The woman who walks the black cocker spaniel has soft silver ringlets. Those curls catch sunlight. They bounce like toddlers on a trampoline, giggling, tumbling across her forehead, into her eyes. She sweetly shoos them from her lashes. They are not dismayed. They dance around her ears.
Her skin is milk. Her cheeks are peonies. Her eyes are celestite globes.
The woman who walks the black cocker spaniel is 60 years old at least, maybe 70.
We pass each other once a week, maybe twice. We smile. We stop and talk. She is engaging, powerful, bright.
She mentions that she would like employ my coaching services. She is active, she says, but would like to increase her fitness. I ask what she wants to improve, hoping to hear something about increasing leg strength for a trek through Nepal or upper body strength to support the hours she spends moving paint across wall-sized canvases.
She places her hand on her abdomen and tells me she would like to “get rid of this stuff around my middle.” My heart sinks like it does every time a woman asks me to help her “fix” the appearance of a part of her body.
Beauty is in the eye of beholder and health is the result of many factors mingling together to create a hospitable circumstance for life to thrive. There is not one way to be a beautiful, healthy human being. Often what we perceive to be beautiful and accept to be healthy has more to do with specific cultural preferences than with objective, biological markers.
I struggle knowing that my career is associated with an industry that perpetually diminishes the potential of women of all ages by keeping them hyper-focused on the shape of their bodies.
What about the shape of our souls? What about the depth of our character? Aren’t there more important, more pressing places for us to direct our finite attention and resources?
The journey we take toward greater fitness is a noble one only when it enhances our vitality so that we can get on with performing the real work of life with greater presence and potency. And in order for our fitness pursuits to increase our vitality, they must be initiated from a mindset of grace, gratitude and love.
Ladies and gentlemen (because I know that men struggle with body acceptance, too, it just looks and sounds a little different than for women) I invite you to join me this February to build and strengthen your attitude of grace, gratitude and unconditional love toward your body.
Will you join me in writing a love letter to your body?
- Dear Body, my favorite thing about you is…
- Dear Body, you really amazed that one time when you…
- Dear Body, I’m sorry that I…
- Dear Body, one thing I would like to know more about you is…
Complete these sentences with a few words or an entire paragraph. Write a short story or a poem. Take a photograph or paint a picture. Or simply reflect. Do what inspires you and, if you are inclined, share it with me. Send me an email or tag me on social media.
I look forward to receiving your responses and sharing mine as well.