Practice, Presence, Peace

Last weekend I walked twelve miles with joy. I watched stories of human ingenuity, triumph over struggle, and fulfillment of lifelong dreams. I saw how stars are born and thought about how very big and very small we all are.

I stressed about wearing shorts, wore them anyway, and then didn’t realize until the end of the day that I DIDN’T spend the day worrying about my legs; in fact, I never thought of them at all.

And then I watched my little girl. I saw her very much she still adores herself, how she embraces her body and brain as one fantastic package. I watched her check herself out in a mirror, and declare that she knew she looked cute because she’d seen a picture I took.

I thought about myself. About how far away I am from that kind of love. And about how much I stand to gain from shifting my mindset…how much closer I could be to living a shining life if I could make the jump.

So what happened? I promised myself that for just ONE day, I’d try to love myself just as I am, in all my glory, with absolute acceptance. That day became two, and then three. I slept more. I worked out more. I ate more vegetables. I felt calmer, slept better, and spent more time coloring. I drew an adorable donut in my bullet journal. Things felt manageable again for the first time in a long time.

I still went to work, came home, picked up the kid, went to swim lessons…everything in my life was functionally the same, but it began to feel ever-so-slightly different. Moment by moment, the layers of stress and fatigue and sadness began to lift, to peel, to crack and flake away in the light of genuine self-love. I’m not quite out of the woods here, but at the midpoint of day 3, I started feeling more at peace than I’ve felt in months. I went back to my beloved Camp Gladiator twice last week, and then again yesterday (woohoo – holiday workout) and am feeling more and more like I can get this done.

It’s a conscious effort every day, sometimes every moment, not to let this mindset slip. I start to fidget, to chafe under the feather-light touch of unaccustomed ease. I spiral out into worry – how will I keep this up, when will it end, what will I do? And then I make the conscious choice to stop, to breathe, to write or color or just close my eyes, and the feeling begins to pass.

The gentle joy ebbs and flows, sometimes barely whispering at the edges of my awareness and other times entirely overtaking me for a moment – a quick, breathless moment of bliss uninterrupted.

I’d like to hang on to that. And so I move forward, spending moments where I need them. Taking little breaks to sketch out a cute coffee cup or try out an alphabet in a new handwriting style. Disappearing for a moment to read a few paragraphs or do some under-the-radar office yoga. Allowing a “no” when a default, because-I-should “yes” is on the tip of my tongue. Saying YES when it feels right.

I’m signed up for (and starting today) a gorgeous 8-week challenge that will simultaneously get me back to a regular yoga practice and help me come back to a place of intuitive eating and movement. Join me if you’d like. The more support we all have, the better we do.

It’s such a gentle process, so unlike the full on, semi-hostile takeovers of past attempts at change. It fills me with a warm anticipation of things to come and makes me smile.

This. Life could be like this.

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