Wasted Time

I recently did some math and figured out that I have spent about 250 days of my life thinking about what I look like in (usually) critical terms. Almost a full year! And I am a person who has always felt pretty good about myself  – I’ve never felt ashamed of my body, and I never let it get in the way of great sex or relationships. I dressed well and stylishly even though for most of my life I was not thin, but leaning toward the voluptuous.

But…I could spend hour inspecting my face – was my nose too wide? My eye crooked? My cellulite!! Oh dear – I would look at in with despair! How could I make that bumpy hideousness disappear? I thought my thighs in general were pretty awful and for years and years I didn’t wear pants. I didn’t even own a pair of jeans!

And now I am 45 years old. I in the past year or so I realized I am OVER this crazy self-criticism! Whether it’s exercise, feeling generally joyous, being healthy, hearing genuine compliments from Harry, maybe some wisdom…or a combination of all of the above I am finding that I just don’t have the time, energy or inclination for trash-talking myself.

I see this compulsion to criticize everywhere! In S’s daughter who is 13…in my friends who are so much older. One of whom just went through a fairly traumatizing experience but deep in the depths of it asked if I thought she looked fat. Because feeling miserable is one thing, but looking fat is even worse. I see it all over the media from women who should know better  – I’m talking to you Madonna!! A woman who could be at the forefront of what it means to age beautifully and gracefully is instead trying to stay youthful at all costs. How unhappy does she have to be to not accept the beauty of change? Nothing to emulate there – I feel sad for her.

I love looking good! I am a fashion girl, I love to shop, I love high heels and red lipstick and black eyeliner. I am no natural beauty type for sure! And of course I look in the mirror – but no more negative talk for me. Now I say, “Girl – you are kicking it!”, “Your thighs are strong and muscular and awesome!” “Your boobs look amazing – and by the way, I love your rib cage”.

So try this experiment: How much time do you usually spend on criticizing your physical appearance? I estimated 30 minutes a day average – since I was 13 – that’s 32 years ago! Do your own math – how much time have you wasted so far? Time when you could have been reading, drawing, dancing, laughing, running, cooking, painting, kissing, eating, hiking, roller skating, learning a foreign language…falling in love with yourself?

It’s never too late! Treat yourself with kindness and love and respect – like the goddess you are. Don’t say anything to yourself you wouldn’t say to a friend. And if you ARE a person who would call a friend “fat” and “disgusting” and point out how much blubber she can pinch from her waist, please stop reading my blog right now.

Look at yourself the way a lover would and honor yourself the way a lover SHOULD. Take yourself out, buy yourself a drink raise a glass and celebrate your fabulousness!

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Yoga and Me – a love story

 

yoga-love

A little less than four and a half years ago I was in a major rut. I was a mom and a wife – but feeling like I was doing each one badly. I felt sad, lonely and more than ready for something new- even though I had no idea what that “something” would be. I had been crushing on yoga for awhile, but the timing never seemed right. Yoga and me were at two different places  – I wasn’t quite ready to put myself out there into a studio with super bendy pretzel people who knew all the moves already. I still think of ballet in 4th grade – I could barely remember the moves THEN – all the other kids went left and I went….wait, isn’t this left? No??!!! It’s right? OHHHH!! No wonder I’m bumping into people! Believe me, the teacher was happy to take my mom’s check but I had no natural talent.

And yoga, well, yoga was busy. You know – spreading peace and ohm’s around the world. He just didn’t have time for me. Until…..a studio opened 5 minutes from my house. Brand new. I figured, “I am brand new to this so maybe if I go to a brand new studio then EVERYBODY will be new and I won’t feel like such a doofus because EVERYBODY will be going left when we’re supposed to go right and not be super twisty and..well…I can do this.”

I showed up for the very first class on the very first day the studio opened. That would be at 6:00 am on December 1, 2010. I was the first student. I was the only student! Which was a real boon to me – since Jessica, the teacher and owner – would say things like “downward facing dog” and I had NO idea what she was talking about. Plank? Nope.  Chair pose? Ah…no. OK – forward fold. I knew that one! So that first class was one-on-one. And something snapped into place then and there on a cold, early, Albany, New York morning. My yoga crush was going past the crush stage to…getting to know each other.

Not that yoga is always an easy partner. Like the best relationships, yoga transforms you and it doesn’t always feel good. In fact, sometimes it feels terrible. Stretching can take you places that we don’t go in every day life. Sitting with discomfort – not pain because yoga should NEVER cause physical pain – is not something we do. In fact, getting to know your own body and realize there is a difference between discomfort and pain is an eye opener to many people. So often we shun ANY discomfort by distracting ourselves with food, chatter, TV, Facebook, wine…to be able to sit and breathe and expand a little bit every time is simple…and difficult.

And to emotionally expand? To sit with THAT discomfort? I have cried on my mat – it is difficult to be  cracked open and see what’s in there. The good, the bad and the ugly. But to know it’s all mine and I can own it, nurture it, change it,  love it or move it on out? That is the ultimate feeling of freedom. For some of us, to open ourselves to the grace and peace that yoga offers us is even harder.  Every relationship we have should allow us to feel secure in the knowledge that we are loved and accepted for who and what we are. And yoga helps build that relationship with ourselves.

So here I am, 4 years later. I’m stronger, happier and more in tune with myself and everything around me. I am more patient, I am a better partner, mother and friend and I am much kinder to other people. and myself.  Yoga has proven to be very amenable. He travels with me – I have taken yoga classes all over the US. He moved to NYC with me – and I have a new home studio. He enjoys our open relationship and has no jealousy whatsoever when I run (which I do on the days we aren’t together). And he likes to keep things fresh – Anusara, Jivamukti, Forrest, Yin….there are many schools of yoga and so little time!

I am still not super twisty. I am not one of those gals making videos of their incredible inversions. I am not a yoga teacher. I am simply a consistent practitioner in love with yoga. Like my other important relationships  – I am in this one for good. Dedicating yourself to positive relationships allows you to grow in ways you never thought possible  – and nurtures you in ways you might never have though you needed.

I heart you yoga- thanks for everything.