Woman With Cottage Cheese Thighs

One woman’s two perspectives on cellulite.

Perspective One: As recorded in a journal entry on 3-13-2012

Dents, everywhere, and ripples. If I take my hands and smooth them along the surface of my skin, pull upward ever so slightly, they disappear entirely. For a moment I can imagine that it could be so easy, should be so easy, to make them go away. It’s just a micro-movement, after all. Then I release, and it all comes back, my worst nightmare. I have become what I feared the most, what I secretly believed I never would be – a woman with cottage cheese thighs.

Perspective Two: Included in a creative non-fiction piece detailing the hospital stay after giving birth to a 10 pound infant and almost needing a blood transfusion.

That night I was taken off the IV temporarily and given permission to shower. The steam and my light-headedness combined to give the experience a surreal quality. I reveled in the sensation of the hot water and soap floating over my skin. As I looked down at my once-firm thighs, now heavy and covered with cellulite that I wasn’t convinced could be exercised away, I couldn’t help but marvel at the miracle that was my body. For nine months it had grown a human being inside of it, and then worked hard to bring him into the world. I felt amazing and powerful, like a warrior goddess.

The Devil Disguised As Fear

“What if I fall? Oh but my darling, what if you fly?” ~ Erin Hanson

Sometimes it’s a nagging sensation of unease in my belly.  Other times it flat out wakes me in the middle of the night from a sound sleep and won’t let me rest. It makes me do crazy things, like fight with my husband over money and contemplate leaving him. Too often it keeps me stuck, small, and afraid to take risks.

“It” is fear, and I’m convinced it’s the devil in disguise.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve lived with some level of chronic fear.  In an attempt to analyze why,  I’ve concluded that the opposite of fear is faith. Apparently, I don’t have as much of the latter as I thought, and that’s the problem.

When it comes to faith, whether related to pursuing  my dreams, leaving a job that’s draining me, trusting my husband to provide, or turning hobbies and passions into a livelihood, nearly always I let fear win out over faith.

Part of me wants so much to believe that God will swoop in and catch me as I take a leap of faith, and the angels will sing, because finally I have stopped being afraid and trusted in a higher power and purpose. A larger part is convinced that if I step off the edge my entire world will come crashing down.

I don’t think I’m alone in this. Too many of us let fear rule our lives. We play it safe, stay stuck, reason and rationalize our God-given talents, gifts, and dreams away.

Living with fear is the equivalent of letting the devil rule our lives. It keeps us small and in check by keeping us frightened. Each time we give in to fear, we let the devil win and take one more piece of our soul.

Faith, on the other hand, is trusting in a higher power to guide us to our greatest potential. Each time we act with faith, love and courage, in spite of fear, we let God win.

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This disturbing image of the devil and Jesus arm wrestling comes via ebay.com.

Recently, I was reminded of this when I found myself on an online forum after Googling “How to get my husband to support my career change” (as if the Internet can answer this question for me). A woman had posed a similar question about leaving her job, and received dozens of responses. The vast majority of them were rooted in fear-based “what-ifs”.

What if, someone said, you leave your job and then your husband loses his? What if one of you gets sick? What if you need to go back to work and can’t find a job? What if, what if, what if…

This woman was miserable in her job, longing to be home more to care for her small children, and seeking the support of her life partner in creating a life worth living – and she was being told not only that she shouldn’t even consider taking a step toward her soul’s calling, but that she was selfish for wanting to do so.

Too many people are living lives of misery and/or mediocrity, not fulfilling their potential, and encouraging others to do the same, all based on a bunch of hypothetical, fear-based “what-ifs”.  How crazy is that?

We need to stop the madness, one person at a time, beginning with ourselves.

Let’s each pick one thing today that we’re afraid of, however large or small, and start working hard to overcome it through faith. Let’s trust in a higher power and purpose, and in the beauty, bounty, and goodness of the universe. Let’s believe with our whole heart that loving arms will catch us when  finally we take the leap.

 

The Horror and Ecstasy of Facing Yourself on the Page

“Ecstasy is a glimpse of the infinite; horror is full disclosure.” ~Kirk J. Schneider

Lately I’ve been doing something that’s sending shivers of horror and ecstasy through my mind – rereading old journals.

Journals

Eight years’ worth of personal journals.

This isn’t the first time I’ve flipped through them since I started journaling. It is, however, the first time I’ve committed to reading every word of every journal weekly until I’ve read them all. I’m nearly done, and the process is shaking up my world.

Mostly I write about everyday life, but there are also sprinkles of short stories, ideas for longer stories, random thoughts, stream-of-consciousness prose, poems, business ideas, reflections, recordings of dreams, insights after meditation, and the occasional drawing – pretty much anything goes.

The horrifying part is that so much hasn’t changed in all these years. I’m still agonizing over the same old crap – finding the right livelihood, striving for greater work/life balance, longing for more time to create, worrying about my husband’s job, dreaming of personal and financial freedom.

Blah, blah, blah. You’d think I would’ve figured this stuff out by now.

Sometimes the sheer violence of my negative thoughts is embarrassing. So much whining, sniveling, and lamenting to God. He must get so sick of me.

On a positive note, I see a pattern of going through hardships and surviving. There are moments when my thoughts are way more positive than they should be,  given what was happening at the time. My passions remain consistent – yoga, writing, gardening, reading, learning, being near the ocean, my home and family.

This last is especially encouraging. It means I don’t have to reinvent the wheel midlife. But I can see clearly now that I need to stop hoping and dreaming (and writing, perhaps) about the life I long for and start taking more action to create it. This isn’t to say there aren’t things I love about my life, but there are definitely areas that need improvement.

The ecstasy comes when I happen upon unexpected passages that  resonate with me in a deep way, reminding me of sides of myself I don’t often see. In them I can see the longings of an artist struggling to break free, of a woman who wants to be fully and completely alive in an authentic way, but keeps falling short.

I’ve decided to unleash her a bit by sharing journal  entries on my blog now and then. Below is one that reflects the conflict I often feel  between my roles of wife, mother, and  professional and that of simply being a woman.

Journal Entry, 1-23-08

Journal entry

So I am alone, walking the cliffs. Down below the ocean rages against the wind. White caps glow with anger. Farther down a few stupid surfers take their chances. How can they when there are hidden rocks jutting out of unseen places, hidden by angry waves and rolling sea? They are stupid, but they are alive, fully, completely, reveling in the wild water, alive for moments like this.

Rain begins to fall heavily just as thunder cracks in the distance, and I don’t care. Being here is my equivalent of surfing in choppy, rock-infested water. Within minutes my hair and clothes are soaked and clinging to my body. I feel sensual, with cotton clinging to my curves. I forget that I am a mother and a wife and an older sister. I am none of these things, but a woman, beautiful and daring in the moonlight of day.

Then I am cold and wet and want to go home. Now I am the stupid one. All the way home, I think how stupid I am.

Cliff Walk, Newport, RI

Cliff Walk, Newport, RI