As I’m growing older I’m thinking a lot about aging and beauty. We are lucky to be living in a time of such body positivity. Countless social media accounts promote loving oneself exactly as-is, and in doing so, the message is becoming mainstream — how different from the television advertising days of my youth.
I taught yoga for ten years, and during that time I promoted body positivity, giving thanks for our bodies, owning our strengths and limitations. And while it’s what I taught, I didn’t fully live it. We teach most what we need to learn. I had body dysmorphia (and maybe still do sometimes) and while I acted empowered, I didn’t always believe in my own power. Sometimes I still look at other women and think, “why can’t I look like that?” But those thoughts are destructive and I’m working my way through them.
As I watched my mom die, I watched her body wither away to nothing. I also watched her spirit remain strong, almost indestructible. I watched her fight and I witnessed a body and spirit that endured a lot of pain and trauma before she took her last breath. In those moments, I saw the interconnectedness of her being and while it was hard to watch, it was amazing too. It’s hard to describe. God knows what he is doing; I believe that. Our finite, limited brains just can’t fathom it all.
I think often about the end of my life these days, I suppose because I just lost my mom. I think about how she lived her life, the things she stood for. I think about the ways I wish to live my remaining days like her and the ways I wish to live differently.
One of the main things I’ll do differently is believe in myself and be proud of who I am, to my core. I appreciate how giving and selfless she was. I want to be like that with the ones I love the most too, but not at the sake of myself. We are all doing the best we know how. We are all making mistakes, and (hopefully) amends. And we are all going to die.
So, on the anniversary of a day that changed my life many years ago, the same day that one year ago my mom told me she was giving up her fight and my daughter asked to transfer schools, I did something brave. I took a lot of my clothes off and had photos taken, a boudoir shoot.
A Christmas gift for my husband but so much more for me. As a 49 year old woman, I decided it was time for me to stop hiding my body, to stop feeling shame for it. Why not do something radical as an act of self care? It was a way of physically claiming my power.
This body has carried me all of these years, delivered and raised a beautiful baby girl to adulthood, kept me strong through countless hardships, witnessed my own mother dying. This body is mine and I am (becoming) proud of all it can do.
I am a work in progress. (I’m pretty sure we all are.) This is me today. I love me today.