I’ve been fat and I’ve been thin. I’ve been fit and muscular enough that people stopped me in the grocery store to tell me what they thought about it and I’ve been fat enough to wish no one would ever notice me and within those two extremes I’ve been everything in the middle. I honestly can’t tell you which is easier. If you’ve never been heavy then you probably can’t understand that comment but if you’ve been both you’ll know exactly what I mean.
In my former life I was a hairstylist and being in the ‘beauty industry’ requires a certain amount of attention to details and presentation. For almost twenty years I allowed myself to be influenced by what the media, fashion and society deemed beautiful or attractive. I very rarely thought to ask myself what I wanted or what I liked. I’ve always thought of myself as a strong independent thinker but truth be told I let myself be towed along while I listened to what the world told me was valuable. I put stock in fashion magazines and trends all the while using the excuse that I was in the industry and needed to be current. What a pile of bullshit! I was too afraid to ask myself what was important to me; it was far easier to let other people assign my value by how they perceived me.
Let’s move ahead several years and now I’m in the midst of a depression like I’d never experienced before. Functioning was tricky but when you’ve got children and a life to live you just plug away at doing what you can and all the while praying for a miracle; praying for something – anything to change. Let’s move ahead again. This time about a year; it’s the middle of the night and the despair is so intense I can physically feel it. Sleeping isn’t an option, the only option seems to be feeling the pain, acknowledging and accepting it. I have a thought that seems as though it’s come from someone else’s mind – “let it be and it will leave you be”. What the hell does that mean exactly? I don’t know, but I decide to try to let it be. I sit alone in the living room and just let go. I stop fighting the sadness and pain and gradually as I sit there I realize something has finally changed. It’s me - I’m different. I feel as different as I imagine I might feel if I woke up from a coma not remembering who I am.
I wish I could say I woke up the next morning and I’ve only been happy from that moment on, but that wouldn’t be true. I’m still questioning and learning things about me, but what did happen is that I realized what an amazing place I was in and what an opportunity I had to change. I embraced that change and I gave myself permission to be me – to be exactly who I am and to learn who I’m becoming. I took the time needed to learn what I love, what makes me smile and what makes me sad, and most importantly what brings me joy.
The first thing I learned about myself was that I disliked working out so hard. So I started taking days off. One day here and there turned into eight years. The second thing I learned was that I really don’t care for hair. Mine or anyone else’s, so I cut off 19 inches of my hair. The third thing I learned about myself was that I love being introverted and sensitive, and it’s a good thing to be me most of the time. I think I've come full circle. I used to be a woman who put her value entirely on her outside appearances and then I was a woman who put her value entirely on who she was on the inside and now I realize that while health and wellness need to originate from the inside, it needs to encompass the outside too. We’re body, mind and spirit and when we can get them all working together we have the potential to be amazing!
Just like yesterday, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what health and wellness mean to you. Please comment here (if they’ll work), on my Facebook page or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BTW – I love this picture because I think it’s me if I was a tree....a little odd, a little wonky; but definitely a tree J