not necessarily the most common. It's easy for me to find clothes that fit, for example. And make up that matches my skin tone. And to walk around unconcerned that people are judging me for my skin color.
Combined with my awareness of privilege, was a slow climb toward self-acceptance. It didn't happen overnight. It started around the time Maya Angelou's quote footed my email, the time when I quit the only 9-5 job I've had and began to study Yoga. I left to learn how to prioritize self-care. I was resistant to slowing down (still am!) and struggled to consider how I could possible embrace an un-hectic life. What happened shocked me.
As I slowed down, my anxiety lessened.
As I favored heavier warmer foods, and ate with my full attention, I loss excess weight that bogged me down physically and emotionally. As I took time in solitude, and fully embraced my love for silence, my skin cleared up.
Being @ home in my body has meant that I can love me where I am. When my skin breaks out, when I gain a few pounds, when I am anxious. And when I truly feel free, and like how I feel and look.
Self-love is about accepting who were are in the moment.
I don't believe it is even about self-approval or self-liking. It begins with accepting that we are lovable as anyone else. That like all humans we deserve love and belonging (hat tip: Brené Brown).
The @ home in your body course I offer 3 times annually is a course for building our resilience to that voice in our head that says we're not good enough, not strong enough, not pretty enoug