Be Happy As You Are

bodydysmorphia

As a teenager I encountered a comic of a skinny girl looking in the mirror and seeing her reflexion looking rather walrus-like.  I could relate. I wasn’t skinny, but people’s feedback let me know I had some element of lacking self-perception. It was the best description of body dysmorphia I’ve encountered and something I have long struggled with.  Not to say I’m a twig like the woman we all kind of loathe on “This Is Us” who goes to Kate and Toby’s support group for people struggling with being overweight.

I do have a hard time seeing reality though.

An example: this weekend I was (needlessly) eyeing with dissatisfaction my slightly wrinkly belly, softened with stretch marks from my earth shatteringly wonderful new gift: the chance to be a mother.  I was harping on myself and hoping for change and feeling a bit on the -as I judged myself- “bigger than I am happy with” side.

Then I tried on a pair of capris I haven’t worn in nearly 2 years.  Pants that rarely fit around my derier before I had a baby and here they were saggy and oversized around my back side and legs.  They are size 0.

Now they aren’t loose around my waist, and it may be a larger than average size 0, but I fit into a tiny pair of pants and somehow still struggled to feel thin.

More importantly, I struggled to feel happy with myself.  

Houston, we have a problem.

So now the work…the ongoing process I have been working on for over 20 years.  It is not to self-condemn for being shallow and out of touch with reality (clearly there is some of that going on).  The work is to keep learning to love who I am.  I am healthy, strong, kind, a caring friend, mother to a wonderful little girl, married to my best friend (who happens to be one AWESOME guy), a lifelong learner, and I happen to have a soft tummy.  So what? It’s still strong and healthy. I have plenty of other features I love- inside and out.

Comparison can be a hard enemy to fight.  It can also be a helpful tool. The fact that clothes which were once too tight are now too loose gives me a point of reference and shows me what I don’t recognize without the comparison.  It reminds me my body is in about the best shape it ever has been, so my work of consistent exercise and ever-improving eating habits are paying off (don’t worry, I eat three full meals, plus little snacks on a daily basis).

I may never look in the mirror and see my physique as most people do, but there is so much more to each human than what meets the eye.

I don’t need to be perfect to be happy.

I can love myself and others…as the exquisitely beautiful, imperfect beings we all are.

Still Deciding What You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

manyideas

        Did you know what career you wanted when you were a kid?  I remember hearing friends say they wanted to be teachers and my thought was always: “Yuck, the last thing I want to do is teach when I’m a grown up!  I can’t wait to graduate!”  My favorite parts of school were P.E., music, art, and recess.  Sometimes I liked language arts.  

        At age 17, I had a big shift and decided I loved the positive energy of young children, so I did the unthinkable and decided to become a teacher.  I taught after school, kindergarten, preschool, dance, tutored kids in English and Spanish.  Meanwhile, I juggled managing an apartment complex, occasional choreographing and consulting with a local dance company, parent coaching and between jobs worked the occasional office job planning events, running background checks, and handling data entry.  I haven’t exactly done just one thing.

Can you relate? 

In the “personal” section of your resume, have you ever felt limited in keeping it to just a few hobbies or interests?  If so, hello fellow Multipotentialite.

        I’ve often struggled with this lack of expertise.  On good days I like to think of myself as a renaissance woman.  When I’m not so on top of my emotional A-game, I feel like the “mediocre at lots of things, expert at nothing” type.  

        Having graduated from yoga teacher training 3 days ago and currently having a personal monthly income of approximately $0, it seems like it’s probably time to start bringing in some revenue.  While yoga instruction is definitely something I’m excited to pursue, I have a feeling it’s not the only job I want to pursue.  So a big question: what else and how do I figure that out?

        Tonight I encountered a thoughtful Ted talk by career coach and fellow multipotentialite, Emilie Wapnick, that shed some new light on this consideration.  Emilie encourages people to be honest about who they are and follow their inclinations, whether as a multipotentialite or specialist.  She explains that both are valuable in the workplace.  She offers some much appreciated street cred to those of us who don’t want to pick one job for life.  She explains that this hopping from one place to another creates “Super Powers” of: adaptability, rapid learning, and idea synthesis.

So if you too are wondering: what do I do with my life?!?  Maybe grab a copy of the perennial favorite What Color is Your Parachute? , listen to Emilie Wapnick’s tedtalk, do a little journaling about your skills and interests and see if you find some intriguing parallels that offer a lead or two.

Best of luck to us on our journey.  Cheers!

manyinterestsequalshappy

Who Helps You Shine

March is a month of change: winter is peeling away and starting to reveal early hints of spring.  Birds begin to sing again, the clocks change, and for teachers, conference reports are written and we reunite with families to discuss their children’s growth.  It has always been a heavy struggle.  Early mornings, late nights, long days of work with anxiety riding over my head and a lack of productivity and/or foresight to balance good self-care and the added workload.

This year, however, is proving different.  With new goals and outlook, a stronger and happier relationship than I’ve ever enjoyed, and a more holistic approach, the weight seems lighter.  Last night, after finishing a very productive, healthy, happy day, while tucking into bed at a decent hour (a new thing for me), my mind wandered around the changes in this March’s inception.  There are numerous factors, but it all seemed to boil down to the quote above.  My best friend makes a HUGE difference in my life.  He is generally very quiet, engages with relatively few people.  I am certainly the more extroverted in our pair, a bit of a social butterfly at times, and yet, he is the world to me and has helped my foundation settle.  We are moving and growing all the time, yet the partnership and joy is solid.

Is there a person in your life who stands as your rock?  Who helps you see the sun is shining when you might not otherwise?  If you haven’t today, I hope you tell that person.  If it is you, give yourself credit for the independence and self-care you provide.  We all deserve to love ourselves –as well as others.  May we express our gratitude and share our happiness and achievements with those who help us on our journey each day.