Thursday, December 31, 2015
Note that the published magazine had an unflattering picture of pregnant Kim on the cover next to the bikini shot. It had her weight listed: 185 pounds. This is important given how my daughter interpreted the image.
She said, "It makes me feel like gaining weight is bad and I should be thinking about losing weight." My daughter is 7 years old. I asked if she was talking about gaining weight with pregnancy or just gaining weight in general, and she responded: "Both."
I must say that I was proud of my kiddo for being able to communicate this complex question at such a young age. Moreover, I think this is a dilemma for many women. As I have raised my daughter, the societal messages have become even more apparent. When I was a younger woman, before I had a daughter, I might have tossed those messages aside and negated their power. But as a parent, I have come to realize how early social norms about the female form begin to captivate our children - both boys and girls. There is a constant barrage of information suggesting that girls, teens and adult women must do something to change our bodies, as if we aren't acceptable exactly as we are.
Of course, this begs the question - what would happen if we were to allow our bodies to become what they are intended to be, instead of forcing them into any number of different ideas of what we think they should be? What would happen if we simply LOVED ourselves and DARED to call ourselves beautiful exactly as we are?
This is a BOLD question. It causes many to feel afraid, both men and women. Men experience fear that women will "let themselves go." Women experience fear of what would happen if they indulged in the question. In both models, however, we exist in a restrictive mindset based upon the notion that self LOVE and unconditional acceptance could be bad. Women wonder...Our partners might not like our bodies. Our health might deteriorate. We might not like the way we look when we let ourselves go. We might never get our body back to the way it was.
SO MUCH FEAR!
But what if we allowed ourselves to walk into the questions and the worry and the FEAR? What if we dared to love ourselves and our bodies exactly as we are today...every wrinkle, bulge, bone or dimple? What if we said "so what" to the criticisms and the body shaming? What if we allowed the people in our lives to walk out if they don't like our bodies as they are? What if we fed ourselves based upon loving the bodies that God gave us? What if we exercised with the same kindness and adoration toward ourselves that we feel toward our newborn babies when we first hold them close?What if we made love with the fully embodied sensuality that comes with knowing who we are as women? What if we dared to transcend all of the cultural body shaming and simply allow our bodies to become exactly what they are?
What if we treated ourselves as the divine art that we are? I have a feeling we might just change the world.
Contributed by Dianne Bell.
I would like to share a little bit about some of the people that I met who touched my heart last night while out with the UGM Search and Rescue Van. First, there was Milton, a small man with a sweet smile and kind eyes that lit up when I asked him his name. I met him on our first stop. I served him spaghetti and found him some socks in the back of the van. We chatted for a few minutes and I ended up giving him my gloves because I felt that he needed them more than I did. He was so grateful. He said "God bless you and thank you most of all for your time." I touched his shoulder and said "God bless you too."
Then there was Joseph. What a bright light this man is! It's hard for me to even describe. Here we were, there to bring comfort, and somehow I walked away from him feeling myself moved by his Joy, Peace and Grace in the midst of his very difficult circumstances. He kept telling us "I'm all right. I'm just fine." He recited a rousing version of the 23rd Psalm (Yea though I walk through the valley of death, I shall fear no evil, for Thou art with me...) to the group of us and in that moment he was a minister. I told him that he is a Bright Light and he smiled at me with a beautiful smile and said "I know. I hear that all the time."
And then there was Victoria, I tiny, timid woman who nonetheless had a ready smile. She needed a coat, a blanket, food, water, and whatever we could give to help her keep warm and dry on the streets. Once she had assured me that we had given her everything she needed for the moment, we chatted briefly and then just as she was turning to go, she turned back and said "Will you pray with me?" For the span of a few heartbeats, I wondered if I was worthy to pray for this woman whose need was so great. Then I took a deep breath, put my arm around her, and asked God to give me the words. I prayed out loud with her for her safety, her comfort, for her to know that she is loved, protected, and supported in that moment and in every moment. It was something that I will never forget. I hugged her and she hugged me. She thanked me again and then she walked off into the night. And so I will be keeping Milton, Joseph, Victoria, and everyone else I met last night, in my prayers. And I will continue to ask God what is mine to do to serve this community.
Friday, December 18, 2015
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
This is one of the best descriptions I've read. It reflects my experience. As you think on the impact of each cumulative concussion in a person's life, consider this:
"I think we all need to remember that TBI is not only a journey; it is a metamorphosis. It’s not a broken leg or arm; it’s a new way of life. The hardened shell of injury that closes around our loved ones, cutting us off from the people we knew, is with time shed away, and a new creature is revealed to us. This can be painful, because we miss the caterpillars they were. And they often miss themselves too. And yet, everyone knows that when they see a beautiful butterfly, the caterpillar is still there flying too."
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Sunday, December 13, 2015
I came across this video last spring. Learning about her retreat into silence helped me understand my own struggle with words post tbi and underscored the importance of allowing the healing process to happen in its own time. It also underscored the power of art to help communicate feelings that words cannot touch. Her courage gives us all courage.
"Evil was a topic about which Angelou, the victim of childhood rape and virulent racism, had a lot to say. Rape caused her to retreat into silence for five years, she said, and was “a dire kind of evil, because rape on the body of a young person more often than not introduces cynicism, and there is nothing quite so tragic as a young cynic, because it means the person has gone from knowing nothing to believing nothing. In my case I was saved in that muteness, you see, in the sórdida, I was saved. And I was able to draw from human thought, human disappointments and triumphs, enough to triumph myself.”