I've missed writing this blog. I've missed writing, period. I'm going to try to be back.
I am a very lucky woman in many ways. My life has been sprinkled with experiences that I know are not typical, and many times when I have needed help in my life I've encountered generosity and kindness in people who might just as easily (more easily) not lifted a hand to help. One of the ways that I've been most lucky has been in my personal life experience of being a heavy woman in a country that equates fat with unhealthy, unsexy, lazy, ugly, undisciplined, shameful--a whole pile of assumptions and baggage all wrapped up in a person's size.
This has been on my mind lately, as I look at the numbers on my scale and wish for an undo button. It's been on my mind as I read posts and memes and essays and news stories that urge body acceptance, fat acceptance, human acceptance. It's been on my mind as I unfriended a few Facebook friends who were a bit too mean-spirited or self-satisfied in their dismissal of fat people. It's been on my mind as I witness the lives of friends and acquaintances wrestling with their body acceptance, health, food addictions.
And through all of this witnessing, as I try to find my own path through this life I'm leading, I am simply lifted up by memories of those people who helped me see my beauty and worth past all the judgmental voices in my head, in my life, and in the media. So few people have those voices in their lives, and are left only with the clamoring of those voices of self-doubt, the voices of the media, the ignorant, sometimes unmeaning, sometimes casual cruelty of loved ones and strangers and acquaintances. I know these things are true. And I know that I'm lucky. I remember a good friend, urging me to spend less energy thinking about how I looked on a bike and more energy mastering hill-climbs. I remember another friend who was shocked, truly shocked, when I told him that I have always avoided photos because I was heavy. "But you're so beautiful," he said, and his voice was so honestly incredulous and confused that I was ashamed of myself for being an idjit.
Many of you know that I am a belly-dancer. As is the case for me with almost every kind of physical art form or sport, my skill is greatly enhanced by my enthusiasm. Which is to say that I'm not all that great, but I'm enthusiastic enough to carry me through. I started dancing at my heaviest weight ever. Me, the person who avoids both mirrors and photographs, decided to take a swing for the fence and dance with other women in a studio. With mirrors, mind you. I was never going to perform, of course. And then, dazzled by the sparkly costumes, warmed by the women of my group, I did decide to perform. Outside, at a festival, in public.
I will always remember from that day the camaraderie of the women I dance with, the women I still think of as dance-sisters. I will remember that I learned wind is like a Russian-roulette factor for dancing with veils. I remember that we finished our dance, laughing. My husband, Jeff, was standing on the hillside in the crowd dressed in tie-dye and clapping his hands over his head with the biggest smile on his face. His was the loudest voice that day. Jeff had myasthenia gravis, and it had been quite a process to get his energy level up to attend the festival and the performance. Myasthenia gravis made it difficult for him to lift his arms. And there we were. He knew what it cost me in bravery points to get on that stage, and I knew what it cost him in sheer will to raise his arms above his head and applaud. And that is my best memory of that day, one of the best memories of my life.
That day was a long time ago now. I'm still proud of us both. I'm talking kick ass and take names proud. So today, I'm holding on to that memory to buoy me up as I chart my course back to strength and health. I hope that if you are reading this and you're also charting a new course for your life, that you remember to be gentle with yourself, that you remember to see all your beauty and strength just as you are this moment. I hope that this choice gives you joy.
Best to all who happen this way.