Today I have a fabulous guest post for you written by Alexis Donkin! In this post Alexis speaks about the importance of remembering to appreciate your body during tough times! I think this post will really resonate with anyone living with a chronic illness or anyone who has ever been frustrated with their body before!
Without further ado, let’s turn it over to Alexis!
Remembering to Appreciate Your Body During Tough Times
I have strands of gray hair. I don’t dye it. I don’t put make-up on it. I don’t know if I ever will, but there was a time when I was sure I would.
When I found my first gray strand, I remember the shock – the sinking in my gut and the eagerness I felt to hide it under my full hair. It was only one strand. It didn’t make me old. I was just 19. No one would notice. I could dye my hair at any time.
My parents started going gray young. I figured I was bound for white at an early age. So far my hair had been darker for longer than my mother, but I dreaded the idea of going white.
For many women this is a point of anxiety – of being seen as old. People tend to view older women in a certain way in our culture. Women frantically dye their hair, slather on creams, get injections, and lasers, and all manner of things to appear as if they were 22 years old forever.
I liked being 22 years old, but I also liked 25, 31, and now. I’m not sure when I realized this – but I remember a moment when it was clear I’d changed.
I stood in the bathroom mirror and saw a small group of glinting strands in my dark hair.
“It looks like I have glitter in my hair! It’s like I’m a real fairy!” I cried. I think I skipped out of the bathroom, grinning, and humming.
The gray strands are a part of me. And I like me. I like that I am old enough to have gray strands – that I have the privilege of aging and all the wonderful things that come with aging. I like the magic of all that experience – the joy, beauty, and fun.
It’s not just the gray strands.
There are all kinds of things about me that could be a source of contention. I could pick apart my body – and like the average American woman, I have. I’ve seen every flaw in my skin and body as though it was monstrous and catastrophic. I’ve seen all the usual things, like cellulite, body hair, blemishes, and wrinkles as marks against me. But I’ve also seen other things, like pernio, arthritis, and allergies as inconveniences and obstacles to experiencing joy.
My body is a part of me. It does amazing things for me. I get to experience all kinds of wonderful things in life because of my body. I’ve gone around the country and the world – seeing everything from the American Southwest, to Northern India. I’ve met wonderful people – from mentors and friends, to ambassadors and actors. I’ve studied all kinds of fun things – from Mandarin to Sculpture to International Politics. I’ve spoken to crowds, sung on television, and written books. I’ve seen sunrises and sunsets, and heard sweet bird songs. I’ve felt soft fur and had amazing kisses. I gave birth to a child.
My body is amazing. I love my body. I am so grateful to my body. And it’s a whole package. Some parts work better than others. It’s true. But without my body, I wouldn’t have been able to do all these wonderful things!
When it feels icky…
Sometimes there’s pain. Sometimes my hormones are doing weird things. It’s true. There’s no getting around these things. They’re a part of life.
But life is amazing, right? I love life! So what are the lessons of these icky bits? I’m going to share some lessons I’ve learned in how to accept and move through those icky bits:
- Be gentle with yourself. This is the body you have, so work with it. Let it direct you into the right actions for your body. If something hurts, ease up. If you’re tired, rest. It’s okay. It’s all good. Don’t fight against what your body naturally wants to do. Allow it to be.
- Express gratitude for all the wonderful things your body does for you every day. Your body is a miracle! It’s amazing how many things your body does every single day to move through life! If you need to, write a list. You can also say it aloud. Say, “Wow! I love how I can [insert thing here]!” or “I’m so grateful for [insert this body part here] because it lets me do [insert action here]!”
- Focus more on what is good than what is not. When you have a moment that is a struggle or painful, focus on the good in that moment. For example, “I am grateful for this pain in my wrist because it tells me I need to take a break, and I honor my wrist by resting.”
- Do things that bring you joy. If being outdoors brings joy, do that. If cleaning brings joy, clean. If music brings you joy, have more music!
- Surround yourself with people and guides that support you and nurture you. This is where a coach, club, or class can really build you up, giving you strength and encouragement when you need an extra boost (and it really is SUCH a boost!).
You are amazing!
You don’t have to like everything about you to accept all of you. You may not like “the gray strands,” but they symbolize something else that’s awesome, and they’re a part of you. You are the whole package. You are beautiful. You are wonderful, awesome, and amazing!
But if you’re struggling to feel this, you may want to connect with a coach. You are welcome to contact me here to schedule a FREE “Rapid Change” session where I can help you gain clarity, perspective, and offer support in accepting all of you. Availability is limited, so contact me immediately to schedule your session here! You deserve it!
Alexis Donkin is an intentional author, blogger, speaker, coach, and teacher. She is the creator of The Compassion Letter weekly newsletter, and the online course, The Heart Unboxed: How to Love the Unloveable, as well as host of the Intentional Writer Interview Series. Her purpose is to increase empathy and compassion by focusing, creating, and sharing positive ideas through story.
Alexis lives in Southern California with her family. She is a classically trained artist, with a BA in Peace and Conflict Studies and an MA in Global and International Studies. Between writing, speaking, and chasing her kid, she paints, sings, and dances. Sometimes Alexis does it all at once. Find her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and her website.